A total of 3,284 applications for assistance from the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) were not funded due to depletion of resources, even though some of these applications qualified to receive this assistance.
This according to Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane who on Thursday addressed the media on the latest Covid-19 regulations governing to tourism and hospitality sector under level 3.
"Reasons for non-approval ranged 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 outstanding mandatory document such as a valid tax certificate and those without supporting documents," said Kubayi-Ngubane.
The minister added that letters detailing the reasons for unfavourable considerations are being prepared and will be issued to all unfunded applicants soon.
Earlier this year, businesses in the tourism sector were invited to apply for their share of R200 million in funding to assist them through the crisis period created by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.
"Of the 7,284 valid applications submitted, our resources could only assist 4,000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector," said the minister.
She further explained that an allocation of funds was conducted in line with government policies and ensured that there was an equitable share of the resources across all regions of the country, including rural areas and small towns/dorpies.
"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. This ultimately confused and discouraged even those who qualified for the grant not to apply."
Relief funding for tour guides
"A month ago I announced that we have set aside R30 million 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," began the minister.
She confirmed that her department received a list of 9,380 tourist guides from all 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."
According to the minister, the first batch of payments to 1378 verified eligible beneficiaries have been made.
"The second batch will be paid upon completion of the verification process. The verification process will be completed tomorrow, on 31 July 2020."
Other Government relief measures
Kubayi-Ngubane welcomed the decision by Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni to review and change the qualifying criteria for the R200 billion Covid-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme.
This has been done to ensure that more businesses can gain access to the funds.
"We encourage businesses in our sector to exploit this opportunity. 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."
Next week, the minister will be publishing a draft Tourism Recovery Plan document which was put together over the last three months after South African Tourism gathered inputs from the sector through a series of webinars.
"In light of every evolving Covid-19 situation, I have decided to release the draft plan for further consultation to all the stakeholders and the general public before we finalise for submission to cabinet. The window for making inputs will start on 01 August 2020 when I release the document until 15 August 2020."
Inputs can be submitted at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.