Tourism minister acknowledges R200m Tourism Relief Fund is not enough
Travel businesses have been massively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with some closing their doors for good.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, who has been in the forefront of finding innovative ways to ensure that the tourism industry stays on course despite the obstacles thrown its way, encourages tourism businesses to apply for other government relief schemes.
“We acknowledge that the R200-million Tourism Relief Fund is not enough. We encourage businesses in the sector to apply for other relief schemes. For example, the government has introduced the R200-billion loan guarantee scheme in partnership with the major banks, the National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank.
"The initial phase of this scheme is for companies with a turnover of less than R300-million a year, and most of the tourism businesses fall within this category. We encourage them to utilise this opportunity as it will help reduce the burden of operational costs, such as salaries, rent and the payment of suppliers.
“We have also been working in close collaboration with the Department of Labour and employment, labour formations, and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) to expedite UIF applications for tourism businesses. We have received over 25 000 applications, and we believe this will also assist in saving jobs in the sector,” she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane wants the tourism industry to "learn, think and plan for the future".
“No nation, no government, no scientist and no one has disrupted our business and our lives, the virus has. All our efforts should first be at defeating its spread and halting the carnage. We must observe current risk-adjusted levels, so when we return to operation, we must apply all health precautions and continue to raise awareness.”
She encouraged the industry to show resilience during this time.
Vasbyt - hang in there. We have to be strong and resilient. Kubayi-Ngubane said the consumer was essential in recovery.
“We need to ask important questions like how do we get them here post-Covid-19? How do we talk to them through? These are the questions we need to interrogate as a sector. I believe there are opportunities out there that we need to start unravelling now. We need better rates, early offers, marketing material, among others, to take to the market as soon as possible. We need to start the ‘conversation’ with the consumer now and ensure the message is simple and quick,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
She said the industry needed to respond to the health fears of the consumer and gain their trust.
“This may range from reduction of max numbers on a game drive or touring vehicle, day tours operated on a larger vehicle to allow distancing or incentives for booking private services.”