The R200 million (€10,5m) Business in Distress Fund for tourism businesses in the small, medium and micro enterprise sector (SMMEs) is open to all companies whose turnover is no more than R2.5 million (€130 780) per annum.

So said the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, at a press briefing held in Pretoria today following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national address on Monday night in which he highlighted a number of economic interventions to ensure the negative economic impact of a 21-day lockdown could be minimised.

Kubayi-Ngubane acknowledged that the amount of R200 million was not sufficient to stave off the economic crisis faced by the tourism industry amid the global COVID-19 outbreak. “That’s why government has introduced a series of measures that larger tourism businesses can take advantage of to stay afloat – including tax relief measures, loan payment extensions etc,” she pointed out.

The Minister said the full list of criteria would be listed on the homepage of the Department of Tourism website but that SMMEs applying for assistance would need to show that the business was directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“We will not consider businesses that were already in crisis before the COVID-19 outbreak,” emphasised Kubayi-Ngubane.

She further noted that priority would be given to women- or youth-owned businesses. “I would also like to make it very clear that that this assistance is not earmarked for only one colour – it is a non-discriminatory fund that will be available across all races,” said Kubayi-Ngubane, addressing false reports that only 51% black-owned businesses would be eligible.

According to her, this fund would be open to hospitality and related sectors, including B&Bs, hotels and restaurants, and travel, tourism and related sectors.

Government will fast track this aid and is looking at a turnaround period – from application to funds being made available – of 14 days.