The water crisis in the Western Cape has certainly made a few headlines this year in the UK, with horror stories of water about to run out, and tales of people having to queue at standpipes in the street. With an office in Cape Town and one of our directors recently staying in the city, Africa Travel are well positioned to give an honest and up-to-date take on the current situation.
As a tourist to Cape Town, the first thing that greets you at the airport is a huge billboard advising the visitor that the region is under severe drought restrictions, that every drop counts, and that everybody should limit themselves to using just 50 litres or less each day. This message is reinforced on the radio and in the local papers, and as you check-in at your hotel you are invariably reminded once again by signs on the reception desk to use water wisely.
Once in your room, the only things noticeably different are the lack of a bath plug, and the possible reduction in water pressure in the shower, (which you may be sharing with a shiny new plastic bucket, used to collect ‘grey water’ which is then used for flushing the toilet, watering plants, etc).
Signs will again request that you do not flush the toilet unless necessary, (saving 9 litres per flush), that you limit your showers to 60 seconds only and turn off the water when lathering, (saving 15 litres per minute), and that you do not run the tap whilst cleaning your teeth, (saving 6 litres per minute).
Outside your hotel room, the water crisis should have a minimal, or even zero, effect on your stay. Your hotel may have replaced the fresh water in their swimming pool with seawater, and you may be encouraged to use the hand sanitizer provided in the toilets of a restaurant or bar instead of the tap, but otherwise your holiday can continue as normal. All the tourist attractions remain open and operating, the restaurants and bars continue to trade normally, and there is certainly no rush or restriction on supermarkets’ supplies of bottled water.
Yes, you will become conscious of your personal water usage during your time in the Cape, but is this really such a bad thing, given how much water we shamelessly waste each day? Yes, it’s very true that the region does need a good prolonged spell of wet weather, but should the current situation deter you from travelling?
Well the heavily publicised Day Zero, (the date when ‘the taps will be turned off and queues will start to form’), has now been pushed back to 2019 and may not now even happen. South Africa is heavily dependent upon tourism - almost 1 in 20 of the workforce is employed in the sector - so your visit is always valued, and it should be noted that even in the February peak season tourist numbers only increase the local population by less than 1%.
Our message therefore has to be for tourists to keep travelling to the Cape – just forego having a bath for a couple of weeks and be a bit more aware than you normally are with regards your water usage. And remember it is only the Cape region which is affected – the Garden Route, KwaZulu Natal, Kruger National Park and everywhere else are completely free of any restrictions.
Please contact Africa Travel by calling 020 7843 3500 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like any clarification on how the situation may affect your trip.
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