Cape Town Calling: Undoing the impact of ‘Day Zero’ on Tourism
By Rishabh Thapar, Consulting & Valuation at HVS
The hotel and tourism industry has been at the forefront of a lot of these initiatives. While most of the consumption in the city is residential, hotels seemed to be the ones that took the limelight on water consumption. The hotel industry reacted by closing swimming pools, installing borewells, fitting taps with aerators, using sea water for air-conditioning, implemented the use of paper towels instead of hand towels to reduce the laundry load, installing wastewater treatment plants, removing bath plugs, encouraging guests to take two-minute showers, creating awareness and sharing best practices to switch to a greener lifestyle and more.
With the efforts of the city, and some blessed rain showers, the dam levels in Cape Town are back up to 48% as of 2 July (as compared to 25% this time in 2017) and rising with a healthy rainfall predicted through the rest of the winter months. While the citizens are cautiously optimistic, this experience over the last year has left citizens environmentally conscious and waterwise.
In January 2018, when I traveled to another country, I would have a longer shower, as a relief to my 60 second shower routine, however 6 months later, having realised the impact of conservation and adjusting to a more waterwise routine, I felt no need to have a long shower upon travels abroad. I feel Cape Town can not only claim its fame for being resilient against the drought and becoming a water wise city but it's citizens/visitors can now be ambassadors of sustainable tourism when they travel. Cape Town is one among a host of cities around the world that may face a water crisis and we may have learnt our lesson earlier than others.
In gaining this wisdom however, the city of Cape town's hotels and overall tourism has suffered a blow in terms of declining occupancy and visitation considering the publicity that 'day zero' gained across the world. The city along with the globe now needs to market its comeback and the fact that the destination is a water wise sustainable tourism destination, along with the numerous other tourism accolades that stand to its name. Tourists use a fraction of the water and with so many places to see in and around Cape Town, exploring the mountains, beaches and vineyards, who has time for a long shower anyway.
We look forward to welcoming the water wise global travelers to the wonders of Cape Town and Western Cape; and getting back on track for the unprecedented tourist arrivals that the city deserves.