In 2017 the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) set its “Vision” and “Goals” for the hotel industry to make a positive contribution to the United Nations Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
No hotel can run without water. Water plays a major part of everyday operations and hotels rely on its availability with adequate quality for their service delivery and their development. It is used and consumed by every person working or staying in a property, may it be in back of house or in guest and meeting rooms. ITP’s 2013 risk assessment and stakeholder engagement in 2014 and 2016 confirmed the importance of water issues in the hotel sector. Water has consistently been placed as a top priority issue when ITP has consulted with experts and hotel companies about material sustainability issues. Many hotels exist to support tourism around a water feature (e.g. lake, coast, river) and could be out of business if it was to be altered or polluted.
ITP’s goal is to “support increased water-use efficiency, sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and reduce the number of people affected by water scarcity by embedding water stewardship programmes across hotel portfolios”. This report is intended as a practical resource to define “water stewardship” in the hotel industry to help companies manage their water use and impacts better through six steps.
Water issues such as scarcity, pollution and community access to clean water are intrinsically linked to their local context which makes them complex to address by companies operating in hundreds of locations around the world. Rather than providing a “blanket approach”, these six steps explain the importance of looking after water in the hotel industry and what actions hotels can take to embed water stewardship programmes across their portfolios.