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The History of Drought in Cape Town Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 4th, 2020

Cape Town is a coastal city in South Africa. With a population of 433,688, it is one of the most populated places in the country (DeyàTortella and Tirado 2011. This paper reviews the literature on the history of the drought, causes, and the effect on tourism.

History of the Drought

The Western Cape Water Supply System supplies water to the city through six dams (Center for Responsible Travel 2016, Machnik 2013). About 63% of the water is used for domestic and industrial use, and the rest for agriculture and other uses (The Straits Times 2013, Beham 2018, Anonymous 2017). Since the past few years, the western cape region has seen drought-like situations, with rains scant rainfall for the past three years, and water levels at critically low levels (Gosling 2018, Bellis 2018). Population has increased in the city by 69% in the past decade, and people continue to draw more water through illegal tapping of water mains (Gabarda-Mallorquí, Garcia, and Ribas 2017, Sunday Times 2018). Water levels in the dams are almost exhausted. Experts link this rainfall shortage to global warming and climate change (Muller 2017, Ragab and Prudhomme 2002).

Effect on Luxury Hospitality and Tourism

Tourism is a $3.4 billion business for Cape Town, about 9.3% to the GDP of South Africa, and it supports 300,000 jobs (The Lancet Planetary Health 2018). Cancellations of bookings increased and the overall visitors will see a drop of 12.6% (ValueWalk 2018). The tourism season begins in April and tour operators report a lack of queries to the city (Resource Capetown 2018). Water shortage is expected to discourage visitors who will be forced to ration water for drinking, showers, and flushing toilets (Amelia 2018). Tourists will also face rationing of water (Coffey 2018). With such an acute shortage, tourists are scared about the quality of service and if the visit would meet their expectations (Ferreira and Boshoff 2013). Hence, a severe fall in tourism related activity is expected. There would be widespread distress since jobs would be lost, business and economy would be shattered, leading to increased crimes and breakdown of law and order (Chitra 2015).

Media Coverage

A number of online media have reported adversely about the water shortage and drought situation and the impending ‘Zero Day’, when water supply would be cut (Turner 2018; Pérez-Peña 2018). The reports paint a grim image of citizens queuing up for water at checkpoints, armed guards standing to quell riots, and citizens ready to fight viciously for a drop of water (Wolski 2018). Such reports increase the fear-mongering and further dissuade tourists from even considering Cape Town in the plan (Diallo 2018). Such negative messages and portrayal of a calamity, is not ethical, even if it true (Gabarda-Mallorquí and Palom 2016; Gopalakrishnan and Cox 2003).

Reasons for Covering the Topic

Drought and cities running out of water is a scenario that many cities would face in the future (Cashman and Moore 2012, Rough Guide to Eco Escapes 2011). Many mega-cities such as New York, London, New Delhi, and others are facing these water shortage problems (Neto 2016; Pedro 2013). An understanding of water conservation, regulation, and sustainable methods that Cape Town employs, would help in solving this problem for other cities (Bridge 2017, Kelly 2017, Alonso 2008, Charara et al. 2011).

Water Saving Measures

Cape Town has adopted some drastic measures to manage the water problem (Kelly 2016). These include very strict water rationing, control over water use in hotels, reducing water for agriculture, water leak detection, strict water metering, and pressure management in water pipelines (Welch 2018). Other methods ware waste water recycling, and water demand management (Caricoetzee 2018). There is criticism that these measures are introduced very late.

Conclusions

The analysis and review shows that global warming and climate change, mismanagement of water, and inability to control water use has lead to drought like situation in Cape Town. The tourism industry and agricultural sector will suffer from this drought. Other cities can learn from these problems and implement water use measures.

References

Alonso, A. (2008). How Australian hospitality operations view water consumption and water conservation: an exploratory study. Journal of Hospitality & Leisure Marketing, 17(3-4), 354-372.

Amelia, H. (2018). Verdict. Web.

Anonymous. (2017). Water-saving solutions for the South African industry. Institution of Civil Engineering, (23), 61-62.

Beham, I. (2018). ValueWalk: Cape Town Water Crisis: Is Day Zero Approaching? Newstex Global Business Blogs. Web.

Bellis, C. (2018). Aljazeera. Web.

Bridge, M. (2017). Eco-tourism to top 2018 travel trends’. The Times. Web.

Caricoetzee, M. (2018). Biz Community. Web.

Cashman, A. and Moore, W. (2012). A market-based proposal for encouraging water use efficiency in a tourism-based economy. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 31(1), 286-294.

Center for Responsible Travel. (2016). Responsible Travel. Web.

Charara, N., Cashman, A., Bonnell, R. and Gehr, R. (2011). Water use efficiency in the hotel sector of Barbados. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19(2), 231-245.

Coffey, H. (2018). The Independent. Web.

Chitra, N. (2015). Redefining luxury: Experiential, exclusive and eco-friendly are the 3 Es that drive the luxe hospitality business today. Business Today. Web.

DeyàTortella, B. and Tirado, D. (2011). Hotel water consumption at a seasonal mass tourist destination. The case of the island of Mallorca. Journal of Environmental Management, 92(10), 2568-2579.

Diallo, M. (2018). Cape Town could run out of water in April [Video file]. VOA News. Web.

Ferreira, S. and Boshoff, A. (2013). Post-2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup: oversupply and location of luxury hotel rooms in Cape Town. Current Issues in Tourism, 17(2), 180-198.

Gabarda-Mallorquí, A. and Palom, A. (2016). Understanding reductions in water consumption in tourist areas: a case study of the Costa Brava, Spain. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 32(6), 912-930.

Gabarda-Mallorquí, A., Garcia, X. and Ribas, A. (2017). Mass tourism and water efficiency in the hotel industry: A case study. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 61, 82-93.

Gopalakrishnan, C. and Cox, L. (2003). Water Consumption by the visitor industry: the case of Hawaii. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 19(1), 29-35.

Gosling, M. (2018). News24. Web.

Kelly, J. (2016). . Academic Mintel. Web.

Kelly, J. (2017). The responsible traveler and authenticity/community-based tourism – September 2017’. Academic Mintel. Web.

Machnik, A. (2013). Nature-based tourism as an introduction to ecotourism experience – a new approach. Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends, 6(1), 75-95.

Muller, M. (2017). Understanding the origins of Cape Town’s water crisis. Institution of Civil Engineering. Web.

Neto, S. (2016). Water governance in an urban age. Utilities Policy, 43, 32-41.

Pedro, L. (2013). Telegraph. Web.

Pérez-Peña, R. (2018). New York Times. Web.

Ragab, R. and Prudhomme, C. (2002). Climate change and water resources management in arid and semi-arid regions: Prospective and challenges for the 21st century. Biosystems Engineering, 81(1), 3-34.

Resource Capetown. (2018). Resource Cape Town. Web.

Rough Guide to Eco Escapes. (2011). Rough Guide, Episode 2, Channel 5, 27 January. Learning on Screen. Web.

Sunday Times. (2018). Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ delayed. Sunday Times, London, UK, p.2.

The Lancet Planetary Health. (2018). The Lancet Planetary Health. Web.

The Straits Times. (2018). The Straits Times. Web.

Turner, M. (2018). Luxury Travel Advisor. Web.

ValueWalk. (2018). Cape Town water crisis: Is Day Zero approaching? Newstex Global Business Blogs. Web.

Welch, C. (2018). Web.

Wolski, P. (2018). News 24. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The History of Drought in Cape Town." December 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-history-of-drought-in-cape-town/.

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