There is growing concern from tourist guides about when they will receive payments from the Tourist Guide Relief Fund, as recent lockdown regulations show the tourism industry may not open any time soon.
Registered tourist guide, Leon Breytenbach, told Tourism Update that he had been constantly sending emails to the Tourist Guiding Team at the Department of Tourism.
“As a freelance tour guide who is financially, mortally wounded, I ask once again, surely there must be an urgency with a deadline that the department is attempting to meet with the pay-outs?” queried Breytenbach.
Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, announced on May 30 that R30m (€1.5m) had been earmarked to provide relief and support for tourist guides registered with the National Registrar of Tourist Guides (in terms of the Tourism Act).
In an exclusive interview with Tourism Update last week, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, said the department was still busy with the verification process of the data collected from provinces.
“We have to ensure that there is no other relief that individuals may have received to ensure it is fair. The verification process is being handled with the Unemployment Insurance Fund – which falls under the auspices of the Department of Labour and the Department of Home Affairs,” said Mahlalela.
National Federation of Tourist Guides and Affiliates (NFTGA) Spokesperson, Francois Collin, said the organisation was grateful that funds were made available. “With the uncertainty, it is very likely that many of the tourist guides will not be in a position to return to the industry, leaving us with a skills shortage of qualified guides.
“This will result in an extended loss of business and reputation to an industry that was world renowned for its high-quality offering,” he added.
Collin said the NFTGA had, to date, not received any official feedback on the current status of the Tourist Guide Relief Fund.
“We know that there were several delays at UIF, primarily because they were closed due to a reported COVID-19 case. We hope that the money will start to flow soon, but fear that it may already be too late,” said Collin.
“We have had several calls from guides begging for a food handout as they can no longer feed their families, and there have been reports of suicides.”