Tourism and water stress
Water is a precious commodity, and its scarcity, especially in hot countries like in the Mediterranean region, is a great cause for concern. By reducing your water consumption, you can help the environment, as well as make savings on your water bills. It's a win-win situation!
A tourist's water consumption is higher than that of a resident. A European tourist consumes around 300 litres per day compared to a European resident's consumption of 100 – 200 litres per day, averaging approximately 150 litres (EEA, 2009; EC, 2009, Eurostat, 2011; Gössling et al., 2011). There are a number of reasons for higher tourist water consumption in accommodation enterprises, including maintenance of grounds (irrigation), daily room cleaning, daily laundry, maintenance of swimming pools, intensive kitchen activities, and a 'pleasure approach' to showers and baths (Eurostat, 2009).
Water typically accounts for approximately 10 % of utility bills in hotels, but can vary considerably across different types of accommodation.
Specific water consumption per guest-night, and the distribution of that consumption across water using processes, also varies within accommodation types according to a range of factors like the number of services and degree of perceived luxury. Data presented in CIRIA (2006) indicate 60 % less water consumption per bed space in 1-star, compared with 3-star accommodation, and 111 % more water consumption per bed space in 5-star compared with 3-star accommodation.
The major areas of water consumption in accommodation are guest bathrooms, kitchens and laundry facilities, and communal toilet facilities. Swimming pools and the irrigation of green areas can contribute an additional 10 – 15 % and 20 – 25 %, respectively (Eurostat, 2009), and room cleaning approximately 12 – 47 L/guest-night (Gössling et al., 2011). Employees can also contribute significantly to water use, with average water use for an office employee reported at 16 L/day – primarily in toilet facilities used by staff (CIRIA, 2006). Depending on the cooling system installed, cooling towers may be responsible for a further 10 – 25 % of water consumption in a hotel (Smith et al., 2009).
Opportunities to reduce water consumption
There is great potential for water reductions across accommodation enterprises. Water-inefficient hotels can typically reduce water consumption by over 50 %. A large portion of potential savings can be achieved through relatively simple and inexpensive installation of efficient water fittings which have a relatively high frequency of replacement (EC, 2009).
This section of the online educational tool aims to provide an introduction to the best environmental management practices required to measure, monitor, manage and reduce water consumption in order to have a more cost-effective and environmentally sound water management system.
Those best practices describe how to minimise water consumption in guest areas, laundries, pool areas or other important water using processes, such as dish washing in kitchens and irrigation of green areas.