According to the data collected by Styles, Schoengerger & Galvez-Martos (2014), a tourist in Europe consumes on average 300l/day of water, whereas a resident consumes on average 150l/day. In places like Cyprus, Malta and Spain, tourism accounts for 19%, 14% and 12% of the total water consumption respectively (Styles, Schoengerger & Galvez (2015), from Gossling et. al, (2012)).
On average, an international tourist is said to consume 222l per day. The literature gives considerable variation of water consumption rates in a range between 84 to 2000l per tourist per day (Gossling et. al, 2012), or up to 3423l per bedroom per day, which depends on different factors such as: the facilities that a hotel offers, the geographic location and others.
Here are two examples that support the claims: One room in one star “Etap” hotel, on average consumes 187l of water, whereas one room in a five star “Sofitel” hotel consumes up to 1568l per night.
The table hereunder gives information about water consumption per category (direct and indirect). The direct category includes accommodation and activities, whereas the indirect includes food, infrastructures and the rest.
Water use categories and estimated use per tourist per day
WATER USE CATEGORY – DIRECT
L PER TOURIST PER DAY
WATER USE CATEGORY – INDIRECT
L PER TOURIST PER DAY
70 (per 1000 km by air/car)
2500 (per 1L)
TOTAL PER TOURIST PER DAY
ESTIMATED RANGE: 2000-7500
Water use per tourist per day
% of renewable water used
Net domestic tourism water use per nigh (L)
Total Tourism water use
Domestic tourism share of domestic water use
International tourism share of domestic water use.
Nowadays, tourism absorbs 1% of the global consumption of water. This is a quantity that seems of little importance if we compare it to the agricultural sector, which consumes nearly 70% of the supplied water in the world, or to industry, which reaches 19%. However, in some emerging countries, where tourism is a cornerstone of the development, consumption exceeds 7%, and in some islands, such as in the Caribbean or in Polynesia, the tourism sector is even the main source of water consumption.
The global average water consumption of the tourism sector is very high.TThe data collected in Spain, where tourism is a strong economic power (11% of the GDP and nearly 13% of the employment) confirm this statement: while an average citizen consumes 127 litres per day, the consumption of a tourist ranges between 450 and 800 litres, depending on the season and the area. These data are calculated based on the hotel and restaurant expenditure (kitchen, laundry, toilets, swimming pools, cooling and irrigation), as well as activities such as golf, saunas, theme parks and municipal spending in hygiene services.
Survey of European accommodation shows that five-star hotels are the biggest water consumers because they typically have big swimming pools, cafes and bars, golf courses, irrigated landscapes, kitchens and en suite bathrooms. Geographical locations and climates are other factors that contribute. Low water tariffs for industry/commercial use can be seen as a deterrent for a more water-friendly management approach.
In Spain, tourists use double the amount of water compared to locals. Tourists in Cyprus use over 200% more water than local people. Each tourist travelling to another region increases water use in the destination, while there is possibly a concomitant reduction of water use at home.
Guest behaviour is the main reason for this high water consumption, because guests tend to have more a “pleasure approach” and use more water than they normally would.
The figure below shows the impact of growth of tourism in water consumption worldwide. As it can be seen, Europe faces with a growing number of tourists which impacts the water consumption. Due to this factor, we can see an increase of water consumption for 20.5 m3.
Source: Gössling et al. (2012).