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Lincoln University experts on tourism and water


World Water Day: 22 March 2013

Lincoln University experts on tourism and water

Potential water shortages and water stress will present a significant threat to the future growth and development of the tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region states a white paper on Tourism and Water released today in Singapore.

The international white paper was prepared by a leading research consortium supported by the EarthCheck Research Institute and EcoLab international a global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies.

Susanne Becken, Adjunct Professor at Lincoln University and Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University, together with Dr Raj Rajan, Vice-President of Global Sustainability for Ecolab, presented the findings of the white paper at the Singapore International Water Festival.

The white paper provides a global context on water stress, availability and stewardship, and discusses the implications for the tourism industry along the three dimensions of cost, availability and quality.

“The cost of water is likely to increase, and legislation that will initiate some form of water footprint is conceivable, if not inevitable,” says Professor Becken. “Businesses that are prepared to audit and manage their water consumption will have a competitive business advantage for the expected changes in water regulation and control.”

Increasing water scarcity, Professor Becken explained, not only increases regional risk to climate change, but also often leads to conflict. According to UNDCWS (2012), there were more than 120,000 water-related disputes since 1990 in China alone.

The white paper explains that with the ongoing growth in tourism visitation, the Asia-Pacific tourism region must increase understanding of the role it needs to play in water management issues. PATA predicts more than a half billion international visitors to the region in in 2014.

“There is a growing realisation that tourism needs to take greater responsibility to ensure that water consumed efficiently and in the most sustainable way,” said Dr Rajan. The tourism industry also needs to ensure that risk management procedures are in place to guarantee the necessary water supply for the long-term viability of hospitality businesses, as well as their broader communities.”

The white paper outlines how water efficiency can be achieved and undertakes a benchmarking review of hotels in the Asia Pacific using EarthCheck data. The benchmarks highlight important geographic, behavioural and operational differences across the region, which require further examination.

David Simmons, Professor of Tourism at Lincoln University and Chair of the Earthcheck Research Institute, adds that in New Zealand water allocation and use is now a core inter-sectorial issue, with the tourism sector now needing to be more accurate and articulate in recording and advocating its use of water. This is particularly acute in Canterbury where the value of water in various competitive sectors (e.g. dairy) is a pressing resource allocation issue.

Ends

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