10/06/2017 08:13 SAST | Updated 10/06/2017 09:54 SAST

Impact Of Fires And Storms On Tourism In The Western Cape Still To Be Determined

The immediate priority is to provide for the homeless and destitute.

Six people died and thousands of residents were displaced.

The impact of fires and storms on tourism in Knysna, Cape Town and other areas of the Western Cape will only be assessed once the situation has stabilised, Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa said on Friday.

The immediate priority was to provide for the homeless and destitute, restore essential services, and ensure that tourists were safe and accommodated.

"We will work together with our sister government departments to consider what relief measures can be implemented in the medium term, so that the tourism economy can be revived as soon as possible, and incomes will be restored for the people who depend on tourism for a living."

She believed it was essential, in the long-term, to support efforts to combat climate change and associated disastrous weather patterns.

Six people died and thousands of residents were displaced as a result of the fires which destroyed large sections of Knysna and surrounding areas, including Plettenberg Bay.

In Cape Town, a family of four died in a fire caused by lightning, while a man was killed when the roof of his house collapsed.

Xasa offered her condolences to their loved ones and expressed sympathy for those who had lost homes and belongings.

The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association has set up an operations centre for medical emergencies, reporting missing people, lost passports, repatriation requests, and trauma counselling.

The centre's emergency number is +27 1000 70230.

Tourists who need emergency accommodation can contact the Sedgefield Tourism Offices on +27 44 343 2007. -- News24