Small businesses in the tourism sector need more than just financial support. They also need the government to maintain the infrastructure that they pay through taxes in order to keep their doors open, says entrepreneur Aseza Mphindwa-Mbaswana. Mphindwa-Mbaswana, who runs FlightInn B&B.
Mphindwa-Mbaswane’s business is in Margate, KwaZulu Natal. It is a popular holiday destination. But according to Mphindwa-Mbaswane, it has been months since the government promised to fix the infrastructure that was damaged by flooding, which struck the province and parts of the Eastern Cape earlier this year. She believes that fixing these issues will help pick up business in the region.
“Our business has been severely affected by infrastructure issues such as damaged roads, street lights, water issues and the ever-present load-shedding,” Mphindwa-Mbaswane said. “We have attempted to contact the local government numerous times, but they informed us that they have a limited budget. “The local government also promised to fix the street lights, but that has yet to happen.”
She said her guests were also unhappy with the state of affairs. “Our guests that drive up complain a lot about the poor quality of the roads and how the poor roads are damaging their cars,” she said. “It is evident that issues like this could result in us seeing a decline in receiving guests,” Mphindwa-Mbaswana told Vutivi News that business has slowly picked up since the Covid-19 pandemic.
But now she was dealing with a water crisis in the province, load-shedding and soaring petrol prices. “You can imagine how difficult it is to keep the business running during load-shedding,” she said. “We spent a lot of money on generators and on the diesel that is needed in order to keep the generators running.” Mphindwa-Mbaswana still has hope for the tourism sector, which was the hardest hit as a result of the lockdowns.
“The future for our sector looks very bright, and it could be brighter if the government can pull up its socks,” she told Vutivi News. “They don’t even have to help financially. They can fix the roads and the street lights and attend to the water crisis because these are services that we pay for in any case.” Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu reiterated earlier this week that her department would continue to implement the Tourism Incentive Programme to stimulate the growth, development and transformation of the sector.
“In line with our mission to employ strategic partnerships, we continue to collaborate with other government departments and entities in the rollout of the incentive programme,” she said. Formal partnerships are already in place with entities such as the National Empowerment Fund, the Industrial Development Corporation, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency.