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The Western Cape remains open for tourism with a new normal for water usage

Feb 21, 2018

Colorful houses in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

Photo by: Erin Johnson

Although South Africa’s Western Cape is facing a severe water shortage, government officials and tourism businesses are working to ensure that the tourism sector doesn’t run dry. The government said there is adequate water for tourists’ essential daily needs and to enjoy the diverse and world-class experiences this South African region has to offer. Tourism supports approximately 300,000 jobs in Cape Town and across the Western Cape.

Since February 1, residents and visitors in Cape Town and surrounding areas have been restricted to 50 litres of daily water usage per person. Within just a few weeks of these water saving measures, the ‘Day Zero’ event has been pushed back to June 4. Day Zero marks the date when the government will severely ration the water supply.

However, with exceptional water conservation efforts it can be avoided entirely. The local government is asking residents, businesses, and visitors to embrace responsible water usage as the ‘new normal.’

“What we don’t need or want right now is a mass exodus of people, resulting in unemployment and additional stresses on our community” explained Once in Cape Town founder Kim Whitaker. “Plus, we need as many people as we can muster to do a mass rain dance for rain this coming winter!”

All major events in Cape Town will still be held with new water-saving initiatives in place. Iconic tourist attractions such as Table Mountain,

man reading atop table mountain overlooking western cape

Photo by: Gilbert Sopakuwa

Cape Point and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are welcoming visitors. During peak season (November-January) international tourists only add 1% to the population of the Western Cape. Officials say that if tourists are mindful of the daily usage guidelines, their impact on the water shortage will be negligible.

“The water crisis has opened our eyes to the reality of the world: things are changing rapidly and we must adjust accordingly. Human nature emerges in times of crises, and I can see people all around me offering help and assistance,” Kim told WYSE Travel Confederation.

Although these new water restrictions are extraordinary measures, Once in Cape Town guests are always exposed to sustainable travel initiatives during their hostel stay. Once Youth Hotels is an official Fair-Trade Tourism accredited business with the mission of supporting the local community and respecting the environment with responsible travel.

Kim said Once in Cape Town staff have been working to educate their guests about water conservation. In this most recent blog, they explain the ‘new normal’ for Cape Town and their latest initiatives to combat the drought.