GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - Despite a water shortage and devastating drought in Graaff-Reinet, the festive time appeared to have no shortage of tourists.
Tourist manager of the town, Jack van Niekerk, said that up to 16 December it was quiet, but tourists soon overwhelmed guest houses and restaurants in town. According to Van Niekerk, most guest houses were fully booked.
"Some nights we struggled to get accommodation for visitors, but here and there we found a place for them to spend the night."In total, there are about 720 beds at guest houses registered at the tourism office. Van Niekerk said most people stayed just one night, as they took a break from the long road between home and the coast, and the other way around.
Van Niekerk said 2019 wasn't a good year for tourism in the town, but the recent amount of visitors gave him hope. "As the people walked into the tourism office, visited our website and phoned us, we could see tourism is healthy in town," Van Niekerk explained.
He expressed his thanks to all the role players who helped to overcome the challenge of water scarcity, by walking the extra mile to install water tanks and to buy water for the visitors.
Many tourists brought their own water and were well aware of the drought situation before booking into guest houses. Some even brought extra water, to leave at drop off points for the community.
Marizanne van der Mescht, manager at Karoo Park Guest House, said the festive season turned in their favour since 14 December. Some nights they had to refer guests to other guest houses, as they were fully booked.
On the water issue, she said there were mixed feelings from the guests. "Most of them understood the situation, but some guests were complaining that they could not enjoy a shower, as water supply was down most of the time," she said.
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