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07 Feb 2018

BY Rob Gill

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Cape Town still open for business, despite drought

Tourism bodies in South Africa have moved to reassure agents that their clients can still visit Cape Town, despite the city running low on water.

Cape Town, South Africa aerial shot
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“Cape Town is open for business. We don’t want anybody to think that tourists will be taking water out of other people’s mouths; the number of tourists has been taken into account when setting these restrictions.”

The city is suffering from a severe water shortage due to lack of rain over the past few years. This has led its mayor to declare that water may run out on May 11 – known as Day Zero – based on current estimates.


The Western Cape city still has water but it is being limited to 50 litres per person per day, with many hotels taking water-saving measures such as putting suppressors on showers, removing bath plugs and filling pools with saltwater.


Tolene van der Merwe, hub head, UK and Ireland, for South African Tourism, said: “We don’t want the trade to think their clients’ experience will be hampered too much – having a 90-second shower isn’t that bad.


“Cape Town is open for business. We don’t want anybody to think that tourists will be taking water out of other people’s mouths; the number of tourists has been taken into account when setting these restrictions.”


A website giving updates on water restrictions in the Cape Town area is expected to go live this week.


Van der Merwe added that many areas popular with holidaymakers, such as the Garden Route and Cape Overberg, were less affected.


Operators said they were monitoring the situation and passing on advice to clients who are scheduled to travel to Cape Town in the next few months.


Candice Buchan, Africa product manager for Rainbow Tours, said: “We aren’t discouraging travellers from visiting Cape Town and there’s no official advisory against it, but we’ve contacted all customers due to travel before May to talk to them about the drought.”


David Holland, director of African Pride, said the specialist operator was setting up an action group to monitor bookings that could be affected: “We will be reviewing bookings on a case-by-case basis to see if they need to be moved to other properties.”

 

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