Climate Change Takes Centre Stage At ATM

This year’s Arabian Travel Market’s focus on sustainable tourism is an important part of the industry going forward, reports Press Today’s Sandra Eagle, pointing out that Dubai in fact, will host the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at the end of 2023.

The 30th edition of the show is host to over 2,000 exhibitors, representatives from more than 150 countries and an anticipated 34,000 attendees at the Dubai World Trade Centre May 1 – 5, 2023 — and the halls are packed.

The opening session on how the industry can tackle climate change featured Sujit Mohanty, Managing Director, Regional Division for the Arab States, United Nations Office for Disaster and Risk Red, His Excellency Ealid Nassar, Minister of Tourism, Lebanon and Dr. Abed al Razzaq Arabiyat, Managing Director, Jordan Tourism Board.

Mohanty says the tourism industry will be facing increased economic loss due to climate change. “Tourism and travel are losing money due to the severity of climate related weather. You need to invest in sustainability to protect your industry, as the frequency and intensity of weather events is only going to increase.”

Arabiyat countered that outlook with the resiliency, adaptability and resourcefulness of the tourism sector. “You only have to look at how we worked during the pandemic to know that. The tourism sector quickly moved to domestic tourism when international business stopped.”

He added sustainability has to be a partnership between government and business. “Government needs to help tourism adapt with incentives and access to funding for supply chain services and implement new ways to reduce emissions.”

Nassar spoke to his country’s adaptation of rural guest houses in Lebanon. “While it is a niche market, we have 156 guest houses all over the country, most in rural communities. These are small to medium enterprises relying on the private sector to promote and push sustainability.”

And while tourism recovery is welcome, Arabiyat notes that “over-tourism is very dangerous too.” He says regulations will be coming soon to limit the number of tourists allowed to visit Petra in Jordan. “A site management plan will regulate the timing and capacity limit to the World Heritage Site to 3,500 people per day.”

Arabiyat adds that “we need to look into educational awareness with both travellers and business, and provide more options with green, sustainable energy.”

Mohanty says regional cooperation between various industry partners, sharing best business practices, a good regulatory environment and investing to make the tourism industry more sustainable is the path forward to tackling climate change.