I regularly find myself arguing that the long-term benefit of looking after our natural resources outweighs that of pillaging them for a quick buck, and sustainable tourism revenue (or the threat of losing it) is one of the economic benefits that is at stake.

But having recently visited the island of Bali (please carbon zealots don't give me stick about the airplane ride - I have planted enough trees this year myself to go far beyond covering the emissions of my little family for this) it reaffirmed some of the challenges that tourism brings upon a place.

The point is that tourism is not always the best outcome for the underlying ecology of a place.

Tourism has been accused as the cause of a huge groundwater crises in Bali and it is hardly surprising given the stark contrast between the constantly-watered lush-green hotel lawns and the arid countryside.

But in a country where most of the population lives on less than $2 a day, it is impossible to say that they should not continue to grow a tourism industry which has a government goal of four million visits this year, that is likely to be achieved.

Of course, running out of water would make it very difficult to meet the discerning needs of tourists.

Where freshwater has been reamed for development that seeks to continue, the most common solution being brought to he table is desalination. This of course, requires vast amounts of energy, which would make it near-on laughable for a country such as Indonesia, to make any kind of realistic commitment in the upcoming climate change conference in Paris.

In New Zealand, much of our tourism is powered by renewable energy - unlike many developing countries like Indonesia, where the gentle hum of generators burning dirty fuel that is much cheaper that what we use seems like climate change disaster by a thousands lashes.

Perhaps just like in the terrible droughts in California, the solution lies in simply not having lawns in places where they should not exist (some of our desert habitats that are being converted through irrigation spring to mind as fitting into this category).

Non profits have been desperately researching for a solution, and they believe that they can cleverly recharge aquifers through rainwater harvesting, but this will still leave people at the mercy of the weather to survive which seems like a precarious position the incidence of disastrous droughts being recorded around the world on the increase.

The other major, very obvious visual problem with water in Bali is the quality of it. Tap water being undrinkable is a nightmare for trying to solve these issues. Bottled water uses more water for one (to make the plastic and transport it) and it causes awful waste problems.

So how do we try to fix these challenges?

The water shortage crisis is going to need serious money to work - I think that tourists who visit the developing world should have levies on their air tickets (so that they efficiently disappear into the airport taxes and don't get complained about). Let's face it, a $10 charge to enter a country that you are taking an international flight to would be chump change compared to the rest of your costs and I think well worth it to preserve the place. This would - if the government target is reached - generate $40 million dollars a year for Bali and could be a replicable system anywhere.


The other thing that we can all do is to tread just a bit lighter when we travel.

At a personal level - by far the best solution I have ever found for this is an amazing product called The Grayl. This device easily filters chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria, protozoa and viruses from water on the go. It has saved me a huge amount of money, saved water and diverted massive amounts of waste.

Internationally, I know that vast sums of aid money goes to developing tourism businesses and rightly so, however I am not so sure that enough thought is always put towards the capacity of the ecology to sustain this development when it catches on. Perhaps however, as we continue to innovate, the investment can utilise these clever ideas to prepare areas for growth before it happens - it would save huge sums and prevent harm.

If you have any innovative ideas that could help to develop tourism sustainably, please share them - many millions of people could, quite seriously, benefit from them.