Cape Town Water Update – 1 February 2018

table mountain

On 30 January 2018, Tourism Update and SA Tourism hosted a webinar on ‘The effects of Western Cape water shortage on tourism’.  The speakers were SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris, and Fedhasa Cape Chairperson, Jeff Rosenberg.  Harris summed up the core message, when he said: ‘We need to make sure we get a clear message across to the international community and answer any tourist concerns.  If you hear anyone saying that they are considering cancelling or suspending a trip or major event, make sure that they understand we have the resources to accommodate them’.  Harris also spoke of the close working relationships with major events to make sure that they do not impact the municipal water systems.  The key message delivered was ‘Cape Town is open for business!’

Frequently Asked Questions

If tourists visit Cape Town / The Western Cape will there be water? 
• There is adequate water for tourists’ essential daily needs such as washing, using the toilet, and daily hygiene.  Most of the accommodation establishments have implemented their own water saving initiatives and where possible, many are tapping into the underground water sources and have installed water filtration systems and hygienic storage facilities.  You are advised to find out from your accommodation establishment or your host what water arrangements they have made.

Is it irresponsible for tourists to come to Cape Town/ Western Cape during the drought?
• During peak season (November – January) international tourists only add 1% to the population of the Western Cape. This number drops from April – September. If the tourists follow the daily usage guideline the impact would therefore be negligible.
• The tourism sector supports approximately 300 000 much needed jobs across the Western Cape. It is vital to preserve these jobs.

How widespread is the drought in South Africa? 
• The drought and resultant water restrictions are mostly limited to parts of the Western Cape – particularly the City of Cape Town and some surrounding areas.
• Nearby regions such as The Cape Overberg and The Garden Route are less impacted by water restrictions. It’s important to remember that South Africa in general is a water-scarce country.

Will tourists have access to drinking water? 
• Yes.

Will tourists be able to bath, shower or use a swimming pool? 
• At present, tourists will be able to shower and maintain daily hygiene. Recommended guidelines suggest a shower of 90 seconds. The use of baths is entirely discouraged. Some swimming pools at hotels have been converted to salt (ocean) water.
• The majority of tourism establishments have put in place measures to ensure their water usage is reduced, and many have developed plans for alternative supplies.

Will restaurants and bars still be in operation? 
• Many parts of the hospitality industry have proactively implemented water savings and water augmentation solutions to ensure ongoing availability of water in their establishments.
• Restaurants and bars are required to adhere to the water restrictions but have not, to date, been negatively affected.

Which tourism activities could be impacted? 
• Tourists will still be able to access and enjoy primary tourism attractions such as our iconic Table Mountain, Cape Point, and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
• Specific river-based experiences may be impacted.

Will emergency services still function in the event of ‘Day Zero’? 
• Yes. All critical emergency services (hospitals, clinics, fire stations and police services) will continue to function.

Will major events still be staged by the City? 
• Yes. All major events have proactively put in place plans to ensure that events have a zero – or heavily reduced water – footprint e.g. bringing in water from outside of Cape Town/the Western Cape.

Will there be any areas exempt from water restrictions? 
• Yes. Details will be provided by the City when they are available.