The growing concern over tourism's impact on environment has set off a major drive to ensure sustainable practices by industrial players and travellers alike, across the globe.
Ecological impact is a key factor that guides decision-makers and discerning tourists as they explore new investments and new worlds.
Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) has recently published the first interactive, web-based, manual under the Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) initiative to help hotels and hospitality establishments map out a sustainable journey and trigger a positive impact on the environmental performance of the tourism industry. The ‘12 Steps Towards Sustainability’ manual will serve as precursors for the anticipated hospitality standards aimed to be launched in Q4 2018.
Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report in 2018 indicates that the green travel trend continues to gain momentum this year with a large majority of global travellers (87 per cent) stating that they want to travel sustainably, and nearly four in 10 (39 per cent) confirming that they often or always manage to do so. The percentage of travellers who have not considered eco-friendly stays because they were unaware of their existence continues to decline, resting at 31 per cent this year, compared to 39 per cent and 38 per cent in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
It is no surprise then, that hospitality entities are trying their best to ride the sustainability wave and make their sustainable actions known.
An increasing threat to the fragility of the reefs of the Maldives is the presence of plastic in the ocean. This can be lethal to marine flora and fauna, and to the ecosystem as a whole. Brought by the currents, carelessly discarded plastic bottles, plastic bags, cans, flip-flops, glass bottles and other rubbish have a negative impact on the marine environment. Another threat to reefs is “Ghost Nets.” These are fishing nets that have been wantonly discarded or damaged and lost during trawling. These can float on to coral reefs and become entangled within the coral structure. They can also affect larger marine life such as turtles, sharks and fish, which can become trapped by a floating ghost net.
At Baros, the Marine Centre Team aided by resort staff regularly carry out reef-cleaning events. In fact, Baros Maldives has intensified its programme to regenerate and rehabilitate the house reef, only a short swim away from its shores, as well as neighbouring reefs. This is in response to the growing concern about the declining condition of the world’s coral reefs, due to coral bleaching, invasive species and rubbish dumped in the ocean. Recognising the importance of reefs not only for the health of the ocean but also as one of the attractions of the Maldives, the Marine Centre Team at Baros has actively run a coral rehabilitation programme for the past 10 years.
The world's largest 3D printed reef was submerged at Summer Island Maldives last month, in what is hoped could be a new technology-driven method to help coral reefs survive a warming climate.
The cruise industry at large has always been criticised for its environmental impact, from the passenger waste to the effluent produced by their gigantic engines. However, by following strict policies, practices, and regulations, cruise lines can aim to achieve the highest possible standards of environmental stewardship. Waste management on cruises is a major environmental concern, but through their Save the Waves programme, which started 26 years.
Coping with overcrowding
THE recent death of a polar bear in the North Pole has sparked anew global interest in discussions about the sustainability of tourism growth.
Travel and tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors, so much so that some destinations are in danger of being loved to death. With the world getting richer, one billion more people will be in the global middle class by 2030 and more places will likely be threatened by their own popularity in environmental, social or aesthetic terms.
Good tourism management practices and stringent planning are key to the sustainable development of tourism. Here are some tips from World Travel and Tourism Council:
• Smooth visitors over time. Many destinations suffer from imbalances of visitors during certain seasons, days of the week, and times of day, as well as during headline events. Destinations must develop tactics to smooth these imbalances so communities and businesses can continue to reap the benefits of tourism.
• Spread visitors across sites. Spreading visitors geographically can help distribute tourists more evenly across residential and under-visited areas and thwart bottlenecks in overcrowded locations.
• Adjust pricing to balance supply and demand. Pricing can be an effective way to better align demand with supply. But while increasing the costs of visiting a destination or site is likely to limit the number of visitors, it also raises considerations of elitism and the ability of domestic tourists to access their own heritage.
• Regulate accommodation supply. Some destinations place direct controls on the supply of tourism accommodation, including beds in both hotels and short-term rentals.
• Limit access and activities. When overcrowding reaches a critical stage, the tactics above may not be enough to mitigate or recover from it. As such, some destinations are limiting or even banning certain tourist activities.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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