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A new report by financial services firm PwC notes that tourism in Cape Town received a knock from the decent drought, but now hotels in the city are making strides at water saving.

“Tourism is a key economic driver in the Western Cape and contributes to job creation, with around 300 000 people being employed by the industry,” the report notes.

 “The hospitality industry alone contributes R40 billion to the Western Cape economy, which it simply cannot lose. 

“Cape Town is an international leader in business tourism, according to ratings published by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

“According to Statistics South Africa, Cape Town is Africa’s most popular tourist destination, with some 3.5 million people passing through its entry ports in August 2017.”

However, the report notes that a Wesgro survey has indicated that in January and February this year, bookings for hotels surveyed were between 10% and 15% worse when compared to the same period last year. 

These hotels also indicated that there had been a drop in bookings for the period from April to September.

“Cape Town and its many attractions and hotels remain very much open for business,” the report suggests.

“The difference is that people need to be more sparing with their water usage, which may deter certain tourists.  

“Saving water needs to become the new normal in South Africa as well as the rest of the world, and a number of hotels in Cape Town have been leading the way in this regard for the hospitality industry, and business at large.”

The report says tourists are opting for other locations where water is not an issue which is specifically impacting occupancies in the hotels.

“There is a constant need to share information with visitors that despite the water restrictions, the majority of businesses operating in the hospitality and tourism sector have implemented various water-saving and alternative water augmentation initiatives, and if visitors are mindful of their water usage when visiting the Mother City and help to save like a local, their visits not only have a minimal effect of the water usage within the city but have a far greater benefit to the economy of the city in a time when it is most needed,” the report says.

“There has been a greater impact on the guest houses within the Cape Town area. This is due to fewer visitors opting to stay at guest houses as Day Zero was announced.

“Water tariffs have increased over the past months. This has impacted the smaller mid-tier guest houses, leaving them with significantly higher municipal bills.

“Certain five-star hotels have alternative measures in place, e.g. the Silo hotel has its own desalination plant so is unlikely to feel the impact as much as it can still cater for the luxury traveller. The Westin Hotel and other Tsogo Sun Hotels also recently installed their own desalination plants to alleviate the demand on the City’s supply.

“Water consumption in Cape Town has reduced tremendously over the past 12 months. This has been possible through the use of certain programmes such as extracting groundwater from underground aquifers, temporary desalination and reclaiming/reusing water. 

“Despite initial concerns, the water crisis may ultimately help to position the country as a global leader in sustainable tourism practices, including the sensible use of water.”

The report suggests there has been far less of an impact on conferences.

“Judging from the number of conferences that have taken place over recent months, including the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, the water restrictions and drought have not affected the marketing of Cape Town as an international tourist and conference destination.

“We expect that hotels in Cape Town will face a challenging year in 2018 but should recover when and if the rains come. 

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