Message from David Frost on the Western Cape Water Crisis

The spectre of the water crisis facing Cape Town has started to impact inbound tourism with growing reports of cancellations. SATSA is responding on its members’ behalf in two ways.

The first is to elicit a targeted and informed message that can be sent to tour operators and customers in source markets, detailing what will actually happen going forward.

To this end SATSA has engaged directly with the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, her senior team and the CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris and his executive staff. The City of Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ campaign is designed to change the behaviour of citizens, but it has a negative unintended consequence for Cape Town as a tourist destination. It is agreed that a different message, but consistent with the facts on the ground, needs to be targeted at tourists and the trade, and the Premier and Wesgro are working on this.

It is acknowledged that the formative message around the water situation was meant as a scare tactic to drastically reduce domestic consumption but unfortunately it has gone out internationally. It is agreed that a different message is required and the Premier and WESGRO are working on this.

The second impact, concerns how we as an industry handle tourists wishing to cancel a South, or indeed Southern Africa trip, that has a Cape Town component, due to the perception that water may not be available in Cape Town. We need to be positive and proactive, and handle possible cancellations in a way that preserves interest in the destination, as we manage the crisis in the short term. As we are entering into the peak booking period we are seeking to forge a unified industry position on cancellations and are currently working with key stakeholders on this.

I would urge members to be cognisant that the situation is incredibly fluid and that messages may change from day to day. We will constantly update you with information as and when it becomes available.

If anyone has any specific questions, please forward them to Sharon Gengan on and we will endeavour to have them answered by the Provincial and City Authorities.

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