world expert to advise omran on responsible tourism
As part of its drive for responsible tourism, Omran, the Oman Government’s tourism development and investment arm, this week hosted Dr Harold Goodwin, a world expert in responsible tourism. Dr Goodwin met Her Excellency the Minister of Tourism and Chairperson of Omran as well as other Omran board members and staff, to provide valuable input into the company’s CSR and Responsible Tourism Policy.
Dr Harold Goodwin is one of the world’s foremost authorities on responsible tourism, and founder of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, based in Leeds in the United Kingdom.
As chair of both the Capetown and Kerala Responsible Tourism Destination Conferences, and the Responsible Tourism Awards, Dr Goodwin is widely consulted as an international leader on sustainable and responsible tourism development. He has been directly involved in the creation of both the Capetown and Kerala Declarations – crucial documents which define global understanding of responsible tourism.
As well as providing in-depth advice to senior members of the Omran team and key opinion formers in Oman, Dr Goodwin has consulted with a number of key groups within Oman during his visit. This included a public talk on responsible tourism, co-hosted by Omran and the Environment Society of Oman, on 9 February 2009. This was followed by a roundtable discussion with key opinion makers on applying responsible tourism in Oman on 14 February.
Commenting on his visit to Oman, Dr Harold Goodwin said:
“Tourism can bring great benefits to communities, encouraging cultural and social understanding as well as economic growth. But countries which embrace tourism must also take responsibility for ensuring that this tourism is responsible and sustainable.
“Omran has already made some major steps forward in demonstrating their commitment to responsible tourism, and I look forward to working with them on their Responsible Tourism Policy.”
Eng Wael Al-Lawati, CEO of Omran, added:
“Oman is focusing on tourism as a key industry for the coming years. We believe that careful, sustainable growth of this industry will lead to immense benefits for the nation of Oman and for its inhabitants.
“This growth needs to be planned and managed responsibly. For this reason we are extremely lucky and proud to host Dr Harold Goodwin on his visit to Oman, and to learn from his experience and his extensive academic background in responsible tourism.
“As we finalise our social responsibility programme, I am sure that Dr Goodwin’s valuable input will play an important part in ensuring this meets the highest international standards. Our developments make the most of Oman’s natural beauty – it is one of our most important assets as a company, and protecting it is therefore crucial to us.”
Omran is currently developing a Responsible Tourism Policy which will outline the company’s commitment to the principles of responsible tourism. The company currently employs a dedicated CSR Manager, Dana Sarhan, and has involved itself in a number of social responsibility efforts since its inception. These include the first paper recycling scheme in Oman, publication of the Go Green Guide, and ongoing consultation with local and international experts to ensure the company’s developments are responsibly developed.
Omran’s developments include some of the region’s most exciting new tourism projects, from luxury hotels such as the Fort Hotel and Jebel Akhdar Hotel which will introduce visitors to Oman’s natural beauty and cultural heritage, to landmark business and sporting destinations such as the site for the Asian Beach Games and the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Responsible tourism is largely defined by “ Creating better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”. It is the outcomes of two important conferences, in Kerala and Capetown, both co-chaired by Dr Harold Goodwin. The declaration signed by major tourism operators and industry leaders at the latter defines responsible tourism as follows:
• minimises negative economic, environmental, and social impacts;
• generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry;
• involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances;
• makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world's diversity;
• provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with
• local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
• provides access for physically challenged people; and
• is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence
Omran is the Government of Oman’s tourism development and investment arm. It was established in 2005 with a mandate to develop the infrastructure and facilities required to expand the country’s existing tourism industry. This is in support of the Government’s plan to develop tourism as a major national industry by 2020.
Omran aims to capitalise on the unrivalled natural scenery, the year-round sunshine, and the rich heritage of Oman in order to diversify the economy and offer new opportunities to the Omani people. In doing so, Omran helps to promote Oman as a unique Middle Eastern destination.
This includes large-scale tourism projects which take advantage of the company’s development expertise, whether as a primary developer, as partner of first choice for Government departments, or in joint ventures with international tourism leaders.
Specific projects include new resort villas, conference facilities, leisure resorts, golf courses and hotels as well as the refurbishment of some of the major existing international hotels.
In its developments, Omran considers the needs of the local and national Omani community, striving to work in an environmentally, ecologically and socially responsible manner.