VISITORS to Cape Town have been asked to keep showers to two minutes, flush the toilet as little as possible and only stay in accommodation with water-saving measures in place, as the South African city struggles with one of the worst droughts in living memory.

The Western Cape is feeling the effects of the three years of water shortages, leading authorities to warn that should residents not increase efforts to reduce their usage, “day zero” – the day the taps run dry – will come as soon as March 18. It was originally set for April 29.

With the Christmas holidays imminent and with January – South Africa’s peak tourism season – just around the corner, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has urged every person in the city to help conserve water.

“While we’re on holiday, the one thing we cannot relax is our water-saving efforts,” she said. “Please continue to save water and work with the city to avoid day zero.”

The city has warned the situation is now “a crisis and an emergency”.

Nearly two thirds of the city’s international arrivals come from Europe.

The Cape Town tourist board has issued advice to visitors on how they can help conserve water while staying in the city.

“We need you to save like a local, and keep your usage to under 87 litres a day,” says the guidance.

“You can still have a fantastic holiday without wasting resources, and we ask that you take special care when you visit. We love Cape Town, and we want it to remain a wonderful destination for future generations.”

“While we’re doing all we can to ensure Cape Town remains a world-class destination and your stay is comfortable, there are a few ways this might affect you as a visitor.

“Some accommodation establishments have closed their pools, saunas and steam rooms and removed bath plugs, to limit non-essential water use.”

The city has also reassured visitors not to worry should their drinking water be “cloudy, slightly discoloured or tastes different during times of water restrictions”, adding: “Lower dam levels and changes in the water distribution system can lead to these temporary changes. Cape Town’s water quality is monitored continuously and all water supplied to your tap is safe to drink.”

Pippa de Bruyn, Telegraph Travel’s Cape Town expert, said there are banners and signage around the city reminding people of the water shortage. She said that another way for visitors to help the situation is reduce their stay in the city itself and travel instead to the rest of the Western Cape – for example, the popular Garden Route – where water levels are higher.

-The Telegraph,UK.