The WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) has released a new report called "Water Roadmap for Travel and Tourism." The report reveals that the global travel and tourism industry's total water intensity is decreasing, despite its rapid growth.
Even though this sector is expanding rapidly, providing one in every ten jobs worldwide and contributing 10.4% to the global GDP in 2019, its water consumption ranged between 3.5% and 5.8% of the world's available freshwater in 2021 and 2019, respectively. While this is smaller than other major sectors, such as agriculture and food, which account for 70% of global water consumption, there is still much to be done, as increasing water scarcity has become one of the most pressing challenges for sustainable development.
It is concerning to know that more than 2.2 billion people around the globe lack safe drinking water, and over 4.2 billion do not have safe sanitation services. Water is a crucial natural resource that sustains life on Earth, and we must take measures to protect it. The report emphasizes that we can progress further by encouraging global travel and tourism stakeholders to implement sustainable water practices.
From 2010 to 2019, water consumption for travel and tourism increased in the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, and the Middle East, while these regions also experienced significant growth in international arrivals. On the other hand, Europe and Africa witnessed an annual increase in international arrivals of 5% and 4%, respectively, during this period, but they also saw a decline in water consumption by 1%. This achievement highlights the opportunities within the travel and tourism sector to reduce water consumption further and takes significant steps towards achieving the goals of SDG 6 of the Global Water Agenda.
Water scarcity is an urgent global issue that necessitates coordinated efforts. The travel and tourism sector, with its extensive influence and reach, is ideally positioned to play a central role in promoting sustainable water practices.