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R20m relief fund for struggling KZN tourism businesses

16 March 2021 - 13:55 By suthentira govender
Covid-19 has left many KwaZulu-Natal tourism-focused businesses in dire straits. File photo.
Covid-19 has left many KwaZulu-Natal tourism-focused businesses in dire straits. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Tourism businesses in KwaZulu-Natal — hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic — are set to benefit from the provincial government's R20m relief scheme.

At least 400 businesses are expected to receive relief from the scheme, for which applications opened on Monday and will close on April 15.

Ravi Pillay, MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, said tourism businesses will each receive R50,000 while tourist guides stand to receive R4,500 each.

Priority will be given to enterprises that could not benefit from any of the available government funding schemes for Covid-19.  

“The survival of small distressed tourism businesses during this trying time is of critical importance. This is why as the KZN government we have recognised the need to intervene to save these businesses from total collapse. We also hope that this scheme will lead to jobs being saved,” Pillay said.

Pillay believes the government’s intervention will help small struggling businesses minimise the negative effects of Covid-19 and help them maintain a basic level of operational sustainability during the pandemic.

“The emergence and spread of coronavirus, early last year, had a severe and adverse economic impact on the tourism industry in general and to small tourism enterprises in particular.

“These businesses were heavily dependent on providing services to both international and domestic travellers to sustain their businesses. When travel bans were imposed by various countries, including SA, bookings were cancelled and businesses had to shut down their operations for a period of time,” he said.

This, he added, has resulted in a loss of revenue, the result being that businesses and tour guides are unable to sustain themselves and their employees.

Some business owners were reliant on equity funding and loans from banks and other financial institutions for their start-up and continuous operations.

Last year the R100m National Tourism Relief Fund successfully supported 4,000 businesses, 607 of which are from KwaZulu-Natal.

Accommodation establishments. hospitality and related services and travel and related services will be eligible.

According to Pillay, at least 70% of beneficiaries will be enterprises that are black-owned; at least 50% of beneficiaries will be enterprises that are women-owned; at least 30% of beneficiaries will be enterprises that are youth-owned and at least 4% of beneficiaries will be enterprises that have met a target of at least 2% employment of people with disabilities.