Cape Town’s newly elected Mayor, Dan Plato, announced on Thursday (November 29), that the City’s water restrictions and associated tariffs would be lowered from Level 5 to Level 3 recovery restrictions, effective Saturday, December 1.

Wesgro’s Chief Marketing Officer for Tourism, Judy Lain said that the lowering of restrictions confirms that Cape Town is a resilient destination. “This is extremely helpful for our destination brand for both tourism and investment. It certainly assists with the message that we are open for business and that visitors can come and enjoy the amazing experiences that our destination has to offer,” said Lain. “We, however, encourage all visitors to South Africa, no matter where they may go, to value water as a precious commodity and to be mindful that we are in a water-scarce region.”

Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism said: “The lower water restrictions are certainly going to work in our favour. We would love to see those who have deferred visiting because of water restrictions coming to explore the city. Our main message, as always, is that the city offers unparalleled attractions and experiences and that the holiday of a lifetime can be enjoyed here.”

However, Martin Wiest, CEO of Tourvest Destination Management, says in terms of the international market, this will not be immediately effective due to the long-term purchasing decisions framework. “Domestic tourism will feel an increase, as this involves more short-term purchasing decisions, so there will be some movement.”

According to Duminy, the many initiatives undertaken to reduce water usage, as well as the ones that are still underway, have radically altered people’s relationship with the resource. “The efforts have been noted by an international audience, resulting in several conferences being organised in the city on the topic of sustainability,” he said. “The Secretary General of the UNWTO singled us out for our efforts in reducing water usage – how we learned to collaborate during a crisis has become a best-practice case study.”

There have been multiple campaigns and communication efforts which, collectively, have ensured that the messaging is brought across to visitors and that water usage is reduced accordingly. “Water-wise tourism is what we all need to practise in South Africa,” added Duminy.

Suzanne Benadie, Sales Director at Tourvest DMC, says the company has done a lot to ensure the right information is communicated to their clients on the various projects undertaken by both the private and public sector during the year.

Wiest believes that the current Wesgro PR campaign does aid in communicating the change of Cape Town’s water status, which, in turn, will improve the volumes to the region. “Globally, this is not a short-term impact. The international traveller has become more aware and water-wise over the years – travellers have been aware of this behaviour, as green and sustainable tourism has been around for a while.”

Wesgro’s #NowhereBetter campaign was developed with the industry to re-ignite interest in the destination and put Cape Town and the Western Cape back on the consideration list, reminding tourists about the breadth and depth of experiences on offer in the province, explained Lain, who said that the campaign had only been running for a week and had already seen a good level of engagement. The campaign, geared towards changing perceptions tourists may have about the destination, is scheduled to run for one year.

“Tourvest DMC has supported the campaign and its drive to communicate to our audiences on various platforms, that Cape Town is indeed open for business. This can only have a positive impact for other areas of Southern Africa, as Cape Town often forms an integral part of many itineraries to the region,” added Benadie.

Preceding #NowhereBetter, Wesgro’s Destination Marketing Unit launched the #ItsAllStillHere campaign, featuring local surfing talent Franky Solomon, Mikey February and Jordy Smith. Using their networks, sponsors and influence to get the message out, the campaign profiles the Cape’s top surfing talent, natural beauty, and world-class surf conditions. “It acknowledges that our region has suffered its worst drought in history, but shows how we’ve got through the crisis and that our extraordinary destination is ‘all still here’,” added Lain.

According to Benadie, in Tourvest DMC’s last-minute markets there is opportunity for more bookings to be confirmed over the December peak season. “I am confident that the collective efforts to promote the positive messaging will also have a longer-term impact beyond December, and that we will see more bookings for the first quarter of 2019.”

“Cape Town remains a highlight on the global travel schedule,” concluded Duminy.

The city views 2019 as a recovery year after having successfully emerged from the unprecedented drought, and the decision comes after a meeting between the National Department of Water and Sanitation and the water users of the Western Cape Water Supply System.