Call for tourists to ‘please come back’ to Cape Town

London - Please come back to the Western Cape and Cape Town.

This was the message to anyone who stayed away owing to the water crisis. The call went out during a panel discussion on tourism and water at World Travel Market London on Tuesday.

It was made by Helen Davies, chief director of the green economy at the Western Cape Government's Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Take a little, give a lot

According to Davies, 330 000 jobs in the Western Cape rely on tourism, and tourists use just a small percentage of the province's water.

"The Western Cape and Cape Town are incredible destinations. Anyone who stayed away because of the drought must please come back," she said.

However, she acknowledged that Cape Town was not out of the woods.

"The water crisis in Cape Town was a huge wake up call for us. None of us expected climate change to hit us this quickly," she said.

It was the partnership approach between government, the business sector, civil society and academia that eventually averted Day Zero, she said.

Wake-up call

The tourism industry also did its bit, she added.

"The hospitality industry took various steps to help tourists to understand the water situation. Various cities in the world are currently water challenged. For me the wake-up call is that we need to learn and share experiences and information collectively," said Davies.

"Our key focus now is to build long-term resilience. We will continue to drive our efficiency campaigns and to encourage people to value water." Strategic pricing was part of this, she said.

Harold Goodwin, WTM's responsible tourism advisor, was also on the panel. He said the worldwide the water challenge had, unfortunately, not yet grabbed enough attention.

"Cape Town was in the firing line this year, but it might very well be somewhere else next," he cautioned.

* Fin24 is a guest of SA Tourism at WTM London.

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