World Green Tourism Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority

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New kind of sustainable tourism can protect uae's cultural heritage - top environment agency official

December 05, 2011

Conference told that tourism and hospitality sector can play crucial role in reducing the nation’s footprint

Abu Dhabi, 5th December, 2011: The World Green Tourism conference and exhibition opened in Abu Dhabi today with a declaration that a new kind of sustainable tourism can help protect the UAE’s cultural heritage.

H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi (EAD), told an audience of global experts and travel trade professionals that the tourism and hospitality sector has a crucial role to play in reducing the nation’s footprint and combating climate change.
 
H.E. Al Mubarak said: “Abu Dhabi has a fantastic natural heritage with a real mix of geology, habitats and species, on land and in the sea. Several million birds each year pass through Abu Dhabi on their migration from the heart of Asia southwards to Africa, or eastwards to India or beyond.

“In addition to the biodiversity value, the natural environment of the UAE is closely associated with the cultural heritage of the Emirati people. 

“Given these natural assets and their importance to the cultural identity of the UAE, there is a world of opportunity for a new kind of tourism in Abu Dhabi that not only raises awareness on the unique biodiversity of the Emirate, but can also play a role in celebrating and safeguarding the cultural heritage of its people. 

She added: “It is vitally important that as Abu Dhabi seeks to diversify its economy and to encourage the tourism sector to grow and contribute more to the economy, that we do so in an environmentally responsible manner. Creating jobs and building capacity amongst locals to manage our natural assets so that we can see not just a growth in tourism but in sustainable eco-tourism is equally important.”

The opening of the conference then saw the presentation of the inaugural World Green Tourism Award to the Honourable Maurice F. Strong, Senior Advisor to the 2012 Rio+20 Summit, in recognition of his pivotal role in shaping the global sustainable development agenda.

Sponsored by Etihad Airways, in partnership with the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP), the award acknowledges Strong’s outstanding efforts to encourage thought leadership and action for green initiatives in travel and tourism.

Among his many public and private sector appointments, Strong has served as Secretary General of the 1972 Stockholm Environment Conference, and as the First Head of the UN Environment Programme. In 1992, he was Secretary General of the Rio Earth Summit, the United Nations conference on environment and development.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), World Green Tourism is designed to inspire the Middle East travel industry to place a bigger emphasis on sustainability.

Organised by Streamline Marketing Group, the first commercial conference and exhibition specifically for the sustainable tourism sector is hosted by ADTA and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. The opening day of the conference programme was devoted to practical steps for the travel and tourism industry to “green” their operations and make their businesses more sustainable.

Moderated by Professor Geoffrey Lipman, a world authority on green tourism, the first of a series of panel debates dealt with the question of how can large scale tourism ever be made sustainable, and whether the industry’s large players are doing enough. The speakers were Amr Abdel Ghaffer, Regional Director for the Middle, East, UNWTO, Ruth Holroyd, Group Head of Sustainability, The Thomas Cook Group, Prof. Harold Goodwin, Director, International Centre for Responsible Tourism and Hisham Zaazou, Egypt’s Senior Assistant Minister of Tourism.

A later panel discussion, moderated by Ibrahim Awad, Managing Director, Seventh Sense,
assessed the steps the travel industry should take to empower consumers to make a responsible choice.

The speakers were Dr. Rebecca Hawkins, Consultant and Associate, Travelwatch Ltd, Niranjan Khatri, General Manager, WelcomEnviron Initiatives, ITC Hotels, Joseph Dolan, Managing Director of the award-winning Bush Hotel in Northern Ireland, and Raki Phillips, Area Director, Sales & Marketing, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

Captions:
1. World Green Tourism - the first commercial conference and exhibition specifically for the sustainable tourism sector - opened in Abu Dhabi today
2. Maurice F. Strong, Founder Chairman of Cosmos International Inc and Senior Advisor to Secretary General of United Nation's Rio+20.
3. Maurice F. Strong receives the inaugural World Green Tourism Award.
4. His Highness Sheikh Dr. Abudl Aziz Bin Ali Al Nuami addresses the World Green Tourism conference.

Note to editors:
About ADTA:
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has wide ranging responsibilities for managing and assisting the development of the emirate's tourism industry as a world-class destination of distinction.

About EAD: The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) was established in 1996 to preserve Abu Dhabi’s natural heritage, protect our future, and raise awareness about environmental issues. EAD is Abu Dhabi’s environmental regulator and advises the government on environmental policy. It works to create sustainable communities, and protect and conserve wildlife and natural resources. EAD also works to ensure integrated and sustainable water resources management, to ensure clean air and minimise climate change and its impacts. For more information, visit www.ead.ae

About Streamline Marketing Group: Streamline Marketing Group (www.smg-online.com) is a boutique events agency with a 12-year track record of launching specialised trade events in the Arabian Gulf both on its own in partnership with international media groups, global governmental organisations and NGOs.

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