In the run up to the UN’s World Water Day this Sunday (22 March), leading responsible holiday company responsibletravel.com warns of the serious impact that tourism is having on the world’s water supply. Many tourism destinations such as Barcelona and Mexico City are facing water shortages and in developing countries visitors use several times the amount of water each day that a local person would use.
Justin Francis, managing director, responsibletravel.com said:
“We hear a great deal about the need to reduce the carbon footprint of our travels but there’s also a real need to consider our water footprint. The tourism industry is a heavy consumer of water and it’s no longer enough for hotels to claim they don’t wash towels unless guests ask. This is the ultimate responsible tourism bluffer’s tactic - they need to go further.
“Swimming pools, golf courses, water parks and landscaped gardens all place extra demand on local water supplies. Tourism’s water consumption can lower the water table in destinations, meaning local communities face water shortages as a result. In developing countries, nearby communities may still lack access to clean water supplies themselves, with women walking several hours a day to a water source.”
Francis would like to see destinations, tourism providers and travellers working together and taking joint responsibility for the problem:
“It’s not enough for hotels to go on wasting water supplies and attempting to compensate by buying a bore hole for the local area - they need to make concerted efforts to reduce and they need the support of local authorities within destinations too. Tourists can also do their bit by considering their water use whilst on holiday.
“I’d like to see hotels of the future offering guests a discount for lower than average water use - this kind of pricing incentivising scheme could help to put a real value on this precious natural resource.”