Experts at a panel discussion at Qatar Travel Mart (QTM) 2023 on Wednesday focused on sustainable tourism and highlighted the challenges as well as steps taken by various countries to ensure sustainability in tourism and beyond.
Speaking at the discussion ‘Creating A World Class Sustainable Destination,’ Florian Sengstschmid, CEO, Azerbaijan Tourism Board noted that sustainability is a personal responsibility in all aspects of life and tourism is no exception. “Sustainability is a personal responsibility and it is very important that we all need to convey the concept of sustainability to each and everyone, not only in tourism but beyond that and in every aspect of life. As for tourism perspective and from a public perspective what can be done is that with the assistance of public authorities, we can create a proper destination strategy that powers different players in the industry to be accountable for their actions,” explained Sengstschmid.
Speaking about the challenges faced by Turkiye in this regard, Esra Guler, MICE director, Turkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency noted that her country with very vast and diverse regions, have a number of challenges in ensuring sustainable tourism.
Guler said: “Turkiye is a country full of diversity with different regions and ecosystems. The main thing is how to showcase all these through a common programme. So we have made a national sustainable tourism strategy and its criteria are formed in consultation with Global Sustainable Tourism Council.”
“Several elements are included in the programme such as culture, environment emission management among others. It was a great task to put all the topics in one strategy. Every stakeholder has to follow the specifications and get certified accordingly with a three level certification,” she added.
Shoaa Alsemaiti, assistant manager, Marketing and Communications of Katara Hospitality highlighted how Qatar adopted to sustainable standards especially after the country won the bid to host 2022 FIFA World Cup. “We prioritised the need for sustainability and we also focused more on sustainable cities. We developed the Lusail City, a sustainable city and the Katara Hospitality’s building received the certificate for sustainability,” she said.
According to Doris Maria Woerfel, chair and executive director, African Sustainable Tourism Organisation, African countries face three main challenges.
She stated: “Ownership is one major issue. Most hotels in Africa are owned by non-Africans and this is a major issue. Another challenge is Internet connectivity. Most of the countries in Africa do not have proper Internet connection even to organise online trainings.“
“The third challenge is the lack of proper infrastructure in several parts of Africa and even at some of the most famous national parks. Infrastructure development is a major challenge along with Internet connectivity,” she said.
The session moderated by Prof Wolfgang Georg Arlt, founder, Meaningful Tourism also featured Bonita Mutoni, founder and managing director, Uber Luxe Safaris, Rwanda, who highlighted the need for quality tourists to protect the biodiversity of the destinations.
“We need responsible and quality tourists who can take care of diversity of the ecosystems as successful and sustainable tourism is about growth in number of satisfied tourists,” added Mutoni. QTM 2023 concluded Wednesday.
Experts share their views during the panel discussion. PICTURE: Thajudheen