Emirates Hotels & Resorts: a pioneer for sustainable tourism

08 October 2010 | Article

Emirates Hotels & Resorts have been awarded the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2010 “Tourism for Tomorrow Award” for their exceptional efforts in wildlife conservation and carbon saving in the Dubai desert and the Australian Blue mountains.

This success story began more than ten years ago, when Emirates Hotels & Resorts created a new tourism and conservation site at Al Maha, outside the rapidly growing city of Dubai. At that time sustainable development was considered a luxury option. Today, sustainable tourism is no longer an option but a basic requirement? for the long term interests of the tourism companies, their guests, their destination and the environment.

Al Maha resort was designed and built following the principles of sustainable development, using solar panels and recycling water and waste. The resort also implemented large-scale projects aimed at biodiversity protection. First, a conservation reserve was created covering 5% of Dubai's total land area, which aimed to conserve the Beduoin heritage of this rapidly changing region. Over 6000 trees and grasses were planted, and within 3 years natural re-seeding began, re-establishing indigenous vegetation within and well beyond the reserve. The first free-roaming wildlife was then reintroduced into reserve such as Arabian and Sand Gazelle, as well as Arabian Oryx now breeding successfully. Controls on safari operations reversed habitat damage, reducing 24 unregistered desert camps to 9 well-managed desert operators, trained by conservation staff. The reserve hosts 225,000 day-visitors annually who through their entry fees fund 100 percent of conservation activities.

The Al Maha experience has led Emirates to seek even greater efficiency at the recently opened Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia. This is the first hotel in the world to be certified carbon neutral by an internationally accredited organisation. The resort also uses 100% bio-degradable and organic natural products for the spa as well as the cleaning and laundry services. Most of the food is made of local and seasonal products. Located within a 4000-acre wildlife reserve, bordering the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the Wolgan resort itself occupies 2% of the land owned, which now forms a wildlife reserve connecting two National Parks.

Through guided tours guests are introduced to the history, habitat, wildlife, and natural heritage of these destinations, creating a distinct 'sense of place'. Ongoing collaborative research is also in place at each site, with the support of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and the World Heritage Committee.

“Our greatest wish is that the global hotel industry makes radical changes, as tourism will only grow sustainably so long as naturally beautiful locations across the world continue to attract travellers”, concluded Tony Williams, Vice President for the Emirates Hotels and Resorts.

“Tourism for Tomorrow Award”
Emirates Hotels & Resorts was honoured with the Conservation Award at the 2010 World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Global Summit, held this year in Beijing. The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are the WTTC’s highest-profile global accolade, recognising best practices in sustainable tourism development, conservation and bio-diversity protection.

Emirates Hotels & Resorts
Emirates Hotels & Resorts, (EH&R), is a multi-property, conservation-based hospitality developer and operator, a part of the Emirates Group, the Dubai-based international airline. Within the Emirates Group, Emirates Hotels & Resorts (EH&R) portfolio encompasses three major conservation projects spread across three continents: Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia and the forthcoming Cap Ternay Resort & Spa in the Seychelles. Their philosophy centres on the two most critical global environmental issues; declining bio-diversity and emissions reduction.

For more information, visit: http://www.emirateshotelsresorts.com/group/en/