WTTC Study Tracks Global Travel & Tourism Sector Water Footprint
The total water usage of the world’s travel and tourism sector is minimal at 0.6 percent of the global total dropping from 0.9 percent in 2019, according to data presented by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Sustainable Tourism Global Center at the UN 2023 Water Conference held in New York on occasion of World Water Day.
According to WTTC Director of Sustainability Chris Imbsen, the sector’s entire water footprint in 2021 was just 0.6 percent of the global water use and in 2019 at 0.9 percent – still less than 1 percent of the global total.
The study, which covers 185 countries, is one of the largest research projects of its kind and enables the WTTC for the first time ever to accurately report and track the impact the travel and tourism sector has on the environment.
“This ground-breaking new data reveals our sector’s water consumption for the first time ever, revealing that travel and tourism uses less than 1 percent of the water used around the world, with the overwhelming majority of that usage coming from the sector’s supply chain,” said WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson.
“The data also shows that whilst the sector has grown economically around the world, its direct-use water intensity has decreased.”
According to the report’s findings, the sector’s water use is indirect through its supply chain. Meanwhile, agriculture and food production account for two-thirds of travel and tourism’s entire water footprint.
Other key takeaways:
– the travel and tourism industry in Europe and Africa reduced direct water use between 2010 and 2019
– direct water use by the sector fell by 8 percent in Europe and by 6 percent in Africa
– the water intensity in direct and indirect use of the sector per unit of GDP has declined since 2010
– in 2010, the sector used 0.57m³ of water for every 1 dollar contributed to the global economy dropping by 19 percent to reach 0.46m³ of water for every dollar going into the world economy.
Data, to be updated every year, will “enable governments to work with the sector to further reduce water usage”, said Simpson.
World Water Day, held on 22 March every year since 1993, celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water.