Travel Update: Cape Town is experiencing a water shortage. With measures in place to reduce water usage, guests in the area are still granted peace of mind.
By Lucille Sive, LionWorld Travel CEO & South Africa Expert
Celebrating 50 years in travel to Africa, and winner of the South African Airways Award of Excellence in Travel and Tourism for North America, Lion World Travel specializes in tours to Southern Africa. With their safari specialists, all having first-hand knowledge of Africa, Lion World Travel is passionate about providing guests with the opportunity to experience the natural beauty and unique cultures of Africa.
Cape Town is Open For Business
I have just returned from a fabulous two-week trip to Cape Town and I have to say that if you can, you should come and enjoy this exceptionally beautiful city. I stayed at The Table Bay Hotel and the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa during my trip. As you have probably seen, everyone is talking about the water shortage in Cape Town and both these hotels are clearly giving their guests peace of mind that every drop of water is being used responsibly. My experience was very positive and I felt very comfortable at both properties.
As with all hotels in the Cape Town city region, they are following excellent water-saving practices. Hotels have removed bath plugs to encourage guests to take showers, but bathtub plugs are available on request. Shower heads have been fitted with restrictors. Linens are not being changed daily unless you request it (like everywhere else in the world). Bottled water is readily available instead of pitchers of water in restaurants. They are also using biodegradable paper napkins and placemats in restaurants. As a result of these steps along with many other initiatives that have been put in place to cut water consumption, Cape Town is already showing 50% less water usage.
Cape Town is open for business and thrives on tourism to keep a healthy economy and to maintain 320,000 jobs. Historically Cape Town is a water-scarce part of the world (much like Southern California and Western Australia) and is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and is susceptible to periodic droughts. Responsible consumption of water is the new normal. I urge you to feel at ease traveling to Cape Town. Please note that water saving measures apply only to the City of Cape Town. Outlying regions of the Cape such as the Winelands and Hermanus, a premier whale-watching area, have not been affected, nor have the game parks.
I have addressed some of the many questions that I have had here:
IF TOURISTS VISIT CAPE TOWN WILL THERE BE WATER?
There is adequate water for tourists’ essential daily needs such as washing, using the toilet and other daily hygiene. Tourists will be able to take a shower. At present, the use of baths is discouraged.
WILL TOURISTS HAVE ACCESS TO DRINKING WATER?
Yes. Bottled water is supplied in most hotel rooms and freely available for purchase at a reasonable cost in all grocery and convenience stores.
WHAT DOES ‘DAY ZERO’ MEAN?
‘Day Zero’ is when the City of Cape Town would cut the regular ﬂow of water. ‘Day Zero’ is a projected date that is entirely dependent on current rates of water consumption: if all participants adhere to the required water savings target, ‘Day Zero’ can be avoided. Tourists are still able to enjoy the diverse and world-class experiences that Cape Town has to offer.
WILL RESTAURANTS AND BARS STILL BE IN OPERATION?
In the event of ‘Day Zero’ — yes. Many parts of the hospitality industry have proactively implemented water savings and water augmentation solutions to ensure ongoing availability of water in their establishments. Restaurants and bars are not currently negatively affected, but must still comply with water restrictions.
WHICH TOURISM ACTIVITIES COULD BE IMPACTED?
Tourists will still be able to access and enjoy all primary tourism attractions such as Table Mountain, Cape Point, and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS THE DROUGHT IN SOUTH AFRICA?
The drought and resulting water restrictions are particular to the City of Cape Town.
WILL TOURISTS BE ABLE TO USE A SWIMMING POOL?
Some swimming pools at hotels have been converted to salt (ocean) water. The majority of tourism establishments have put in place measures to ensure their water usage is reduced, and many have developed plans for alternative supplies.
WILL EMERGENCY SERVICES STILL FUNCTION IN THE EVENT OF ‘DAY ZERO’?
Yes. All critical emergency services (hospitals, clinics, police services) will continue to function as normal.
In conclusion, this vibrant city offers gourmet cuisine, museums, nightlife, shopping and more. With its iconic Table Mountain that is a scenic wonder, awe-inspiring drives, quaint Winelands towns, botanical gardens, nature reserves and world-class restaurants, this is one of the most prized cities in the world. A visit to Cape Town should not be missed.