Can Tourism Help Promote Sustainable Water Management in Destinations?

Can Tourism Help Promote Sustainable Water Management in Destinations?

Our current issue article series this week focuses on issues around sustainable water management, water equity in tourism destinations, and water cooperation for communities around the world. What are you doing to manage water resources in a sustainable and effective manner for your destination, company or organization? What are your thoughts on the tourism industry's role in ensuring water equity in destinations and helping improve local people's access to safe, clean water? Head over to TIES-EXCHANGE to add your comments and ideas related to this topic! (Member log-in required)


Water and Tourism Water and Tourism Water and Tourism


The year 2013 marks the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, which aims to raise awareness of the potential for increased cooperation and the challenges facing sustainable water management. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)*, appropriate water management and universal water access can alleviate poverty through sanitation services and water supply; improve the health of people around the globe; and enhance the productivity of land and labor.


*UNDP, "Water Governance for Poverty Reduction: Key Issues and the UNDP Response to Millennium Development Goals", 2004 (download report in PDF)


Water Equity in Tourism

Water Equity in TourismA report on water equity in tourism by Tourism Concern** has shown inequities of water access and consumption between tourist resorts and local communities in developing countries. The report found that unsustainable water management is threatening the environment as well as the livelihoods of local people. In order to prevent this, the tourism businesses must respect everyone's right to water, as well as the local laws and regulations regarding water resources, and implement steps to reduce their water consumption. As a key stakeholder in the sustainable development of destinations, the tourism industry also has the opportunity and responsibility to encourage and to support local and national governments's implementation of clear regulations for sustainable and equitable water management.


**Tourism Concern, "Water Equity in Tourism - A Human Right, A Global Responsibility", 2012 (download report in PDF)


Ecolodges Work Towards Water Conservation and Sustainable Management

The following are a few examples of TIES business members (accommodation providers) who have implemented sound water management and conservation practices, as well as efforts to support local access to water:

  • The Harmony Hotel in Costa Rica participates in the Blue Flag certification that is an eco-label recognizing sustainable beach development using strict criteria for water quality, environmental education and management.
  • Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort in Costa Rica implements water management and conservation strategies by using chlorine free ionization systems to clean pool water, using low flow toilets, and using non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products.
  • Cristalino Jungle Lodge in Brazil utilizes black-water treatment with filers and evapo-transpiration system, grey-water treatment with organic system, uses biodegradable cleaning products, and uses canoes instead of motor boats whenever possible.


Case Study: BEST Society & Borneo Eco Tours

BEST SocietyThe Borneo Ecotourism Solution and Technologies (BEST) Society is a non-profit foundation formed by Borneo Eco Tours, a leading tour operator specializing in regional ecotourism adventures and accommodation. The BEST Society was established in 1995 in Sabah, East Malaysia, when Borneo Eco Tours joined hands with the Sukau Rainforest Lodge to organize a large environmental protection project in Kelananap oxbow lake. BEST Society has been actively involved in various community and environmental projects including: Sukau Water Tank Project and Living Water Project.


Learn more about the BEST Society and their community sustainability initiatives: "BEST Society: Strengthening Local Communities through Sustainable Tourism in Borneo" (from Your Travel Choice Blog)


Opportunities for Cooperation in Water Management

Involving all stakeholders of the tourism industry in sustainable water management will help build mutual respect amongst businesses, destinations and the local communities, and promote sustainable economic growth as well as environmental well-being. Water cooperation should help unite different stakeholders to care for local water resource, and create a balance in water distribution. Sustainable water management through multi-stakeholder cooperation is key to sustainable community development, and can bring about social, economic and environmental benefits.


Look out for special water events focusing on sustainable development this year!

  • World Water Day on 22 March 2013, with celebrations being held around the world.
  • World Tourism Day on 27 September 2013, with the theme “Tourism and Water – Protecting Our Common Future"
  • The ESTC13 (Nairobi, Kenya, 24-27 September 2013) will highlight issues related to tourism and water cooperation, in order of the UN International Year and World Tourism Day themes. TIES is currently accepting proposals for poster presentations on "water cooperation in ecotourism and sustainable tourism".


Ideas, comments, questions? Join our discussions on TIES-EXCHANGE! If you're not yet a member of TIES, and would like to access TIES-EXCHANGE and other member networking and learning resources, please consider joining TIES today.


Photo credits: (top left) Borneo Eco Tours and BEST Society.



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About TIES

As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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