Tourism water use during the COVID-19 shutdown: A natural experiment in Hawai‘i

Kimberly Burnett, Nathan DeMaagd, Water Resources, Peter Fuleky, Christopher Wada, COVID-19, Environment, Publications, Tourism

Abstract: Many popular tourist destinations are on small islands whose resources are in limited supply, and the effects of climate change and burgeoning tourism tend to worsen the outlook. In this study, we identify the relationship between tourism and water use on the Hawaiian island of O‘ahu. Hawai‘i closed almost entirely to tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, which provides a unique natural experiment to study the relationship between tourism and water use. We estimate a 1 % decline in the number of tourists was associated with a 0.4 % to 0.65 % lower water use in the hotel sector. However, no such relationship was found in the Airbnb market, which we hypothesize is due to work-from-home arrangements in the residential sector during the pandemic.

Nathan DeMaagd, Peter Fuleky, Kimberly Burnett, Christopher Wada, Tourism water use during the COVID-19 shutdown: A natural experiment in Hawai‘i, Annals of Tourism Research, Volume 97, 2022, 103475, ISSN 0160-7383,

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