1The sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established among these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability (UNWTO, 2004). In order to reach a balance among these three dimensions is essential to know the implications of tourism on each of these spheres. In economics, impact methodology has a long pedigree but the measurement of environmental and social impacts has not progressed anywhere as far. The difficulty of quantifying the environmental and social impacts of tourism has delayed the development of methodologies (Archer & Cooper, 1994). Certainly, in the past years some researchers tried to analyze the environmental consequences of tourism (Gössling, 2002; Rico-Amoros, 2007; Rico-Amoros, Olcina-Cantos & Saurí, 2008; Vera-Rebollo, 2006) but there is still an important lack of specific data and methodologies.
2Furthermore, tourism and environment are closely linked: if the environment deteriorates, tourism deteriorates. If it comes to die, tourism will die (Mayol & Machado, 1992). Particularly, the environmental implications of tourism become increasingly important on islands tourist destinations, where generally the resources are scarcer and the impacts are more locally intensified. According to Twining-Ward and Butler (2002), on a small island there are limited resources and both economic and social activities tend to be concentrated on the coastal zone. Consequently, the sustainable development of tourism is more a practical necessity than an optional extra. This is the case of the Balearic Islands, one of the world's leading markets for sun and sand tourism. It is an example of mass tourism development with high environmental costs mainly because tourism has been more spontaneous than planned. Sustainable tourism is often perceived as the opposite of mass tourism, which is the dominant form in most of the resorts. Although it may seem unreasonable to expect that resorts with an intensive form of tourism, large numbers of visitors and a total dependence of their economies on tourism will be transformed overnight to sustainability paradises, there is an acute need to shift their tourism development towards a more sustainable direction (Farsari and Prastacos, 2001).
3Achieving a sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary (UWTO, 2004). Nowadays, information related to natural resources consumption (e.g. water and energy) and waste generation in tourist areas, is nonexistent. This lack of specific data often generates an inefficient and/or inappropriate management of the territory.
4This research aims to obtain information on the consumption of natural resources attributable to tourist areas as well as to identify variations of this depending on the urban and tourism pattern. The reason for comparing the results of natural resources consumption depending on the urban model comes from the need of calculate the environmental effect of the different types of tourism development. Gössling (2002) stated that in the environmental literature tourism tends to be treated as an homogeneous activity, often obliterating the reality that different forms and types of tourism produce specific and differentiated socio-environmental impacts (as cited in Rico-Amoros, Olcina-Cantos and Saurí, 209: 493).
5Our case study has been Menorca, an island situated in the Balearic archipelago. It was declared Biosphere Reserve more than 15 years ago (1993), showing therefore a strong commitment to the sustainability of its territory, society and economy. However, tourism development has affected an important part of the coastline and the human pressure due to tourism puts its sustainability to the test every year. For that reason, the tourist areas play a key role in achieving this commitment to sustainability because of the economic, social and environmental significance on the insular context.
6The island has an extension of 69,742 hectares and the censed population in 2010 was 94,383 inhabitants (IBESTAT, 2010). The island has 8 municipalities and 5.6% of the land is urbanized. The urban areas are situated mainly in the centre of the island while tourist areas are situated along the coastline (Figure 1). Nowadays, 33.8% of the coastline is urbanized, of which the 15.9% is represented by tourism settlements (Canals, 2008).
Figure 1. Location of urban and tourism areas
7The island has limited water resources owing to the fact that it has only groundwater resources. The main aquifer is situated in the south part of the island and its piezometric level has diminished 7 meters in the last 20 years (that represents 30% of decrease). In some coastal areas there are some problems of marine intrusion due to an overexploitation of the aquifer.
8Menorca has a heavy reliance on fossil fuels (the 99% of final energy consumption comes from fossil fuels). Electricity is produced mainly by thermal power stations and only 2.5% of the production of electricity comes from renewable sources. The waste generation is over 55,000 tonnes each year and 30% of the waste is being recycled. The economic significance of tourism is being reflected on the contribution of the service sector (71%) in the Gross Domestic Product of Menorca. In the case of the employment rate, 70% of the contracts of employment have been registered in the service sector.
9Another characteristic of Menorca is the human pressure and the seasonality. The ratio tourist/inhabitant is over 10, meaning that for each inhabitant there are 10 tourists. The seasonality of the tourist arrivals is very high because the main tourist product, “sun and sand”, can be enjoyed between March and October when the climate conditions are suitable to enjoy the beaches. Thus, 90% of the tourist arrivals occur in the high tourist season (from March to October).
10The investigation began in 2010 with the analysis of five tourist areas in Menorca, each of them responding to a distinct typology depending on its urban and tourist pattern.
11Selection of case studies
12Menorca has more than 40 tourist areas distributed along the coastline. The study analyzed five of these areas that contain 20,571 tourist beds which represents 22% of all tourist beds available. The selection took into account the following criteria:
13- Different urban and tourist pattern
14- Previous information
15- Local interest.
16The selected case studies were Punta Prima (municipality of Sant Lluís), Sant Tomàs (municipality of Es Migjorn Gran) and Platges de Fornells, Arenal d’en Castell and Son Parc (municipality of Es Mercadal) (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Location of case studies
17Description of case studies
18Menorca has experienced three tourist booms since the beginning of its tourist activity in the mid 1960’s. The first boom occurred between 1965 and 1973 and was characterized by the opening of 2 and 3 stars hotels at an extremely fast rate. Then in 1973 the oil crisis paralyzed new tourist development until 1980 when the second tourist boom started, characterized this time by an important development of tourist apartments. Then, in the 1990s the third boom was defined by the creation of holiday housing occupying empty areas in existing tourist areas or creating new tourist settlements with a clear residential vocation.
19Punta Prima, Sant Tomàs and Arenal d’en Castell were the first tourist developments in Menorca. For that reason they have both tourist and residential use, based on the different tourist stages. On the other hand, Platges de Fornells and Son Parc are recent developments (1990s) with an important residential capacity (Table 1 and Figure 3).
Table 1. Description of case studies
Area, number and beds of tourist accommodation and urban-tourist model definition.
Source: * Consell Insular de Menorca. **Fieldwork
Figure 3. Graphic of tourist-urban pattern of case studies
21Sant Tomàs is the only tourist area of Es Migjorn Gran. It is located in the south of the island and surrounded by two very popular beaches in high season, Sant Tomàs and Sant Adeodato. The area extends parallel to the coastline and covers an area of 44.07 ha. The beachfront is almost totally occupied by hotels and tourist apartments. The remaining area is mainly occupied by single-family houses and apartments.
23Punta Prima is one of the eight tourist areas in the municipality of Sant Lluís. It has an area of 64.13 hectares and is located in the south-east of the island. The tourist area surrounds the beach of Punta Prima, highly frequented during the summer. The urban structure of Punta Prima is a combination of different uses that coexist more or less orderly. To the east there is a big area (Sa Sivina de Baix) almost completely occupied by a hotel apartment of over 1,000 tourist beds. In the central part the single-family houses dominate and in the western part both household and hotels coexist.
24 Arenal d’en Castell
25 Arenal d’en Castell is located in the north part of the island. It has an extension of 37.41 ha and it is situated around a shell-shaped sea inlet. The urbanization surrounds the beach of Arenal d’en Castell with high levels of attendance in summer. In the eastern part two large hotels are located, the central part presents a great hotel accompanied by houses and private apartments and the west side has a mix of uses (tourist apartments, single-family houses and private apartments).
26 Platges de Fornells
27 Platges de Fornells is one of the eight tourist areas in the municipality of Es Mercadal. It extends parallel to the coastline and covers an area of 48.19 ha. The tourist area is characterized by a large number of private apartments that occupy most of the land. The hotel infrastructure is concentrated in the south with several apartment complexes and hotels.
29Son Parc is located in the municipality of Es Mercadal and has an extension of 232.95 ha. It borders with a beach called Arenal de Son Saura in the extreme northwest, highly popular in summer. It presents an important area with natural vegetation as well as a high number of single-family houses. Inside this tourist area there is the unique golf resort of Menorca with an extension of almost 40 ha.
30Estimation of overnight stays in case studies
31To be able to calculate ratios for natural resources consumption it is important to know the number of overnight stays in case studies. For that reason we calculated the overnight stays collecting information from tourist establishments. As tourist establishments work with different data to calculate its occupancy, we had to make some approximations, as shown below:
32- When tourist accommodation gave us the overnight stays data (annually or monthly), we did not make any estimation.
33- When tourist accommodation gave us the monthly occupancy or annual occupancy, we made the following calculation:
Overnight stays=tourist beds * monthly occupancy * days month
Overnight stays=tourist beds*annual occupancy*opening days
34- In some cases, we were not able to get data from some tourist establishments. In order to get the overnight stays we did the next estimations:
Overnight stays=tourist beds*annual occupancy of the tourist sector*days season
Overnight stays=water consumption/ratio
35For housing we had to make an estimation following the next criteria:
36- Primary residence
Overnight stays=population census*days season
37- Holiday housing
Overnight stays=number of holiday houses*3*annual occupancy of the tourist sector *days season
38The days of the season correspond to the total days in Menorca’s high season, ranging from May to October (184 total days). The annual occupancy of the tourist sector was taken from an annual report by the Tourism Observatory of Balearic Islands (Conselleria de Turisme, 2009).
39Natural resources consumption data
40To know the natural resources consumption data (waste collection, water consumption and electricity consumption) we asked to the suppliers companies. However, in the case of waste generation this information does not exist, so the research team decided to estimate waste generation taking a single-day sample on the 10th of August of 2010 (one of the days of higher occupancy in the island). We checked all the waste containers and for each one we indicated the percentage of volume occupied by waste (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% or more than 100%). Then we could estimate the volume of waste generated in each tourist area that day (it is been used a waste density of 0.8 Tn/m3).
41Environmental management of tourist accommodation
42We were as well interested in having some information of environmental management in tourist accommodations. To get such data we have conduct a questionnaire and we have made an interview with the managers of tourist establishments asking about the implementation of the environmental management systems (ISO 14001, EMAS or others), the use of treated water, the electricity consumption of the establishment, the use of renewable energies and waste generation and collection.
44According to the data provided by water supply companies the volume of water billed in those five areas in the year 2009 was 828,697 m3. To establish a ratio of consumption we used data on overnight stays calculated in the case studies.
45Our calculations showed that the tourist areas had an average ratio of consumption of 346 litres per person per day, considering consumption for both tourists and residents. Therefore we should understand that it is the consumption of each person staying in the tourist area without distinguishing between residents and tourists.
46The results showed a disparity in the ratio of water consumption ranging from the 438 l/person/day of Punta Prima to the 219 l/person/day of Arenal d’en Castell. Tourist areas with low density of housing, as was the case of Platges de Fornells and Son Parc, presented a high ratio of water consumption. Punta Prima had the higher ratio, probably due to its disperse model of tourist accommodation and housing. Arenal d’en Castell and Sant Tomàs, a more tourist settlements, show lower ratios of consumption (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Tourist-urban model and ratios of water consumption
47The study intented to determine consumption by type of accommodation although, unfortunately, it was not possible to get the data from all case studies. According to data, housing water consumption has an average of 471 l/person/day. Although it is not possible to distinguish between single-family or private apartments, it can be seen that in tourist areas with a predominance of single-family housing (e.g. Son Parc and Arenal d'en Castell) water consumption attributable to housing exceed 500 litters, whereas in tourist areas dominated by private apartments blocks (e.g. Platges de Fornells) the ratio of water consumption attributable to housing decreases to 230 l/person/day (Table 2). With regard to tourist accommodation it can be seen that water consumption was less than the average household with 385.7 l/person/day. The data in this case were quite heterogeneous, as illustrated by the fact that Son Parc had a consumption rate of only 165.9 l/person/day while Platges de Fornells exceeded 700 litters (Table 2).
48A more specific data for tourist accommodation was calculated for two hotels and two hostels. In that case, a 4 star hotel consumed an average of 431 l/person/day and a 3 star hotel 329 litres while the two hostels consumed an average of 155 l/person/day. Such result confirmed that water consumption is directly related to the category of the hotel (Rico-Amoros et al., 2009).
Table 2. Water consumption and ratio of consumption in case studies
Source: Aigües de Sant Lluís S.L., Agrytursa, Castellosa S.L., Aigües des Mercadal UTE, Son Parc Cia de Aguas
49In all the case studies the higher consumption of water took place between July and September (third quarter of billed water and peak of tourist season). In these three months more than 50% of water was consumed.
50Finally, based on data collected in the questionnaire conducted in a total of thirty-two tourist establishments, the 19% (six establishments) used treated water and three of them had their own sewage treatment plant.
52In the case of electricity consumption we could only get data from three of the five tourist areas because the electricity supply company did not have the consumption at tourist area level in two case studies.
53The three tourist areas that have data (Arenal d'en Castell, Son Parc and Punta Prima) added more than 12 million kWh of annual consumption of electricity. The ratios showed an average consumption of 7.5 kWh/person/day (Table 3).
Table 3. Electricity consumption in case studies
54The average electricity consumption in Menorca was 12.4 kWh/person/day and the average of the Balearic Islands was 11.6 kWh/person/day and in Spain was 14.4 kWh/person/day (IBESTAT,2010). Therefore, it seems that the average consumption of electricity per person in the tourist resorts is less than the average for Menorca, Balearic Islands and Spain.
55An estimation of the electricity consumption was calculated through the data collected in the questionnaire conducted at tourist establishments. In this case, we collected sixteen pieces of data, that we grouped by type of accommodation (many establishments were reluctant to provide this information). The samples were not very large but could serve as a first approximation of the electricity consumption by type of accommodation. The results showed that a 4 star hotel has a consumption of 11.6 kWh/person/day, a 3 star hotel had a ratio of 8.7 kWh/person/day, in a hotel apartment the ratio was 3.4 kWh/person/day whereas in a hostel the ratio decreased to 1.7 kWh/person/day. As it happens in the case of water consumption, the electricity consumption also seems to be directly related to the category of the hotel.
56Only 16% of the tourist establishments used renewable energies (mainly solar panels) to heat water, jacuzzis, laundry, etc.
58Regarding to waste generation we found that there was no data collection of solid urban waste at the tourist area level. To solve this problem, estimations have been done through fieldwork as well as using data provided by tourist establishments (see methodology section).
59The results of the exercise proved the high contribution of tourist areas in the generation of solid urban waste at the peak of the tourist season. The average generation was 4.76 kilograms per tourist bed and in the case of Punta Prima rose to 6.69 kilograms (Table 4).
Table 4. Estimation of the waste generation on the 10th August 2010 in case studies through fieldwork
60Furthermore we asked tourist establishments the amount of waste generated daily. The daily average per tourist bed in hotels was 6.12 kg higher than the 4.61 kg of tourist apartments.
62In the case of waste collection we got specific data of each tourist area from Consorci de Residus Sòlids Urbans i Energia de Menorca.
64The amount of glass collected in the five case studies was 188,668 kg in 2009, which corresponds to 7.4% of all glass collected on the island.
65The data showed that on average in the studied areas were collected 79.2 grams/person/day being higher than the average of Menorca (74.05 grams/person/day) (Table 5).
Table 5. Glass collection in case studies
Source: Consorci de Residus Sòlids Urbans i Energia de Menorca
66Arenal d'en Castell showed the highest value with 120.9 grams/person/day and Son Parc represented the lowest with 48.4 grams/person/day. It results that tourist areas with more tourist beds had a higher ratio of glass collection. This may have several explanations either tourist areas with more tourist establishments had higher glass consumption and consequently had a higher glass collection rates or in housing-tourist areas people did not tend to separate the glass from the rest of the waste (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Tourist-urban model and glass collection
67The seasonality was reflected in the collection of glass. Except for the case of Punta Prima, where the maximum collection of glass occured in September, in all other cases this maximum was situated in the months of July and August. Once the tourist season begins in May, we could observe how the amount of collected glass increased significantly whereas after August, the collection decreased.
69The quantity of plastic collected at the five tourist areas analyzed in 2009 was 61,776 kg, 3.4% of the total on the island.
70For the case studies, the average in plastic collection was 25.9 grams/person/day. This value fell below the average of Menorca, situated at 53.75 grams/person/day (Table 6).
Table 6. Plastic collection in case studies
Source: Consorci de Residus Sòlids Urbans i Energia de Menorca
71As well as for the case of glass collection, it can been seen in general terms that those tourist areas with more tourist beds had higher ratios of collection except Punta Prima that showed the lower value (Figure 6)
Figure 6. Tourist-urban model and plastic collection
72The seasonality in the collection of packaging was evident in the study of the monthly collection of plastic. All case studies had their maximum amount of plastic collected in August and it increased significantly from May, whereas passed August the collection of plastic decreased.
74The collection of paper in the tourist areas examined was 134,098 kg, 2.4% of the total collected on the island in 2009.
75The average ratio was 56.3 grams/person/day. This value was much lower than the average of Menorca, 163.3 grams/person/day. Sant Tomàs was the only area that approximates the average of the island with 124.8 grams/person/day. All other case studies had much lower values, especially the three tourist areas of Es Mercadal (Table 7).
Table 7. Paper collection in case studies
Source: Consorci de Residus Sòlids Urbans i Energia de Menorca
76With regard to the relation between the urban and tourist model and paper collection it is clear, as in previous cases of waste collection, a trend indicating that in those tourist areas with more tourist beds, there was a higher paper collection (Figure 7).
Figure 7. Tourist-urban model and paper collection
77Regarding the monthly collection of paper, there was not a clear pattern associated to seasonality. We did not know if this was due to an error in data collection or there was another explanation. Only Son Parc and Sant Tomas followed a pattern similar to the seasonal population with maximum amounts in August.
78Waste collection on tourist establishments
79Only two of the twenty-seven tourist establishments from wich we got information did not separate the waste. From those that were carrying out waste collection, 100% did glass collection, 96% did both plastic and paper collection and only 44% did organic waste collection.
80Environmental management in tourist establishments
81Finally we present the number of tourist establishments (hotels and tourist apartments) that had environmental management systems. We have extracted this information through a survey made at tourist establishments.
82Of the thirty-one establishments from which gathered data, only three had an environmental management system. The environmental management systems were ISO 14001 (in all cases), EMAS (in one case) and Biosphere Hotel (in one case).
83Islands are fragile territories with limited resources. Despite this fragility, islands have benefited from their extraordinary physical (beaches, cliffs, forests, landscape,etc.) and cultural richness and have transformed all these resources into powerful tourist attractors becoming world’s leading destinations for sun and sand tourism. Tourism has provided many economic, social and also environmental benefits to theses territories but very often the lack of planning and management has caused environmental benefits to become threats to the sustainability of the islands. Nowadays, all of us are aware that an unsustainable tourist destination is doomed to die, and more important than that, the unsustainability is costly in economic and especially in ecological terms. Because of all that, it is important for all tourist destinations, but particularly for islands, to know the contribution of tourism in the environmental bill of the territory. Only in this way we will have the knowledge to detect the weaknesses and threats that tourism is causing to our environment and act accordingly to go towards a sustainable direction.
84In this paper we have presented the natural resources consumption by tourism taking as example Menorca, one of the most important tourist islands of the Mediterranean. Based on our results we can make a diagnosis of the current situation. First, the consumption of water in tourist areas is high, especially in those tourist areas with low density residential land uses. Second, the average electricity consumption in tourist areas is lower compared to other territories like Menorca, Balearic Islands or Spain. As it happens with water consumption, the electricity consumption is directly related to the category of the hotel. Third, tourist areas have a higher contribution in solid waste generation during the high season. Fourth, the waste collection is low in paper and plastic collection and only the glass collection has similar ratios than the average in Menorca. The results show a trend in tourist areas with more tourist beds which seem to have higher ratios of collection. Finally, tourist establishment should make an effort to improve its sustainable management due to a shortage showed in the uses of treated water, renewable energies, organic waste collection and implementation of environmental management systems.
85The conclusions from our case study are forceful because they demonstrate that we should improve the sustainability of our tourist areas, especially in terms of water and waste management terms. We should also take into account the environmental costs of different tourism settlements minimizing the new tourist developments based on low density occupation of the land and individuality and privacy because they tends to imply important environmental impacts.
86This is a task for the public administration which must provide the appropriate means (improvements in water supply, reduced water losses, dumpsters, promotion of energy efficiency,..) but also for tourists (who should show a respectful attitude to the place they are visiting) as well as the hotels, which must implement effective environmental management systems and improve their environmental behaviour.