South Africa’s government started a 1.2 billion rand (US$79.4M) fund aimed at reviving the ailing tourism industry.
The Tourism Equity Fund will be used in particular to help black entrepreneurs start businesses and projects in the sector, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Tuesday. The cash will come from government, lenders and the Pretoria-based Small Enterprise Finance Agency, she said.
Tourism-dependent businesses have been particularly hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic as border closures and travel restrictions prevent the usual flow of holidaymakers from Europe and elsewhere. The identification of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa late last year only exacerbated the situation, putting the country on many nations’ lists of places to avoid.
Under normal circumstances, tourism accounts for 2.9% of South Africa’s economy and about 1.5 million jobs, President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the launch.
“This is a sector that is labor-intensive, and therefore has immense job creation potential,” he said. “It generates foreign-direct investment and significant export earnings. It stimulates and supports the development of small businesses.”
The focus on black businesses is part of the government’s efforts to improve economic opportunities to those discriminated against during apartheid.