International press coverage of the water shortage in South Africa’s Western Cape region has caused anxiety among many people looking to travel there. The situation is undoubtedly serious; however, a lot of inaccurate messaging has sparked unnecessary panic.
We’d like to debunk some of the current misconceptions and explain how the Rainbow Nation is ready to welcome visitors, and why it needs tourism now more than ever.
Which areas of South Africa have been affected by the drought?
The current water restrictions apply to the Cape region, which includes the city of Cape Town. Water restrictions have also recently been introduced to the Winelands area, but these are much more relaxed and unlikely to affect your stay.
What does this mean for visitors?
The city is asking everyone — both locals and visitors — to be aware of the situation and to use water wisely. As a result, you will be asked to take shorter showers, your laundry may not be changed quite so frequently, and any spa or swimming facilities may be shut. However, we can assure you that there is water in the taps, and you will still be able to shower daily and use the toilet facilities.
Will I make the situation worse by visiting?
This is not only incorrect, but the opposite is true. Avoiding Cape Town and the Western Cape now would only make this challenging situation worse.
Even during the busiest travel season (October to April), international visitors only add 1% to the population of the entire Western Cape province, on average. Our specialists often recommend spending just a few days in Cape Town before going on to explore other parts of this vast and varied country.
Many hotels have led the way in reducing the consumption of water by visitors. The properties that we work with have developed their own approaches to being water-neutral and have drastically cut down their consumption of water as a result.
Why should I visit South Africa?
Despite visitors only accounting for a small increase in the Western Cape’s population, last year over 300,000 jobs were supported by tourism in the region. It also helps stimulate growth in the Western Cape’s small towns and rural areas. Visitors are needed now more than ever to keep the country’s economy growing and continue to support jobs during this challenging time.
South Africa has so much to offer beyond Cape Town, which only forms part of a trip. There’s plenty to see and do in areas which are in no way affected by the drought; from the KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields to a safari in Kruger National Park, time in Johannesburg, or a road trip along the renowned Garden Route.
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