The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day on Wednesday 27 September is “Tourism Enriches”. But does it really and if so, who does it enrich?Tourism Concern, the UK-based pressure group that fights exploitation in tourism, believes that tourism too often keeps people in poverty but can be used as a tool for poverty alleviation and development.
Tourism Concern’s latest In Focus magazine looks at the effects of water shortages in tourism destinations. Tricia Barnett, Tourism Concern’s Director, said: “Water is a particular issue. Rapid and unsustainable growth in the tourism industry means that acute water shortages are occurring in destinations and local people are suffering rather than tourists”.
She continued, “Villagers in Kendwa Village, Zanzibar now have to get up at 4am to collect water from a very deep well because it runs dry when guests at the luxury hotel nearby have their long showers. In 2002 villagers had no problems with access to or availability of water, but the arrival of the new La Gemma dell’Este hotel, used by UK tour operators, meant that by 2005 Kendwa had to bring water in by truck”.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the population doubles over the tourist season and local people often go without water. During nine months last year 200,000 tourists visited the small island of Boracay in the Philippines and locals now cannot afford to buy water. Golf courses are a specific problem. Over one year, one golf course can use the same amount of water as a town of 12,000 people.
Tourism Concern’s Director, Tricia Barnett, said: “Tourism Concern has successfully campaigned against environmentally damaging golf courses. Hotel guests often waste vast amounts of water but it is time for water companies, local government, tour operators and hotels to find solutions to this problem which is depriving local communities their fair share”.