Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, while addressing tourism-related activities under COVID-19 Risk-Adjusted Level 3, said there had been some “noise” regarding the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF). 

Apart from setting the record straight about who could receive relief, she also said the lockdown curfew of 21:00 has been extended to 22:00. Intra-provincial travel is now also allowed.

TOURISM RELIEF FUND NOT JUST FOR BLACK PEOPLE

In supporting the tourism sector in this crisis period, the Department of Tourism redirected R200 million through the TRF. Of the 7284 valid applications submitted, the department’s resources could only assist 4 000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.

“Allocation of funds was conducted in line with government policies and ensured that there was equitable share of the resources across all regions of the country, including rural areas and small towns/dorpies,” said Kubayi-Ngubane. 

“We are encouraged by the many letters of appreciation from patriotic South Africans, black and white, who did not listen to the misleading noise that the relief was specifically for Black people,” she said. 

Kubayi-Ngubane said this ultimately confused and discouraged those who qualified for the grant, not to apply.

The department said a total of 3284 applications were not funded due to depletion of resources, despite the fact that some qualified. 

Reasons for non-approval range from enterprises with an annual turnover R5 million and above, non-tourism enterprises, enterprises not covered under the TRF guidelines like franchise restaurants, applications with an outstanding mandatory document such as a valid tax certificate and those without supporting documents. 

“Letters detailing the reasons for unfavourable considerations are being prepared and will be issued to all unfunded applicants soon,” she added. 

KUBAYI-NGUBANE ON RELIEF FUNDING FOR TOUR GUIDES

A month ago, R30 million was set aside to provide financial relief for freelance tourist guides over a period of two to three months. 

“The processing of payments has taken longer due to some provincial offices closing down after they had positive COVID-19 cases,” said Kubayi-Ngubane. 

The department has since received a list of 9 380 tourist guides from the provinces. 

“It has come to our attention that some of the tour guides are registered with UIF. To avoid double-dipping, we have initiated a verification process to ensure that only those who are not receiving income benefit,” said Kubayi-Ngubane. 

The first batch of payments to 1 378 verified eligible beneficiaries have been made. The second batch will be paid upon completion of the verification process. The verification process will be completed by Friday 31 July 2020. 

In addition, the qualifying criteria for the R 200 billion COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme, will be reviewed so that more businesses can gain access to the funds. 

“Similarly, we welcome the announcement by Minister Nxesi of the extension of the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) until 15 August. This will go a long way for many businesses and employees,” added Kubayi-Ngubane. 

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Presh JM Reporter

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