Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The tourism department has set aside R200m to support small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the tourism and hospitality sectors whose businesses will suffer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Announcing the measures on Tuesday, minister of tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the amount is insufficient but noted that big businesses will be able to seek assistance from other programmes instituted to deal with the crisis.

Kubayi-Ngubane spoke at a special media briefing by the economic cluster of ministers on how their sectors would be managed under the three-week lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which takes effect at midnight on Thursday.

All businesses except those in the food value chain, pharmacies and designated essential services will have to stop operations. It will pressure tourism businesses, which have already come under stress from the ban announced by Ramaphosa about 10 days ago on international travellers from high-risk countries such as China, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, France, South Korea, Switzerland and the US.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the R200m, which has been approved by the Treasury, is intended to assist SMMEs that are unlikely to survive the lockdown.

Criteria for assistance includes an annual turnover of not more than R2.5m, being registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, being in possession of a valid tax clearance certificate and having been in operation for more than a year.

A minimum number of employees must also be guaranteed employment for three months and the applicant must be able to prove compliance with the minimum wage and have employees who are registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

The accommodation, hospitality and related services, and travel and related services sectors would qualify for the benefit. This includes hotels, resorts, B&Bs, restaurants and conference facilities that are not attached to hotels, professional catering services, tourist attractions, tour operators, travel agents, tourist guides, car rental companies and coach operators.

Applicants for funding will have to prove that their distress has been caused by Covid-19 and did not precede its arrival in SA.

The minister said funding will be provided to enterprises across all provinces and care will be taken that youth and women benefit.

The broad-based BEE sector codes will be applied to ensure all races benefit. At least 70% of beneficiaries will be black-owned businesses, at least 50% women owned, at least 30% youth owned and at least 4% owned by people with disabilities.

“We are committed to see the sector being able to pick up the pieces post the Covid-19, thus our role will be to respond and support the industry during this period,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

She said her department is in close contact with the tourism sector. The department is creating a database with details of all foreign tourists in the country, the date of their arrival and planned departure, and areas where they have visited. Tourists leaving SA will be subject to mandatory testing at OR Tambo, Cape Town and Durban airports.

“We urge all tourism stakeholders, particularly accommodation owners, to co-operate and make sure no-one leaves unless they have a ticket booked and are catching the next flight home,” the minister said.

The minister condemned two incidents of tourists who continued with their trips without disclosing that they had Covid-19, putting South Africans at risk. She also reminded tour operators and guides of their obligation to be responsible to protect South Africans and tourists.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za