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Kubayi-Ngubane hopeful loan scheme will assist struggling tourism businesses

The tourism industry is battling to survive with businesses in distress and millions of jobs on the line as the impact of COVID-19 continued to ravage the economy.

FILE: Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. Picture: @Tourism_gov_za/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - With the COVID-19 tourism relief fund depleted, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on Thursday said that she was hoping that the R200 million loan guarantee scheme would assist qualifying businesses who had not received financial help.

The tourism industry is battling to survive with businesses in distress and millions of jobs on the line as the impact of COVID-19 continued to ravage the economy.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that the R200 million that the industry had received to help keep the sector afloat ran out after only providing relief to about 60% of applicants.

In response, government eased regulations and extended the curfew to 10pm to accommodate the battling restaurant industry.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that she was in talks with National Treasury and the Department of Employment and Labour on how they could make that a reality.

Over 3,200 businesses who applied for the relief fund were left empty-handed because the money ran out. The minister asked for patience.

“I’m mindful that this does not bring any comfort to businesses that are in distress and to jobs that have been lost or are on the verge of being lost, however, we need to continue to work together to ensure that we rebuild our sector,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

She said that they had also set aside R30 million to provide financial support for freelance tourist guides over a period of at least three months.

'EASED REGULATIONS NOT ENOUGH' - MAYNIER

At the same time, the relaxing of more restrictions on the tourism and hospitality industry could have come too late.

Western Cape Finance MEC David Maynier said that the eased regulations by government for tour operators, restaurants and others were not enough.

“We have repeatedly called for the opening of these sectors, who have already done a great deal of work to develop health and safety guidelines and protocols aimed at ‘de-risking’ the sector,” Maynier said.

Leisure travel within provinces was allowed and citizens are also permitted to stay over at guesthouses and hotels but in keeping with regulations.

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