South Africa's tourism industry has lost billions of rand and more than 300 000 jobs due to the hard lockdown since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Deputy Tourism Minister Fish Mahlalela said the impact of Covid-19, accompanied by the hard lockdown, severely affected the tourism sector both locally and internationally.
Visiting North West on Tuesday, Mahlalela said among the areas hardest hit was the Bojanala District.
Bojanala encompasses tourist destinations such as Hartbeespoort Dam, Sun City, Pilanesberg National Park and the Royal Madikwe Game Lodge.
"In Bojanala, they have lost over R600-million alone. In other areas of the country, there are businesses that lost more than what Bojanala has lost. We have lost more than 300 000 jobs thus far. Some establishments have closed completely, others have not opened and some are gradually opening," Mahlalela said.
He said the department was assessing the impact of Covid-19 in Bojanala.
"Bojanala has been affected in a big way, especially in relation to international tourists. There are no international tourists visiting North West because of the lockdown in the country... What is pleasing is that there is some improvement on the domestic market. We still encourage South Africans to explore their own country. They must do that by adhering to health protocols.
"Bojanala District is a concern as tourism is affected. However, there is enthusiasm to travel by our domestic tourists. More people must come and explore tourism products offered by the North West province. Once people have been vaccinated in the country, we will begin to market the country outside."
Mahlalela said soon after the rollout of the vaccine nationally, they will mobilise the international market.
"The bedrock for tourism should be domestic tourism. It should be our own people travelling the country in order to save jobs. At least, all workers in Bojanala have returned to their posts. We hope that when things stabilise in the country we will be opening land borders, which are a key market for us in Africa.
"We have developed a recovery plan that will be submitted to Cabinet for adoption. As part of broadening the business, President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched the R1.5-billion Tourism Equity Fund to enable new entrants into the market," Mahlalela said.
North West Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism MEC Kenetswe Mosenogi said tourism in the province contributed R8-billion to the economy of the country.
"From the study that we have made, Bojanala District alone employs more than 4 000 employees. From where we are now, we are experiencing a depreciation of R600-million of investment in the tourism space and about 400 to 600 jobless employees.
"We have not counted Sun City yet, because there are engagements taking place to ensure how we can assist each other. As adjusted levels are being introduced depending on the state of affairs of the infection rate in the country, we have seen a number of improvements [in the] arrival of tourists in the province," Mosenogi said.