Any person or small business in the tourism sector, regardless of their skin colour, can apply for financial relief from the Tourism Relief Fund, says tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
The minister reiterated this following reports that interest group, Afriforum, has served the department with court papers calling for the review of the Tourism Relief Fund.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the tourism minister said it has been inundated by inquiries from the public on the matter.
“We therefore would like to put it categorically clear to the public that no such court papers were filed with the court by Afriforum to date. Therefore, any statement issued to the contrary is disingenuous,” read the statement.
The ministry said it received papers from attorneys of Afriforum purporting to be an Urgent Court Interdict to the Relief Fund and further indicating that it should respond by 9am.
“Our position is that those papers, which were emailed to us, did not have a court case number, meaning there is no court process, which was initiated, and we are not able to respond to court,” said the ministry.
The Tourism Relief Fund, which AfriForum is vehemently opposing, provides once-off capped grant assistance to Small Micro and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) in the tourism value chain to ensure their sustainability during and post the implementation of government measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa.
Capped at R50,000 per entity, grant funding can be utilised to subsidise expenses towards fixed costs, operational costs, supplies and other pressure cost items.
The fund is guided by the Tourism Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Codes of Good Practice approved by the minister of Trade and Industries in 2015, and administered in line with the objectives of Economic Transformation, and its vision to ensure sustainable and inclusive tourism development.
The Ministry said the Department of Tourism is acting in accordance with Section 10 of the B-BBEE Act which makes the application of BBBEE codes of good practice mandatory as it states that: “[e]very organ of state … must apply any relevant code of good practice issued in terms of this Act in … determining criteria for the awarding of incentives, grants and investment schemes in support of broad-based black economic empowerment.”
The ministry said government is aware of the difficulties experienced by businesses during the Covid-19 lockdown and acknowledged the need to support the industry and communities to cope with the negative effects of this pandemic.
“Any person or business in the tourism sector can apply for the fund, regardless of the colour of their skin. Applicants are required to be fully compliant as required by law,” said the ministry.