Selasa, 17 Februari 2009

Chilled Beach in Dubai

Selasa, 17 Februari 2009
BeachA luxury Dubai resort wants to improve this sort of experience by refrigerating the sand, so as not to make one’s feet uncomfortable. (Photo: Dith Pran/The New York Times)

The idea of constructing an artificially cooled beach may sound a bit like an anachronistic excess in a world that is struggling to be more energy efficient. But a luxury hotel and condominium complex being constructed in Dubai by Gianni Versace, the Italian fashion house, will include a beach allowing guests to frolic on the sands — without becoming uncomfortably hot.

The hotel, Palazzo Versace, to be completed in 2010, is aimed at the ultra-rich who live in or visit the desert emirate, where summer temperatures can go above 120 degrees.

While some accounts of the plans for the beach say it will be cooled by air conditioning or even by refrigeration laid beneath the sand, other reports suggest the goal could be accomplished through clever landscaping and shading.

Speaking to The Times of London two weeks ago, Soheil Abedian, the founder and president of Palazzo Versace, said a refrigerated beach could also be sustainable. “We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on,” Mr. Abedian told The Times. “This is the kind of luxury that top people want.”

Whether or not that proves to be true, the complex highlights a bigger issue for global climate policy wonks: the tourism industry. Visitors generate huge emissions jetting to tropical destinations and then inhabit hotels that frequently operate wasteful water, heating and cooling systems, and contribute to local pollution.

The industry is growing, too. There will be 1.6 billion tourists traveling the globe by the end of the next decade, nearly twice as many as at present.

Yet tourism can be the biggest generator of critical revenues in poor countries.

Because there are so many certification programs for green tourism, the United Nations World Tourism Organization is backing a voluntary system to make it easier for customers to find reliable and trustworthy information about the practices of hotels and resorts while booking a room on the Internet.

The initiative proposes Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria that would focus on four areas: ensuring benefits flow to local communities, reducing damage to heritage sites, lessening harm to the environment, and making projects sustainable.

Will deluxe hotels in destinations like Dubai seek to qualify?

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