Lonely Planet Writer

Travelling to Cape Town? Here's how the water crisis will impact you

If you intend to travel to Cape Town over the next few months, be mindful that water shortages mean that restrictions on usage are in place. The good news is that officials have just pushed back their projections for the date the city’s taps are expected to run dry from 16 April to 11 May, a day known as “Day Zero.” Hotels have asked guests not to have baths as an average bath holds 80 litres of water, and to limit showers to two minutes or less. Some eateries are switching to disposable cups and are discarding table linen.

Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles at Newlands Spring in Cape Town, South Africa. Image: Morgana Wingard/Getty Images

A chronic drought is causing the water shortage in the South African city, and it has occurred because an expansive area of high pressure situated in the Atlantic Ocean is pushing rainfall away from the Western Cape. Residents have been told to limit water usage to 50 litres per person per day. Diminishing water supplies may lead to most taps being turned off for the four millions inhabitants of Cape Town and visitors on “Day Zero.” Residents will then be further rationed to just 25 litres, which they will only be able to collect from one of 200 stations.

It is feared that the Cape Town water shortage may affect travellers. mage: ©Alexcpt/Getty Images

The measures being taken to conserve water are expected to have an impact on visitor numbers, and the city fears that some may choose to stay away because of the inconvenience. Cape Town Tourism has confirmed that cancellations have already taken place over the water situation. Any impact on tourism is unwelcome because it accounted for an estimated 9% of South Africa’s economic output in 2017, amounting to 412 billion rand ($35 billion).

View from above Lions Head and Cape Town in South Africa. Image by Renee Vititoe/500px

In better news, some much-needed relief is on its way thanks to the Groenland Water Users’ Association, which has made ten billion litres of water available to Cape Town. It will be pumped into the Steenbras Dam in coming days. The fact that “Day Zero” has been pushed out to mid-May is due to a sharp drop in agricultural use in March and April. This is also considered hopeful, as the rainy season may have arrived by then. While rain is not always welcomed on holidays, in this case a few drops will be great news for residents and visitors alike.