With W12 Congress due to take place in the middle of May, the W12 team continues to plan confidently for the Congress, but with obvious needed changes in mind.  This unprecedented situation is changing daily, so we remain watchful and focused on delivering what is an extremely important event for the global business and water community, but with a likely postponement to later in the year.

We are in daily contact with our partners around the world and in Africa. We are also in regular communication with our partners in South Africa (the South African Convention Bureau, CTICC and the South African Tourist Office), as well as the appropriate authorities, including travel and health advisory bodies nationally and globally.

Mindful of our duty to care, we are carefully considering and consulting with experts on what the appropriate sanitary, health and other measures should be during this difficult situation. We have recently seen behaviour change due to this crisis, which can become very dangerous for the already water stressed situation here in South Africa.

Governmental advice for us to assist in battling the global COVID-19 crisis is focused on our sanitation behaviour, such as washing our hands, sneezing into a tissue, etc. The problem is that a large portion of our citizens do not have access to water, so this advice does not work for everyone. So, what do we do then? 

The changes we have seen and heard of over the last week include that people are now:

  • Showering up to five times a day after being outside their home. This will lead to water consumption increasing dramatically. 
  • Flushing the toilets every time they have used a tissue or toilet paper for a sneeze or touching something. This will again lead to greatly increased consumption. 
  • Washing their hands up to 20 times a day for 20 sec.  Please remember to stop your tap whilst using soap/sanitizer, turn back on again to rinse.
  • Extensive flushing of wet wipes which should not be flushed, as they create blockages.
  • Washing of clothes extensively after only being worn once will cause water usage to increase.
  • Stockpiling of bottled water.

These behaviours will waste water and will worsen the issue we already have in the water space. 

Please understand that privileged businesses and citizens are responsible for assisting our government and vulnerable people in our country. 

Collective responsibility

COVID-19 is presenting the business events and travel industries with an unprecedented global challenge. The W12 team are passionate believers in, and advocates for, the substantial social and economic power of meetings and events. We know that the negative long-term impact of speculation, hype and fake news will be damaging not just to our industry, but also to your local communities and business as a whole.

We feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility to focus on the facts and to act with common sense and sound judgement, taking the advice of the relevant authorities and scientists. In the words of Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), “containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself.” 

Separating fact from fiction

We’re aware that there’s much speculation and hype surrounding the impact of COVID-19 globally and that it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction.  On our website we’re sharing some of the sources, we believe, to be the most reliable, independent and credible. Above all, we believe it’s important to keep this global health issue in context.

We agree with our friends at the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA): “In general, it is good practice in situations like these to stay calm, communicate responsibly and follow official health and travel advice.”

Yours Sincerely,

Shelley Humphreys Webb
W12 Congress Director