Cape Town’s bleak water situation has made international headlines recently, which means that greater awareness has been launched on a global platform. This is good news as visitors from other continents are becoming more aware of the plight of water supply in the Western Cape.
Recent rains and a bulk water supply from the farmers in the Grabouw region have pushed Day Zero into the winter months, meaning that Capetonians now have a glimmer of hope that their water supply will not be cut off before the rainy season.
However, there is still an urgent need to conserve water and adhere to the strict water restrictions currently in place, and tourists need to be part of the effort. Although peak season stretches from November to January, tens of thousands of tourists will still visit Cape Town over the next couple of months.
What tourists need to know
It is tricky to balance the water saving effort with offering visitors the best possible experience, however, the severe crisis means that saving water certainly takes precedence now. Here’s what tourists need to know about the Cape water crisis.
There is still enough tap water to do daily essentials, but showers must be restricted to less than two minutes. Although it is not strictly enforced in all hotels, running a bath should not be done. Bottled water is available at most hotspots and stores, so rather drink that. The city’s current water restrictions mean that a single person can only use 50 litres per day.
Whether you are staying in a hotel, guesthouse or Airbnb, travellers are expected to adhere to the water restrictions too. Only flush toilets when absolutely necessary and try to cut down on the number of showers you take.
Will attractions be affected?
Luckily, most of the tourist attractions in the Cape are outdoors and do not require water to be enjoyed. However, water supply to the bathrooms at these popular spots will be turned off. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens uses its own water supply from a dam on the mountainside and boreholes around the area, so it may be unaffected if the water grid is shut down.
Other hotspots such as Cape Point and Table Mountain will have their water supply controlled. Monitoring the water usage at these locations will be essential and the flow of water may be restricted if they are using too much.
Tourism is essential
The tourism industry accounts for around 300 000 jobs in the Western Cape. Therefore, it is an integral part of the economy and cannot be compromised. During peak tourism season, visitors only add one percent to Cape Town’s population. Tourists are still welcome to visit but need to be mindful of the water crisis.
There are also other areas in the Western Cape that are not affected by the drought, such as the Overberg region and the Garden Route. These areas offer stunning attractions for visitors who may want to avoid Cape Town and its water restrictions.
Travellers who visit Cape Town are highly likely to explore other parts of South Africa at the same time, therefore any disruption to the flow of visitors to the Mother City will have far-reaching consequences for South Africa’s tourism industry as a whole.
Image © Joshua Oates
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