The Department of Tourism has confirmed that over 60% (R127m - €6.53m) of the R200m (€10.28m) Tourism Relief Fund has now been paid out.

“It is good news that the Department of Tourism is starting to pay out businesses from the Tourism Relief Fund but we understand that there are still many applications that are still being processed. Small travel and tourism businesses are the lifeblood of our industry and are often providers of extremely unique products and services. We just hope that the funds will be enough to help these entities survive and we hope that further support will be set aside for our industry,” says CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.

It would seem that, of the numerous industry players canvassed by Tourism Update, the majority of successful candidates who have received payment from the Tourism Relief Fund are accommodation establishments.

Owner of De Waterkant Cottages, Richard Gush, said he asked his accountant to apply for the Tourism Relief Fund on his behalf the week that it was first announced. He received an email acknowledging his application and then heard nothing more from the Department of Tourism for around two months. A representative from the department then made contact asking him to submit an additional affidavit outlining how he would spend the funds, which he did. On June 15, Gush woke up to find that R50 000 had been paid into his business’s account from the fund. Gush qualified for the fund as a B-BBEE micro-exempt enterprise (EME).

Michelle Oosthuizen, Manager of Kusudalweni Lodge in Limpopo province, whose business also qualified as an EME, says: “After emailing and uploading supporting documents to the Department of Tourism we heard nothing more from them. Two weeks ago, I sent a follow-up email and within 50 minutes we had received an approval letter. The R50 000 was in our account the next day. Our lodge is still closed as our clients are mainly foreigners. As a result, we will use these funds to pay for running expenses such as our electricity bill.”

The Department of Tourism was contacted for information about the dispersal of the funds but had not responded at time of publication.