Every action we take impacts the environment. Being eco-friendly on your next trek can help minimise your carbon footprint Image Credit: iStock

Dubai Tourism recently relaunched the Dubai Sustainable Tourism initiative to encourage hospitality and tourism operators to pursue more environmentally-responsible strategies and offer tourists greener choices during their time here.

The UN World Tourism Organisation estimates that the tourism industry accounts for five per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.

The DST initiative, in collaboration with the United Nations, has created a carbon reduction strategy to reduce the emirate’s emissions by 16 per cent by 2021, which will make Dubai the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world.

Switching Off

Under the DST, a new partnership between Dubai Tourism and DEWA aims to encourage hotels to pursue higher energy efficiency and encourage guests to make more sustainable choices.

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“The challenge to battle these impacts has been based on myths that green and environmentally friendly operations are more expensive with tourists lacking consideration for sustainability and the local environment,” according to Dubai Tourism.

They say that government initiatives are a good foundation, but have made a series of recommendations to help the hospitality industry to play its part in driving sustainability and emphasise the importance of every contribution, big or small.

The UN World Tourism Organisation estimates that the tourism industry accounts for five per cent of the world's CO2 emissions Image Credit: Infographic by Pranith Ratheesan

Earlier this year, in an article for Gulf News, Thani Ahmed Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said, “More businesses in the UAE need to recognise the relevance of the sustainable development goals to their activities and make them part of their core business strategy, moving away from a business-as-usual approach in the way they create and offer their products and services.”

Several businesses are already following this advice, ranging from airlines and tour operators, to car manufacturers.

Aircraft Drywashing

Emirates Airline has introduced the ‘aircraft drywash’ technique where little or no water is used. Dirt accumulated in-flight makes aircraft heavier and less aerodynamic, which also increases fuel consumption.

A complete drywash takes 15 people, nine to 12 hours to clean an entire plane. They apply a cleaning liquid to the exterior surface, allow it to dry, then use microfibre cloths to remove the product, along with all the dirt, buffing and polishing the aircraft at the same time.

How to wash an A380 without water Emirates airline

The water savings are considerable: a traditional pressure washing of an Airbus A380 uses more than 11,000 litres of water and more than 9,000 litres is used on a Boeing 777.

Sustainable Safaris

A safari trip in the desert is the quintessential tourist experience for visitors to Dubai. For those wishing to ensure they leave a minimal footprint on the fragile desert ecosystem, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a protected area that licenses selected providers to offer dune-driving on predetermined routes, bedouin camps, camel riding and falconry.

Arabian Adventures is one of only four operators within the reserve and the only one accredited by CEMARS (Carbon and Energy Measurement and Reduction Scheme) since 2010.

At the most recent Dubai Sustainable Tourism awards, Arabian Adventures won the desert camp category. A percentage of its revenue is also donated to local conservation projects.

Electric Cars

International tourists are driving demand for electric cars in the rental market, regionally now as well as globally, according to a 2017 study by Technavio.

“The Middle-East is catching up in terms of electric vehicle adoption with car rental companies including EVs in their fleet,” says Ganesh Subramaniam, an automotive services analyst at Technavio. “Both established as well as new companies are offering EV rentals.”

Tesla is continually expanding its charging network across the UAE, with two Supercharger stations most recently opened at The Last Exit on the E11 at Jebel Ali and another at Masdar City, strategically placed for those making trips between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Drivers of Tesla vehicles can also charge them at hotels, restaurants, and resorts throughout the Emirates. Destination Charging points can add up to 100 kilometres of range per hour, giving Model S and Model X a full charge in a few hours.

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