Crippling drought poses threat to tourism in northern KZN
The northern areas of KwaZulu-Natal are in the grip of a severe drought, with dams and rivers fast drying up.
The Jozini dam is so low authorities fear that, by the time winter is over, it will have run out of water. The drought has affected game reserves, lodges and other establishments frequented by foreign and local tourists.
Thapelo Msimang, events and conference centre manager at Jozini Tiger Lodge, said without adequate water his establishment would have to turn away tourists who had already booked at the venue on the banks of Lake Jozini.
“We are praying that it doesn’t come to that because the livelihood of more than 28 permanent staff would be threatened. We just hope that we will have enough rains in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.
Thabani Shale, president of the Zululand Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber was worried about the effects of the drought, especially on tourism ventures.
Shale said although he did not have exact figures, tourism played a critical role in the economy and employment in northern KZN.
“Some of the members of the chamber have been complaining about water supply challenges. Some have even gone as far as building their own boreholes to be self-sufficient. But at some point we must address this challenge once and for all,” he said.
Local resident Vusi Mathenjwa said there had been water shortages in the past, but he feared the current drought would be the worst.
“In the past we had to collect water from the rivers to augment that which has been brought by water tankers. Now that they tell us there is drought we don’t know how we will cope,” he said.