World Tourism Day looks at tourism’s role in water access, and a sustainable water future

Sep 27, 2013


With unsustainable consumption and climate change threatening global water resources, this year’s World Tourism Day highlights the responsibility of the tourism industry to safeguard and intelligently manage water.  In support of United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation, World Tourism Day 2013 was under the theme Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future.

The Maldives hosted the official celebrations for WTD on 27 September, led by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, focusing on tourism’s significant role and contribution to worldwide water conservation efforts. At the event, the efforts of the country’s development partners such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Government and partners, to increase the climate change resilience of the country through adaptation in the tourism sector were showcased.

Through the Tourism Adaptation Project – TAP, supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP is helping the Maldivian tourism sector recognize that it can and should act as a catalyst to promote water conservation.

The Report produced under the TAP project on water and waste water management in the Maldivian tourism sector, titled ‘Addressing Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation in the Water and Wastewater Services in Resorts and Dependent Communities’, indicates that it is estimated that the tourism sector requires over 2,240 million litres of fresh water annually, and generates approximately 1,904 litres of wastewater annually.

“The Maldives tourism industry drives multi-million dollar revenue streams, and can be an influential force to overcome these challenges and offer possibilities towards a more sustainable water future. With hundreds of thousands of people traveling to the country each year, tourism is the catalyst that can generate awareness and change behavior,” said Tony Lisle, UNDP Resident Representative.

In the video produced and aired at the WTD event to disseminate the findings and recommendations of this report, it was highlighted that despite the remarkable efforts of eco-friendly resorts committed to environmental sustainability and the management of water resources, much more still needs to be done in the country.

The TAP project encourages tourist resorts in Maldives to implement policies that help protect water resources and reduce water wastage. The project also promotes best practices to encourage water conservation efforts throughout the tourism sector of Maldives.

The policy recommendations made by the TAP project include;- management of water without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems; implementing a strong strategy on recycling and reusing wastewater; community participation in the efficient management of water resources; and increased solidarity between communities and tourism operators. The project will also assist to strengthen water regulations, notably the National Building Code and the National Water Code.

“In this International Year of Water Cooperation, I urge tourism establishments to cut consumption and improve waste management and I call on individuals to play their part by making environmentally conscious choices when they travel.  By making water saving a priority we can all help to build the future we want,” the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on World Tourism Day.

Photo: Masrah Naseem/UNDP Maldives 2012.

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Aminath Ibrahim, Communication Officer, (+960) 3343285,

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