North West, a 'rural province and proud of it'

Tourism Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela celebrates World Tourism Day at an event in the North West.

Tourism Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela celebrates World Tourism Day at an event in the North West.

Published Oct 5, 2023


“We are a rural province and proud of it.”

These were the words of North West acting head of the Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism, Lebo Diale, in describing the province as the country joined in on World Tourism Day.

The north-central province of South Africa became the focus of World Tourism Day celebrations on September 27, branded and marketed as a tourist destination and place for investment and innovation.

The North West was the 5th most visited province by domestic visitors in 2022, and the 6th most visited by international tourists.

“The tourism sector was the first to close in Covid-19 and the last to open after the pandemic. We are happy to showcase all that the North West has to offer,” said Diale.

To boost the future visitor numbers to the North West, SA Tourism hosted journalists from various regions to the province, which culminated in the celebration hosted by Tourism Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela.

The celebration was held at Hartbeestpoort Dam under the theme: “Tourism invests in a green future.”

Mahlalela said South Africa boasted a mosaic of natural, cultural and historic beauty, and investing in green technologies and infrastructures created new avenues for economic growth and job creation.

This, as the local government called on investors to visit the province.

“We are on the cusp of a revolution where green investment is not just a choice but a cardinal principle that guides our path to recovery and beyond,” said Mahlalela.

“By 2024, as predicted by the UN World Tourism Organisation, we are aspiring to stand in a world where our tourism sector has not just recovered but has evolved into a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable space.

“As we stand united in our commitment to nurture a tourism sector that is the epitome of sustainable development, I call upon each one of you to be the bearers of this vision, the architects of this green revolution. Remember, the investments we make today are the seeds that will nurture tomorrow’s garden,” Mahlalela said.

From January to July 2023, a total of 4.8 million international tourists arrived in South Africa - a 70.6% surge compared to the same period in 2022, however, still behind the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 by a 19.0% shortfall, Mahlalela said.

Diale said visitors to the North West from Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe were the biggest visitor demographic from Africa, while visitors from USA, UK and Germany were also frequent.

Cape Times