Picture: Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane
South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has reiterated that while easing the COVID-19 lockdown regulations in the tourism sector is aimed at assisting businesses, it has to be done under strict conditions to curb the further spread of the virus.
Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on Thursday, Kubayi-Ngubane said the department’s focus is on supporting domestic tourism as the first point of recovery.
“The recovery of the entire tourism industry would largely depend on how travel-ready authorities are in terms of managing and controlling coronavirus locally and globally,” Kubayi-Ngubane warned.
Tourism relief fund
The department informed committee members that 3 861 companies and individuals have already benefited from the R200 million Tourism Relief Fund, with assistance capped at R50 000.The department received more than 7 000 applications for assistance.
Tourism Director General, Victor Tharage, confirmed that the department has lost close to R1 billion in its readjusted budget, as announced by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
However, Tharage said that although there are difficult times ahead for the industry and those dependent on it, his department would still be able to meet all its amended targets in line with its adjusted budget.
The committee has expressed its full support for the department’s efforts to reopen the tourism industry.
Committee Chairperson, Supra Mahumapelo, thanked the department for its commitment and effort to save the industry, while balancing the pressure, both from industry stakeholders and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We all have a role to play in defeating Coronavirus and rebuilding the tourism industry, and our economy. Therefore, you have the full support of this committee to appropriately manage the controlled opening of the tourism industry in line with broader government regulations,” Mahumapelo said.
He further called on all relevant parliamentary committees to support the industry in its drive to manage the reopening of the tourism industry, but to “do so cautiously without unnecessary risks to the lives of innocent citizens and the people who work in the industry”.