Be a water-responsible traveler for World Tourism Day 2013

Re-use your towels at your hotel, ask that your bed linens not be changed daily, take a shower instead of a bath, wear water-resistant sunblock – these are all ways travelers can be responsible water consumers and participate in this year’s World Tourism Day that highlights water conservation.

World Tourism Day 2013 image by UNWTOIn support of the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation for 2013, this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) on September 27 is themed: Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future.

Travelers are reminded that water scarcity, and lack of clean freshwater and sanitation, plague much of the world. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is focusing on tourism’s significant contribution to worldwide water conservation, and its role as a change-inducing force. As a trillion dollar industry with over one billion people traveling internationally in 2012, tourism is a powerful influence the UN wants to use for raising awareness and changing behaviors.

“This offers a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on water, both as an asset and as a resource, and on the actions needed to face up to the water challenge,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in his official WTD 2013 message.

Water conservation posterAbout 780 million people in the world do not have access to clean water, and 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation, according to UN statistics. Over half of the world population lives in urban areas, and while urban areas are better served than rural areas, in many countries they are struggling to keep up with population growth, reports the UN.

“As one of the largest economic sectors in the world, it is the responsibility of the tourism sector to take a leadership role and ensure companies and destinations invest in adequate water management. If managed sustainably, tourism can bring benefits to the national and local communities and support water preservation,” said Rifai, who was recently re-elected for a second term as UNWTO Secretary-General.

How you can help

Clean, accessible water is vital to tourism, from hotels and restaurants to tours and transportation. Moreover, millions of people travel around the world every year to enjoy water destinations, from beaches and coastlines to lakes, rivers and other wetlands.

Here are a few ways you can be responsible with water when you travel:

  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Turn off the water while soaping up, and turn back on to rinse off.Water conservation, photo by Earth Times
  • Leave your towels on the rack so housekeeping knows you are still using them.
  • Let housekeeping know that you don’t need to have your linens changed every day.
  • Where possible, select eco-friendly, sustainable accommodations with water-conscious programs, such as reclaiming gray waters for landscaping irrigation, and using biodegradable soaps and cleaning products.
  • Use water-resistant sunblock to avoid polluting the sea and damaging marine fauna. Scientists have shown that commonly found sunscreen ingredients can kill coral.
  • Look for eco-friendly hotels that are registered as TripAdvisor GreenLeaders.

Costa Rica is a World Leader in Ecotourism and Conservation

Costa Rica was one of the first countries to pioneer ecotourism. The Central American nation hosted World Tourism Day in 2002, leading the world on the theme of ecotourism as the key to sustainable development. Costa Rica placed fifth best in the world in 2013 for its environmental performance, according to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) released earlier this year by the Yale and Columbia universities.

Costa Rica CST logoSustainable tourism is deeply ingrained in Costa Rica. The country’s tourism board manages a Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program that ranks hotels, travel agencies and tour operators, rental car companies, and tour parks in sustainable principles. In most hotels nowadays in Costa Rica you can find informative notices about water conservation and other ecological practices.

Costa Rica travel agency Team CRT is a CST-certified travel services company. The CRT Team is committed to design and develop exciting vacations to Costa Rica that support sustainable tourism. Team CRT arranges nature tours, beach vacations, adventure tours, family vacations, relaxation vacations, honeymoons and golf vacations.

More information about sustainable travel here.

By Shannon Farley

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