The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has unveiled the National Ecotourism Project with the intention of positioning the UAE as a major global ecotourism hub.The Ministry will launch an app and microsite, which will highlight the ecotourism potential of different naturals wonders in the country including Al Marmoum Reserve, Dubai; Wadi Wurayah National Park, Fujairah; Mangrove Park, Abu Dhabi; Sir Bo Na’air Protected Area, Sharjah; and Al Zorah Natural Reserve, Ajman.
According to the Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE is uniquely placed to capitalise on the current trend for ecotourism and the National Ecotourism Project is a result of the country’s commitment to preserving the environment. He pointed to the fact that the UAE has 43 protected areas, making up 14 per cent of the territory here. This is well above the ratio for the total surface of the Earth, of which protected areas make up five per cent of the total territory.
The project will promote the UAE’s ecotourism attractions in three phases that focus on environmental, economic and social factors.The project will have a pilot phase which will provide information and promotional footage under the theme of ‘The UAE’s Natural Wonders’.
By the end of August, it is expected that the Ministry will launch an app and a dedicated website for tablets and smartphones to raise awareness of the protected areas among residents and visitors, and encourage travel agencies to include these sites in their promotional packages for the UAE. The project will see the UAE working alongside stakeholders in other sectors across the country.
In order to make the project fully-developed, the UAE seeks to leverage the fast-paced development witnessed in all sectors, particularly in the sustainable tourism domain that includes eco-friendly flights, hotels, beaches and campsites. In the next phase, the plan of the Minister is to update the website and app with geographic locations and detailed information on these facilities and services to assist travel agencies in organising eco-friendly tours. According to him, cooperation across all sectors is vital to the initiative’s success since the UAE has all the necessary ingredients to become an ecotourism destination.
He expects the UAE to see immediate benefits include the protection of the environment, the conservation of natural resources, the safeguarding of biodiversity habitats, such as protected areas, that constitute the main pillar of this type of tourism, the implementation of sustainable practices across multiple sectors and ensuring healthier ecosystems. Other benefits include the promotion of sustainable local agriculture and the fight against desertification. Tackling pollution will also be a key facet of the scheme. The Ministry of Education’s involvement is crucial in order to make the future generations aware of these needs.
Foto: The National