Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), voted World’s Leading Tourist Board” by World Travel Awards, has begun piloting its new properties’ design and build green hotel guidelines on the planned five-star Resort Hotel of Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort (AWPR).
Preparatory work for the AWPR hotel, in Abu Dhabi’s heritage heartland of Al Ain, has started and tendering for its development is underway.
The news came from His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of ADTA and of AWPR, as he welcomed participants to the inaugural World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi exhibition and conference, which began a three-day run at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) today.
“We want this hotel to be a showcase for sustainable hospitality. This is where guests will stay in total harmony with nature and wildlife,” said Sheikh Sultan.
ADTA’s green guidelines, developed together with Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council (UPC) and AWPR, are part of the authority’s Green Hotels programme which is embedded into its sector-leading Environment, Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS).
“These guidelines will be an extension of the UPC’s Estidama’s Pearl Rating system. These are the first government green design guidelines for new hotels. It means that shortly, new hotels will have a green rating alongside their star ranking,” explained Sheikh Sultan.
“The hotel at Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort is being designed to the highest green building standards. It will be the first hotel to be assessed by Estidama under its pearl rating scheme. We expect it to achieve a 4 Pearl rating. When the trial is complete, ADTA will absorb these green hotel standards into its hotel classification system.”
Sheikh Sultan said the event, a conference and exhibition and the first project to emerge from ADTA’s Advantage Abu Dhabi meetings incentives scheme, “defines our industry, and the times we live in.”
The event’s gathering of pioneering Green Tourism leaders, he added, would “reinvent our industry, shape its future and leave a legacy on which we will be judged for years to come.”
Sheikh Sultan told the gathering: “What we are seeing here is the start of a seismic shift in the way we do business, in the way we deliver the goods and in the depth of commitment we are bringing to the table.
“Green tourism, for many, has been a niche concept. Many believe it is best left to those free from the constraints of commercial reality. This forum, I hope, will totally disprove this gross misconception. Green tourism is the new commercial reality!”
Sheikh Sultan said Green Tourism’ economic potential is highlighted in the findings of a groundbreaking survey carried out by YouGov in the UK and the Middle East which are due to be unveiled at World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi. The survey collated people’s reactions to Green Tourism.
“One of the results which jumped out at me was that two out of every five people interviewed are so concerned about tourism’s environmental footprint that they are willing to spend more money on environmentally friendly holidays! In other words, there is a high-end market waiting for us to deliver,” said Sheikh Sultan.
The ADTA Chairman used the event to lay out Abu Dhabi’s approach to green tourism and sustainability.
“Quite simply we are very much in favour of it,” said Sheikh Sultan. “We are determined to deliver and we want to work with others of a like mind.”
Sheikh Sultan said ADTA’s EHSMS – the first in the world for an entire tourism sector, has received a great response from the local industry.
“By the end of this year all Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments will have their own EHSMS systems. Abu Dhabi will have the world’s highest concentration of hotels with a compliant EHSMS,” he said.
ADTA, said Sheikh Sultan, developed the initiative in close collaboration with the industry and is providing regular EHS training to its hospitality partners.
“These workshops will continue into next year. They will have a strong focus on environmental health and safety bringing additional credibility to the destination,” he explained. “We have also built a category on environmental performance into our new desert camp classification system. This will be implemented in the New Year.”
Sheikh Sultan said since ADTA launched its ‘green’ programme it had seen great progress by its hospitality partners. “To assist them, ADTA has created a web-based application where hotels can see how they are performing against their targets. They can also compare themselves with other hotels,” he explained.