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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

World Tourism Day

Until the last month I didn't even know there was a "World Tourism Day". But tourism day had been there for a long time. It was first observed in 1997. I came to know about it because my students had to debate on the topic, "Water Sustainability and Tourism" to celebrate World Tourism Day on the 27th of september. I was ignorant and now am glad that by participating in the celebration I have become more aware of tourism and its various aspects.

It is overwhelming to know that tourism is a 3.5 trillion dollar business world wide. It generates 10% of the total employment world wide and though it has social, economic and environmental impacts many tourism agencies and their governments have in many ways worked towards making tourism sustainable. Coming to tourism and water, there were some significant facts that moved me. An average hotel room in a high tourist destination like the Mediterranean and costal areas use 500 liters of water per day while a village in a developing country uses somewhat the same amount in a month. A single hotel in Dubai in the UAE, uses 10 million liters of water in a year and Dubai receives only 100 ml of rain annually. Most of the coral reefs around the world are dying in popular tourist hot spots. The river Jordan is shrinking on its way to the Dead sea as the water is used before it reaches the sea and the same is happening to the Dead sea, which is biblically significant to certain religion and its people. Swimming pools, golf courses, showers, spas and many hospitality services in the tourism business drains our water. The water table in many countries are receding and water stress is a daily struggle.

There is no argument that climate change tops the list of the factors that affect our water. But tourism has substantial impact if we do not educate the tour operators and the common people. It is their "bread and butter".

But our country is an exemplary model for governments and tourism agencies across the world, or at at least, we should be because of the policies that are in place. Tourism in Bhutan is controlled and it has helped. In many aspects, our late economic development, has worked in our favor and even in tourism we have the edge over other countries with regard to the policies and laws we enact. We have a "high value low impact" approach to tourism and it has so far kept our country exclusive to the outside world. But tourism generates a huge chunk of the incoming dollar, that we are in dire need of. Last year over 100,000 tourist came into the country and the government is going to double the number by the end of the 11th five year plan.

As we prepare to bring in more tourist, I hope our leaders will consider tourism's sustainability to our environment, culture, social values and everything that is dear to us as bhutanese people.


  1. The water facts you put here are disheartening, but why is tourism day debating against tourism? Are there alternative?

    1. I guess they cant deny the fact that tourism does use a lot of water. And the only alternative would be to spread awareness and educate the common people and the tour operators. The theme for the day was "Tourism and Water sustainability".