Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is to expand its hotel classification system to recognise properties judged to exceed five-star requirements.
ADTA Chairman, His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, said the system revisions would apply to properties such as Emirates Palace – renowned as one of the world’s most opulent hotels.
“We are currently working on upgrading the system to include a new category which will, more accurately, represent properties deemed as above five-star,” he said.
And, speaking at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai today, where he received the 2010 AHIC Leadership Award for his vital role in developing Abu Dhabi as one of the region’s key tourism and cultural destinations, Sheikh Sultan said ADTA will also roll out classification standards for restaurants and desert camps.
“These refinements to our classification system will come into effect in the New Year and will further enhance Abu Dhabi’s destination credibility,” he said. “We are committed to delivering quality across the entire tourism sector and are introducing these standards in collaboration with our stakeholders who are eager to accompany us on our road to excellence.”
Sheikh Sultan also revealed that within two weeks, ADTA will roll out its Green Hotel Building Guidelines, which will also be absorbed into the upgraded classification system.
“We have been working on these guidelines for over six months and expect to have them ready for piloting within the next fortnight. Once piloted, they will then be incorporated into the new classification standards. Our aim is to ensure Abu Dhabi ’s hospitality industry is on a par with the world’s greenest hotels as we continue our mission to deliver a sustainable tourism sector,” said Sheikh Sultan.
Abu Dhabi’s mandatory Green Hotel Building Guidelines fall into two categories – those for existing hotels and those for properties now being designed and planned. The guidelines for existing hotels have been developed under a MoU with Estidama – the sustainability initiative of Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council and in consulation with engineers from more than 30 hotels.
The guidelines for newly designed hotels will act as a supplement to Estidama’s recently announced green building Pearl Rating Scheme which applies to all new buildings in Abu Dhabi. The ADTA guidelines will introduce further green design requirements that are specific to the hotel sector.
A key result of the guideline process has been the creation of a baseline of environmental performance, for energy, water and waste, for the emirate’s hotel sector – the first of its kind in the region.
“We can now benchmark ourselves against international standards though some consideration has to be given to our unique climatic challenges,” explained Sheikh Sultan.
Abu Dhabi’s Green Hotels Programme, the largest in the world in terms of the number of hotels participating (116), follows on the authority’s creation and implementation of an industry-leading Environment, Health & Safety Management System for the emirate’s entire tourism sector – a world-first in a sector-wide system implementation. Developed in conjunction with major hotel chains, the EHSMS will see each hotel operate their own system by the end of June and strive to attain the 2010 targets of 10% energy savings, 20% water use reduction and 20% reduction in waste-to-landfill usage.
“The great thing about these targets is that hotels can go a long way towards achieving these through operational excellence and the authority is working with the industry to help them adopt measures which will achieve the required results", explained Sheikh Sultan.
“Our ultimate aim is to improve the environmental performance of our hotels so that they are in line with, if not better than, the world’s greenest hotels".
“We are conscious of the need to better conserve, and utilise natural resources in the UAE and we recognise that the only way to sustain growth in the tourism industry is to ensure that our developments respect the principles of sustainable design, development and operation.”