“Tourism and Water: Protecting Our Common Future” is the motto of this year’s World Tourism Day on 27 September. Our member Naturefriends support sustainable water management.
Water will be consumed, wherever tourists are on the move. Worldwide, one hundredth of the available water flows into the tourism sector. Globally speaking, this does not appear overmuch; but in regional terms – especially when it comes to areas where water resources are scarce, this has a tangible impact on people and the environment. Taking the example of Zanzibar: According to TourismConcern, water consumption in luxury hotels amounts to 3’195 litres per hotel room and day. An average household on the island needs approximately 93 litres per day. Taking the example of Goa: One guest in a five-star hotel uses more than 1’700 litres of water per day, compared with 14 litres available per inhabitant.
Added to the ecological fallout caused by sewage water and the waste of drinking water is the issue of equitable distribution . The water shortage suffered by local populations is frequently exacerbated by tourism. Lack of water means lack of livelihood – because it implies that there is neither enough drinking water nor enough water for crop irrigation. Even in Europe, more than two million people are without access to clean water. It is against this background that the “right2water” citizens’ initiative (http://www.right2water.eu/) is being organised in Europe: The demand is for the human right to water and sanitation to be anchored in law and for water to be protected as a public good. So far, more than 1.8 million people have declared their support to this demand.
On the occasion of World Tourism Day, UNWTO – the World Tourism Organisation – calls on the tourism industry to shoulder its responsibility for the sustainable use of water and the protection of water-related ecosystems in the field of tourism. “As we celebrate the 2013 United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation, I urge all those involved in the tourism sector to join our global World Tourism Day campaign and continue to devise innovate solutions to ensuring tourism contributes to sustainable access to water resources worldwide”, said Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of UNWTO.
Protecting water habitats
Many of the most popular tourism destinations are situated close to bodies of water – ranging from coasts via river and lake landscapes to moors – all of which are also prime habitats for fauna and flora and of vital importance to the water balance. “Conservation of nature combined with the responsible development of tourism provides the bedrock for the maintenance of habitats in and near water – in other words for water as a source of life”, underlines Andrea Lichtenecker, Deputy-Manager of Naturefriends International.
Noticeable examples of a sustainable, recreational use of water habitats are highlighted by Naturefriends in the context of the Water:Ways campaign (http://www.water-trails.net/). This campaign is also supposed to raise awareness of the special features and the importance of water bodies and of habitats situated close to water, and thus to inspire a sense of respect vis-à-vis nature.
See also http://wtd.unwto.org
News from Naturefriends International
NFI is the international umbrella organisation of the Naturefriends movement, uniting over 50 member organisations with approximately 500’000 members. Its activities are focused on preparing and implementing the sustainable development of the environment and of society. NFI is a member of the “Green 10”, a coalition of the ten leading environmental NGOs active at EU level.