Tourism minister: R30m set aside for tour guides

The Department of Tourism has established an additional financial relief mechanism aimed at supporting tourist guides who are just some of the casualties in the sector, as a result of the nationwide lockdown.

Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the department had allocated R30m for the initiative over a period of two to three months.

The beneficiaries of the scheme will include tour guides who are registered with the registrar in terms of the Tourism Act as well as tour guides who are not employed by any company and freelancers and independent contractors without job security.

The scheme is only an addition to the R200m the department has channelled towards small businesses in the sector who risk going belly up as a result of the lockdown. The Tourism Relief Fund sparked a legal battle against government from Afriforum and Solidarity.

Both the lobby group and union had approached the courts, arguing that the BBBEE codes which have been cited as a requirement for businesses to qualify for the fund, were racist and discriminatory towards white-owned businesses.

“Tourism services supports other economic sectors. As parts of the economy opening up, the tourism activities that are supportive have to re-open. As some strategic sectors of the economy will need to operate during lockdown, such sectors will need tourism services, even before the sector is fully opened for leisure. This includes key elements that would facilitate travel of persons for permitted purposes”, Kubayi-Ngubane said.

The closing date for applications for the Fund is Sunday, 31 May 2020.

To date, more than 6 000 completed applications for grant assistance have been received from across the country.

Hotels and game reserves allowed to operate

The minister also announced that certain work and economic activities in the tourism sector could return under level 3 including travel agents and tourism information centres.

Game farms will also be permitted to reopen for self-drive excursions from Monday, however group tours are prohibited. Accommodation activities are allowed, except for leisure and establishments will no longer require a letter from the minister to operate. They are required to ensure that they accommodate those in the permitted services and keep records for inspections by the department. Hunting will also be permitted.

Hospitality, which forms part of the tourism sector, remains closed under level 3, with some conditions including restaurants. Under the new restrictions, restaurants can be open but only for collections, deliveries and drive-thrus. Sit-down services will remain prohibited.

Leisure travel, casinos, conferences, events and entertainment activities are still disallowed.

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