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GTM Travel Media - Newsletter logoIn an era where water scarcity shadows the globe’s future, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has emerged as a beacon of hope with its latest revelation. The newly released ‘Water Roadmap for Travel & Tourism’ report showcases a decline in water intensity within the bustling tourism sector and marks a significant stride towards sustainability and resource resilience.

The tourism industry, a dynamic engine powering global economies by contributing 10.4% to the worldwide GDP and generating one in every ten jobs, also leads the charge in sustainable water use. Notably, its water footprint, a critical metric, ranged between 3.5% and 5.8% of the world’s accessible freshwater in 2021 and 2019, respectively. These figures, though modest compared to other industries like agriculture, are a clarion call for further action in a world where over 2.2 billion individuals lack access to safe drinking water.

This comprehensive report, a collaborative effort of the WTTC, Accenture, and Oxford Economics, is a lighthouse guiding the industry towards responsible water stewardship. It emphasizes the necessity for the travel and tourism stakeholders to adopt sustainable water practices on a global scale. The partnership with the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center further underpins the report’s robustness, offering a wealth of data-driven insights.

The study’s findings are both illuminating and inspiring. From 2010 to 2019, while regions like Asia Pacific, the Americas, and the Middle East saw a spike in water usage amidst tourism growth, Europe and Africa reduced water consumption despite a 5% and 4% annual increase in international arrivals, respectively. This achievement underscores the sector’s potential to diminish its water footprint further, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 of the global water action agenda.

WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson emphasizes the sector’s unique position to foster sustainable water practices: “With this report, we aim to inspire a transformative journey toward responsible water use and a regenerative future, accelerating progress towards achieving SDG 61.”

Accenture’s Global Travel and Aviation Sustainability lead, Jesko-Philipp Neuenburg, highlights the role of technology in this quest. “From AI to IoT and blockchain, technology and data are enablers of sustainability and can play an important role in water stewardship efforts across the travel supply chain,” he notes, stressing the urgency for actionable water strategies in the face of booming global travel demand.

The report goes beyond data presentation, offering the Water Management Action Framework. This innovative tool rejects a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, providing a tailored four-step strategy focusing on water footprint reduction and resilience across supply chains. It’s a testament to the industry’s commitment to not just navigate but lead in global water stewardship, recognizing the monetary value of water and the importance of digital technology in addressing emerging risks.

In conclusion, the WTTC’s report is more than a collection of statistics; it’s a rallying cry for collective action. It’s an invitation for stakeholders in travel and tourism to embark on a journey towards sustainability, setting science-based targets and collaborating for a resilient future. As the world grapples with climate change and resource scarcity challenges, the travel and tourism industry stands poised to make a monumental impact, steering towards a more sustainable and water-wise world.




Written by: Anne Keam