World Green Tourism spotlights need for Middle East travel industry to focus on sustainability

The need for all sectors of the Middle East travel industry to place a bigger emphasis on sustainability will be highlighted at World Green Tourism, the three-day conference and exhibition in the UAE capital (5-6 December).

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), the event is designed to establish a strong regional voice to drive green tourism initiatives.

Hosted by ADTA and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, it is providing global experts and travel trade professionals alike with a platform to tackle key challenges, including the task of meeting a growing demand for more responsible tourism destinations.

Following an introduction from H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the keynote address for the conference was delivered by H.H. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, known as ‘The Green Sheikh.’

Immediately afterwards, the Honourable Maurice F. Strong, Senior Advisor to the 2012 Rio+20 Summit, presented with the inaugural World Green Tourism Award in recognition of his pivotal role in shaping the global sustainable development agenda. Sponsored by Etihad Airways, in partnership with the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP), the award acknowledges Strong’s outstanding efforts to encourage thought leadership and action for green initiatives in travel and tourism.

Among his many public and private sector appointments, Strong has served as Secretary General of the 1972 Stockholm Environment Conference, and as the First Head of the UN Environment Programme. In 1992, he was Secretary General of the Rio Earth Summit, the United Nations conference on environment and development.

After receiving the award, Strong, who recognised the potential of Travel & Tourism to make a contribution to mainstream green growth transformation, will deliver the valedictory address.

Other opening day conference speakers include Prof. Harold Goodwin, Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism.

Among the exhibitors at World Green Tourism is a UAE-based company specialising in creating and maintaining healthy indoor environments, which says the price hotels pay for preventative measures is much less than the cost to fix the physical and reputational damage caused by a full-scale fungus invasion.

Steve Ashby, Managing Director of Vivoteq Middle East LLC, says mould and fungus are invading some hotels in the UAE, appearing on wallpaper, furniture, headboards and skirting, causing millions of dirhams worth of damage, and having a harmful impact on indoor air quality.

“In these days of ‘superbugs’ and microbial cross contamination, it is critical that hotel operators protect their guests and staff alike by maintaining a healthy indoor environment, well beyond what normal cleaning practices have provided in the past,” said Ashby.

“We have seen internal relative humidity levels in some UAE hotels reach as high as 70 per cent – fungus will start growing when this exceeds 60 per cent. Hotel air conditioning systems that are not capable of providing sufficiently dry air to the rooms can often lose 20-30 per cent of the treated air through leaks in the ductwork.

“The use of organic wallpaper, unsealed timber in headboards, artwork and furniture, lack of anti-fungal sealants on building materials, dirty air conditioning systems and leaks in the building enable spores to enter and grow, leading to rapid and widespread infestation.”

Ashby said hotels which take preventative action can capitalise by promoting themselves as environmentally clean. “Hotel visitors are becoming more aware of environmental pollutants and the risks of cross-contamination, and it is a huge market advantage for hotels in the GCC to be able to advertise the cleanest, safest hotel rooms in the region, suitable for allergy sufferers, children and elderly folk,” he explained.

The World Green Tourism exhibition, organised by Streamline Marketing Group, is showcasing a wide range of products and services offering solutions in sustainability, and Vivoteq is using the event to launch its new ‘Hotel Safe by Vivoteq’ package, featuring the company’s signature product Pathene Plus. The EPA-registered non-toxic, water-based, bio-static surface protectant spray is odourless, colourless and kills any microbes which land on it for months after application.

When it is applied to every surface in the hotel room, including beds and soft furnishings, rooms can be treated and safely returned to housekeeping within 60 minutes.

“We’re participating at World Green Tourism to demonstrate how our new package can provide higher levels of protection against harmful dust, dust mites, bacteria, viruses, fungi and many other microorganisms which are in the air or on the surfaces of hotel rooms,” said Ashby. “Hotel Safe by Vivoteq will guarantee allergy sufferers and other guests a safe, comfortable stay”.

Article taken from Travel Daily News. Read original version here.

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