A local perspective
Day Zero What does it mean for the events and hospitality industry? By Pippa Naudé, Event Greening Forum
Day Zero is the day that the City of Cape Town anticipates it will need to turn off the taps. It’s not an inevitable outcome – yet. Rather, it is a date that can arrive sooner or later, or as a best case outcome be avoided altogether, depending on how Capetonians manage their water usage.
ccording to the City of Cape Town’s water dashboard (http:// coct.co/water-dashboard), from the week of 29 January the combined level of dams supplying the city were at 26.3 per cent capacity and decreasing with ongoing use during the dry season. Meanwhile, the percentage of residents using 87 ℓ or less of water per day was at 55 per cent. Fortunately, the trend shows that residents are becoming more conservative with their water consumption – possibly because of heightened awareness about the water crisis. Less fortunately, since 1 February the water restrictions have increased to Level 6B, which requires everyone to use only 50 ℓ or less of water per day. With the current usage rates, and without rainfall, Day Zero is expected to be on 11 May 2018. However, “If all stakeholders adhere to the required water savings target, ‘Day Zero’ can be avoided,” urges a tourism partners communication sent out on the 30 January 2018 from a joint committee of the Western Cape government, The City of Cape Town, the Southern African
Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), The Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA), the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town & Western Cape Tourism, Trade & Investment (Wesgro).
The hospitality industry reacts The Event Greening Forum (EGF), a non-profit organisation that promotes sustainability within the business events sector, supports the view that the hospitality and events industry must continue servicing their clients – but in a way that is responsible and does not further compound existing water problems. Greg McManus, the chairperson of the EGF, said: “While recognising the impacts that the hospitality and meetings sector have on water consumption, we also acknowledge the efforts that are being made to reduce consumption and we are confident that Day Zero can be avoided”. More than five million tourists visited Cape Town from July 2016 to June 2017, and these numbers are expected to grow.
14 Business Events Africa February 2018
This puts more pressure on the city’s water supply. At the same time, the tourism industry employs approximately 300 000 people and brings millions of Rand of spend into the area. This means it is vital that it continues uninterrupted so that these benefits continue. Grace Stead is a sustainability consultant and the director of Steadfast Greening, as well as a founder of the Event Greening Forum, who has been assisting with workshops around water usage in the city. She added: “Unfortunately some overseas companies are deciding not to host their conferences here, because they are concerned about water shortages. The consequences of these decisions do not help our situation, but can further complicate it.” The tourism partners’ communication points out: “During peak season (November to January) international tourists only add one per cent to the population of the Western Cape. This number drops from April to September. If the tourists follow the daily usage guideline the impact would therefore be negligible.”
How can this be done? Accommodating guests while keeping their water usage under 50 ℓ each a day seems like a big ask. But it is possible. Venues like Spier and The Vineyard have always integrated sustainable practices into their business model, and www.businesseventsafrica.com