16/09/2017 07:00 SAST | Updated 10/10/2017 12:53 SAST

Where Have All The Namaqualand Flowers Gone?

Tourists are very, very confused.

A farm next to the road in the Northern Cape Namaqualand region of South Africa.
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A farm next to the road in the Northern Cape Namaqualand region of South Africa.

Spring didn't come to the Namaqualand region this year, where the worst drought in more than a century has seen droves of tourists cancelling their visits to witness the annual flower display.

"There are no flowers," an employee of the Namaqua district municipality's tourism office told HuffPost SA on Friday.

"We didn't have rain this year, so flowers did come, but they were not many, and now tourists are disappointed when they arrive. But the ones we spoke to understood that it is dependent on the rain," the employee, who asked not to be named, said.

Celebrated Canadian horticulturist and author Steve Whysall said in a blog post on Friday that an exhaustive expedition with a crew of 32 Canadian flower enthusiasts yielded no sightings of flowers in the region, where there are normally rolling mountains of colourful blooms every year.

Steve Whysall

"It is a total waste of time coming to Namaqualand right now to see blooms -– there are none," Whysall said.

"I spent all day scouring the landscape here with a group of 32 Canadians for any sign of the sensational displays of flowers that usually carpet the hills and mountain slopes of this area, north of Cape Town and close to the Namibian border.

"Our efforts were exhaustive. We were working harder than botanists from top botanical gardens to find signs of flower power. We got out of our vehicles multiple times to examine the ground and occasionally found a small show of flowers.

"The area is totally arid and devoid of any flowers, but for a bush here and there were yellow flowers and the pale grey of bush sages and rosemary."

CEO of SA Tourism Sisa Ntshona told HuffPost that tourism is on the decline in the area as a result.

"Indications show that bookings are down, and the number of tourists have also decreased."

"What we're trying to do is to balance the reliance of the Northern Cape on tourism on specific events like the flowers, to mitigate the risk they will face if conditions like this continue."

Ntshona added that the drought is in line with conditions facing the rest of the Cape, which is still battling against severe water restrictions.

"Global warming is hitting all of us, and unfortunately that is what we're seeing in these areas."

Earlier this week we did a post on the wild flowers of Namaqualand. We mentioned the ongoing drought in South Africa and it is especially bad in this region. Even though this affects the wild flowers and the tourism industry in this area the people that are affected the most are the farmers. As travel & tourism companies we can diversify our tours and for some this is only a part of their income, but for the farmers affected by the drought this is their livelihood....... As mentioned in my previous post most of the wild flowers can be found on the back roads, mostly on farms/private property. The farmers do not get any financial gain from people "visiting" their farms and are always willing to share information with tourists. We as Let's Go Africa Travel Company would therefore like to ask everyone in the tourism industry who benefits from the wild flowers of Namaqualand or even if your just a tourist visiting the area to open your hearts and to donate to the "Droogte Hulp" fund. It's the least we can do........We have made our donation, have you? (See photos for banking details or you can make a donation via sms) For more information on the fund visit their Facebook page "Droogte Hulp (met Burre Burger). (Photos shared from Reënval in SA's Facebook page -Henk Burden) #letsgoafrica #droogte #droogtehulp #donationsneeded #namaqualand

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