President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched a US$80 million Tourism Equity Fund (TEF) aimed at creating an inclusive and growing tourism sector in South Africa.Speaking during the virtual launch of the multimillion-dollar facility on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the TEF was mooted in recognition of the damage that the coronavirus pandemic has done to the country’s economy, especially in the tourism sector in the past 10 month.
“As damaging as this pandemic has been, and continues to be, we can be certain that as infections are brought under control and as more areas of economic activity resume, there will be a gradual recovery,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said the tourism sector and other sectors in the value chain have lost many jobs due to lockdown restrictions which have seen the industry to virtually shutting down, thereby bringing it financial ruin.
“The task before us now is to ensure that we do not simply return to business as usual — but that we accelerate the pace towards achieving our transformation goals,” Ramaphosa said.
According to Ramaphosa, tourism directly accounted for 2.9% of South Africa’s gross democratic product and indirectly contributed 8.6% to the GDP in supporting 1.5 million direct and indirect jobs.
The president noted that his country’s tourism base was significant in contributing to being one of the world’s most popular long-haul destinations.
“This is a sector that is labour-intensive and, therefore, has immense job creation potential. It supports a vibrant and complex value chain. It generates foreign direct investment and significant export earnings.”