Fedhasa calls for government intervention as water crisis batters KwaZulu-Natal South Coast tourism

26th July 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The ongoing water crisis on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal is significantly impacting the region’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry.

As municipal authorities struggle to provide a reliable water supply, the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) is urging government to prioritise the restoration of a stable and reliable water supply for the South Coast.

“The tourism industry, a vital economic driver for the region, is in peril, and the future looks bleak without swift intervention,” said Fedhasa national chairperson Rosemary Anderson, highlighting the devastating consequences of the staggering number of days without water and businesses having to truck in water at astronomical costs.

“The effects on the local hospitality industry have been nothing short of disastrous, with establishments struggling to survive and tourists shying away from visiting the area.”

Anderson cited residents' reports, which show that between December 2021 and August 2022, the South Coast, which has experienced significant water shortages over the past 18 months, had access to water on only 107 days out of 255 days.

Outlining the extent of the challenge, Anderson pointed to a Fedhasa member in Umzumbe that spent R2-million during the last financial year to have water brought in by truck to their hotel owing to the municipality's inability to provide consistent water supply.

Several other bed and breakfast establishments and holiday cottages face ongoing cancelled bookings and property owners are now desperate to offload their assets.

“The economic repercussions of this water crisis are felt far and wide. With tourists hesitant to visit the region owing to the uncertainty surrounding water availability, businesses are haemorrhaging revenue, leading to mass layoffs and local shops struggling to survive without an influx of visitors.”

Further, Fedhasa accused private water tanker operators of capitalising on the situation, charging exorbitant prices and further crippling already beleaguered businesses.

Despite the South African Human Rights Commission expressing deep concern in September 2022, following public hearings that revealed that the water crisis on the South Coast is a result of aging infrastructure, corruption and a lack of maintenance, the situation remains unresolved, leaving local communities pleading for assistance.

The Department of Water and Sanitation must step in when municipalities fail to provide adequate water services, Fedhasa asserted, calling on the department to urgently intervene and take decisive action to address the escalating crisis, which has far-reaching consequences for residents and businesses alike.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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