Ed’s letter: I see you eyeballing Cape Town, Schadenfreude!

Posted by A on 19 February 2018

Cape Town’s tourism status is under seige. Let’s consider the issues.

View of Cape Town from a helicopter.

Lately, there’ve been a couple of assaults on Cape Town’s status as the world’s top destination for tourists. People are watching with heightening interest and not an insignificant amount of glee (I see you, Twitter) for Day Zero to hit. But in the back of their minds, they also must be wondering whether this is a sign of things to come for them, too. Cape Town’s not alone in this predicament.

Many Free State towns have had their taps run dry in the past two years. São Paulo is going through this exact situation, and its population is close to 12 million, over three times the size of Cape Town. Some Twitter rumbles have suggested that so much is being made about Cape Town in the news because it’s a white middle-class problem. There may be truth in that, but surely the fixation lies more in the fact that this kind of crisis has not yet faced a major city? Everyone the world over will be glued to the Cape Town Show, because how do you maintain civil order in a city of millions when there’s no water? São Paulo’s local government must be quaking and wide-eyed.

The second assault is the growing number of vicious attacks on hikers in Table Mountain National Park. In our office we’ve debated whether tourists should be put off from visiting. The thing is, tourism provides a huge number of jobs in the city. Imagine no water and no jobs: powder keg!

Also read: A hiker’s guide to keeping safe on Table Mountain

The tourism sector here is desperate to prevent a collapse of visitor numbers. Wesgro recently put out tourism FAQs stating that international visitors only add one per cent to the population of the Western Cape in high season (slightly misleading, since most of these would be concentrated in the city), so in low season the burden of tourists would be even less than that. It also states that since CT central residents are pulling together and most tourist establishments have sought alternative water supplies, Day Zero may well be averted.

At least Wesgro appears to be engaging with the situation. Not so SANParks, which has garnered criticism for its vague response to crime in its areas, although the body says it’s working with all parties to find a solution. I like Taahir Osman’s approach. He’s formed Take Back Our Mountains, a group that walks all the mugging hotspots in numbers (think 90) ‘to make hiking safer’. It’s the citizenry that will need to create movements and make a noise to ensure preventative action is taken in future. So watch us, but watch us lead the way. We’re nervous, but we’re awake.


5 things to look out for in the March issue

1. 18 Picnic Spots

We personally test-drove these spots for you, which are all in locations perfect for an easy day’s outing. The one on the right is my pick (page 62).


2. Mozambique

It’s beautiful, it’s affordable and it has lovely warm weather and water, exactly what you’ll be looking for this winter. Why not try an island-hopping dhow safari? Melanie van Zyl adored it (page 72)


3. Train Journey’s

If the descriptions of these short train trips don’t make you want to book a ticket with your people, I’m not sure what will (page 84).


4. Food

In fact, you won’t find food in this issue. But it’ll be back next month.


5. The Good-value star

Each issue of Getaway has several inexpensive accommodation options for under R550 per person (some for less) that we think offer good value. So look out for the star.


This month’s contributors

1. Teagan Cunniffe – Train trips: page 84 Zululand, page 17 – 19

After almost four years of Getaway adventures, our photographer is moving on to capture other corners of the world. The highlights of her time at the magazine? Climbing a volcano, nibbling smørrebrød in Copenhagen, hiking to see gorillas in Rwanda and skydiving (twice). Her future holds more mileage, and likely a fair number of horses. Keep an eye on her adventures at teagancunniffe.com


2. Mia Louw – White River: page 116

Mia is a Nelspruit-based freelance writer, photographer and videographer. No stranger to farm living, she gets a kick out of finding quirky and rustic stays away from the bustle. When she feels down in the dumps, hiking is her pick-me- up. Her biggest wish for her 30th birthday this year is to tackle the Kaapschehoop Hiking Trail with her husband, two dogs and dear friends who enjoy campfire conversations as much as she does.


3. Geo Cloete – Portfolio: page 54

In this issue, this multi-talented, award-winning photographer shares his extraordinary images of underwater creatures with us (all but one snapped right on his home coast in Cape Town). He hopes that through showing the splendour of nature, he can convince more people to cultivate a love for our planet – ‘We only protect and conserve that which we love.’ Due to his passion for the sea, most of his work focuses on the treasures to be found under the waves.


4. Caroline Webb – Train trips: page 84

When she was a little girl, our Associate Editor would build a ‘train’ in the back garden – carriages fashioned from garden chairs and other things lying around, with an upturned wheelbarrow standing in for the locomotive. Her first real train trip was at age 16, to Cape Town overnight across the Karoo. She probably passed Matjiesfontein but didn’t stop there; this time round she did, and loved it.

This column first appeared in the March issue of Getaway magazine.


This column first appeared in the March issue of Getaway.

Get this issue →

Our March issue features 18 breathtaking picnics spots to make the most of late summer, a budget guide to sailing Mozambique’s iconic islands, three different train journeys in SA and how to get a real taste of Mumbai.


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