An additional R30 million in coronavirus relief has been made available for tour guides, tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Saturday.
The relief, which will be provided over two to three months, will cover registered tour guides, including freelancers and independent guides.
It will therefore fill an important gap previously left by the R200-million tourism relief fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, as it will cover some of those who were not previously eligible for assistance.
“The beneficiaries will include tour guides registered with the registrar in terms of the Tourism Act, and tour guides who are not employed by any company. Freelancers or independent contractors without job security are also included,” the minister said during a briefing on Saturday evening.
Tour guides will be able to receive subsidised personal protective equipment in order to allow them to operate under health and safety regulations. This is in order to help them cover the costs of returning to operation, she said.
“These are people who did not have job security and income in the previous months,” the minister explained. “The tour guides will need to be compliant in terms of the health protocol.”
Kubayi-Ngubane added that some 600 000 jobs in the country had been estimated to be at risk if the tourism industry was not to some degree operational by September.
The tourism relief fund – a once-off capped grant of R50 000 per entity to subsidise expenses – had gone some way towards addressing concerns, she said.
The minister also noted that although some 6 000 applications had been processed by her department, efforts had been hampered by technical glitches. These were being resolved, she said.
“We have been able to work around the clock to get most of these people… to be able to submit their documents,” she said.
In an effort to clear the backlog, the department was also accepting email submissions of documents.
The minister welcomed the partial lifting of travel restrictions at Level 3, saying that the first phase of recovery would be driven by domestic tourism.