The Portfolio Committee on Tourism has expressed its full support for the Department of Tourism’s efforts to reopen the tourism industry.
Committee Chairperson, Mr Supra Mahumapelo, thanked the department for its commitment and effort to save the industry, while balancing the pressure both from industry stakeholders and the Covid-19 pandemic. The department has been commended for heeding the call to include the promotion of villages, townships and small towns in the District Development Model.
“We all have a role to play in defeating coronavirus and rebuilding the tourism industry and our economy. Therefore, you have the full support of this committee to appropriately manage the controlled opening of the tourism industry in line with broader government regulations,” said Mr Mahumapelo.
He also called on all relevant parliamentary committees “to support the industry in its drive to manage the reopening of the tourism industry, but to do so cautiously without unnecessary risks to the lives of innocent citizens and the people who work in the industry”.
Addressing the committee, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said that while easing lockdown regulations in the sector was aimed at assisting businesses, it had to be done under strict conditions, and while reinforcing government’s health objectives towards defeating Covid-19.
The Minister added that their focus will be on supporting domestic tourism as the first point of recovery. She cautioned that the recovery of the entire tourism industry would largely depend on how travel ready authorities were in terms of managing and controlling coronavirus locally and globally.
The department also informed committee members that 3 861 companies and individuals had already benefited from the R200 million Tourism Relief Fund, with assistance capped at R50 000. The department received more than 7 000 applications for assistance.
Tourism Director-General, Mr Victor Tharage, confirmed that the department lost close to R1 billion in its readjusted budget as announced by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. However, Mr Tharage added that although there were difficult times ahead for the industry and those dependent on it, his department would still be able to meet all its amended targets in line with its adjusted budget.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.