Emirates receives WTTC Conservation Award

Guest Writer

Emirates Hotels & Resorts’ long-term commitment to sustainability and the environment has been recognised with the company receiving one of the most prestigious global awards in the travel and tourism industry - the Conservation Award at the 2010 World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Global Summit, held this year in Beijing. The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are the WTTC’s highest-profile global accolade, recognising best practices in sustainable tourism development, conservation and bio-diversity protection. Within the Emirates Group, Emirates Hotels & Resorts (EH&R) portfolio encompasses three major conservation projects spread across three continents: Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia and the forthcoming Cap Ternay Resort & Spa in the Seychelles.”Emirates has taken environmental commitments seriously; and our resorts and their conservation work form a central focus of our corporate environmental policy,” said Emirates Destination and Leisure Management Divisional Senior Vice President Hans Haensel,.”Across the whole organisation we are continuing to search for ways to improve environmental performance - on the ground and in the air.”WTTC President and CEO Jean-Claude Baumgarten said: “The Conservation Award is one of four award categories and is awarded to hotels and tourism organisations which have demonstrated that their tourism developments and operations have directly contributed to conservation of natural habitats, biodiversity, and wildlife protection. Emirates Hotels and Resorts is a pioneer in this space and has also clearly demonstrated this through its commitment to sustainable development practices which are also directly linked to the economic well-being of local people and support cultural heritage across all their properties”. Haensel added: “We are extremely proud to receive this award; it is real recognition for over ten years of valuable work at Al Maha, and more recently at Wolgan Valley, Australia, which has led to the creation of new wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves and the protection of endangered species in Dubai. This award recognises the increasing awareness of environmental sustainability in tourism, where it is no longer an option; but a basic expectation.”While some hotels have recently tried to hop onto the green bandwagon, we recognised more than a decade ago that a sustainable approach to tourism was in the best long-term interests of the company, our guests, the destination and the environment.”Emirates’ first resort, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, was designed and built following the principles of environmentally sustainable development. The experience and the technology advances contributed to even greater efficiency, which has continued at, the recently opened Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia, which is the first hotel in the world to be certified carbon neutral by an internationally accredited organisation.”Our Resorts philosophy centres on the two most critical global environmental issues; bio-diversity extinction rates and carbon emissions reduction. Around these global issues, the resorts have implemented large-scale projects aimed at bio-diversity protection; through habitat rehabilitation, wildlife protection, and reintroduction of threatened species into protected reserves,” said Hans Haensel.Ongoing collaborative research is also in place at each destination, and these efforts have been acknowledged by such organisations as UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and the World Heritage Committee. Engineering and innovative design have allowed Emirates Hotels & Resorts to improve energy consumption, reducing carbon footprint, and great architectural efforts are made to represent significant historic local features in each destination. Through guided experiences guests are completely exposed to the history, habitat, wildlife, and natural heritage of each destination; as well as Emirates’ own conservation work, in a meaningful, well documented, manner. “Our greatest wish is that the global hotel industry makes the changes necessary to protect the natural and historic environments which have attracted travellers for decades. It is only with a commitment to protect our naturally beautiful locations across the world, such as Al Maha and Wolgan Valley, that our industry can continue to grow and thrive” concluded Mr. Haensel.

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