With Cape Town currently experiencing a high profile, yet highly misinterpreted, water shortage, South African Tourism (SAT) has moved to reassure travellers that they shouldn’t deter any visits to the iconic city.
Yes, it isn’t wise to take a bath if you’re visiting Cape Town right now, but tourists also need to understand that they are not taking water away from locals when visiting, as many travellers no doubt fear.
In an interview with Traveltalk at INDABA 2018 in Durban, SAT CEO Sisa Ntshona said that tourists never consume more than 1% of Cape Town’s water supply, even during the peak tourist season.
Key to the overall issue, Mr Ntshona said, is educating locals and visitors alike and making more responsible water consumption “the new normal … and not to default back to the old ways”.
“Staying away is not part of the solution. You’re not doing anyone a favour – you’re doing them a disfavor,” he remarked.
“Become part of the solution – go there. However, we want you to be mindful of the water situation and act like a local.
“Also, if tourists stay away, you’ve got like 600,000 jobs on the line.”
Mr Ntshona called for a balanced approach to enjoying your holiday and over-indulging.
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“There’s something about people feeling that they can contribute to something,” he stated.
“It’s like carbon emissions – people are very aware about the carbon emissions they have, and planting a tree makes them feel good – to offset it.
“Similarly, we don’t want donations – we want you to go and enjoy your holiday. That’s how you’re going to help Cape Town come through this.”
A major issue since the start of the water “crisis”, which has actually been going on for a few years but has only made headlines in recent months, has been the blowout of the problem in the media.
“We really had to go an offensive campaign to inform and educate the locals and the rest of the world as to exactly what’s going on,” the SAT boss said, saying the city had halved its water consumption since restrictions came about.
Part of this offensive, was the opportunity to share information with cities facing similar challenges, like Los Angeles and Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paolo, where water shortages are less reported on.
“Water shortages are not a South Africa phenomenon,” Mr Ntshona said.
“It’s a global event. However, Cape Town is at the leading edge of the global phenomenon. But we want to share our story of it.”
Traveltalk was in Durban to attend Africa’s Travel Indaba. The writer stayed at the Southern Sun Elangeni.
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