When on holiday we tend to get a bit reckless. Here’s why we should be careful…

World Tourism Day (WTD) is celebrated on September 27. This year the theme for WTD is “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future”. This is in line with the UN General Assembly’s declaration of 2013 as the ‘United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation’.

Take charge

Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. Taleb Rifai; Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said, “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 that companies and destinations invest in adequate water management throughout the value chain. If managed sustainably, tourism can bring benefits to the national and local communities and support water preservation.”

One billion people travelled around the world in 2012. UNWTO predicts that this figure will touch 1.6 billion by 2020. Given that, the responsibility of tourists in preserving the world’s vital water resources becomes all the more important.

For example, when we are staying in a hotel, changing towels and bed sheets, every day (whether needed or not) results in the wastage of vast amounts of water.

Some hotels in India have a bath/bed linen changing policy to save water. A certain group which has hotels scattered across the country, places a card on the guest’s bed. The top half of the card (in green) reads “To show your ecological awareness in saving our vital resources, your bed will be re-made with your bed sheets. However, should you want your bed sheets changed, please place this green card (it reads, ‘Please change my bed sheets’) on your bed.” The bottom half of the card (in blue) reads, “Your bed linen was not changed at your request. Planet Earth and we thank you.” Incidentally, fresh towels and bed sheets are provided for every new guest checking in.

A small measure by each one of us like placing a request for changing the bath and bed linen every other day instead of every day, whenever we are staying in a hotel, will go a long way in reducing our water footprint.