South Africa: Tourism Equity Fund – a Blunt, Racially Exclusive and One-Dimensional BEE Ownership Instrument

The R1.2-billion Tourism Equity Fund launched by government in January 2021 is, in principle, to be welcomed – but it is unlikely to meet the objective of broad-based transformation and, in its current form, will retard prospects for an inclusive recovery.

Tourism is South Africa’s silver bullet.

Much more than its 8.6% (pre-Covid-19) contribution to GDP, tourism is perfectly suited to the realities of our low-skilled, youthful demographic. It is labour intensive, employs a disproportionate number of women and serves as an accessible platform for large numbers of small businesses to set up and thrive – even in remote areas, which offer few alternative economic opportunities.

While Covid-19 has been an unmitigated disaster for tourism, the sector will survive. What the crisis has done is create opportunities for meaningful transformation, rooted in inclusive business partnerships across all segments of the tourism economy. This is a widely acknowledged industry imperative which until now has proven stubbornly elusive.

In these circumstances, the launch of a R1.2-billion fund aimed at overcoming the access and financing constraints that have excluded aspirant, emerging and established black entrepreneurs from mainstream commercial tourism opportunity is to be greatly welcomed.

Unfortunately, the Tourism Equity Fund is unlikely to…

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