UAE’s ecotourism drive on right track


ABU DHABI, 11th August 2018 (WAM) – The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2012 which recognised ecotourism as key in the fight against poverty, the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development.

In its editorial today, the English language daily ‘Gulf Today’ said: The resolution calls on UN member states to adopt policies that promote ecotourism, highlighting its positive impact on income generation, job creation and education, and thus on the fight against poverty and hunger.

It recognises that ecotourism creates significant opportunities for the conservation, protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and of natural areas by encouraging local and indigenous communities in host countries and tourists alike to preserve and respect the natural and cultural heritage.

The World Tourism Organisation defines ecotourism as a form of sustainable tourism that actively contributes to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Ecotourism and all nature-related forms of tourism account for approximately 20 per cent of total international travel. Incidentally, the subject of ecotourism is close to the heart of UAE authorities.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment recently launched the “National Ecotourism Project” to position the UAE as a leading global ecotourism hub.

The UAE recorded nearly 15.87 million incoming tourists in 2017, an astonishing 6.5 per cent increase over 2016, with revenues amounting to Dhs118.8 billion, as per specialised reports.

These reports project tourist traffic to continue growing in the coming years to a record-breaking 25 million between 2020 and 2021, coinciding with Expo 2020 Dubai.

As Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, recently well explained, the global travel and tourism trends in the last decade have indicated the emergence of ecotourism, a concept widely embraced by tourists who seek to leave no ecological footprint behind while travelling.

He mentioned that the national ecotourism project is a result of the country’s commitment to preserving the environment, a commitment instilled in its people by the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The project will promote the eco-tourism attractions in three phases that focus on environmental, economic and social factors.

For the project to become full-fledged, the UAE seeks to leverage the fast-paced development witnessed in all sectors, particularly in the sustainable tourism domain that includes eco-friendly flights, hotels, beaches and campsites.

In the next phase, the ministry will update the website and app with geographic locations and detailed information on these facilities and services to assist travel agencies in organising eco-friendly tours.

Way to go, UAE.

Source: WAM/Hassan Bashir