World - Tourism, water, and gender

Women face greater health and safety risks when water and sanitation systems are compromised, but this has never been explored in relation to tourism.

It is well established that tourism is a water intensive industry. Studies have shown that the per capita water use by tourists far exceeds that of locals, and that tourism development can affect water supply both quantitatively and qualitatively. The consumption of water in tourism is clearly contextual, depending on climatic factors, seasonality of tourism, local norms, hotel size, design, and age. But the negative impacts are well documented, including water depletion, water pollution, and increased costs for water. Furthermore, in the majority of countries where tourism is a significant water user, climate change is projected to exacerbate current water demand and scarcity problems.

In our review of studies from a number of countries including Spain, Honduras, Indonesia, Costa Rica, The Gambia, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Nicaragua, and China, similar themes were revealed about tourism and water. Although the framing of the issues varied, we found there are similar issues across the globe.

Securing water for the tourism industry is the most common theme and the majority of research has been centered around water use by hotels, rather than other aspects of tourist water use. The majority of the studies have taken a tourism first stance, and when water security for the hotel industry is threatened, investigations tend to focus on how to manage their water supply. Far fewer studies have been from the community’s perspective. However, in all continents, struggles are prevalent, and the unsustainability of tourism and its impacts on water quantity and quality are apparent. Yet, water quality has received far less attention than water availability, despite increased salt‐water intrusion, due to excessive use of coastal ground water and climate change, being a quantity and quality issue.

Read the full story here.