Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

Tourism Minister Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. Photo: GCIS

R200m relief fund for tourism and hospitality businesses unveiled

New fund will assist small tour operators, restaurants, hotels, B&Bs and others hit by the travel ban and impending lockdown.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

Tourism Minister Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. Photo: GCIS

The Department of Tourism has created a R200 million relief fund to help SMMEs in the tourism and hospitality industries mitigate the devastating impact of the coronavirus and the impending 21-day lockdown. 

This fund, announced on Tuesday 24 March 2020 by Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, is in addition to the SMME Debt Relief Fund launched by Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, last week. The latter fund is not specific to any industry.

Small businesses in tourism and hospitality are under particular stress due to the travel restrictions, Kubayi-Ngubane said. The new fund was among the interventions designed to cushion society from these economic difficulties.

Tourism sector must be supported now and into the future

“We are committed to putting people and their wellbeing first [and] ahead of profits as part of a response to COVID-19,” the minister stated. “At the same time, we are committed to see the sector being able to pick up the pieces post COVID-19, thus our role will be to respond and support the industry during this period.

“The fund will be administered to benefit SMMEs in all the nine provinces and various tourism sub-sectors. Necessarily and rightly, there will be a degree of bias towards rural areas, townships, women, young people and people with disabilities.”

Categories of businesses that can apply for assistance

Kubayi-Ngubane said applicants from the following categories would be eligible to apply:

  • Hotels, resort properties and B&Bs.
  • Restaurants, conference venues, professional catering businesses, and tourist attractions.
  • Tour operators, travel agents, tourist guides, car rental companies, and coach operators.

Qualifying criteria includes having a turnover not exceeding R2.5 million, the ability to guarantee employment of a minimum number of staff for three months and proof of tax compliance. Businesses must also have been established for at least one financial year and be able to prove that relief is required due to the impact of COVID-19.

According to Kubayi-Ngubane, at least 70% of beneficiaries will be businesses that are black-owned and a least 50% of beneficiaries will be businesses owned by women.

Other measures include establishing a Tourism Services Call Centre 

The minister said other short-term measures to help the tourism industry included the establishment of a Tourism Services Call Centre, where affected businesses will be able to get information on available relief measures and on events that have been postponed. In addition, the call centre will act as a helpline for tourists. 

“We have also worked with the health authorities and industry to develop standard minimum guidelines for hospitality on how to conduct operations during this period,” Kubayi-Ngubane noted.