Stakeholders in the tourism sector have pleaded with the government to help them access the market and have more understanding in terms of marketing and advertising their businesses. This was a sentiment at the provincial tourism month launch at Schweizer Reneke in the North West.
Small business owners say as part of recovering from the losses incurred due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and continuous nationwide lockdown regulations, they need more government intervention.
The tourism sector is government-led and private sector run. The government has a critical role to play in making the ground fertile for the players in the sector.
Marketing and advertising of businesses
With losses suffered by the sector, product owners have pleaded with the government to empower them in terms of marketing and advertising.
Johstinah Leroux owns a guesthouse at Schweizer Reneke. She had to close down one of her businesses, due to lack of income, brought about by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She pleads for government assistance.
“I would like the government to help us, especially the SMMEs in the guesthouses because we can stay three to four months without anything. And we depend on that business. Imagine, I have employees that I have to pay at the end of the month. Now if I don’t have money to pay these people, it’s stress, because like now, I don’t have money to pay them,” says Leroux.
Marketing their businesses during the pandemic is also critical.
“We really need opportunities to market our businesses, so that we increase sales, and we make sure that the people actually experience the attractions that we have in the province,” says one of the business owners.
Another business owner says, “ We need support from the government by funding us, or we can get marketing so that we can get customers.”
The deputy chairperson of Women in Tourism Khosi Tyobeka has called on her counterparts to also encourage industry players to get vaccinated so that attracting people to their businesses becomes a possibility.
“Let’s encourage our women, men, product owners, tour guides, everybody in the North West, to vaccinate, because the more population that we have that is vaccinated, the more confidence our industry or travellers will have in our industry. The more we’ll have confidence that our country will not close down,” says Tyobeka.
MEC Keneetswe Mosenogi says for what these industry players are pleading for to happen, everyone must play their part.
“The recovery process is not just a burden on the government. It’s a burden on all of us, because, it’s not the government that must recover. It’s the entire economy that must recover. Inclusive growth means all of us, must benefit in terms of the tourism value chain. It creates opportunities that can be shared equally amongst us, and there can be job opportunities that are created,” says Mosenogi.
Mosenogi has also encouraged tourism business owners to apply for the Tourism Equity Fund, announced by the national government.
The national Department of Tourism has a plan in place to rebuild the brand South Africa as a destination of choice: