Ecotourism in Dubai: Its Principles, Benefits, and Drawbacks


Dubai as an eco-tourism destination:

Looking for an eco-tourism experience in Dubai? There are many ecotourism activities to do in Dubai. Ecotourism is not on the mind of every visitor to Dubai, but for some, it is an essential concept and often drives their travel plans. It’s a hub for touristic activities, and now there is another side of tourism emerging for responsible travellers in Dubai. Platinum Heritage is the reason that Dubai is leading in the ecotourism industry.

What Is Ecotourism?

The definition of Ecotourism given by the International Ecotourism Society is “responsible travel to natural areas that preserves the environment, assists the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” It has both staff and guests. Interpretation is concerned with ecotourism that promotes greater understanding and appreciation for local culture and the natural environment.

It promotes responsible travel; travellers love this type of adventure travel as they can experience the culture and natural environment of a new place without using it for touristic profits. Typically, some of the proceeds from these types of trips are put directly back into local conservation efforts.

Principles of Ecotourism:

  • Minimizing different physical, social, behavioural, and psychological impacts of tourism on the natural environment and local people.
  • Build cultural and environmental awareness, respect and understanding.
  • Provide Financial benefits to local people.
  • Enhance Guests’ understanding of the political, environmental, and social climate of a host country through memorable and enriching experiences.
  • Use of low-impact operations on the environment such as solar panels.

Ecotourism Benefits:

A major advantage of ecotourism is that it helps in the maintenance and improvement of areas used as tourist destinations. Some benefits of ecotourism include:

  • Combats climate change.
  • Incentivizes maintenance of attractions.
  • Provides locals source of income.
  • Promotes conservation.
  • Educates tourists and locals.

Combats climate change:

Ecotourism revolves around natural resources and supporting the industry can help reduce carbon emissions.

Incentivizes maintenance of attractions:

Ecotourism provides incentives to increase biodiversity and preserve natural resources.

Provides locals source of income:

Ecotourism can help in reducing poverty and empower local communities by creating employment opportunities.

Promotes conservation:

Ecotourism generates income, and host communities use this income to invest in natural resources that attract tourists.

Educates tourists and locals:

Ecotourism activities promote educational and environmental awareness among locals and tourists.

Benefits of Sustainable Travel:

The benefits of sustainable travel are:

  • Learn about the culture
  • Travel for a cause
  • Experience nature

Top locations for ecotourism in Dubai:

Here are some of the best places in Dubai that offer eco-friendly entertainment.

  • Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
  • Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve
  • Hatta Dam
  • Ras-Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project
  • The Green Planet
  • Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
  • Jumeirah Golf Estates

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve:

The vast area of ​​Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is one of the most natural reserves in Dubai UAE. Which covers an area of 225 square kilometres, and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve covers 5% land of the total Dubai. The reserve also has different species of plants, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Not to mention, you can also do different activities like Desert Safari, Trekking, Sandboarding, Camel Riding, and Falconry. You can also visit Camp for some exceptional desert food.

Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve:

This desert reserve covers double the area of than Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and are all unfenced. This area is also home to the largest renewable energy project in the region named Muhammad Bin Rashid Solar Park. Al- Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is open to the public and you can find more than 200 species of local birds and more than 150 species of migratory birds at this place.

You can find different types of reptiles as well. The defining characteristics of al-Marmoom are its large populations of Arabian oryx and flamingos. You can also find different species which are in danger and relocated here. And that’s not all. History lovers should also visit Saruq Al Hadid Archaeology. The 3,000-year-old site dates to the Iron Age, making it one of the emirate’s most popular cultural and historical attractions.

Hatta Dam:

Next on the list of ecotourism in Dubai is Hatta Dam, which offers panoramic views of rugged mountains and turquoise waters. The dam is part of the Hatta Mountain Conservation Reserve, a sanctuary for endangered mountain animals in the region. Driving along the dam or hiking in the mountains are both enjoyable activities. You can also kayak, paddleboard, or boat in the waters.

Ras-Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary:

Ras-Al-Khor Sanctuary is a must-visit place for those who love bird watching, also known as the “Cape of the Creek.” It has a variety of salt flats, mud flats, mangroves and lagoons over an area of ​​6.2 square kilometres. Besides protecting bird life, the sanctuary also serves as a breeding ground and shelter for mammals, crustaceans, and fish.

Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project:

You can enjoy an outdoor experience in the cooler months while saving turtles. Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project aims to preserve the UAE’s Hawksbill Turtle, an endangered species. More than 550 turtles have been rescued and released into the sea since 2004. Turtle Lagoon, Jumeirah Al Naseem, is the perfect place to see these turtles. Public access to the enclosure is free of charge.

The Green Planet:

Next on the list of our eco-tourism places in Dubai is the highly innovative facility called the green planet. The structure contains the world’s largest man-made, life-sustaining tree, with more than 3,000 plants and animals. Contributing to conservation efforts in Dubai, the building has achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate. Even the waterfall uses the water which is recycled.

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo:

One of the best eco-tourism places in Dubai that provides entertainment for the whole family. The 48 m-long Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is home to a 10-million-litre aquarium tank and one of the largest in the world. Located within the Dubai Mall, the aquarium invites you to see around 140 different species of aquatic animals, including the world’s largest collection of sand tiger sharks.

Jumeirah Golf Estates:

Those who love golf can visit Jumeirah Golf Estates, a destination which is promoting sports tourism in Dubai. Eco-friendly features at the estate include green landscaping, climate labs and research centres. The Green Sports Hub, built in collaboration with international football star Abby Sand, also incorporates solar energy, water conservation, waste management and reusability technologies at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Eco-tourism Tips:

These tips will help you get the most out of ecotourism as morally as possible.

  • Do your research
  • Respect the wildlife
  • Practice Environmental Awareness
  • Absorb the culture
  • Clean up after yourself

Do your research:

Before signing up for an ecotourism activity, consider its impact on the land, wildlife, and local people. View event locations and sponsors and read reviews from previous participants.

Respect the wildlife:

Remember, you are in their field! Many ecotourists want to interact with wildlife, but wild animals don’t always enjoy direct contact with humans. If you’re looking for elephant sanctuaries, for example, choose one that allows you to observe elephants but doesn’t offer elephant rides, baths, or shows.

Practice environmental awareness:

Always leave your surroundings as you found them. Do not pick plants or collect environmental gifts without permission.

Absorb the culture:

Observe the locals around you and take your cues from their behaviour. Familiarize yourself with their customs or learn a few phrases in their language so you can engage with the locals respectfully.

Clean up after yourself:

Some ecotourism sites may not be equipped to dispose of waste. If so, don’t litter! Come prepared with a small bag and hang it over your trash can until you find a proper place to dispose of it.

Potential Drawbacks of Ecotourism:

Yet its many positive effects, some practices of ecotourism can have undesirable consequences:

  • Popularity can become a liability
  • Disruption of important wildlife routines
  • Less room for locals
  • Redirected revenue
  • Irresponsible treatment of animals

Popularity can become a liability:

If access to popular natural resources isn’t limited or closely monitored, the increased human traffic can gradually degrade the fragile ecosystem. Irresponsible ecotourism can cause noise, littering and pollution that can damage the natural habitat.

Disruption of important wildlife routines:

Tourist accommodation can come at the expense of local wildlife. Lights in coastal habitats at tourist sites are known to attract nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, as they naturally follow the brightest light source. This can lead to failed reproduction for the nesting female and danger or death of the young ones.

Less room for locals:

Occasionally, residents will be relocated or disenfranchised in efforts to make room for ecotourism development and further conservation efforts.

Redirected revenue:

There is no guarantee that ecotourism revenues will not flow back to industrialized countries, especially if the employees are not local or the ecotourism operation is owned by a foreign organization.

Irresponsible treatment of animals:

Ecotourism operators know that many tourists want to interact with wildlife, and they may allow this even when it is not good for the animals.

FAQ related to ecotourism:

Why ecotourism is good?

At its best, ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that protect ecosystems and generate economic benefits for local communities that can encourage conservation.

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