Throughout our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Western Cape Government has worked hard to balance saving lives, with protecting livelihoods. In addition to advocating for the safe re-opening of business, based on scientific evidence, we have also provided a support package to businesses to protect jobs and grow the economy.
By promoting investment, providing financial and non-financial support and through innovative interventions, we have attracted billions of Rands of investment into the Western Cape over the past year, helped to create or support thousands of jobs and economic opportunities, and supported small and informal businesses to stay afloat.
To support SMMEs, the R39 million Covid-19 Business Relief Fund was established and provided relief to 257 businesses across the Western Cape, sustaining 2 041 jobs.
To support the wine tourism economy, which was battered by restrictions and the collapse in tourism, we registered 1 165 employees for the Wine Tourism Workers Support Stipend.
To support the creative economy, R4.7 million in relief funding was allocated to 753 successful Arts, Culture and Heritage applicants.
To support the construction industry, we worked with the Deeds Office and helped reduce their backlog by over 25 000 applications.
We also facilitated the fast tracking of 11 EIA applications, which has resulted in R130 million in investment value opportunities created.
To support the youth, we facilitated the placement of 3 500 young people in workplaces.
To support local economies, we assisted each district with the formulation of their own recovery interventions to stimulate growth and job creation.
To support exporters, we assisted the Port of Cape Town in improving their operational challenges, especially around the processing times at container terminals. Through these collaborative efforts, we also made it possible for the refit and maintenance project of the Gariep mining vessel to be approved and completed during what was a very challenging time for the port.
We also supported the tourism economy, by ensuring that George Airport was reopened, after initially not being on the approved list announced by the National Minister of Transport.
In a collaborative effort between our Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Department of Health and ACSA, we were able to find a solution that ensured Covid-19 screening was possible. As a result of this intervention, some 34 239 travellers have been assisted, helping boost the local economy. This will sustain over 2000 jobs.
Our tourism promotion agency, Wesgro, also launched its domestic tourism campaign to promote the Western Cape amongst visitors from other provinces in South Africa. While this campaign was interrupted by the second wave and the nonsensical beach ban, it was able to secure 20 000 seat bookings through its microsite.
To support the informal economy, we partnered with the EDP on a pilot project that supported the township economy and the humanitarian response by giving community kitchens vouchers to buy stock from local spaza shops. I will be visiting some of those who benefited from this project with Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier tomorrow.
Since the start of the financial year in April, our entities have facilitated 9 investments into the Western Cape Economy- 5 by Wesgro, 3 by the Saldanha Bay IDZ, and 1 in the Atlantis SEZ. Together, these three entities have helped secure over R 4 billion investment which will create over 1000 jobs.
We have also supported small businesses to stay safe and adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols by providing 11 000 Covid-19 safety kits to be distributed to businesses across the province. We also distributed over 100 000 masks to agri workers in our province.
When I deliver my SOPA in Genadendal next week, I will outline our next steps to boost the economy to stimulate job creation. I can assure residents and businesses alike that the Western Cape Government will continue to fight for jobs, advocate for business and build partnerships that lead to increased trade and investment and reduced red tape.