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exhibition specifically for the sustainable tourism sector, hosted by TCA Abu Dhabi and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. WGT is designed to inspire the Middle East travel industry to place a bigger emphasis on sustainability. Abu Dhabi is also home to the worldrenowned eco-city Masdar. In addition to its function as a zero-waste city fully powered by renewable energy, the city is also designed to enhance Abu Dhabi’s place as a top tourism and ‘meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions’ (MICE) destination. Another city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi “Al Ain”, (meaning ‘The Spring’ in Arabic) is at the heartland of the emirate’s heritage as one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements. It is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Jebel Hafit, the 1,249 meter high peak; the tombs of the Bida Bin Saud area as well as Al Ain’s ancient oasis with their preserved traditional Al Falaj system, which irrigates palm groves and farms. Al Ain City represents a great opportunity for responsible tourism in the UAE to flourish. Tourism is also an important part of the Dubai government's strategy to

maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai has managed to attract the attention and awe of technological optimists, financial analysts and international tourists. Dubai’s hotel sector played host to 9.96 million tourists in 2012, up by 9.5 per cent from 2011. Dubai’s hospitality industry is also putting its best foot forward to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and lower utility costs. Launched in 2009 by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the first round of Dubai Green Tourism Award attracted 79 hotels and 450 general managers to participate in workshops and seminars. The Dubai Green Tourism Award achieved its aim to reduce hotel carbon emissions (CO2) by 25 per cent by 2012. Hotels and hotel apartments are assessed for a wide range of environmental, economic and social issues, including energy saving, nature conservation and community involvement. A total of 129 hotels and hotel apartments participated in 2012 with a 24 percent increase from the 2011 participants. Sustainable tourism development is essential to the UAE's steadfast com-

mitment to building a sustainable future for the coming generations. Several sustainability initiatives are in the pipeline in compliance with the UAE’s most recent environmental objectives for buildings. Fujairah Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort has received the Green Globe Award for attaining desirable results in sustainable tourism making it the first hotel on the UAE’s East Coast to receive this certification. The Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi is focused on conserving water and energy, the hotel has been awarded the ‘Best Environment Hotel in MENA’. Undoubtedly, the UAE has been strongly focused on encouraging substantial investments in alternative energy production, which in turn pays off in the form of international recognition. These are key aspects for achieving outstanding results and have all been noticed and recognized by prestigious institutions – most notably by the “green key”, a global eco-label for the leisure industry. Going forward, the UAE recognizes the potential that lies in the limitless future of setting new standards in the promotion of sustainable developments and building governance.

The author, Ola El Sissy, works for the Mohamed Al Geziry Consultancy, a Strategic Hospitality & Tourism Consultancy firm based in Dubai, UAE and member of the international GlobalCom PR Network. The consultancy, established in 2001, provides expert advice, information and direction to all types of clients involved in the region’s hospitality and tourism industries. Simply put: top notch international-standard consulting services – with a local flavor. © Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

Dubai Green Tourism Award

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