Hotel water consumption at a seasonal mass tourist destination. The case of the island of Mallorca

J Environ Manage. 2011 Oct;92(10):2568-79. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2011.05.024. Epub 2011 Jun 22.


While it is true that tourism is one of the main driving forces behind economic growth in several world regions, it is also true that tourism can have serious negative environmental impacts, especially with regard to water resources. The tourist water demand can generate big problems of sustainability, mainly in those regions where water is scarce, as occurs in most coastal and small island destinations where a large part of world tourism is concentrated. Given the shortage of literature on the subject, further research into the tourist water demand is required, with particular attention to the hotel sector, since hotels are the most popular option for tourists, displaying higher levels of water consumption. The main purpose of this study is to develop a model to analyse hotel water consumption at a mature sun and sand destination with a strong seasonal pattern and scarcity of water; characteristics shared by some of the world's main tourist destinations. Our model includes a set of different hotel variables associated with physical, seasonal and management-related factors and it improves on the capacity to explain water consumption at such destinations. Following a hierarchical regression methodology, the model is empirically tested through a survey distributed to managers of a representative sample of hotels on the island of Mallorca. From the obtained results, interesting recommendations can be made for both hotel managers and policy makers. Among these, it should be highlighted that the strategic move contemplated by many mature destinations towards a higher quality, low-season model could have significant negative effects in terms of the sustainability of water resources. Our results also conclude that managerial decisions, like the system of accommodation that is offered (i.e. the proliferation of the "all-inclusive" formula, both at mature and new destinations), could give rise to the same negative effect. Development of water saving initiatives (usually introduced in response to demand-based factors), also reveals significant effects over water consumption. Finally, other key factor in explaining hotel water consumption is the management system under which the hotel is run.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate
  • Commerce*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Drinking
  • Environment*
  • Geography
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Public Facilities*
  • Recreation*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Seasons
  • Spain
  • Travel*
  • Water Supply*