What The Western Cape Water Crisis Means For Tourists

What The Water Crisis In The Western Cape Means For Tourists

The Western Cape is in the clutches of a desperate drought and as little as two weeks ago, Cape Town dam levels were only at 12.3%. Just what does this mean for tourism to the region?    

The Western Cape was declared a drought disaster area this month, which empowers the region’s municipalities to allocate additional budget to implement intervention strategies and accelerate reaction time for deployment of resources to tackle the water shortages. If necessary, the national treasury can be approached for further financial aid. WC residents already face level four water restrictions. Every Capetonian is only permitted to use 100 litres of water per day, and water is only allowed for drinking, cooking and essential washing.

In short, this means:

  • No car washing.
  • No watering of gardens.
  • No filling up of swimming pools.
  • No irrigation with municipal drinking water.
  • No new landscaping projects such as the building of new golf courses or sports fields, schools or learning institutions, unless watered with non-portable water.
  • Using old bath water (grey water) to refill toilet cisterns.
  • Not flushing the toilet after each use.

As a traveller or tourist to the region, you will be required to comply with the water restrictions and water-saving measures implemented by your accommodation venue and the places you visit. According to FEDHASA CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, the tourism industry “faces the challenges of educating guests and visitors and bringing them on board with the country’s water-saving efforts in this time of severe drought.”

How tourists can help:

  • Water-saving linen and towel replacement

Some hotels place notices in rooms that educate guests on water restrictions as well as their water-saving linen and towel replacement schedules. For example, bed linen might only be changed on every third day of each guest’s stay, if not requested sooner. Towels that are hung up indicate an agreement that these will not be replaced daily, unless upon request.

  • Restricting flow

Water meters and shower heads with “restricted flow” may be installed that help to greatly limit water usage.

  • Collecting grey water

In an effort to maintain the attractiveness of properties, hotels may encourage guests to take short showers with buckets placed in the stalls to collect water, which is then used to water the hotel gardens and trees.

Many vacation establishments across the globe have already implemented many of these water-saving measures as part of their ‘going green’ strategy, with the focus on long-term sustainability, in air-conditioning systems, kitchens and bathrooms, as well as their food gardens. The trend towards eco-travel and responsible tourism is growing, as guests and adventurers strive to reduce their footprint on the world. This shouldn’t be seen as a time of severe water restrictions, but rather as a change in mindset towards environmentally sustainable tourism.

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