Tourvest Destination Management: Official Statement Regarding the Western Cape Water Crisis

The current drought in the Cape Peninsula has attracted much international attention and I am writing to you to allay any fears your clients may have of travelling to the area.

To this effect, we have prepared a Q&A for you explaining the extent of the drought, its effect on everyday life in the Cape, what “Day Zero” means and the water conservation initiatives in place.

One of the key concerns the industry has noted is that people are considering cancelling their trip on the mistaken belief that their presence will make the situation worse.  The fact is that Cape Town needs tourists now more than ever.  Even during peak season, international tourists only add one percent to the total population but contribute around R40 billion to the local economy each year and provide employment for some 300 000 people.

I would also like to highlight the extraordinarily and innovative lengths to which the hospitality industry has gone to ensure that visitors to Cape Town are not inconvenienced.  The reception from guests has been overwhelmingly sympathetic.  In the light of growing social and environmentally conscious travel, we think they enjoy making a contribution to water conservation.

I trust you find the fact sheet comprehensive and informative.  If you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Yours sincerely

Martin Wiest

Tourvest Destination Management CEO


Q&A: What you need to know about the Water Crisis


Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business despite the present dry conditions and visitors are encouraged to visit this beautiful area of South Africa and its many iconic attractions.


How bad is the drought in Cape Town?

Cape Town and the Western Cape are naturally dry areas and so are susceptible to spells of drought. This one, however, is particularly severe, with little to no rainfall occurring over the last three years.


How widespread is the drought?

The drought is mostly limited to the Cape Peninsula.  Other tourist attractions in the Western Cape such as the Garden Route and the Cape Overberg are not as badly affected.


If I go, will I make it worse?

Not at all. In peak season, tourists add only about 1% to the total population yet their contribution to the economy is immense.


What is Day Zero?

Day Zero is a projected date when dam levels drop below 13% capacity.  It is dependent on current water consumption levels and has already been pushed out twice thanks to many water conservation initiatives.  Day Zero is now expected to take place in June, well after the wet season has started.


What happens on Day Zero? 

The city will restrict the water supply and residents will be required to collect water from strategically located distribution points.  Water will still be available for people’s critical needs such as to drink and to maintain hygiene.


Will I be inconvenienced?

No.  The hospitality industry in Cape Town has been very proactive in ensuring that their guests’ comfort is maintained through clever water conservation strategies.  These include drilling boreholes, erecting water tanks, adapting pool filters and air conditioners to use marine water, and less of it.  Other measures include changing linen and towels every third day as opposed to every day, using paper serviettes instead of linen napkins and removing bath plugs.


Will there be drinking water and will I be able to bathe?

Yes.  Even after Day Zero, there will be sufficient water to cover people’s basic needs.


Can I still visit Cape Town’s attractions and what activities will be impacted?

Tourists will still be able to access and enjoy primary tourist attractions such as Table Mountain, the Kirstenbosch Gardens and Cape Point.  Water-based activities will be limited.


Will emergency services still function in the event of Day Zero?

Yes.  All critical emergency services such as hospitals, fire stations and police services will continue to function.


What can I do to help save water?

Always be water conscious.  Limit your showers to a maximum of two minutes, use a glass of water to brush your teeth, only flush the toilet when necessary and use your towels more than once.