Distressed tourism businesses and operators in KwaZulu-Natal will get another chance to apply for financial assistance after the second phase of the R20-million Tourism Relief Fund was opened on September 27, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) says.
EDTEA and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal will work closely with community tourism organisations (CTOs) and tourism formations to ensure that as many qualifying tourism businesses facing distress are supported as possible.
The first phase of the R20-million fund saw only R858 500 being disbursed to support 29 qualifying tourism businesses and tour guides. This low uptake was as a result of many applicants being disqualified owing to noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the fund.
Some of the factors that contributed to the high number of unsuccessful applicants were incorrect and incomplete information being provided and a lack of business registration documents, which include registration with Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, EDTEA and sector associations.
Other factors include a lack of compliance with tax regulations applicable to businesses and limited scope of tourism businesses eligible to apply for the relief fund.
Given the low number of successful applicants and the fact that there is still budget available for the tourism relief fund, EDTEA decided that a second intake of applications be considered under revised selection criteria to accommodate more tourism businesses.
The Tourism Relief programme forms part of government’s efforts to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism sector.
Businesses that were unsuccessful in the first round are encouraged to apply again. EDTEA and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal want to ensure that all qualifying businesses in the sector get a fair chance of receiving financial assistance.
Eligible businesses include accommodation establishments, hospitality and related services, including restaurants and conference venues, as well as professional catering businesses.
Travel and related services businesses, such as tour operators, travel agents, tourist guides, car rental companies, shuttle services transporting tourists, coach operators and attractions operators, are also eligible to apply.
Exhibition companies, conference organisers, as well as rickshaw operators, arts and craft cooperatives and traditional performance groups associated with accommodation facilities and attractions are also eligible to apply.
“Through this fund, we hope to assist businesses to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, prevent job losses and get them back towards a path of stability. KwaZulu-Natal is a leading tourist destination whose success relies on a thriving sector that includes tour operators, accommodation establishments, restaurants, tourist guides, attractions and other tourist offerings. It is essential that the value chain works in its entirety,” says KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Ravi Pillay.
EDTEA and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal will be engaging with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the information about the Tourism Relief Fund reaches as many tourism businesses as possible and will ensure that applicants are assisted during the application process.
Applications will close on October 29. Application forms are available online from the official Tourism KwaZulu-Natal website and a call centre has been set up to guide and provide information to applicants.