JOHANNESBURG, January 26 – The drought-induced water crisis in the Western Cape province, which could run out of supply in April if there are no rains, has hit the key tourism sector with visitors cancelling trips, an industry official said on Friday.
Officials in Cape Town, South Africa’s tourism capital which boasts world renowned attractions such as Table Mountain, have tightened water restrictions to just 50 litres per person each day effective February 1, from the current 87 litres, as it faces the real risk of taps running dry from April 12, dubbed “day zero”.
“The water crisis is having an impact on tourism. We have been informed by our members that they been receiving cancellations from both international and domestic travellers,” Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy said, without giving numbers.
“Prospective visitors have questions and are looking for clarity regarding the water crisis and contingency plans for Day Zero. As long as there is uncertainty about the water crisis, there will be an impact,” Duminy said in a written response to questions from the African News Agency.
The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that travel and tourism directly and indirectly contributed more than R400 billion or about 9.3 percent to South Africa’s gross domestic product in 2016 and more or less the same last year.
Duminy said Cape Town Tourism had been part of a campaign since the start of the water crisis to both reduce water usage in tourism businesses and to distribute messaging to visitors.
“This is in addition to practical measures the accommodation industry has taken such as removing bath plugs and encouraging guests to take two-minute showers, and reducing laundry routines,” he said.
The crisis has however not deterred the Queen Mary, arguably the world’s most famous ocean liner from docking in Cape Town.
The Western Cape Provincial government said the arrival of the luxurious liner on Friday marked the peak of a strong cruise season for the city,
“(It) shows that Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business,” said Tim Harris, CEO of the city’s tourism, trade & investment promotion agency Wesgro, noting that tourism was a crucial sector which supported over 300,000 jobs across the province and contributed nearly R40 billion to its economy.
“Tourism is therefore vital for our economy. Wesgro urges all tourists who arrive in Cape Town to abide by water restrictions, so that we can ensure that we push back Day Zero,” Harris said.
– African News Agency (ANA)