Freshwater is a vital resource for life on the planet. Plants, animals, and people all need it to survive. In addition to quenching our thirst, we use freshwater to irrigate crops, wash laundry, and even produce energy.

Yet freshwater is also a highly limited resource. Less than 3% of ALL water on earth is fresh – and the majority of this is frozen or trapped far underground. As global water consumption increases, water scarcity is becoming more common. If current trends continue, almost half of the world’s population will suffer severe water stress by 2030.

In order to preserve this finite and precious resource, we seek to improve tourism’s consumption habits and manage the industry’s impacts on the freshwater ecosystems that sustain us.

Freshwater Ecosystems

Rivers, ponds, wetlands, and lakes, are all critical wildlife habitats. These ecosystems are home to more than half of all fish species. Ducks, frogs, insects, and various other critters also find food and shelter in their waters and vegetation. Unfortunately, freshwater species are going extinct faster than land or marine species as their populations are threatened by human-induced threats. 

Tourism & Recreation

People are drawn to freshwater environments as a source of recreation and enjoyment. From tranquil lakes and trickling creeks to turbulent rivers and rushing waterfalls, freshwater destinations are surprisingly diverse. As a result, they support a wide variety of tourism activities. Travelers looking for serenity can go kayaking on a picturesque alpine lake, while those seeking a thrill can embark on a whitewater rafting adventure.

Did You Know?

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Freshwater ecosystems are home to nearly 10% of all known species

Water use grew at almost double the rate of population growth in the last century

Over 22 million Americans participated in kayaking, canoeing, and other paddlesports in 2018

Global demand for water is projected to exceed supply by 40% by 2030

Water Use in Tourism

Tourists consume freshwater throughout their trips when showering, going to water parks, or staying in hotels with swimming pools. Even skiing or golfing can require water for snowmaking and irrigation respectively.

Excessive water use by the tourism industry can put great strain on local water resources. In many destinations, such as small islands, these resources are extremely limited to begin with. In some places, tourists use more than 8x as much water as local residents! Thus, when thousands of tourists visit during the driest part of the year, it can lead to water shortages and create conflict with local communities that share the same resources.

Explore the Issues

Tourism can suck up precious freshwater resources and degrade sensitive ecosystems such as rivers, streams, and lakes. Other challenges, such as pollution and climate change, only exacerbate these impacts. Click below to learn more about the different issues that we’re addressing to protect the freshwater we depend on.

Excessive Water Consumption
Heavy water usage by tourism can contribute to water shortages in many destinations.

Excessive Water Consumption

Waste & Pollution
When chemicals, trash, and other contaminants enter freshwater sources it poses a danger to wildlife and human health.

Waste & Pollution

Climate Change
Rising global temperatures can exacerbate water scarcity by increasing extreme weather patterns and droughts.

Climate Change

How We Safeguard Nature

Discover what we’re doing to protect freshwater resources and minimize tourism’s impacts on nature and wildlife.

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