Tourism minister seeks funding for industry revival

Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
GCIS

Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has approached the National Treasury for additional funds for a marketing campaign to help attract international visitors and revive an industry devastated by a coronavirus lockdown.

The move comes as the country prepares to reopen its borders, which have been shut since March. Business and leisure travel will be permitted from 1 October, although entry may be denied to people from countries with high infection rates.

Diplomatic discussions are under way to ensure visitors comply with strict health protocols and those nations whose citizens are granted access reciprocate and allow South Africans to enter, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said Thursday in an interview.

“We will have to be aggressive in our marketing campaigns,” she said. “We have approached Treasury already in terms of our revising our budget” and are awaiting its response, she said.

The Treasury will review spending allocations in its medium-term budget policy statement that is due to be released next month. It will be hard-pressed to come up with additional funding because the lockdown brought the economy to a near-halt and eroded tax revenue.

Coronavirus infections, deaths and hospital admissions have fallen in South Africa despite a phased reopening of the economy, which prompted the decision to reopen the borders. International travelers will need to present a negative Covid-19 test result that’s not more than 72 hours old, or face mandatory quarantine, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address on Tuesday.

Other highlights:

  • The list of countries whose citizens are permitted to enter South Africa will be assessed and updated every two weeks. The US is unlikely to be on the initial list.
  • A renewed surge in infections would result in the reintroduction of restrictive measures, including border closures.
  • The cabinet initially expected to only permit entry to visitors from outside of Africa from next year, but reviewed its stance because it determined that those from some other countries didn’t pose a threat.
  • The tourism department predicted in September that there would be 500 000 to 600 000 job losses in the tourism industry by the end of this month based on an assumption that the industry would remain largely shut until year-end. Those numbers are now being revised.
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