In a case study of Benidorm and its surroundings on the Alicante coast, David Sauri of the University of Alicante and colleagues found that the eco-conscious tourist should rather be heading to the Benidorm high-rise hotels in place of those private villas, as far as efficient water usage is concerned.
Benidorm is one of the biggest tourist centres in Southern Europe, and attracts 5 million visitors each year and an increasing number of British holidaymakers go to Benidorm each year than visit the whole of Italy.
Sauri conceded that it's not a good sight, and that's why more and more tourists are opting to rent villas and houses inland.
But, taking into account which type of tourism used water and waste more efficiently; they found that the high-rise hotels are a far better deal for eco-conscious tourists.
They discovered that on an average, guests at these hotels use between 174 and 361 litres of water per day while house and apartment renters average between 72 and 359 litres.
However, the extremes were much greater. Single houses can go through over 2000 litres a day if they have swimming pools and lawns. The trend is to opt for larger and larger lawns and swimming pools and the type of accommodation which is associated with golf tourism. Over the last five years there has been enormous growth in new housing - most of it single housing built inland," New Scientists quoted Sauri, as saying.
He claimed that the problem with such dispersed accommodation is not only that swimming pool and lawns need more water than a hotel room.
"Think of the amount of pipes and power lines you need to put down," he said.
He further added that a larger distribution network is also more likely to break down and is more costly to service.
"It is counterintuitive, but when you look at the figures for water and domestic waste as well, dense settlements may be ugly and cheap but environmentally appear to be more efficient than the quality tourism," he said.