The Department of Tourism says it is now accepting applications for once-off grants from small and medium enterprises – such as bed and breakfasts, certain restaurants, lodges and coach operators – that have been impacted by a major slump in visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The department has established a R200 million fund to help keep the businesses operational. The grants – applications for which will be evaluated by a panel of experts – have been capped at R50 000 per businesses.
Applications for relief opened on Tuesday and close on 30 May.
"We acknowledge the difficulties experienced by businesses during this time, hence the need to support the industry and communities to cope with the negative effects of this pandemic," said Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, in a statement.
Last week the minister said that the local tourism sector had "almost come to a standstill" due to travel restrictions and social distancing to stop the spread of the pandemic.
The grants will only be open to small and medium enterprises, which the minster described a as "survivalists in nature", with "limited access to funding from commercial institutions". Applicants must be Exempted Micro Enterprises.
"We hope the support offered through the Tourism Relief Fund will assure the continued survival of SMMEs beyond the Covid–19 pandemic," said the minister.
The grants will cover hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, backpackers, certain conference venues and tourist "attractions", as well as tour operators and travel agents, among others.
According to the criteria published on the tourism department's website, restaurants that are not attached to hotels will be eligible to apply for funding, but fast food and take away restaurants, nightclubs, bars, gaming and gambling venues will not be.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the relief fund would be administered in line with the objectives of economic transformation, and the funds will be equitably disbursed among the provinces.
* Visit the department's website at www.tourism.gov.za for information on the fund terms and qualifying criteria.