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TOURISM IN THE GREEN ECONOMYThe Green Economy has been defined as one thatresults in "improved human well-being and socialequity, while significantly reducing environmental risksand ecological scarcities". International tourism hasbeen identified within the Green Economy as one often sectors, alongside manufacturing or energy, whichcan lead the transformation to this new model.According to the 2011 Green Economy Report,tourism is one of the most promising drivers of growthfor the world economy and, with the appropriateinvestment, can continue to grow steadily over thecoming decades, contributing to much-neededeconomic growth, employment and development whilemitigating its environmental impacts. The correctinvestment in green strategies would allow the sectorto continue to expand steadily over the comingdecades, says the report, while ensuring significantenvironmental benefits such as reductions in waterconsumption, energy use and CO2 emissions. With theappropriate investment, significant reductions in waterconsumption (18 per cent), energy use (44 per cent)and CO2 emissions (52 per cent) are possible, ascompared with a "business-as-usual" scenario. Inaddition, green tourism would stimulate job creation,especially in poorer communities, with increased localhiring and sourcing and a positive spill-over effect onother areas of the economy. The direct economiccontribution of tourism to local communities wouldalso be increased; maximising the amount of touristspending that is retained by the local economy.In summary, investing in environmentally-friendlytourism can drive economic growth, lead to povertyreduction and job creation, while improving resourceefficiency and minimising environmental degradation.To maximise this potential, however, small andmedium sized tourism enterprises need better accessto tools and financing through public-privatepartnerships. With this access, it is their innovativebusiness practices that can meaningfully tackle theintertwined challenges of sustainability and growth. INNOVATION IN THE TOURISM SECTORRecent years have seen a clear move towards theintegration of innovative "green" strategies in tourismbusinesses. Business leaders have come to understandthat steps towards more environmentally-friendlystrategies are not only the right moves ethically, theyalso make clear business sense. Companies areincreasingly aware that green initiatives give them acompetitive edge; build trust and brand loyalty; helpthem to retain customers, as well as recruit, keep andmotivate employees; and result in reduced overallexpenditure. In particular, a number of innovativeapproaches can be found in the hospitality industry,112TOURISMRight: Dr Taleb RifaiBelow: A local fishingboat, pictured in thewaters off Atauro Island, Timor-Leste" "TOURISM, MADE UP OFCOUNTLESS SMALL ANDMEDIUM ENTERPRISES, THE MAJORITY OF WHICH ARECLOSELY LINKEDTO LOCAL COMMUNITIES, HAS AN IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITYTO ADOPT SUSTAINABLEBUSINESS MODELS

which, while one of the tourism sector's largest driversof employment and economic revenue, is also one ofthe most energy-intensive. Hotel Energy Solutions, aUNWTO-initiated project co-funded by the EuropeanAgency for Competitiveness and Innovation, andimplemented in partnership with the United NationsEnvironment Programme (UNEP), the InternationalHotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA), theEuropean Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and theFrench Environment and Energy Management Agency(ADEME), aims to increase energy efficiency inEuropean small and medium hotels by 20 per cent andtheir use of renewable energies by 10 per cent.The project's principal asset is software - the HotelEnergy Solutions E-toolkit - which allows hoteliers toassess current energy use and decide on the mostadvantageous technology investment solutions. TheE-toolkit is available free of charge to allaccommodation units registered with the project.While designed for European Union Member States inline with EU Energy Policies, the project is expectedto be rolled-out globally over the coming years. At thesame time, on the other side of the world, the UNWTOConsulting Unit on Tourism and Biodiversity hasrecently finalised the Programme for EnergyEfficiency in Hotels on the island of Kho Khao inThailand. This project has been implementing energyefficiency measures in hotels across the island inorder to significantly reduce energy costs and gasemissions from tourism (up to 20 per cent). Hotelshave been persuaded to switch from electricity,previously supplied from mainland Thailand usingfossil fuel supplies, to a regenerative energy supply. The UNWTO Consulting Unit has also begun a newproject in Indonesia which will implement climatechange mitigation and adaptation measures inPangandaran, a popular tourism destination in Java,adopting an energy efficiency approach whilestrengthening local structures for the long-termsuccess of the destination. These projects, andcountless more taking place around the world,demonstrate that it is entirely possible to profiteconomically, while placing environmental and socialconcerns at the heart of business operations; the key toa Green Economy.TOURISM AT COP17 - THE ROLE OFGOVERNMENTSGuided by the UNWTO Davos Process on Tourism andClimate Change, the tourism sector is committed toadvancing a coherent response to the climateimperative, placing businesses at the heart of thetransformation to a low- carbon, resource efficient andsocially inclusive future. However, while the privatesector has a significant role to play in addressing thechallenges of climate change, they cannot do so inisolation. As advocated by UNWTO, regulators andpolicy-makers need to be engaged with the privatesector, and encouraged to develop and implementregulatory policies and offer economic incentives. The 2011 Climate Change Conference (COP17)represents an invaluable opportunity for governmentsto reach commitments on a global collective effort toreduce emissions. Furthermore, it is a platform fromwhich governments can commit themselves tosupporting specific green investments and policies,namely in tourism, promoting the logic that eco-consciousness leads to competitive advantage.Through innovation, new technologies andcollaboration between all stakeholders, the tourismsector has proved itself well positioned to significantlyreduce its environmental footprint and become a leadchange agent in the transformation to a GreenEconomy. With further support and investment,tourism is on course to becoming a central componentof a more sustainable, long-term global economicstrategy, as advocated at COP17. nABOUT THE AUTHORDr Taleb Rifai was elected Secretary-General of theUNWTO on May 12, 2009. Prior to that, he wasDeputy Secretary-General of the UNWTO and, from1999 to 2003, the Jordanian Minister of Tourism andAntiquities. His other posts included that of theDirector of Jordan's Economic Mission toWashington, the Director-General of the JordanianInvestment Promotion Corporation and the Chairmanof the Jordan Tourism Board. Dr Rifai also served asthe Minister of Planning and InternationalCooperation from 1995 to 1997, when he wasactively involved in policy making and developinginvestment strategies. He was responsible forfounding Jordan's first Archaeological Park in theancient city of Petra, in collaboration with UNESCOand the World Bank, and other projects in Jerash, theDead Sea and Wadi Rum. TOURISM113Photo: UN Photo/Martine Perret