David Frost, the CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), issued the following communication on 20 March 2020:

With things moving as fast as they are in this time of crisis, it is difficult to keep you abreast of the various meetings, discussions and advocacy we are doing at the moment. We do however want you to know that industry and indeed the entire sector, both public and private, are working together more than ever before. Our sincere appreciation goes out to all our counterpart associations, government entities and businesses who are providing volumes of information and assistance.

SATSA’s priorities in this time of crisis are to:

  1. Provide members, to the best of our ability, with relevant and clear information and best practice. We do this through collating your questions and accessing answers and information from specialist and relevant stakeholders. This is then shared through our newsletters, webinars and our dedicated coronavirus webpage.
  2. Assess the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector and advocate for support and assistance with government and other stakeholders.
  3. Become an intermediary platform where support and assistance, and sometimes even just a listening ear, are shared between our members and stakeholders.

In line with point 2 above, we have put together the below suggestions for a tourism stimulus package and are sharing this with key public and private role-players. The list is by no means extensive and we invite you to add items that we might not have included yet.

Department of Labour

  • Establish a travel trade employee stabilization fund (similar to Denmark), were the travel trade is receiving UIF for a period of 3 months or longer equal to 75% of their salary
  • UIF for No-Work-No-Pay, Reduced-Pay or Reduced-Hours employees – will avoid retrenchments (precedent from Building Sector)
  • UIF for staff who test positive for Coronavirus and can’t work
  • UIF for freelance guides not able to work at present who:
    • guide as a living – not retired and guiding for extra money
    • are fully qualified guides – valid and up-to-date guiding card
    • have been guiding for a certain period of time (one or two years)
  • Allow companies to send employees on extended forced leave to prevent retrenchment
  • Online UIF applications and processing so that staff do not have to stand in queues and be at risk of contracting the virus
  • Fast payment of UIF claims

Municipalities

  • Rates and taxes payment holiday or reduction
  • Water and electricity rate reduction or payment holiday

SARS

  • Allow tax holidays (i.e. suspend VAT, corporate tax and income tax payments for a certain period of time, but at least 6 months)
  • Exemption all off payroll related taxes – incentives to keep staff employed
  • Exemption of PAYE for employees, to allow employers to lower salaries without affecting the take home of employees.
  • VAT refunds
  • Tax exemptions

Banking/Finance Sector

  • Provide an emergency loan facility for tourism businesses, bypassing red tape with favourable repayment terms
  • Interest free overdraft access
  • Debt service relief
  • Overdraft payment holiday
  • Lowered interest rates or payment holidays
  • Vehicle financing payment holiday
  • Delayed loan repayment
  • Bridging loans at lowered or no interest rates
  • Interest free loans to be made available as soon as possible. Banks to ensure that loans are given and applied in context of normal, HEALTHY businesses and within a magnitude that is consistent with the respective business

Insurance Sector

  • Relief on premiums for vehicles and establishment not operating at present
  • Reduction of premiums instead of cancellations

Medical Aid Sector

  • Deferment or reduction of premiums in the short term

SME Grant Funding

  • Financial aid or grant funding to assist SMEs and their employees with cash flow

Reserve Bank

  • Interest rate cut with immediate effect

If you have any ideas to add, please capture them here.

Our next webinar is planned for 25 March 2020 and we will share details and topics soonest.

As I mentioned in our webinar this week, we know that everyone is going through a difficult financial time and to that effect, we would like to offer members monthly payment terms for their membership fees. Should you wish to take up this opportunity, please contact your Member Relationship Consultant to arrange.

Friends, in times like this our humanity shines through and I want to again thank each and everyone for the support and collaboration we have seen so far. Have a restful weekend if you can.