Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Global and International Studies

First Advisor

Susan Pozo

Second Advisor

Thomas Kostrzewa


drought impacts, tourism industry, Cape Town, South Africa


The Cape Town water crisis has been a worsening problem for the city since its start in 2016, although there has been some alleviation in the second half of 2018. Several researchers have developed a framework for analyzing the impact that droughts have on a location, with some insight into the impact of this occurrence on the tourism industry specifically. This thesis aims to examine the relationship between droughts and the tourism industry through the case study of the Cape Town water crisis. The hypothesis of this study was that the number of tourists visiting Cape Town has been lower during the drought than it otherwise might have been, due to water usage restrictions and negative images presented of the city. Passenger movements through Cape Town International Airport and tourism revenue before and during the drought were examined, with comparisons to movements in South Africa and the world. Additionally, a headline analysis of articles published about Cape Town by the top United Kingdom and United States news outlets was conducted, as well as an examination of the Cape Town government tourism website. It was found that passenger movements alongside GDP and tourism job creation in Cape Town have continued to increase during the drought years, but not to the degree that they would have in the absence of the drought. The study also found a combination of encouraging and discouraging headlines mentioning Cape Town in British and American news outlets, while the city’s government has continued to support tourism. This paper found that the extreme drought has had a dampening effect on tourism activity in Cape Town, as well as suggested ways to alleviate the drought and its impacts on tourism. The ability to sustain a successful tourism industry during time of drought will become increasingly important as extreme weather events become more common in the future as a result of population demand and climate change.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access