5 ways the Middle East travel sector aims to achieve sustainability

5 ways the Middle East travel sector aims to achieve sustainability

Tourism-related activities account for 8% of worldwide carbon emissions

According to Sustainable Travel International, tourism-related activities account for approximately 8% of worldwide carbon emissions. In preparation for ATM 2023, the event’s organisers have highlighted five sustainable trends that have already gained significant momentum in the Middle East.

The upcoming edition of the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) event will capitalise on the Middle East’s status as a leader in green innovation, providing a forum in which travel, tourism and hospitality professionals can showcase sustainable advancements while sharing knowledge and examples of best practice from across the sector.

1. Cutting Airline Emissions
Aviation companies the world over are investing in cutting-edge innovations to help minimise the impact of air travel on the environment, and Middle East-based airlines are playing a leading role in this transition. Etihad Airways recently received the Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year award from the Centre of Aviation (CAPA) for its progress towards net-zero targets and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Elsewhere in the region, Qatar Airways is making significant progress towards lowering its carbon emissions through similar initiatives, such as waste reduction and water conservation. The airline has also made an array of aerodynamic improvements to its fleet and is working to drive sustainability through quieter, more efficient engines.

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2. Green Hospitality
Earlier this month, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) announced that it had partnered with Hotelbeds to help increase inbound travel while promoting green hospitality offerings across the emirate.

On a broader level, the Middle East is already home to a diverse selection of eco hotels and resorts, many of which have eliminated single-use plastics, integrated energy-efficient lighting and utilities and incorporated renewable and environmentally friendly materials as part of their development and upkeep. 

When coupled with renewable and low-carbon energy sources such as solar power, these measures are enabling tourists across the region to enjoy premium guest experiences that don’t cost the earth.

3. Sustainable Attractions and Activities
The Middle East features a burgeoning array of attractions and activities that have been designed to make a positive contribution to local ecosystems and communities. Sand Sherpa in Dubai, for instance, offers experiences ranging from sustainable camping to wildlife safaris in conservation areas.

In addition, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, first developed for Expo 2020 Dubai, now Expo City Dubai, continues to wow guests with an immersive journey through forest roots and ocean depths. This experience is designed to take visitors of all ages on an emotional journey, allowing them to explore the impact that our choices have on the environment and how they can help preserve our planet for future generations.

4. Eco-education
All these trends and more are being incentivised and facilitated by a series of government-led sustainable tourism strategies, which are in effect across the Middle East.

The Dubai College of Tourism (DCT) and Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) launched a new course earlier this month to enhance sustainable tourism offerings as the emirate prepares to host COP28 in November 2023. 

Available on Dubai’s innovative learning platform, Dubai Way, this programme will empower participants to drive water and energy savings through effective green governance and procurement practices.

5. Government Initiatives
Oman’s 2040 Tourism Strategy aims to improve sustainability within the sultanate’s luxury travel sector within the coming two decades.

Saudi Arabia is also working to establish itself as a sustainable tourism destination through projects that combine world-class guest experiences and environmental conservation, as it pushes ahead with its ambitious goal to increase inbound tourism by 10 million visitors annually as part of Vision 2030.


ATM 2023 will feature a sustainability category at its annual exhibitor awards for the first time. Exhibiting organisations will be recognised based on the extent to which they have considered the environmental impact of their stands, as well as their efforts to reduce or offset their carbon footprints. The event’s conference programme is being specifically developed to address sustainability issues across the travel and tourism industry, with commentary from leadership figures representing a variety of market segments such as destinations, travel technology, airlines, cruises, hospitality, car rentals and hotels.

Speaking about the event’s sustainability goals, ATM exhibition director ME Danielle Curtis said: “The 30th edition of ATM will not only drive home the importance of working towards net zero within the Middle East’s tourism sector, but also showcase the practical steps that are being taken across our industry to achieve regional and global sustainability goals.

“ATM has officially commenced its journey to net zero and its upcoming edition will shine a spotlight on challenges and opportunities connected with responsible tourism across our region and beyond.”

ATM will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 1 to 4 May 2023. For more information, visit www.wtm.com/atm 

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