Bad drought but we can’t close borders: Winde

Cape Town tourism

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde says even though the evidence suggests that Cape Town has entered its worst drought period ever, now is not the time to close borders “and shut toll gates” to the expected flood of tourists to the Western Cape. The Cape Messenger editor was at a water seminar held by Fedhasa – which represents city hotels – held at the Mount Nelson.

Tourism was one of the essential ingredients of the economic mix to fight high unemployment in Cape Town and the Western Cape, Alan Winde has told hoteliers.

Asked by the master of ceremonies if now was the time to shut down the hatches, close the doors and board up hotels because there simply wasn’t enough water, Winde answered simply: “Definitely not.”

Winde, a member of the executive council for the provincial government, said that hotels and other establishments catering for the tourist flood should focus on the campaign: “Save like a local.” This meant that tourists, too, needed to be aware of the 87 litres of water a day allocation to all individuals.

A room-full of hoteliers agreed that they needed to ensure that ratios of bed nights to tourist water usage were part of the normal procedures of hotel management. It was agreed that hotels needed to be constantly aware of water usage, whether they be “the covers” – visitors to eating areas – overnight tourists or even the staff of establishments.

They also agreed that signage and icons needed to tell the story of the water crisis, with steps including  the placing of water bottles in public areas of hotels.

Councillor Xanthea Limberg (for the city) welcomed the water saving steps that hotels were using – they included showers being provided with timer devices and bath plugs being taken away. She said older establishments were facing a challenge. The authorities were also pondering ways of providing subsidies for the water saving measures which were required.

Fedhasa noted the presence of GreenCape – a city and province-supported company which promotes energy and water saving in the region. Councillor Limberg, the mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water services and energy, said there were a number of inexpensive technologies available to businesses, including hotels.

“These technologies are available at relatively affordable costs.”

She acknowledged that the city was pondering the increased costs of supply of water. Within the next few months desalinated water and purified grey water and even cleansed sewage water would be part of the drinking water mix of the city.

Earlier this week, the city’s chief resilience officer Craig Kesson said that non-essential items in the City of Cape Town budget would be shifted to help fund the cost of water augmentation provision. He believed some R3 billion would be needed in the next few months. When asked if the city had the money, he said “yes”.


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