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Being waterwise should be a permanent global tourism initiative

Being waterwise should be a permanent global tourism initiative

I have written a few times about the effects of global warming and changing weather patterns on the tourism industry and the vital importance of responsible tourism to try to preserve the environment in all countries. What I want to touch on here relates to waterwise initiatives and this was prompted by a recent article I read and a few of my own travel experiences. The article was published by SA Travel News and talks about water restrictions currently being implemented in Barcelona for tourists. One paragraph, in particular, caught my eye which read, “While residents are restricted to less than 163 litres of water per day per person, the tourism sector will take steps to implement restrictions, including emptying pools, advisory signs and water usage recommendations, as stated in elpais.com”.

This got me thinking, that possibly if the same kind of waterwise initiatives imposed on the population were encouraged for tourists all the time this could go a long way to saving water before these places were facing a dire water shortage situation. It’s not like they have not had previous warnings as I recall being Barcelona in their summer in 2017 when the fountains had been switched off and they were facing the same kind of crisis. It’s clear to me, therefore, that being waterwise should not just happen in drought seasons, but responsible tourism globally should permanently include waterwise initiatives.

A case in point

One great example of a potential looming water crisis was one that I experienced when travelling recently to Las Vegas and we took a helicopter flip we took over the Hoover Dam on the way to the Grand Canyon.  The dam is fed entirely off the snow melt from the Rockies in the US. Interestingly, the Hoover Dam has what is known as “the bathtub ring” which is an indicator of the level when the dam is full (the last time it was at maximum capacity was in the late 1990’s. When we flew over the dam had dropped by approximately 60% in the last 30 years, indicating an alarming potential water shortage, as our earth is getting hotter, so the reliance on a good snow season to start redressing the water capacity is highly unlikely to happen. I found this incredulous as this body of water services a massive area.

Adopting a Waterwise mentality

Here in Africa, Namibia has recently declared a water restrictions state of emergency and who can forget the terrible drought experienced by Cape Town, one of our premier tourist destinations, which was also in 2017? We were lucky in many ways that tourism continued to be fairly buoyant at the time that the Mother City was facing Ground Zero, but this was largely because it was hammered home to tourists as much as the locals that water was a precious commodity that could not be wasted under any circumstances. Tourists simply had to practice waterwise responsible tourism if they were to be able to enjoy all that the Cape had to offer.

What is particularly important I believe is that amongst Capetonians and in all public places and hospitality venues waterwise initiatives are still advertised and practised to this day, even though the Cape has since experienced good rainfalls. Most Capetonians still shower instead of bathing and have a bucket in the shower to utilise the grey water in the toilet and eco-tanks are in almost every backyard collecting rainwater to water the gardens and fill swimming pools.

Saving water is a global concern On a global level, regardless of drought or plentiful water supply, we need to realise that the world and its weather are changing. Drought can affect us all and with each day water becomes a more precious commodity. Tourists everywhere should be encouraged to shower instead of running a bath and why not use a towel for a couple of days instead of having everything washed all the time? Be aware of leaving taps running and use hand sanitisers instead of always washing. These simple initiatives, though they may seem to be only small gestures, add up to significant water savings and that’s how we will preserve our planet – by every individual saving just one drop at a time!

LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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