‘Day Zero’ pushed back and Cape Town Welcomes Tourists

by Lara Behrens
8th March 2018

City Stay


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08 March 2018


More good news as The City of Cape Town announce that 'Day Zero' is no longer a threat in 2018 due to locals drastically reducing their water consumption.

The Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom, welcomed the announcement by the City of Cape Town   that continued water-savings in the province resulted in Day Zero being avoided in 2018.

“The tourism sector is a critical contributor to South Africa’s economy and GDP.  It is responsible for the creation of over 700 000 direct jobs and supports thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises across the country.  The news of this delay will allay concerns of both international and domestic travellers and will reinforce our stance that South Africa’s tourism sector remains open for business,” explained Minister Hanekom.

“Water-savings must remain a part of our long-term strategy to avoid Day Zero in its entirety and we encourage all travellers to support the #WaterWiseTourism movement and adhere to the water restrictions that remain in place in the Cape Town,” continued Minister Hanekom.

“I urge all travellers and citizens alike not to relax their water-saving efforts.  Whilst the City of Cape Town is confident in avoiding Day Zero this year, one cannot predict the volume of rain fall still to come.  However, it has been very pleasing to see that travellers and citizens have met the challenge by lowering their consumption, and we congratulate them on ultimately contributing to responsible tourism,” concluded Hanekom.


21 February 2018


Some good news as ‘Day Zero’ has once again been delayed a month, moving from June 4 to July 9. This comes after a weekly drop in dam levels of just 0.5% (compared to a 1.9% drop in 2014).

This week’s lower rate of consumption can be attributed to a Groenland water transfer reaching Steenbras Upper Dam last week and slightly increasing the dam level. There has also been a further reduction in Cape Town’s weekly average demand to 523 megalitres per day (MLD) compared with 1 130 MLD in 2014.

In a statement, the City of Cape Town said: “We want to thank the Groenland Water Users Farming Association for the water transfer, which made a considerable difference when we needed it most.”


14 February 2018


‘Day Zero’ has now been moved to June 4 due to the continued decline in agricultural usage and the decrease in residential water consumption. Over the past week, usage has been lowered to 526 million litres per day. This is the first time that the weekly average usage has remained under 550 million litres.

In a statement, the City of Cape Town said,

“Two years ago water usage was more than one billion litres per day, resulting in a weekly change of 2,1%. If our dam levels were currently dropping at this rate we would reach ‘Day Zero’ before the end of March. Our dam levels declined by just 0,6% over the past week.”

This re-emphasises Wesgro’s message to the tourism industry...


Cape Town is open for business.


Tourism is absolutely essential to combating Cape drought!

In a speech delivered in parliament earlier this month, Shadow Minister of Tourism, James Vos, said: “Available evidence confirms, beyond any doubt, that tourism is essential for economic growth. According to StatsSA, one in 22 employed people in South Africa work in the tourism industry, representing 4.5% of the total workforce in our country.”

He added that the High Level Panel Report on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change, released last year by former President Kgalema Motlanthe, indicated that 1.4 million people were employed in the tourism industry, with one in seven people relying on the sector for their livelihood.

“These statistics demonstrate why tourism is such an integral part of our economy, acts as a key driver of income generation and creates opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship. Travellers sympathetic to our plight might reason that their visit may worsen the water crisis and, as a sign of support, will choose not to visit. But these decisions have both short- and long-term negative consequences on the tourism sector, which usually take time and money to fix.”

The organisation said in a statement: “Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business, and ready to welcome visitors. We need tourism now more than ever, as we aim to keep our economy growing and create jobs during this challenging drought. This is critical. International press coverage of the drought, and the prospects of ‘Day Zero’, have caused anxiety amongst foreign travellers. We have received concerned calls from the tourism trade, as travellers’ question whether they should visit Cape Town now, and even book for it in the future.”

One of the key concerns noted by potential tourists who are considering travelling to Cape Town is that they would make the situation water worse if they visited the region. Wesgro believes that this is not only incorrect, but that the opposite is true. This is why:

  • During peak season, international tourists only add 1% to the population of the entire Western Cape province on average. These tourists on average only spend a few days in Cape Town, and then travel to other parts of the province, and then up north to attractions such as the Kruger National Park.
  • The tourism industry has led the way in reducing the consumption of water by tourists, ensuring that each tourist ‘saves like a local’. Tsogo Sun, the largest hotel group in the Cape, has cut its consumption of water by 40%.
  • Despite this extremely small addition to the population size, tourism supported 206 000 direct jobs, 55 763 indirect jobs and 56 243 induced jobs. Therefore in total, tourism supports over 300 000 jobs across the Western Cape.
  • As a result of these visitors, R38 billion (€2.6 billion) was added to the Cape economy in 2017. If one calculates foreign direct spend by visitors, visitors spent R9.9 billion (€670 million) in the Western Cape in the first half of 2017 alone.
  • The drought has had a devastating impact on the agricultural sector since last year. Thousands of jobs have already been lost. Tourism can assist in shouldering this impact especially in the smaller towns. Wesgro says: “If we encourage tourism during this time, and highlight the many attractions that exist across our beautiful province, we can continue to stimulate growth in the Cape.”


Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, said: “The numbers are clear. Visitors add enormous value to our province, even when they make up a tiny proportion of the population. They sustain livelihoods, and they stimulate growth even during challenging economic times. We want to let visitors know that you are most welcome, but when you visit, be mindful of the drought and help us save water. If we work together in this way, we can avoid Day Zero, maintain our economy, and continue to support and create jobs across the Cape and South Africa.”

South Africa has declared the drought which has seen Cape Town moving ever closer towards "Day Zero" a national disaster.

The decision to declare a national disaster is good news. It means that the central government - run by the African National Congress (ANC) - will now take the reins and take responsibility for relief efforts.

The co-operative governance minister Des van Rooyen said that last week more than 70m rand (AU£7.4m) has been put aside to tackle the water crisis in the Western Cape, in South Africa.


28 December 2017


The following statement was released:

Cape Town is facing one of its worst droughts in living memory. Since 2001, the city has had a water conservation and demand management policy to reduce its water consumption. These efforts kept overall water demand relatively stable until 2014, when demand started to rise. Due to a combination of lower rainfall in the winter of 2016 and 2017, and a relatively slow initial governance response to the drought, the city officially declared a water crisis in 2017.

In early April 2017, Cape Town was down to its last 100 days of water. The water levels in the dams that supply the city had fallen to 20% of their capacity. In response, the city imposed Level Four water restrictions. These include stricter limits on residential water use and strongly recommend a limit of 100 litres per person per day. They also include a ban on irrigation, and a 350 litres per day cap on the free basic water allocation for impoverished households, regardless of household size. On 05 September 2017, these restrictions were escalated to Level Five!

However, much of this hype around the drought has been to ensure citizens are aware of the situation and that everyone is doing what they can to reduce consumption. A side effect of this awareness campaign has been a number of sensationalist headlines in the international press.

It is important not to lose perspective in light of these headlines. Cape Town is not unique: droughts regularly affect dozens of top international tourist destinations. And many top destinations exist in far more severe climates.


Here is everything you need to know about the water restrictions in Cape Town and surrounds.

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