City of Cape Town
STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES AND ASSET MANAGEMENT, ALDERMAN JAMES VOS
Guidance for travel and tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19 crisis
The COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on travel and tourism businesses. The City of Cape Town has drafted the following guidelines and advice to assist these businesses in navigating these tough times.
Local travel and tourism businesses have been some of the hardest hit in the crisis we face. Air travel has been hit very hard, but airlines are predicted to recover faster than the cruise industry, which will suffer from a longer term reputational damage.
My job as the Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities now is to use all levers at my disposal, to work with our business partners, provincial and national government to help businesses get through this crisis.
I have set up a tourism task team which includes our dedicated tourism partner, Cape Town Tourism (CTT), as well as officials from the Department of Enterprise and Investment. This team is providing constant updates to industry, developing responses, action plans and will soon begin work on our recovery plan, which I look forward to communicating on.
The good news is that the tourism industry is highly resilient and has come back time and again from natural disasters and periods of economic hardship. We can expect to see some distinct changes in the way that people travel. We expect people to take shorter trips, closer to home, driven by a desire to support local businesses suffering from the fallout of the crisis.
It is important, therefore, that local tourism businesses are prepared to compete with other destinations as soon as travel becomes possible. Frequent visitors from our core markets, as well as locals, can be lured back with attractive packages, and the MICE (meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions) sector will play an important role in presenting opportunities to present value-add and extended travel options.
In the short-term however, it is important that businesses do all they can to weather the storm and survive this crisis.
For those businesses in the tourism value chain that need immediate help to ensure their sustainability post the crisis, there are a number of City and national government initiatives to assist:
- The Tourism Relief Fund:
This fund has been made available by the National Department of Tourism to provide once-off grant assistance to Small, Micro and Medium-sized businesses in the tourism value chain. Capped at R50 000 per entity, the fund can be accessed by accommodation establishments, hospitality and related services, and travel and related services, such as tour operators. More information about how to qualify and apply can be found here. (Please note that I will continue to engage my national counterpart to broaden the criteria for assistance, to make it easier for all tourism businesses to apply and benefit).
- UIF Subsidy:
Employers that are unable to pay their worker’s full salaries due to the lockdown are encouraged to apply for this benefit by sending an email to email@example.com.
- The South African Future Trust:
This fund, set up by Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer, aims to make funding available to businesses affected by the crisis. Business owners can apply for interest-free loans to be used as relief payments to employees, and can apply via their own banks. More information can be found here.
- COVID-19 news and resources:
The Department of Enterprise and Investment has set up a very useful information portal on the Invest Cape Town website to assist business and industry. You can find all the latest news, press releases, research and downloadable resources for business from the provincial and national government too. It is also linked to Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism and other useful sites. Go to www.investcapetown.com to find credible and vital information and feel free to share it.
In the interim, I encourage travel and tourism businesses to look into ways they can update or pivot their business model and offerings to work within the current constraints. It is important to stay top of mind to existing and potential new clients, so as to be the first option when they are able to start booking and travelling again.
Our City has so much to offer for everyone, no matter what you are looking for. We know this, and by working together we will be able to get our local and international tourists back.