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The Fountain of Life by Lebanon Traveler
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Responsible Tourism - The Fountain of Life by Lebanon Traveler Magazine Issue 6 March - June 2013

In this Spring issue, Pascal Abdallah of Responsible Motilities talks about water

Today nearly 1 billion people don't have access to clean and safe water. The United Nations has designated 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation. A success story in eradicating this issue is the ongoing Whole World campaign designed to unite the hospitality and tourism industries on a noncompetitive platform. Recently, The Water Equity in Tourism - A Human Right, A Global Responsibility report tackling water issues was published and Lebanon held the 4rth Beirut Water Week Summit.

All these activities have the same objective: conservation of natural and cultural wealth. So let's discover the excitement together.

Water cooperation worldwide

The fulfillment of basic human needs, our environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are all heavily dependent on water. Good management of water is especially challenging due to some of its unique characteristics. It is unevenly distributed in time and space, the hydrological cycle is highly complex and perturbations have multiple effects.

Rapid urbanization, pollution and climate change threaten the resource, while demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses. Water is a shared resource and its management needs to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests. This provides opportunities for cooperation among users.

In designating 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, the UN General Assembly recognizes that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share this precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace. Promoting water cooperation implies an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, as well as religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions.

2005 to 2015 UN Intl Decade for Action "Water for Life"
2013 The UN International Year of Water Cooperation
22 March 2013 The UN World Water Day

Highlights from water equity report

A report on water equity in tourism by Tourism Concern has revealed the stark inequities of water access and consumption between tourist resorts and local people in developing countries. Featuring research from Bali, The Gambia and Zanzibar, as well as Goa and Kerala in South India, the report finds that the unsustainable appropriation, depletion and pollution of water by poorly regulated tourism are threatening the environment, while undermining living standards, livelihoods and development opportunities of impoverished local communities.

These communities often remain excluded from the benefits of tourism, but also include small businesses trying to earn a living from the sector in a context where government policies tend to favor international hotels and tour operators over local entrepreneurs. This scenario is leading to social conflict and resentment, while threatening the sustainability of the tourism sector itself.

In Zanzibar Luxury hotels consume up to 3,195 liters of water per room per day while the average household consumption is 93.2 liters of water per day. Guards patrol hotel pipelines to prevent vandalism by angry locals. A power cut led to a cholera outbreak in which at least four villagers died after consuming well water thought to have become contaminated with sewage from nearby hotels.

In Goa In India, one five-star resort consumes some 1785 liters of water per guest per day, while a neighboring resident consumes just 14 liters of water per day. Community wells are being abandoned due to contamination and declining water tables.

In the Gambia Women rise at 4 am to queue for hours at water standpipes. Most hotels have private boreholes and pumps to ensure a constant water supply, but fail to pay for what they consume, despite the desperate need to finance improvements to public water infrastructure.

What the report advises
The principles of water equity in tourism aim to capture the essential points of the recommendations of the report Water Equity in Tourism – A Human Right, A Global Responsibility by Tourism Concern. The principles are underpinned by the notion of water as a human right.

With respect to governments
- The right to water and sanitation should not be compromised by tourism.
- Governments should implement clear regulations for sustainable and equitable water and tourism management.
- Land use and tourism planning should be based on assessments of water resources.

With respect to the industry
- Tourism businesses should implement their business responsibility to respect the right to water.
- Tourism businesses should abide by the law.
- Tourism businesses should reduce their water consumption.

With respect to all
- Land use, tourism and water planning should be undertaken participatively.
- Governments and tourism businesses should be accountable to local communities.
- Cooperation to further water equity should be pursued by all stakeholders.

News - Whole World Water Campaign

This campaign is designed to eradicate the lack of clean and safe water by uniting the hospitality and tourism industries on a non-competitive program. But it is much more than a fundraising initiative. It is a revolutionary way of thinking, a new way to do business designed to balance environmental, health and economic issues and is set to launch on World Water Day, 22 March 2013.

Leveraging the potential of the hospitality and tourism industry to spur global change, the model encourages spas, hotels, resorts and restaurants to filter, bottle and sell their own water, and contribute 10% of the proceeds to the Whole World Water Fund, a fund benefiting clean and safe water programs around the world. An exclusive bottle created by world-renowned product designer Yves Behar and fuse project will serve as the recognizable icon for the campaign, while Climate Care, pioneers in climate and development projects and results based financing, will manage the Fund.

''Since 2008, Soneva Resorts, Residences and Spas have banned imported water in favor of bottling its own filtered water'', said Sonu Shivdasani, founding member of the campaign. ''Revenues were contributed to clean drinking water initiatives whose work has meant water access for over 600,000 people previously denied. Our resorts have proved that this solution works''.

Industry leaders Soneva, Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Hotels, Banyan Tree, Auberge du Soleil, Tao Restaurant Group, The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Dusit Hotels and Resorts, JetWing Hotels, and The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu have joined the campaign.

''This model reduces shipping pollution, financial and environmental costs, and it's good for business,'' said Sir Richard Branson, founder at Virgin Group.

''We estimate that with scale, the hospitality and tourism industry can contribute USD I billion per year or more to help eradicate this global issue,'' said Karena Albers, cofounder of the campaign, which is currently accepting new members to join its existing group of industry leaders.

WATER theme tour in Lebanon

One of the most significant water theme tours is the ''Water Life Cycle'' that Responsible Mobilities (RM) operates in the region of Kesrewan. It stretches from the snowy heights of Ouyoun El Siman to the Nahr El Kalb river mouth, passing by Nabaa El Laban's water source and the stone bridge, the Chabrouh water dam and Jeita grotto.

If you are a keen tourist and want to discover this beautiful region in a responsible way, while meeting with the local population to understand how water management and contribution tourism can add towards this natural resource, you should follow the RM tour companion.

First day
Stage 1: Start your journey with a snowshoeing tour from Qanat Bakish to Ouyoun El Siman. Your local guide Nassib Aakiby will lead you through the snow-covered hills and reveal the tracks of foxes and hares that have adapted to the winter climate.
Stage 2: See how the slow melting snow fills the underground water cisterns and gushes forth in the form of water sources.
Stage 3: After completing the snowshoeing trek, continue to Nabaa El Laban water source, which is a great example of the hydro geological system, and take a photo (without climbing on top) of the nearby huge natural bridge, known locally as the Stone Bridge, which is fine example of the effect of water erosion.
Stage 4: Then, listen to a member of the Kfardebian municipality talk about the advantages of such a natural resource in their region, water issues and future projects. Part of the water goes to irrigation, another is directed to the Chabrouh water dam to supply the villages and the remaining continues its journey to the sea flowing in the riverbed.
Stage 5: Another must-see spot in the neighborhood is the archeological site of Kalaat Faqra that overlooks the valleys of Keserwan towards the west. A quick outside visit in wintertime is sufficient to understand the importance of water management to the ancient civilizations.
Stage 6: On the way to Chabrouh water dam, you can stop and drink fresh water at Nabaa El Aassal. At the dam you will find an enormous but peaceful manmade water reservoir and indoor water filtration tanks.
Stage 7: End your day at Auberge Beity in the town of Kfardebian with a hot lentil soup prepared by Josephine Zgheib, the owner of the youth hostel and member of Hostelling International and DHIAFEE.

Second day
Stage l: Start the day on a hiking trek with your local guide in Wadi EsSaleeb and follow the ancient Roman stairway to the valley below. You will reach the bridge and the water mill built two centuries ago by the riverside. The hike continues on the cleared trail near the river, leading to St John's refurbished church and three vernacular houses. St John symbolizes the element of water because he baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
Stage 2: A picnic lunch prepared by the local community may be taken on site.
Stage 3: Proceed to the spectacular Jeita Grotto to understand not only the beauty of nature but also the karst system and underground waters. Tourism is criticized in such fragile ecosystems unless it is well managed, as is the case by Jeita Grotto team.
Stage 4: To complete the Water Life Cycle tour, end your visit at the mouth of Nahr El Kalb river by the seacoast and enjoy the historical steles and the Ottoman period bridge. Immortalize your passage with a group photo on the arched bridge.

Where to stay
Auberge Beity +961 9 711257
Josephine Zogheib +961 3 214871

Get a guide
Ouyoun El Siman, Kfardebian and Wadi EsSaleeb local guides
Nassib Aaqiqi + 961 338 66 39
Naaim Mhanna + 961 70 941573
Wadi EsSaleeb and Daraya local guide
Charbel Sfeir + 961 3 473718

Responsible Mobilities + 961 3 451113
Tour date 6 – 7 April 2013
Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:10 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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