“As the Provincial Government, we have listened to the cries of our people operating in the tourism sector; and that is why today we are starting to disburse relief funds to them. This is part of implementing the Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (MERRP), pronounced by Premier Mtshweni-Tsipane, when she delivered the State of the Province Address in March this year, wherein she announced an allocation of R10 million to assist tourism businesses whose operations were affected by the hard lockdown”, explained MEC Mkhatshwa.
Earlier in January 2021, the MTPA published adverts inviting Mpumalanga tourism businesses to apply for the COVID-19 Tourism Relief Funding. This initiative was in support of the National Tourism Relief Fund, and was thus meant to assist provincial tourism SMMEs (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) in distress (due to the pandemic induced lockdown), which did not benefit from the National Relief Fund.
In total, we have received 430 applications in various categories. At this stage, only 28 applications were unsuccessful as they had already benefited from the National Relief Fund. And so far, we have finalised processing applications in four (4) categories; namely, tourist guides (133 applications), hospitality (25 applications, professional hunter (1 application) and tourism grader assessor (1 application)”, added the MEC. Also speaking at the much-awaited Event, MTPA CEO, Mr Johannes Nobunga, said “the relief funds we are disbursing today, will go further in assisting businesses to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, we have transferred funds to 91 tourism businesses, but will only reflect in their bank accounts this coming Friday owing to bank transfer processes”. “We are confident that the work, by the MTPA’s evaluation and adjudication committee, currently underway, will be completed soon, and all qualifying businesses will receive their relief funds by mid-May 2021. It remains our commitment to ensure that the economy is revived through the tourism sector”, added Nobunga.
The first six (6) beneficiaries, who received the Tourism Relief Funding today are:
- Kingsley Lekhuleni (Tour Operator from Bushbuckridge – R10 000.00)
- Nobuntu Gwede (Tour Guide from Hazyview – R35 000.00)
- Andries Mabuza (Tour Guide from Mkhuhlu – R10 000.00)
- Ntokozo Mbuyane (Operator in Hospitality from Thaba Chweu – R35 000.00)
- Lungile Lusenga (Tour Guide from Gert Sibande District – R10 000.00)
- Werner Rossouw (Grading Assessor from White River – R10 000.00)
“I am very excited about this relief fund which we received from the MEC today. We thank the Department and the MTPA for this gesture. We received this money when we really needed it”, said an elated Ms Nobuntu Gwede, a Tour Guide from Hazyview, after being announced as one of the successful applicants and beneficiary.
The funds to be awarded to each category, per successful applicant, are as follows:
- Accommodation establishments: R25 000 (minimum) to R50 000 (maximum);
- Hospitality and related services: R15 000 (minimum) to R35 000 (maximum);
- Travel and related services: R15 000 (minimum) to R35 000 (maximum);
- Individual Tourism Tourist Guides, Professional Hunters and Tourism Grading Assessors: R10 000 (maximum); and
- Informal/subsistence tourism related businesses: R7 000 (maximum).