Tourist in­flux ‘won’t sink Cape wa­ter store’

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA PE­TERSEN

THE West­ern Cape’s di­min­ish­ing wa­ter re­serves are not ex­pected to come un­der pres­sure from hun­dreds of thou­sands of tourists over the end of year hol­i­day pe­riod, author­i­ties say.

Last year, be­tween Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber, about 450 000 tourists vis­ited the prov­ince. This num­ber is ex­pected to in­crease this year, said Eco­nomic Op­por­tu­ni­ties MEC Alan Winde.

“Tourism num­bers have been in­creas­ing steadily, and all in­di­ca­tions are we will have an­other great tourism sea­son.”

There had been a 27% in­crease in in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals by air over the past year “driven by new and ex­panded air routes”, he said.

“We’re see­ing the pos­i­tive im­pact this is hav­ing. Tourism has added more than 20 000 jobs to the econ­omy since 2014, mean­ing more peo­ple are able to im­prove their lives and sup­port their fam­i­lies through this sec­tor.”

No lim­its have been put on the num­ber of tourists that can come into the city. Tourists only make a “small im­pact” on the wa­ter con­sump­tion dur­ing the peak sea­son and the in­dus­try “un­der­stands the se­ri­ous­ness of the drought” and is part­ner­ing with the author­i­ties to re­duce wa­ter con­sump­tion, he added.

“Dur­ing peak sea­son, at any time, for­eign tourists make up less than 1% of the West­ern Cape’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion.

“Visi­tor ar­rivals are spread across the three months and on av­er­age stay 10 days and all tourists are not in the re­gion at the same time.

“This equates to about 50000 in­ter­na­tional visi­tors in the West­ern Cape at any given time.”

Cape Town Tourism’s En­ver Du­miny said they an­tic­i­pated a busy fes­tive sea­son.

“The city has had en­gage­ments with the tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try to drive aware­ness among visi­tors about the se­ri­ous drought cri­sis and to com­mu­ni­cate about the Save Like a Lo­cal cam­paign.

“The tourism in­dus­try is com­mit­ted to con­serv­ing wa­ter and ed­u­cat­ing tourists on wa­ter short­ages. Cape Town Tourism has been us­ing its var­i­ous plat­forms, in­clud­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion with our mem­bers, to re­in­force wa­ter sav­ing. We need the help of all the visi­tors to con­serve this pre­cious re­source.”

He said for­eign and lo­cal tourists make up 3.4% of the pro­vin­cial pop­u­la­tion on “the busiest days”.

Based on this, he said there is “no need for tourists to change their plans” or con­sider other des­ti­na­tions.

“As stated by the City of Cape Town, 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.”

In terms of eco­nomic im­pact of tourism ver­sus the cur­rent wa­ter cri­sis, Du­miny said: “Wa­ter is our most pre­cious re­source and it is crit­i­cal that we do ev­ery­thing we can to con­serve wa­ter.

“The con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy from di­rect and in­di­rect tourism is an es­sen­tial one that sus­tains thou­sands of lo­cals through em­ploy­ment.

“It is not pos­si­ble to sep­a­rate the tourism econ­omy or the wa­ter short­ages from all as­pects of city life. That’s why on­go­ing wa­ter con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and ini­tia­tives must con­tinue along­side en­sur­ing that visi­tors are play­ing their part in sav­ing wa­ter.”

Cape Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try pres­i­dent Ja­nine My­burgh said that al­though the “drought is not a pos­i­tive at­tribute that en­cour­ages tourism, there is a lot that Cape Town has to of­fer that still makes it an at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion”.

Al­though the prov­ince and the city are fac­ing a se­vere drought, tourism is still play­ing a ma­jor role.

“You can’t sep­a­rate them, they are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked. The West­ern Cape has not been blessed with mineral wealth and we are re­liant on sec­tors like fi­nan­cial ser­vices, agri­cul­ture and tourism,” said My­burgh.

James-Brent Styan, spokesper­son for En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs MEC An­ton Bre­dell, said: “We call on all trav­ellers, tourists, visi­tors and fam­i­lies com­ing to the West­ern Cape over the com­ing fes­tive pe­riod and the sum­mer months to please take cog­ni­sance of the se­vere drought.

“Please ad­here to the wa­ter re­stric­tions in your area.”

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