Industry Update
Opinion Article15 September 2010

Imagine the travel and tourism business without water...

By Jan Peter Bergkvist

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We take it for granted; whether it is the fresh drinking water that we drink or even flush the toilet with or a beautiful sunset over an unspoiled lagoon in the Maldives that we enjoy.


Water is a prerequisite for life and qualitative water in taps, rivers and oceans a prerequisite for a flourishing tourism industry.

And yet we almost ignore the fact that we currently systematically are destroying our water in so many various ways. We pollute it with persistent chemicals; we import virtual water across the globe (from areas where water is scarce to where it is more or less abundant); we destroy the biotopes in river deltas and at sea shores and replace them with mono-agriculture or shrimp breeding and we transport bottled water across the globe just to name a few, and in short, we handle our water resources unsustainably.

Last week the World Water Week ( ) took place in Stockholm, Sweden and 2600+ leading water experts (scientists, corporate leaders, politicians and NGO’s) gathered to discuss how we together can improve the conditions for, and management of, our perhaps most precious resource: water.

But where was the travel and tourism industry and what water initiatives do we see in our sector currently?

Water pollution and water overuse takes place in all business sectors and they all need to act faster, but we as a “trend setting” and extremely “public” business sector have a unique opportunity and also a responsibility, to start our journey towards a sustainable water usage now. Our actions are seen and experienced by hundreds of thousands of people each and every day and we set examples.

Yes, there certainly are a lot of best practices across the world and a lot is being done but the sad truth is that it is far, far from enough. We, as a business sector need to adopt a systematic approach to water efficiency, water quality and water management in order to guarantee a sustainable and profitable future.

Is this an insurmountable challenge? - or, is it just a question of common sense and direct action?

So where do we start? - Perhaps by directly implementing all, or some of…

Sustainable Water Management TOP 10 LIST tips for airports, destinations, hotels, resorts, events, and…

  1. Educate all team members in sustainable water practices and the rationale for it.
  2. Introduce water efficient technology in existing installations (from a brick in the toilet water tank to efficient demand control of water taps)
  3. Always use latest technology in new installations from obvious ones such as double flushing toilets to water free urinals and grey water systems as two examples.
  4. Irrigate your gardens and lawns at night time and invest eventually in modern drop irrigation and rain water harvesting systems.
  5. Forbid and phase out all persistent chemicals (for cleaning, construction, garden etc.) and promote efficient use of eco labeled products.
  6. Introduce guidelines for responsible water sports and activities such as fishery, diving, snorkeling to guarantee a sustainable marine eco system.
  7. Encourage your team to use water efficiently in all areas (especially kitchens, laundries and pool areas) and to directly report all leakages to the engineering department.
  8. Examine and understand how the waste water from your operations is handled and that both sewage and surface water is taken care of in a sustainable way.
  9. Ban the use of bottled water; it is an icon of unsustainable water management and with a filtering, chilling and carbonating system you are likely to be able to replace it in almost any part of the world.
  10. The pollution of our common water with medicals are an ever increasing problem world-wide and a small but important initiative is to offer the possibility to your guests/customers to take care of and recycle left over medicals.

September 2010
Jan Peter Bergkvist

Jan Peter Bergkvist

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