Tourist land use patterns and water demand: Evidence from the Western Mediterranean

David Sauri Pujol, Antonio Manuel Rico-Amoros, Jorge Olcina-Cantos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


Tourism represents a fundamental economic strategy for many cities, regions and countries around the world. Yet, it is also one of the main drivers of global environmental change and may have deleterious effects on a number of critical environmental vectors such as water. The development of tourism in Mediterranean region raises special concerns regarding water because of summer droughts and large concentrations of seasonal tourists. Nevertheless, tourist destinations are far from being homogeneous in their consumption of water and other resources. In this paper we argue that dense, high rise tourist centers tend to use comparatively less water than disperse, low density residential resorts, taking the case of Benidorm and the Alicante coast (Mediterranean Spain) as examples. Thus we seek to illustrate how water consumption may differ substantially depending on the predominant tourist land use patterns and their associated different densities (i.e., campsites, hotels, holiday resorts, apartments, residential homes, etc.). The observed different water consumption patterns reaffirm the heterogeneous nature and impacts of tourist activities and corroborate that density is a crucial variable for understanding the economic, social, and environmental effects of tourism. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-501
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009


  • Alicante
  • Residential development
  • Spain
  • Tourism
  • Water consumption


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