The tourism industry in the Middle East contributes 9% to the region’s GDP. The industry is expected to increase annually by 7.7%. This is three times faster than the 2.5% growth rate of the whole economy. Both economic benefits and environmental problems result from this increase. Numerous tourist hotspots in the area are struggling with rising pollution, deteriorating environmental conditions, and resource depletion.
Globally, the tourism industry is responsible for around 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The industry needs to have more environmentally friendly tourist practices. Positively, reform is already underway. Governments and companies are actively establishing the basis for a kind of tourism that respects their natural and cultural history in nations like Bahrain, Oman, and Jordan.
Ecotourism in the Middle East
Tourism’s contribution to global carbon emissions comes from services like commodities, lodging, construction, and services. For example, hotels often use a lot of energy for heating, lighting, and cooling, and local transportation also contributes to emissions. Given this, ecotourism’s rising popularity presents a viable way to cut emissions.
Ecotourism is all about ethical travel that promotes both environmental protection and the welfare of local populations. When done well, it can improve local living conditions, lower passenger carbon footprints, and protect the environment. Ecotourism has benefits that go beyond the environment, such as financial gains.
Ecotourism in Saudi Arabia
The Red Sea project in Saudi Arabia is a 4,000 km long coral reef in the Red Sea. This project mixes tourism with conservation to solve problems. At the same time, as the country works to diversify its economy, it is predicted to result in considerable economic advantages, generating an estimated $5.3 billion annually by the end of the decade. The initiative will also designate nine islands as special conservation zones and maintain the pristine condition of 92 islands off the coast of Saudi Arabia.
Ecotourism in Jordan
For instance, Jordan’s Dana Nature Reserve’s Feynan Ecolodge blends opulent holiday experiences with a strong commitment to the environment. The lodge uses mostly solar energy for electricity, hires local families as staff, and gives back more than half of its earnings to the neighborhood.
Ecotourism in Bahrain
Several lodging establishments in Bahrain are actively promoting sustainability. For instance, the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay recycles all of its wastewater for use as landscape irrigation, utilizes only environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals, and adheres to energy-saving procedures such as routinely replacing linen and towels every three days. The Hilton Bahrain, meanwhile, uses recycled materials in its staff uniforms and cultivates herbs and vegetables in a vertical smart garden for the hotel’s restaurant. The goal of Bahrain’s tourist plan for the years 2022 to 2026, which consists of seven major pillars, is to increase the Kingdom’s investments in ecotourism. Additionally, Exhibition World Bahrain has started a solar power project in the Sakhir area in line with Bahrain’s clean energy initiatives.
The tourism industry contributes significantly to the economy. Even with this, there is a need to promote sustainable tourism or ecotourism. Countries like Jordan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia have different ecotourism projects.