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Tourists use too much water in developing countries, new report finds


A man swims at dusk in the infinity pool at the new Sofitel hotel June 20, 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand.


Paula Bronstein

Ever considered how much water you use on vacation - especially when you're taking a break in a developing country?

UK charity Tourism Concern is hoping to bring tourists' water usage into the public eye with their report, "Water Equity: a Human Right, a Global Responsibility." 

For most of us, the ethics of water use on holiday tend to be crowded out by less obvious concerns about sunscreen, language-barriers, and avoiding acute gastrointestinal disease.

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But water usage is a major issue for people in most of the developing world, and according to Tourism Concern, tourists ought to be more mindful of the H20 they use while away from home, especially in poorer countries with existing water problems.

That might well include eschewing beloved leisure stand-bys like swimming pools, lushly landscaped grounds and mega-resorts in favor of less thirsty properties. After all, the water for that sixth refreshing fruity drink or third cooling shower had to come from somewhere - and it's often water a poor family nearby could use. 

The report analyzed popular tourist stops in the Gambia, Zanzibar, Bali, Goa, and Kerala, and Tourism Concern claims to have founds of serious water inequity problems in all five locations. 

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A resident of Goa named Donna, quoted on Tourism Concerns' website, summed up her concerns: "All these hotels get a good supply of water. We only get water every second day from the public supply and only for a couple of hours. This is hardly enough... the water level is depleting." 

The study found that in Goa, small hotels used much less water than large luxury developments. Tourism Concern also claims locals in Goa use a mere 14 liters of water a day, as compared to tourists 1785. 

 Read More: Water usage tips for travelers from Tourism Concern

The group recommends governments consider their own water needs over those of businesses reliant on tourism, even though tourism-related businesses may be quite lucrative. 

According to the FAO, water usage has been growing out of proportion to the population every year. The body estimates that up to 1,800 million people worldwide will be subject to "acute water scarcity" by 2025, and the world's ever-increasing urbanization and population density won't help matters.

The FAO also found one in five people in developing countries lack access to clean water, and slum-dwellers often must pay much more for water than those lucky enough to have piped access.