Neels Blom Writer at large
A view of Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Picture: SA TOURISM
A view of Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Picture: SA TOURISM

Wesgro, the Western Cape’s promotional agency, and representatives of the hospitality industry have moved to assure travellers to Cape Town that the city remains open for business, despite the water crisis.

Many hotels would likely fall within “economic protected zones”, such as Cape Town’s CBD. It is anticipated that visitors would continue to receive water in the event of “day zero”, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said on Wednesday.

The city has said commercial centres would continue to receive water, because of the need to protect jobs and keep the economy going. Should a hotel fall within this area, which some will, they would benefit from this.

The Western Cape’s hospitality industry employs about 206,000 people — or 300,000 when indirect jobs and informal employment are included. The industry contributes close to R40bn a year to the provincial economy.

International and domestic tourists made up about 2.4% of the province’s population, said Ravi Nadasen, Tsogo Sun’s chief operating officer of hotels.

The group had cut water use 40%, said Nadasen. By the end of March, between 1,400 and 1,900 rooms in the group’s hotels in the Cape Town CBD would be supplied with between 600,000 and 700,000 litres a day from the group’s desalination plant at the Westin Hotel.

In a note issued by Old Mutual Investment Group, also on Wednesday, economic strategist Rian le Roux emphasised the role the province played in the national economy. “The Western Cape accounts for about 13% of the national GDP, and a 1% reduction in the Western Cape GDP equates to a 0.13% reduction in the national GDP. Therefore, if the rest of the economy grows by 1.5% in 2018 and the Western Cape grows by 0%, the national GDP will be up by only 1.3%.”

The water crisis was not exclusive to the Western Cape, said Le Roux. “The Eastern Cape is experiencing a severe water crisis too, and Gauteng has Level 1 water restrictions in place.”

blomn@businesslive.co.za