Opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has thrown its weight behind the small, medium, and micro enterprise (SMME) sector’s efforts to change the qualifying criteria for government funding to continue.

As previously reported by Tourism Update, the stipulation that qualifying businesses must be registered with the CIPC was highlighted as unfair by specialist tourism industry lawyer, Louis Nel, while other criteria have been called into question by civil rights organisation, Afriforum.

DA representative and Shadow Minister of Tourism, Manny de Freitas, told Tourism Update that his party was opposing the criteria for the Tourism Relief Fund. “We’ve sent a lawyer’s letter to the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, asking for clarification or amendment,” said de Freitas.

“It’s overwhelmingly a fact that a majority in this sector are small businesses.” He explained that these smaller businesses were facing a big disadvantage because, operating as sole proprietors and limited partnerships, many of them didn’t meet the qualifying criteria for application for the funds.

Industry Consultant and Adviser, Robyn Christie, has recommended businesses to apply to as many funds as possible and fill out the forms in a detailed and descriptive manner – based on her own in-depth analysis of the application processes.

Christie also advised that many smaller hospitality businesses that didn’t have disaster management plans in place should use this period as a time to analyse their business and plan to avoid such a crisis in the future.

“The obligation of business owners is to make sure you continue some sort of dialogue with those customers that you had,” said Christie. She added that the conversation needn’t be promotional but rather empathetic. “Now, more than ever, people are going to remember relationships.”