London – One of the important messages South Africa has to bring to the international tourism industry this year is that the drought in the Western Cape is over, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom told fin24 at the recent World Travel Market in London.
"The message we are bringing to WTM London is that, along with a number of other countries, SA is water scarce and this gets worse due to climate change and growing populations," said Hanekom.
"That is why SA has to be water wise and encourage citizens as well as tourists to be responsible despite there now being no danger of running out of water."
He added that being a responsible tourist visiting the Cape does not mean you cannot swim or bath. It is just about being responsible.
"Cape Town and SA are happy that the drought has come to an end and we are open for business. We hope those who cancelled their tours due to the drought, will rebook them soon."
He said the drought was a setback for the SA tourism industry and it is important for people to now hear that the drought is over.
"We did all the right things and the dams in the Western Cape are on average 75% full. We want the international tourists to come to SA and we encourage responsible tourism in the country," he said.
Drought made the news, full dams won't
Sisa Ntshona, CEO of SA Tourism told Fin24 that when the drought was raging in Cape Town, it made front page news all over the world. Now that the dams are more than 70% full, however, it does not make the front page news internationally.
"So, one of our big jobs at WTM London is to do to send the message about the situation regarding water in Cape Town and SA. It is for us about how to now turn the impact of that lemon into lemonade," said Ntshona.
"Part of our message is that the impact of climate change and drought are not unique to SA, but we are leading the world on how to be resilient. The key lesson for us is that, although dams are more than 70% full, we cannot go back to the old ways."
For Ntshona it is about how to change people’s mindsets so that tourists will still come, but act in a responsible way regarding water use.
* Fin24 was a guest of SA Tourism at WTM London.
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