Vaal Tourism sinking as government pays lip-service to relief funding

Vaal economy, mainly propelled by tourism is at the verge of collapse as COVID 19 continues to take its toll in Mzansi. Thousands of employees employed in the leisure and hospitality industry in Vaal are facing prospects of unemployment. Flourishing riverside restuarants like Stone Haven would struggle to resume operations due to the extended lockdown

Vaal hosts some of Gauteng’s biggest casinos, hotels, tours, boating and fishing companies.

The country’s tourism industry has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane informing Parliament last week that her portfolio was the hardest hit by the pandemic.

South Africa closed off its borders when Ramaphosa announced a lockdown in March, with citizens from several hotspot countries being banned from travelling into the country during the state of disaster.

The bans, which were extended to the prohibition of inter-provincial travel and the closure of hotels and conferencing establishments, were some of the things which affected the tourism and hospitality industry. “In mitigation of the impact of the pandemic on tourism, which is the largest source of employment in the country, the Department of Tourism has instituted a Tourism Relief Fund to assist small, micro and medium-sized enterprises affected by lockdown restrictions on the movement of people, and the closure of the country’s borders,” Diko said. She said the R200 million relief fund would be disbursed as once-off R50 000 grants per entity, to ensure businesses survived as the country prepares to reopen more economic activity, alongside the primary objective of saving lives in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government ’snail pace in releasing the promised relief fund to tourism companies is further exacerbating the situation. Vaal tourism company owners have not yet received as assistance yet. “We only saw that relief fund on TV as the President and his ministers promise all kinds of financial interventions, but nothing has materialized yet,” said one Tourism operator who declined to be named.He also added that the stringent restrictions surrounding the relief fund were making it difficult for the majority of small companies to access the funding.  

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