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Will the drought affect Cape Town tourism this December?

By Danielle van Wyk

The reality of the drought in the Western Cape specifically has been the subject of both conversation and headlines alike over recent months. The City of Cape Town reported In October that if consumption is not reduced to 500 million litres of collective usage per day the City would run out of water around March 2018. But has since pushed the date out to 13 May 2018.

“I am pleased to announce that due to the efforts of the City of Cape Town and the residents of Cape Town, Day Zero has moved to 13 May 2018. Many Capetonians have heeded the call to reduce their consumption dramatically and we thank you. The City is also doing its bit. As we bring additional supply online from February onwards with more new water coming online in the months thereafter, Day Zero will be pushed further,” added the City’s executive mayor Patricia De Lille. 

At this stage, there are seven projects already under way in the first phase. These are Monwabisi, Strandfontein, the V&A Waterfront, and Cape Town Harbour desalination plants; the Atlantis and Cape Flats Aquifer projects; and the Zandvliet water recycling project that will be producing an additional 144 million litres per day between February and July, with the yield from these projects rising incrementally in the months thereafter.

In addition, the City has 12 projects in the advanced stage of planning that are ready to proceed if required.

Further than the concern of a depleting supply of water there is concern that the drought crisis will affect tourism in Cape Town specifically this December period.

According to Martin Jansen van Vuuren director of Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure at Grant Thornton, hospitality establishments have employed measures to contain the usage of resources.

“Even before the drought, many hotels and guest houses have taken steps to reduce water consumption as this leads to cost savings. These measures include low-flow shower heads and the implementation of prominent tourist awareness campaigns which encourage showers instead of baths.  Some establishments have utilised unused bottled water from guest’s rooms to water their gardens instead of it being wasted. Some bigger establishments have even replaced their swimming pool’s fresh water with seawater,” Jansen van Vuuren added.

As a result, he does not believe the crisis is at the point yet to warrant foreign visitors to change their travel plans.

“For most foreign tourists, visiting South Africa is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and they would have planned and paid for the trip well in advance. They may thus not be in a position to change their plans.  Even if they could change their plans, I believe that there is generally an awareness among tourists about any resource scarcity which may exist in the regions where they visit, and this does not act as a deterrent to travel” he highlighted.

According to the Grant Thornton director the hospitality industry has done well to prepare for the influx of expected tourists in light of the drought. “The key to managing the crucial tourism sector through this crisis is constant awareness and strict monitoring of wastage where it is in our control. The hospitality sector has done a lot in this regard and as long as we continue to use our resources wisely, Cape Town should continue to welcome and host tourists.”

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