Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nayhan (left), Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, with delegates at the World Green Tourism Conference which opened yesterday. Image Credit: Alex Westcott/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi — the first global event in the Arabian Gulf dedicated to the investment and development of sustainable tourism — kicked off on Monday with a series of discussions highlighting the demands, benefits and challenges faced by those within the green tourism industry.

Addressing the delegates, Richard Quest, CNN anchor, correspondent and moderator of World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi, said: "Its been almost ten years since the United Nations addressed the issue of sustainable tourism. When I researched this topic before coming to World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi, I received over one million results, but the majority of those were about different resorts or packages offering visitors a chance to enjoy ‘environmentally friendly' travels… it seems that the concept of sustainability can be, and is, being twisted into anything that you want it to be.

"We're not here to debate whether sustainable, or green, tourism is good or not but to talk about the realities being faced in the industry, share our mistakes so we can learn from each other, and discuss what the best practices of the industry should be," Quest added.

The event will run until tomorrow at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) under the patronage of Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (Adta).


It is co-hosted by Adta and the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi.

"This event defines our industry, and the times we live in… we hope that the discussions held in this conference will help reinvent our industry, shape its future and leave a legacy on which we will be judged for years to come…

"Green tourism, for many, has been a niche concept.

"Many believe it is best left to those free from the constraints of commercial reality, however, ‘green' is a new commercial reality, with an increasing number of people willing to spend more for more environmentally friendly travels and stays," Shaikh Sultan said.

"Abu Dhabi is in favour of that and is determined to deliver a message of sustainability… we have already established with the Urban Planning Council the first ever environment and health rating system [Estidama Pearl Rating System] and by the end of this year all Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartments will have their own EHSMS [Environment, Health and Safety Management System] systems.

"Abu Dhabi will have the world's highest concentration of hotels with a compliant EHSMS. Also, all new hotels will have a green rating alongside their star ranking," he added.

Over 50 speakers including international sustainability pioneers, tourism ministers and heads of tourism bodies and UN representatives will discuss issues on the agenda.

How to take part

What: World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi

When: November 22 -24

Where: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre

Information: http://www.worldgreentourism.com

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