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How will tourism affect the Cape’s water crisis this festive season?

The 2017 festive season is virtually upon us, which means visitors from across the country and outside of it will make their way to popular holiday spots, including Cape Town. But will the Mother City be able to cope with the influx of visitors during a severe drought?

Water supply levels in the Western Cape are currently at 28% and supply is already under strain just with the residents that live in Cape Town. In December 2016, over 522 000 people arrived at Cape Town International airport, this figure doesn’t include those arriving through other means.

With Cape Town being one of the most biggest holiday attractions, the municipality is stepping its game up to make visitors aware of the situation and not out too much strain on the supply.

“The City of Cape Town has launched one of its key initiatives, namely the ‘Save like a Local’ campaign. Our aim with this campaign is to drive awareness about the serious drought crisis, especially among visitors, while at the same time keeping the message as light and inspirational as possible,” says MMC for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

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“We are relying heavily on the tourism sector to spread awareness. The campaign will, for example, include a massive billboard at the international arrivals section at the Cape Town International Airport, among others. Our aim is to amplify the message that Cape Town is a water-scarce region which is experiencing its worst drought in recorded history on various strategic platforms.”

“The City asks all tourism and related businesses to consider adding contextual digital adverts to their website homepages and booking technology to drive awareness. As for local tourism, all options are being explored to spread the awareness at road entry points to the Western Cape and Cape Town. We have also started reaching out to cellphone service providers to see how they can come on board to assist us to call on our visitors and locals to save water.”

Limberg says locals who permanently reside in Cape Town remain the largest users during peak season. “Our experience shows that the local outflow of people over the festive season and the closure of some businesses and industry, such as the construction industry, mostly balances the inflow of local and foreign tourists. We will all have to do our utmost to ensure that we spread the message of saving water and the restrictions that we must all adhere to.”

The City has done all it can to publicise water restrictions and other important drought-related information through paid-for advertisements in print media and on radio, the placement of posters at City buildings, and the use of billboards around the city and digital billboards at BP garages. We have an extensive social media campaign in place to encourage residents to save more water.

The City also has awareness teams on the ground, handing out pamphlets and educating residents about restrictions and saving water in various areas

Water shedding remains

Water shedding, introduced recently across the city, will still be in place during the festive season.

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Businesses, including hotels and shopping malls, will be affected by water shedding and they need to adhere to the Level five water restrictions, as they are applicable to all residents and businesses, including hotels and shopping malls.

“Visitors too will be affected if the demand is too high. The City implements enhanced pressure management across the metro but rationing occurs when the demand is too high. It is important to note that no outages are planned and therefore the City cannot provide schedules,” Limberg says.

Residents and visitors are advised to keep an emergency store of between two – five litres of water for drinking and basic hygiene at all times.

While visitors and locals are encouraged to enjoy the best of Cape toursim, they’re urged to keep water conservation in mind.