The Department of Tourism has confirmed that it is unable to reinstate the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) owing to the unavailability of financial resources to do so.
The department is, therefore, focusing on the implementation of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP) to ensure a sustained return to business activities as the mainstay of Covid-19 recovery efforts.
The confirmation follows as the department reiterated that the TRF was dedicated to support exempted microenterprises in line with the Tourism Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice to assist enterprises with a yearly turnover not exceeding more than R5-million.
To qualify, these enterprises also had to provide valid proof in relation to the nature of the business, status of operations, Covid-19 impact, financials and tax clearance status, besides others.
Another important element of the considerations was to ensure that there was geographic spread across and within the provinces.
The confirmation follows the department confirming that it continues to receive enquiries since the closure of the fund about the prospects of new funding to continue to support enterprises that are facing renewed challenges owing to the impact of Covid-19.
These enquiries are, in most instances, from enterprises whose applications were unsuccessful either owing to not meeting the criteria requirements or limitation in the availability of resources on the part of the department.
It is also important to note that, within the tourism value chain, the fund did not cater for business categories such as franchises in the food and beverage and restaurant industry or conference facilities attached to hotels, shebeens and taverns and craft centres, besides others.
The fund, which also benefited from industry support was limited at only R200-million mainly through the redirection of funds to respond to the impact of Covid-19 on small tourism enterprises whose cashflows are largely dependent on daily activities.
The funds were meant to assist with expenses towards fixed costs, operational costs, supplies and other pressure costs items. It aimed to provide support at R50 000 per entity.
Of the 7 284 valid applications submitted, only 4 000 businesses in categories such as accommodation establishments, conferencing facilities and venues, safari and car rentals in the tourism and hospitality sector received the funds, with 3 284 enterprises unsuccessful, hence the large volume of enquiries about the possibility of a second phase of the TRF.