GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - Despite a severe water shortage and devastating drought, Graaff-Reinet still managed to lure visitors over the festive season.
Tourist manager, Jack van Niekerk, said it was quiet up to 16 December, but in the second half of December tourists flocked to guest houses and restaurants. 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."
About 720 guest house beds are registered at the tourism office. Van Niekerk said most people stayed just one night, as they took a break before again hitting the road.
Van Niekerk said on average 2019 wasn't a good year for tourism, but the recent tourism numbers have given him fresh hope. "Judging by the people who walked into the tourism office, visited our website and phoned us, tourism seem to be healthy in town."
He thanked everyone who helped to overcome the water scarcity challenge. Locals walked the extra mile by installing water tanks and buying water for the visitors. Many tourists brought their own water and were well aware of the water issues 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 picked up after 14 December. Some nights they had to refer guests to other guest houses, as they were fully booked.
She said guests reacted in different ways to the water shortage.
"Most people understood the situation, but some guests complained that they could not enjoy a shower, as water supply was down most of the time."
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