R20 million set aside to assist KZN tourism sector
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DURBAN - THE national government has set aside a R20 million relief fund to support the KwaZulu-Natal tourism sector.
This was disclosed by Premier Sihle Zikalala during his exclusive interview with the Daily News on Thursday.
Part of the plan is to host the Intra Africa Trade Fair in November. This would involve all 54 African countries coming together and would fast track tourism.
Zikalala said tourism and the creative industries had been the hardest hit by the lockdown, as well as the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. He said that each tourism business would be assisted with at least R50 000.
“KZN tourism is working as a bridge to ensure that those who are tourism entrepreneurs get access to the relief,” Zikalala said.
He said the relief fund was to ensure that the tourism sector grew.
“We have a comprehensive plan. Support through the grant, but growth through the strategy to get more and more tourists coming into the province.”
He said they were looking for other ways to encourage and boost tourism.
“Tourism was contributing 9.6% to the provincial GDP. We were one of those provinces that were performing at a high level.”
He hoped that by the end of October the country would reach a level where the virus had subsided.
“We will go all out to ensure that we revive and be aggressive in terms of our domestic tourism strategy, focusing on all of the provinces and getting more people to visit KwaZulu-Natal, as we have done before.
“The trade fair will also show that KZN is now open for the economy and for visitors as well.”
Zikalala said they were looking at the issue of violent crimes that were hindering tourism in the province.
“Violent crime is quite a challenge to the province.
“We have seen that happening in a number of areas. We are working with a team that is within the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs that is working on establishing district multi-stakeholder forums.”
He said they intended to bring together all stakeholders to deal with the challenges, to ensure the police were supported.
Zikalala said much still needed to be done about buildings that were not in a satisfactory condition in most towns.
“There have been a number of competing priorities.
“The first is to maintain your CBD and the second to provide services in townships and rural areas.”
He said they were now learning to balance the two, with eThekwini steadily improving.
They were also trying to assist Msunduzi municipality, while Newcastle was fairly maintained.
Reacting to the R20m boost to the tourism industry, Brett Tungay, the East Coast chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa, said they were grateful for the assistance.
“We wish it could be more for an industry that brings in hundreds of millions every month. R2 billion would make a huge difference. We need a reduction in PAYE, a reduction in rates, taxes and rebates from municipalities,” said Tungay.