Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela accompanied by MEC for Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT) Kenetswe Mosenogi, visited Hartbeespoort on Tuesday to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism businesses.
According to Mahlalela the tourism industry in Bojanala has lost over R600 million and approximately 600 people in the industry lost their jobs. Mahlalela and Mosenogi visited a number of establishments in Hartbeespoort during a tour of the North West province to assess the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to the tourism industry in the North West.
Bojanala is the largest tourism hub within the province due the number of tourism attractions found in the area. The district accounts for 77% of the tourism investment value and 67% of tourism jobs in the province.
Due to the area being declared a Covid-19 hotspot, tourism activities have been restricted affecting the once bustling businesses in the area.
“The district has been negatively affected since the introduction of lockdown which resulted in the decline in tourism economic activities which include job losses, low revenue, investment depreciation and closure of some businesses, said Mahlalela.
“The department is assessing the impact of Covid-19 in Bojanala. It has been affected in a big way. There are no longer international tourists visiting North West because of the lockdown and the Bojanala district is a big concern. “We have developed a recovery plan that will be submitted to Cabinet for adoption. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the R1.5-billion Tourism Equity Fund to enable new entrants into the market,” Mahlalela said. This is to encourage women, the youth and people with disabilities to enter the tourism market. It is available for businesses that is 51% black owned,” he said.
“We are here today firstly to assess the impact of the pandemic on tourism, to ensure that tourism venues adhere to COVID-19 regulations, and also to market the destination. This is my first visit to Hartbeespoort and I was shocked by how beautiful it is. We also want to encourage domestic tourism and urge South Africans and local residents to explore and support tourism venues in their own areas.”
North West Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism MEC Kenetswe Mosenogi said tourism in the province contributed R8-billion to the country’s economy.
“Bojanala District alone employs more than 4 000 employees. We are experiencing a depreciation of R600-million of investment in the tourism industry. We have not included Sun City yet as we are in engagements to see how we can assist.”
The deputy minister and tourism MEC visited tourism attractions like boat cruise venues, the Hartbeespoort cableway and Chameleon Village, amongst others.