Cape Town - As we head into the busy holiday season, we are mindful of the fact that increased visitor numbers to the mountains, beaches and roads can present a challenge to Cape Town; we want to welcome our visitors and ensure that they, as well as locals, enjoy themselves without compromising their safety.
The natural beauty of the city is one of our big drawcards - on first encounter, visitors are astounded by the way the many beaches and the mountain frame the city. From the ground, the mountain looks easy to navigate, and the seas may look calm, but there are hazards that locals and visitors should be aware of.
Too often, the party atmosphere takes to the beaches - of course we're all feeling festive, but where alcohol and swimming are combined, this causes problems. Not only is alcohol prohibited at our beaches, but it can compromise safety in the water. Non-swimmers may venture into the sea, and even experienced swimmers can find themselves in difficulty if they have been drinking.
Bear in mind that many of our beaches have lifeguards at the places where it's safest to swim, but beach-goers sometimes choose dangerous spots to go into the water where there are no lifeguards and rip currents or other dangers. The simple rule for visitors and locals is to stick to designated swimming spots during the hours where there are lifeguards, not swim after consuming alcohol and to keep track of young children on busy beaches.
Locals can help visitors by pointing out the best spots to swim and advise them of what risks they should watch out for, and visitors and locals alike should learn how to identify where a rip current is present. If the sea is rough, it's best not to enter the water.
When we look up at our mountains, we can spot the paths that make hiking a pleasant activity for anyone in Cape Town, but, again, there are basic rules everyone should stick to when planning a trip: ensure that hikers travel in a group with at least one experienced hiker who knows the route, only go in good weather and preferably not when the sun is at its hottest, take warm clothes along and wear sensible shoes, take food and plenty of water, tell someone who isn't going what the route will be and when you expect to return and don't stray from marked paths.
Poor weather can appear quickly on the mountain; wind, rain and cloudy conditions can make even a relatively safe route hazardous. At least one of the party should have a fully-charged phone (not for selfies, but in case of emergencies) and hikers should not take valuables with them.
Rock faces that appear to be an easy scramble can turn out.to be difficult to navigate, and rescuers may find it difficult to reach stranded or injured hikers, so it's best to admire rock faces from afar rather than attempt to climb them without proper climbing equipment.
Even our roads can present a challenge over the busy season; visitors may not be familiar with their directions and will drive cautiously, so we'd like to encourage all locals and visitors to drive carefully and to be considerate of other road users.
We're fortunate in that various agencies across the city have been preparing additional safety measures to ensure that risks are limited, and offer our full support to SANParks, Saps, the CID, lifeguards and all other agencies and organisations seeking to look after visitors and locals.
Above all, let's have fun this year, and get to know some of our visitors - we can share the best of what we have to offer and make sure that they have a wonderful experience while travelling.
* Enver Duminy is CEO of Cape Town Tourism