The City of Cape Town says it is working to ensure various water augmentation plans come online to supplement the declining water supply. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - When Day Zero was announced, news that Cape Town may be the first city to run dry in the world spread globally. This accelerated water-saving initiatives.

However, according to Bay Atlantic guest house owner Bernard Smith, it has scared tourists away and was having a devastating impact on businesses which thrive off tourism.

According to Smith, cash flow has stopped coming into the establishment as tourists cancel their reservations in fear of Day zero. Consequently water tariffs have gone up, leaving the guest house with a huge municipal bills and little to no income to compensate.

READ MORE: #EveryDropCounts: City's water tariffs don't add up

“Suddenly when the tourist industry started collapsing in March, the tariff charges jumped. It went from R38 to R300* /kl in category four and from R99.99 to R800* /kl in category five. That is absolutely slaughtering everybody.

“You hear about South Africa being a top tourist destination, but they’re hammering us here at home. In April our rates, water, refuse and sewage came to R40903.45.

“Cash flow has died and the city council just ups rates and think let the bastards pay,” said Smith.

Smith, who has owned the guest house for 22 years, said his bill had climbed.

His queries to the city council led him to discover he was being charged domestic and not commercial tariffs. He was told to apply for a business rate despite registering as a commercial enterprise 22 years ago.

“When we are full, we have 25 people living and working here. The council system is based on four people living here.

“I don’t mind paying for water but R800p/kl is crippling. We have gadgets fitted to our taps to stem the flow and gadgets fitted to our showers yet the bill is high. How many people have to go out of business for them to listen?” Asked Smith.

Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy agreed the industry had slumped in visitor numbers and said the pattern happened over a few months, and was possibly because of drought concerns.

“The drought, while still a challenge, is being managed by authorities and locals.

“There has been extensive reporting on the water crisis, unfortunately with negativity and sensationalism being part of the communication.

“Throughout this period, Cape Town Tourism has continued the message that the city is open for business as part of our strategy to remain positive,”said Duminy.

City council spokespeople were contacted but were unable to comment before going to print.

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Cape Argus