Awardees with Yousuf Lootah, executive director, Tourism Development and Investments, Ahmad Al Falasi, CEO, Support Services at Dubai Tourism and Essam Kazim, CEO Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing at Dubai Green Tourism Awards. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Travellers are paying more attention to a hotel’s green credentials, pushing the industry to better control its energy consumption in the near future, according to speakers at the DTCM Green Tourism Award 2015.

“Research shows that the traveller of today is very conscientious in picking which hotel to stay in, making his choice based on the hotel’s efforts in regulating water and energy consumption,” said Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC), during the ceremony at the World Trade Center on Wednesday.

“Hotel visitors are demanding to know exactly what a hotel is doing to conserve water and energy,” he said. “This trend is especially true in South East Asia.

“I remember in the early nineties when scientist began warning us about the catastrophic effects climate change would bring if CO2 levels in the atmosphere passed 400 parts per million,” he said, “Last year, we passed that mark.”

Al Abbar said these issues must be addressed rapidly and aggressively, a fact especially true for the hospitality sector, as the energy consumption of a hotel is much larger than other buildings of similar size.

According to Al Abbar, the EGBC will be releasing guidelines next week, which delineate how hotels can regulate their water and energy consumption. “We work closely with a number of hotels in the country and train their staff on energy-conservation habits,” he said.

Yasser Mansour, Hotel Manager of Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa, said his hotel has enjoyed the benefits of adopting an environmentally-conscious approach.

“We first adopted energy-saving measures in 2009,” Mansour said, “initially it was inspired by a moral obligation towards the environment but later it seemed that it financially made sense.”

Mansour said simple measures, like switching to LED bulbs, have helped the hotel reduced energy consumptions by almost 20 per cent.

Simon Barlow, CEO of hotels at Majid Al Futtaim, said the group’s reduction of water and electricity consumption achieved an aggregate savings of Dh5.7million since 2010.

“We have allocated more than Dh3.3 million as investments in support of green initiatives,” Barlow said. “We are committed to reducing water and energy consumption by 25 per cent and in wastage and recycling by 40 per cent by the end of 2018.”

Three of the group’s hotels received awards for their efforts towards sustainability; Novotel City Center won the Dubai Green Tourism Award in the four star category, Suite Novotel Mall of Emirates in the three star category and Ibis City Center Deira in the two star category.

Mohammad Al Shamsi, senior-manager of climate change and sustainability at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), said it is difficult to control the energy consumption habits of tourists.

According to Al Shamsi, Dewa, along with the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, has laid down a strategy to reduce the city’s energy demands by 30 per cent by 2030.

“By diversifying our power production methods and corresponding with the relevant authorities and sectors, we aim to reduce energy demands of the city by 30 per cent by 2030,” he said. “There are also strategies in place to reduce CO2 emissions by 16 per cent by 2021.”

Al Shamsi said the hospitality sector plays a major role in determining the efficacy of these strategies, adding that the local sector could benefit from Dewa’s second report on energy sustainability in Dubai, which will be released later this year.

“We released our first report on sustainability last year, after noticing that there needs to be more information about it in Dubai. This year, we are releasing our second report. ”

The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) launched the Dubai Green Tourism Award in 2009 as a way of encouraging eco-friendly habits that aim to reduce the carbon footprint of Dubai’s tourism industry. Other Dubai hotels, which were honoured on Wednesday for their efforts towards energy sustainability included: Al Bustan Rotana in the five star category and Platinum Heritage in the desert camp category