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Minister confident tourism will recover

Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane
Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

The tourism industry is the worst hit by the coronavirus and will require changes from within to get into a recovery path post the pandemic.

This is according to tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, who spoke during the inaugural Empowaentrepreneurs Digital Conversations held last night.

The Empowaentrepreneurs is an online think-tank platform where professionals and business people share ideas.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the coronavirus had plunged the world into a recession, hitting every sector of the economy.

Government banned international travel as part of containment measures, closing doors to thousands of tourists who come and spend their money in the hospitality industry.

This literally collapsed the tourism sector which thrives on international and domestic travel.

But Kubayi-Ngubane believes the sector has the resilience to bounce back.

"All of us have to appreciate that travel and tourism will never be the same, it has changed and it is changing. However, the beautiful places will still be there when the Covid-19 pandemic passes and people will still need places to visit and enjoy rest after they labour.

"We are therefore confident that tourism will recover, but the provision of certain tourism services will be altered forever. Some changes might be temporary until the world discovers a vaccine," she said.

Over the past decade, the tourism sector has seen a growth in international visitors from 8.1-million in 2011 to 10.2-million in 2019.

Tourism directly contributed R130.2bn (2.7%) to GDP in 2018 and an estimated R145.3bn (2.9%) of the total GDP last year.

To help businesses in the sector, the department has established a Tourism Relief Fund.

"The Tourism Relief Fund which is a once-off grant assistance to small, micro and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism value chain to ensure their sustainability during and post the implementation of government measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Capped at R50,000 per entity, the grant is aimed at assisting entities to cover fixed costs, operational costs, supplies and other pressure costs items," Kubayi-Ngubane said.