Green tourism the “next big thing” in Middle East


An exciting tourism project is set to promise a bright economic future for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi native Aziza Turkistani has created her own green tours in order to tempt tourists back into the region after disappointing visitor figures in June. She has been licensed to operate tours in Makkah, Jeddah and Taif for eight years, and would also like to provide transportation for pilgrims to Makkah, while attracting Saudi and GCC women to the tours.

The move is an important one for Saudi natives, who consider tourism to be a “woman-friendly” industry as there are no religious restrictions that would impede the tours. Makkah tour operator Aziz Awlya said that he sees potential for “green tourism” which would offer peaceful breaks for those who live hectic lifestyles.

In an area that was once considered a wasteland, tour operators are now seeing opportunities for safari packages, dune riding, sand surfing and camel and horse races.

But green tourism is also attracting interest around the world. Two key events are taking place throughout the latter half of 2014: the Hotel Show Dubai and the World Travel Market Responsible Tourism Programme, taking place in September and November respectively.

This year’s Hotel Show Dubai, taking place at Dubai’s World Trade Centre from September 28th-30th, will be focusing upon sustainable hotel design. Future Hotel, a sustainable design model, will look at how architectural design concepts can be sustainable, using displays of the latest products and predictions for future building designs.

Meanwhile, over in the United Kingdom, some of the world’s largest tourism operators including ABTA, Kuoni, Virgin Holidays, Thomas Cook and Tui, will be congregating at the London ExCel to discuss some of the most pressing issues challenging climate change in the tourism industry.

The event will take place from November 3 to 6 and will cover a variety of topics, from the economic to the environmental effects of tourism. Notably, Tuesday morning’s events will commence with a talk on “Reducing Water and Energy Consumption,” led by ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer.

Water conservation is a particularly grave concern for tourism companies across the world; earlier this year, it was revealed that Lake Mead, the main water supply for Las Vegas, was running dangerously low.

And back in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is very much facing the same concerns: it was recently revealed by Green Prophet that drastic measures were being taken to increase water supplies in Saudi Arabia, including tapping into prehistoric underground aquifiers.  

It may be too little too late for the Middle East’s water supply, but with large conferences such as the Hotel Show Dubai drawing more attention to environmental concerns, we could have a more sustainable future.

Image of miles of sand via Wikipedia

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2 thoughts on “Green tourism the “next big thing” in Middle East”

  1. S.W. says:

    I am writing a dissertation about the developments and challenges for tour operators in the Middle East. I read this article with great interest and feel that it would be worth incorporating this issue within my paper. Would you be willing to talk to me about this issue. Look forward to hearing from you in due course. Please feel free to contact me at the email address set out above. Regards

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