'R10m govt funds for SMMEs not enough, more money to be made available' – Mpumalanga Tourism MEC
- More funding will be made available for Mpumalanga small businesses operating within the tourism sector, government promises.
- Earlier this year, government set aside R10 million to assist Covid-hit small businesses within the sector.
- During the Mpumalanga Tourism Expo, Tourism MEC Vusumuzi Mkhatshwa said government is in talks with stakeholders to provide more funding.
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The Mpumalanga government is in talks with stakeholders to inject more money into a recovery plan aimed at assisting local small businesses hard hit by Covid-19 within the tourism industry.
This was said by MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Vusumuzi Mkhatshwa at this year's Mpumalanga Tourism Expo.
To boost small businesses within the industry, the province introduced the Tourism Recovery Plan through which the government made a R10 million cash injection to help local small businesses get back on their feet.
"Of that R10 million, 600 SMMEs benefited… that intervention assisted their businesses. They were able to pay some of their debts and are able to continue running their businesses," said Mkhatshwa.
Although some businesses benefited from the funding, others have stated that they have not received financial support. To this, Mkhatshwa, said provisions are being made to ensure that all small businesses benefit.
"In terms of the devastation of Covid-19, which is huge, it is clear that the R10 million will not be sufficient, but we are continuing as a province to find other means to support all of them," he said.
According to the MEC, "the overarching plan is the Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan", an economic mitigation programme to counter the negative impact of the pandemic induced lockdown.
"We are engaging with strategic partners to make sure that we avail more resources to support our SMMEs.
"Part of our priority is looking into the township and rural economies, that's where these SMMEs are found. So yes, in different ways and different packages, they are going to be supported," said Mkhatshwa.
Mpumalanga Tourism Expo
The two-day tourism expo, aimed at reviving tourism in the Mpumalanga province, hosted over 20 small businesses whose operations have been affected by the pandemic.
"This expo is like the beginning of a new chapter for tourism in the province, allowing people to showcase what they have in terms of products and services," said CEO of Jakada Holdings, Xolani Mthethwa.
According to South African Tourism's 2019 Tourism Report, Mpumalanga's tourism performance was on a high before the Covid-19 pandemic. The province recorded the fourth most international tourist arrivals between 2018 and 2019.
In the same period locally, Mpumalanga was the fourth most visited destination province for domestic tourism. In 2020, the sector estimated that a total of 30,000 jobs could be lost as a result of Covid-19.
Due to the pandemic, "we were working under a deficit. We no longer had that many customers," said one exhibitor, Nkosinathi Msibi from Ebutsini Cultural Village, a small business that offers accommodation and various cultural experiences.
"It doesn't affect businesses only but also the people who reside in communities around the business. A number of people have lost their jobs," he added.
The expo gave these small businesses the platform to showcase their product offerings in hopes of attracting more customers.
Not only does the expo boost the small businesses, but also exposes more activities to travel enthusiast.
"It is an opportunity that came at the right time," said Mthethwa. "People are hungry to get out of their homes, and the [exhibitors] themselves want to attract more business so that they sustain their business going forward."
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