Tourism association, SATSA, is advocating for the “best possible relief” for its members as a result of the negative impact the global COVID-19 pandemic has had on the sector.

“This is being done through the proper channels and in a collaborative way,” said SATSA in response to a query prompted by requests for relief from larger businesses with a turnover higher than the maximum R2.5 million (€130 760) required by the tourism ministry’s R200m (€10.46m) small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) Relief Fund.

A number of Tourism Update readers have highlighted the need for interim funding and/or debt relief for businesses that fall in the slightly higher turnover bracket.

“The main thing is to try and avoid job losses. With that turnover it is likely the businesses that meet the criteria don’t have many employees – if any,” said an industry member on a WhatsApp travel group forum.

Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has conceded that the amount set aside for SMME relief was not enough to assist the entire sector.

“The impact of these measures on big business as well as small, micro and medium enterprises will be devastating and will vary in accordance with the size of the enterprise in short to medium term,” she said, adding, however, that the nature of SMMEs is such that the dearth of business activities for more than a month could spell the end for such enterprises. 

“In light of a constrained fiscus, we have worked closely with all stakeholders to find short-term measures that could assist to bring relief to affected businesses and other supportive mechanisms. We are highly concerned about the potential loss of livelihood by workers in these establishments and they are integral to these measures,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

“Concerning large businesses, we have looked at relief measures for those registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund,” she pointed out.