Residents of the Mother City are dealing well with the effects of the drought, but for the first time in Cape Town’s history, the drought is influencing tourists to opt for other locations, where water is not an issue.

The livelihood of Cape Town is deeply rooted in the tourism industry but since they are being greatly affected by the worst year of drought, hotels have far less occupants and tourists have a general sense of hesitance to come to the Mother City.

Sharmila Ragunanan, group marketing manager of Dream Hotels and Resorts, which owns 21 properties told Business Tech, “We recognise that travellers may be reticent to visit the Cape while we grapple with the drought, but would urge them to reconsider. Their visit contributes to the Cape’s economy and as tourism businesses, we have put in place measures that will help them be water-wise and environmentally conscious, without hindering their positive experience of the city and surrounds.”

A global analytics and insights source, Smith Travel Research (STR), revealed that occupancy levels decreased by roughly 10% since 2017. The month of May proved that the situation is only becoming worse with occupancy levels dropping to a 14% decrease year-on-year and a 4.2% rate reduction. All of this is on top of the ever increasing water prices and inflation which is not treating the city’s economy well.

Cape Town’s hospitality market is becoming increasingly desperate to spread the news that we are still a tourist destination despite the drought, and visitors should still make their way to our beautiful city.

A survey by Wesgro (an official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town) showed that among 18 hotels in Cape Town in March, between 10% and 15% performed worse in terms of bookings in January and February as compared to the same period in 2017.

It is important for visitors to note that although Cape Town is governed by water restrictions, as long as they save like a local, and are mindful of the water they use, visiting the city is not a problem.

Some hotels even have their own desalination plants and others use boreholes and well points to extract ground water.


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