Measuring the Impact of Tourism on Water Resources: alternative frameworks

Tourism is a highly important and diverse economic sector. All tourism activity relies directly and indirectly on water resources. While direct water use in hotels, golf courses and other tourism establishments is relatively well researched, the more substantial volumes of water used indirectly to produce goods which cater for tourism demand are poorly understood. The thesis develops and tests three innovative approaches as part of its overall aim of comprehensively quantifying total (direct and indirect) water demand and water productivity (water use in relation to economic output) across different tourism products. The first approach is based on the water footprint concept and uses readily available data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Water Footprint Network. The second approach uses statistical segmentation and secondary tourism expenditure data, along with Environmental Input-Output (EIO) analysis, to create distinct tourist groups whose water use and productivity is subsequently compared. The third approach employs primary survey data along with a novel EIO model, in order to quantify the specific impacts of tourist dietary choices. The water scarce island of Cyprus, a popular tourism destination, serves as the central case study. The contribution of the thesis is primarily methodological, producing three methods of differing complexity thus offering a previously unavailable choice to academics and policy makers. Additionally, the approaches generate results with important theoretical and policy implications. Firstly, when both indirect and direct water use is taken into account, cheaper mass tourism is shown to have a higher water productivity compared to higher-spending tourists. With many destinations currently investing in attracting the latter group, this finding is of immediate relevance. Secondly, the findings highlight the importance of obtaining accurate information on dietary preferences in order to better manage the supply chain of key products which account for a significant amount of water consumption.

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Author Michalis Hadjikakou
Institution University of Surrey
Advisor Dr. Jonathan Chenoweth, Dr. Graham Miller, Dr. Angela Druckman
Expected graduation 2014