(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) A slew of Green Tourism initiatives and awareness programmes about environmentally sustainable tourism launched by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has been helping the hotels and hotel apartments in the Arabian Gulf region's tourism hub in reducing the consumption of electricity and water and presenting themselves as environment-friendly properties to guests from across the world.
Inaugurating the environmental tourism training workshop titled Green Tourism in GCC Countries- Between Hope and Reality at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa, Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, DTCM Executive Director of Business Development and Media Relations Division, said tourism has been playing an increasingly important socio-economic role in the economies of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the recent years with Dubai maintaining a market leading position.
"Several other GCC states have also started giving more focus to tourism. There have been reasonable concerns about environmental issues due to the development of tourism industry in our region," he remarked.
He said environmentally sustainable tourism was being pursued in Dubai in line with the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
He said the DTCM has been active in enhancing the industry's contribution to Green Tourism and in 2009, launched Dubai Green Tourism Award to encourage five, four and three star hotels reduce hotel carbon emissions by 20 per cent.
The award submissions for this year were extended to include two-star hotels and standard hotel apartments and shortlisted 23 hotel establishments for the 2011 awards programme.
In a presentation, Ms. Shaikha Al Mutawa, DTCM Director of Business Development and Chairperson of the Dubai Green Tourism Award organizing committee, said the main aim was to strengthen the economy of Dubai through the development of initiatives that enhances the importance of sustainable tourism throughout the industry.
The major aims of Green Tourism Initiatives include encouraging the hotel sector to be conscious about the use of natural resources and energy conservation and to implement systems that reduce the emissions of CO2.
She said the UAE's Green Economy Initiative includes six major tracks covering a wide range of legislation, policies, programmes and projects.
Ms. Shaikha also announced that the department would conduct benchmark studies with seven destinations including the Boston, Portland, Puerto Rico, Macao, South Africa and Melbourne, about the operation of green awards and eco-attractions.
She said the number of Dubai hotel establishments participating in the Green Initiatives has increased to 104 in 2011 from 70 in 2009. Similarly, the participating hotels managed to cut down consumption of electricity by seven per cent in 2009 and 12 per cent in 2011 and water by 12 and 20 per cent in 2009 and 2011, respectively. The number of Green Teams in hotel establishments also went up from 160 in 2009 to 576 in 2011.
The three-day seminar was being attended by officials from UNEP, UNESCO, hoteliers, environmentalists and media representatives from the GCC states.
In his address, Prof. Dr. Said Mansour Mohamed El- Batouty, Consultant at United Nations Development Plan (UNDP), explained the definition of a Green Economy and provided insights to the participants about tourism in environmental economy, natural resource management in tourism economy and natural reserves and their role in preserving the environmental heritage.
Frederick Reinisch, General Manager, Jebel Ali Resort and Spa, shared the successful 'Green Journey' of the property in terms of preservation and promoting Green Tourism concepts.