As our world grows smaller and smaller and global tourism market expands at a breathless pace, there has never been a greater need to promote sustainable tourism and more responsible use of natural resources. This was the takeaway message of the speakers and participants in the day-long event hosted by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority to mark the World Tourism Day last week Thursday.
The World Tourism Day is celebrated every year on September 27th under the auspices of the World Tourism Organization and the theme this year is ‘Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development.’ Senior Sharjah government officials, leaders of the tourism industry and environment experts took part in the seminar at Radisson Blu in Sharjah calling for greater efforts to push the goals of balanced and sustainable growth based on the principle of responsible use of previous energy resources.
Commenting on the Authority’s move to train the spotlight on sustainable tourism and energy conservation as part of the World Tourism Day celebrations this year, SCTDA Chairman HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman said that all this is part of the emirate’s efforts to raise environment awareness across all sections of society, the tourism industry in particular, and the role tourism could play in promoting healthy and sustainable development and economic growth.
“Across the world, governments and leading players of the tourism industry as well as champions of the trade and industry are increasingly recognizing the crucial relationship between tourism and the environment and how their healthy partnership could benefit the economy and everyone concerned,” emphasised Al Noman.
“While tourism plays a critical role in a nation’s economic development, no economy can grow at the expense of the environment. Indeed, a sound and healthy environment is essential for a healthy economy and healthy tourism industry. This is why the concern for the environment and resources and stress on responsible use of energy and other ecological resources have constantly guided the emirate’s economic policies, including that of its tourism sector.”
The SCTDA Chairman pointed out that the emirate has been one of the first in the region to embrace responsible ecological and economic policies with pioneering green initiatives like Bee’ah waste management and recycling plant. He also referred to the recently unveiled ambitious ecotourism projects like Khor Fakkan Resort and Spa and the massive Kalba initiative launched by the emirate on its East Coast. “These are just pointers towards more interesting times and exciting trends,” said Al Noman.
HE Hussain Al Mahmoudi, Director General of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of the UAE Business Council of Sustainable Development led the officials in reaffirming the emirate’s lasting commitment towards environmentally responsible economic policies and sustainable growth.
Among those who spoke on the occasion included Mr Zeid Ben Ismail, Environmental Engineer of Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, Mr Yousif Al Zarouni, Manager, Strategy and Delivery, Bee’ah, Mr Naveen Fernandes, Assistant Group Exhibition Manager, Expo Centre Sharjah, Mr Basel Talal, General Manager at Radisson Blu, Sharjah and Mr Ivo Ulmann of Rezidor Hotel Group and senior SCTDA officials.
All speakers and participants found themselves in agreement that it is important for the tourism industry to embrace healthy environmental practices and measures that protect the delicate ecological balance of host societies and promote sustainable economic growth. The responsible use of energy and other resources is crucial to any such initiative.
Al Noman said that the role of tourism in the world economy continues to grow. The first half of Year 2012 saw more than 467 million people went around the world as tourists. “With this number likely to cross one billion mark at the end of the year, there is a need to make further efforts to ensure a better future for the environment and awareness of the uses of energy,” he added. The programme concluded with a presentation by Mr Al Zarouni of Bee’ah, on Bee’ah’s waste management strategies and methods, and later with a visit for tourism industry professionals and members of media to Bee’ah modern waste management plant at Sajaa.