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Apr 1, 2015


This book provides a systematic and comprehensive guide to the current state of knowledge on tourism and water. It is the first book to thoroughly examine the interrelationships of tourism and water use based on global, regional and business perspectives. Its assessment of tourism’s global impact along with its overviews of sectoral and management approaches will provide a benchmark by which the water sustainability of tourism will be measured for years to come. In making a clear case for greater awareness and enhanced water management in the tourism sector, it is hoped that the book will contribute to the wise and sustainable use of this critical resource. The book is interdisciplinary in coverage and international in scope. It is designed as essential reading for not only students of tourism but also practitioners.

Apr 1, 2015

About the author

Stefan Gössling is Professor at Lund University and Linnaeus University, Sweden and Research Coordinator at the Western Norway Research Institute. His research focuses on tourism and resource use, climate change, tourism and development, mobility studies, transport psychology, low-carbon tourism and climate policy.

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Tourism and Water - Dr. Stefan Gössling


Series Editors: Chris Cooper (Oxford Brookes University, UK), C. Michael Hall (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) and Dallen J. Timothy (Arizona State University, USA)

Tourism Essentials is a dynamic new book series of short accessible volumes focusing on a specific area of tourism studies. It aims to present cutting-edge research on significant and emerging topics in tourism, providing a concise overview of the field as well as examining the key issues and future research possibilities. This series aims to create a new generation of tourism authors by encouraging young researchers as well as more established academics. The books will provide insight into the latest perspectives in tourism studies and will be an essential resource for postgraduate students and researchers.

Full details of all the books in this series and of all our other publications can be found on, or by writing to Channel View Publications, St Nicholas House, 31–34 High Street, Bristol BS1 2AW, UK.


Tourism and Water

Stefan Gössling, C. Michael Hall and Daniel Scott


Bristol • Buffalo • Toronto

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Gössling, Stefan.

Tourism and Water/Stefan Gössling, C. Michael Hall and Daniel Scott.

Tourism Essentials: 2

Includes bibliographical references and index.

1. Tourism—Environmental aspects. 2. Environmental management. 3. Water supply—Management. 4. Water resources development—Management. I. Hall, Colin Michael, 1961- II. Scott, Daniel, 1969- III. Title.

G156.5.E58G674 2015

910.68'2–dc23 2014044907

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue entry for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN-13: 978-1-84541-499-3 (hbk)

ISBN-13: 978-1-84541-498-6 (pbk)

eISBN: 9781845415013

Channel View Publications

UK: St Nicholas House, 31–34 High Street, Bristol BS1 2AW, UK.

USA: UTP, 2250 Military Road, Tonawanda, NY 14150, USA.

Canada: UTP, 5201 Dufferin Street, North York, Ontario M3H 5T8, Canada.

Copyright © 2015 Stefan Gössling, C. Michael Hall and Daniel Scott.

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher.

The policy of Multilingual Matters/Channel View Publications is to use papers that are natural, renewable and recyclable products, made from wood grown in sustainable forests. In the manufacturing process of our books, and to further support our policy, preference is given to printers that have FSC and PEFC Chain of Custody certification. The FSC and/or PEFC logos will appear on those books where full certification has been granted to the printer concerned.

Typeset by Techset Composition India (P) Ltd., Bangalore and Chennai, India.

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Short Run Press Ltd.


Boxed Examples and Case Studies






1    Water for Life: A Global Overview

Human Appropriation of Global Freshwater

The Complexities of Water Use Measurements

Water Use by Subsector

Water Futures

2    Interrelationships of Tourism With Water

Spatial and Seasonal Concentrations in Water Use

Competing Water Uses

Water Quality


3    Measuring Water Use in Tourism

Direct Water Use: Accommodation

Indirect (Embodied) Water Use

Systemic Water Use


4    Managing Water in Tourism: Effective Business and Destination Environmental Management Systems



Social Marketing and Behaviour Change

Changing Behaviours



The Future: Novel Water Indicators

5    The Future: Water Security and Tourism Development

Drivers of Future Water Security Challenges

Water Security as a Strategic Business Factor

The Place of Tourism in Water Futures Planning

Online Resources




Boxed Examples and Case Studies






Open any travel marketing brochure or website and water is an integral element of most of the holidays offered and destination images. This is obvious where the sea, lakes or streams form part of the scenic beauty of a landscape or where the pools, spas and fountains promote luxurious hotel environments.

While water is the foundational resource for a wide range of tourist activities, from beach visits and swimming, to boating and fishing, to diving and snorkelling or just ‘cooling down’ at water theme parks, the diverse functions of water embedded in a holiday product are often less obvious, as are the full water requirements and costs involved to make available this resource. Freshwater is needed to fill pools, irrigate gardens and golf courses, do the laundry, and a wide range of hygienic purposes (showers, flush toilets, washing hands and generally keeping resorts and destinations clean). These more visible aspects of water use have been studied in increasing detail over the last 30 years. However, perhaps some of the most significant aspects of water use in tourism are ‘hidden’ from many consumers. For example, only recently has it become clear that tourism’s potentially most significant share of water use is embedded in fuel and food production. These insights call for new approaches to water management in tourism.

The expanding global tourism sector depends on the availability of vast quantities of natural resources, including food, water, energy and land. The provision of such resources is a growing challenge and often increased costs, which in some areas interfere with the livelihoods of local populations in less developed regions of the world. Over the last 50 years, global water use has tripled and an estimated two billion people already live in water-stressed areas. Growing populations and climate change are expected to exacerbate this situation, adversely impacting development in many developing nations and leading to increased competition between water users of which tourism is only one. Water security has therefore entered the lexicon of strategic business and public planning as well, with multinational corporations increasingly assessing water availability and costs in longer range infrastructure and production investments.

It is within these evolving developments that this book is positioned, providing a systematic guide to the current state of knowledge on the inter-relationships between tourism and water. The book’s specific focus is on water management, including conservation and efficient use, as well as technology to conserve freshwater. In making a clear case for greater awareness and enhanced water management in the tourism sector, it is hoped that the book will contribute to the wise and sustainable use of this critical resource that is at the heart of our civilisations.

We are indebted to a number of people who have supported the research efforts for this book. In particular, this includes Swantje Lehners, Sustainability Management at Thomas Cook Touristik GmbH, as well as Melitta Karth-Strache, SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts, who made it possible for us to conduct the research in Rhodes, Greece in 2013 and 2014. In addition, we would like to note our deep thanks to Ann-Christin Andersson for helping with the tables and Jody Cowper for her great assistance in checking the references, as well as the support of all at Channel View.

This research has been the basis for many of the insights shared in this book. In Greece, the help of Nikos Portokallas, Mina Splakounia-Zahariou and Yannis Rizonakis have been invaluable in providing data and access, and testing new ideas. We are also thankful to Futouris, the sustainable tourism initiative in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Anja Renner initiated and encouraged the far-reaching water project with Thomas Cook, and this has been supported by Inga Meese, Andreas Koch, Alexandra Beital and Annette Höher. In Israel, thanks are due to Noam Shoval and Yael Ram, and in Mauritius to Robin Nunkoo. Many other people who have over the years helped to develop the field, and who have shared their insights and ideas, need to be mentioned at this point. Specifically, this includes Mathias Gössling, Dietrich Brockhagen, Wolfgang Strasdas, Thomas Vodde, Edgar Kreilkamp, Jens Hulvershorn, Harald Zeiss, Ines Carstensen and Bruce Mitchell. The support of the Canada Research Chair program is also gratefully acknowledged.

On a personal front we would like to thank our partners and families for their love, support and patience: Meike and Linnea; Jody, Cooper and JC; and Tonia, Danika and Isabel.

1    Water for Life: A Global Overview

Water has many meanings for human beings. First and foremost, we need water for life. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2011) suggests that a minimum of 7.5–15 L per person per day are necessary for survival, with 2.5–3.0 L for drinking and food, 2–6 L for basic hygiene practices, and 3–6 L for basic cooking needs. This estimate of required water is for basic human needs, and not a reflection of water ‘wants’ for a much wider range of other purposes (Lundqvist & Gleick, 1997). Importantly, it is also only a measure of direct water use and water actually contained in food and beverages consumed (for proper hydration and bodily functions), but does not reflect the much greater water footprint of food produced elsewhere or the energy required to provide this amount of freshwater.

Throughout human history, water access and increasingly sophisticated water management practices have been a hallmark of civilisation and often one of its greatest challenges. Sedlak (2014) describes how around 700 bce the residents of Erbil in modern northern Iraq dug tunnels to channel groundwater into the city over distances of 20 km. Similar techniques of water collection and storage were developed by cities in Greece at around the same time and independently by cultures from Chile to China. The Romans built the first water systems that would not only supply water but also provide drainage and waste water management and, by 300 bce, when local groundwater sources were exhausted, Rome’s water system was expanded to include aqueducts and pipeline systems. Such systems were built throughout the Roman world with, in some cases, their water engineering legacies lasting to the present day. As noted by Schwarz et al. (1990), the uses of water have continued to diversify in modern industrial and knowledge-based economies:

Over the past three centuries, the major transforming activities of humankind – population growth and urbanization, agricultural development and the expansion of arable land, industrial development and the rise of the modern world economy, and the production and consumption of energy (i.e., fossil fuels and

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