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UN: Mideast Must Do More For Environmental Tourism

altTaleb Rifai, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), said the Middle East must do more to promote itself as an environmental and responsible destination.  Rifai said the biggest challenge for the Middle East’s tourism sector is to present itself as “a responsible tourist destination on an environmental, social and cultural level.”  

Rifai explained the crisis that hit the tourism industry last year has increased the importance of an environmental way of doing business, but few destinations in the Middle East have recognized this and are working towards it.  However, he complimented Oman as an example of one country that has promoted green business practices.  Rifai said that UNWTO wants to use 2010 to establish the idea that sustainability is good business.  Currently the UAE is not a member of UNWTO, but officials are meeting in Berlin to negotiate terms under which UAE will join the UN body.

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