MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism in Mpumalanga, Vusi Mkhatshwa, issued relief funds to 91 provincial tourism businesses yesterday (Wednesday, April 28).
This follows an allocation of R10 million (€578 600) for this purpose, by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, to its public entity, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA).
“As the provincial government, we have listened to the cries of our people operating in the tourism sector, and that is why today we are starting to disburse relief funds to them. This is part of implementing the Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan,” said Mkhatshwa.
In January, the MTPA called on Mpumalanga tourism businesses to apply for the COVID-19 Tourism Relief Funding. “This initiative was in support of the National Tourism Relief Fund, and was thus meant to assist provincial tourism SMMEs (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) in distress (due to the pandemic-induced lockdown), which did not benefit from the National Relief Fund,” explained an MTPA spokesperson.
To date, MTPA has received 430 applications in various categories, with only 28 unsuccessful applications. These applications were turned down as they had already benefited from the National Relief Fund.
MTPA has finalised processing applications in four categories: tourist guides (133 applications), hospitality (25 applications, professional hunter (1 application) and tourism grader assessor (1 application).
Speaking at yesterday’s event, MTPA CEO, Johannes Nobunga, said: “Today, we have transferred funds to 91 tourism businesses. We are confident that the work, by the MTPA’s evaluation and adjudication committee will be completed soon, and all qualifying businesses will receive their relief funds by mid-May. It remains our commitment to ensure that the economy is revived through the tourism sector.”
“I am very excited about this relief fund that we received from the MEC today. We thank the Department and the MTPA for this gesture. We received this money when we really needed it,” said Nobuntu Gwede, a tour guide from Hazyview.
The funds to be awarded to each category, per successful applicant, are as follows:
- Accommodation establishments: R25 000 (€1 400) (minimum) to R50 000 (€2 900) (maximum);
- Hospitality and related services: R15 000 (€870) (minimum) to R35 000 (€2 000) (maximum);
- Travel and related services: R15 000 (minimum) to R35 000 (maximum);
- Individual Tourist Guides, Professional Hunters and Tourism Grading Assessors: R10 000 (€580) (maximum); and
- Informal/subsistence tourism-related businesses: R7 000 (€400) (maximum).