THE WATER FOOTPRINT OF TOURISM FOR INDEPENDENT ISLANDS
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The availability of fresh water is an increasing problem, the intensity of which is specific to locations and time of year. Many locations classified as water scarce, however, are also leading tourist destinations. This creates a problem as the increase in occupancy leads to increased water demand. Islands that are both self-reliant for their water supply and yet dependent on tourism economically provide an example of where economic stability and water availability can become dangerously intertwined. The aim of this research, therefore, is to investigate the impacts of tourism on water use for islands that are reliant on their own limited water resources. Using utility data, descriptive data, and water use standards, we have applied the water footprint to evaluate the situation at a case study location, Santa Catalina Island. Using these methods, we determined the general water footprint of tourists and compared this to the water use targets set for the island. Through the application of the water footprint we also identified which aspects of tourism were the most water intensive and recommend possible policy pathways that could address the issue of tourism water use. In the end, it was found that water rationing, though effective for residents, might not be appropriate for tourists. This is primarily because the number of tourists plays such a large role in the total water used for tourism. Additionally, water reduction measures could negatively impact the quality of a vacation, inherently reduce the number of tourists on the island, and have devastating impacts for the islands economy. Therefore, when attempting to address the water usage of tourists, it is recommended that economic impacts and tourism quality should also be considered.