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Eco-tourism in Dubai Proposal

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Updated: Jul 25th, 2019


In the past decade, Dubai has grown to be not only a commercial hub, but also an excellent tourist destination (Anheier 2012, p. 94). A key sector driving Dubai’s flourishing tourism industry is the eco-tourism sector.

Even though eco-tourism is a new industry in Dubai, the rapid tourism boom in the region threatens coastal and desert habitats (Simm 2012, p. 1).

From the ecological concerns about the growing tourism industry in Dubai, this paper proposes a research study to assess the cost of adopting eco-tourism. To have a more practical approach to this issue, this paper proposes a case study that focuses on one hotel located on the Palm Tree Island – Fairmont the palm, Dubai.

The palm tree island is an artificial island off Dubai’s coast that hosts several hotels and resorts. The 2006 palm-tree island project provides a good case study for this paper because the project ended and now hosts several high-end resorts, villas, and hotels (Page 2012).

This paper therefore proposes a research study to establish the cost of adopting eco-tourism in Fairmont the palm, hotel.


Even though Dubai’s climate is characterised by arid conditions, the World Tourism Destination ranks it among the top tourist destinations in the world. In fact, Dubai is ahead of China, Turkey, France, Hong Kong, Germany and other top tourist destinations in the world, in terms of attracting the largest tourist numbers (Stephens 2008).

Statistics, which show that about 10,000,000 tourists visit Dubai every year, support the growing relevance of Dubai as a top tourist destination. For instance in 2010 alone, Taylor (2011) estimates the number of tourists who visited Dubai to be about 9,000,000 people.

To support its growing tourism sector, Dubai also reported increased hotel capacity, which analysts estimated at 70% in 2011 (Kumae 2012). The growth of the general tourism industry has also led to the growth of other tourism sectors like the cruise ship industry, which grows by about 10% every year (Stephenson 2010).

In 2010, Dubai hosted close to 400,000 cruise ship passengers. Observers expect this number to grow to about 600,000 travellers by 2015 (Mohammed 2011). The growing tourism industry in Dubai has brought significant economic development in the emirate.

However, underlying this growth is a worsening ecological crisis that threatens the existence of the tourism industry in the first place (Badescu 2011).

Problem Statement

Notably, the U.A.E has among the world’s greatest ecological footprint, considering its rapid growth and harsh climatic condition. The rapid growth of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are especially among the greatest threat to the ecological sustainability of the region (Routledge 2012).

Through the decline of environmental quality at the palm tree island, this paper seeks to understand the cost of adopting eco-tourism as a new model for sustaining eco-tourism at Fairmont the palm, Dubai. This seaside hotel is located on the palm tree island as a magnificent tourist lounge.

The challenges facing the hotel resemble many other challenges facing Dubai’s hotel industry – sustainability. Therefore, as Dubai’s tourism sector embraces eco-tourism as a sustainable model, this paper proposes to investigate the cost of embracing eco-tourism as a sustainable model for Fairmont the Palm, Dubai.

Research Objectives

General objective

  • To understand the cost of adopting eco-tourism as a new model for sustaining the tourism sector at Fairmont the Palm, Dubai

Specific Objectives

  • To estimate the cost of regulating eco-tourism activities at Fairmont the Palm, Dubai
  • To evaluate the financial cost and savings of improving operations at Fairmont the Palm, Dubai to eco-tourism accreditation standards
  • To ascertain the cost of developing new facilities and infrastructure for eco-tourism at Fairmont the palm, Dubai
  • To find out the implication of adopting eco-tourism on the local community living around Fairmont the Palm, Dubai hotel
  • To establish the impact of adopting eco-tourism on the tourist numbers coming to visit Fairmont the Palm, Dubai

Originality of Research and Contribution to Knowledge

Albeit a fledgling industry, Dubai local authorities have expressed interest in eco-tourism as a sustainable model for development (especially in the tourism sector) (Dluzewska 2008).

This new interest has even prompted the government to rebuild some of the damaged underwater natural resources, off Dubai’s coastline, by sinking old aeroplanes and ships to reconstruct the damaged marine life (Tomlinson 2010).

This effort to reconstruct the environment demonstrates a significant interest, not only within the government, but also within private developers (hotels) about the possible advantages of embracing eco-tourism.

With this renewed interest in eco-tourism comes the need to evaluate the potential cost implications for embracing this model of tourism (Stewart 2008).

The uniqueness of the above analysis contributes to the existing body of knowledge regarding the cost of implementing eco-tourism, plus the environmental impact of the growth of the tourism industry on the environment.

The findings of the paper therefore specifically contribute immensely to the growing body of knowledge surrounding Dubai’s eco-tourism sector. Since eco-tourism is an emerging field in Dubai, the findings of this study will be pivotal in explaining the underlying economic factors affecting the growth and sustainability of the industry.

Reviews of literature and relevant concepts

Review of Literature and Relevant Concepts

The emergence of ecological concerns, amid the growth of the tourism industry in Dubai, is part of a larger global concern regarding the importance of embracing sustainable economic practices in most aspects of development (Wang 2010).

Therefore, an assessment of the cost of adopting eco-tourism in Dubai is only part of a wider global concern for the environmental impact of economic activities on the environment (Thullen 1996). Many researchers have argued that the growth of the tourism industry bears negative implications for the environment (Assaker 2011).

However, it is crucial to show that unlike other economic sectors, tourism and the environment share an interdependent relationship.

Measuring the economic costs of tourism is a two-thronged approach where the investment and profitability of the venture measure against occupancy rates and market surveys (UNEP 2012).

Knowing the appropriate co-efficiency of occupancy is a strong indicator of the success or viability of tourism investments. Investors interested in adopting eco-tourism ventures would therefore be significantly interested in achieving a break-even occupancy level so that they achieve a favourable return on investment (Baum 2012).

UNEP (2012) suggests that the gross operating result method is the best way for understanding the economic costs of embracing eco-tourism.

This method mainly works by comparing the available budget for financing the investment and the possible profitability of the investment, without considering the intangible costs associated with the project, such as, social or environmental costs.

However, eco-tourism projects cannot openly adopt this measurement model because the potential cost of embracing eco-tourism also has significant implications for the community and other stakeholders (Ruiz-Molina 2010).

Therefore, when calculating the cost of embracing eco-tourism, economists equally consider the cost and benefits of embracing eco-tourism for the local population (Jalilvand 2012).

Cost benefit analyses of tourism projects often show that very little investments in occupancy rates (like 20%) have significant benefits for the local community (UNEP 2012). Therefore, even with low occupancy levels, the income of the local population may increase significantly.

Conceptual Framework

The main conceptual framework underlying the nature of the proposed study lies in sustainable development models. Many scholars agree that eco-tourism is a sustainable model for defining the relationship between the tourism industry and the environment (Yang 2008).

Environmentalists also agree that eco-tourism is the best way to uphold a sustainable relationship between tourism activities and the environment (Yang 2008).

Indeed, for many reasons, eco-tourism remains a sustainable model for the environment because it not only preserves the environment, but also creates jobs and awareness about the importance of “going green.” Through this conceptualisation, it is easier to understand how eco-tourism is a sustainable model for generating revenue and protecting the environment.

Research Design, Data Collection, and Analysis

Research Design

Considering the multifaceted nature of the research topic, this paper proposes a mixed research design that uses qualitative and quantitative research methods.

A mixed research approach is crucial for the proposed study because some issues about the research require a qualitative approach, while other issues require a quantitative understanding.

For example, stakeholder interests in the growth of the tourism industry, and the protection of the environment, require a qualitative approach to understand the phenomenon.

Similarly, an understanding of the economic impact of adopting sustainable practices in the tourism industry requires a quantitative approach. It is therefore inevitable to use both techniques. The research project will be deductive.

Deductive projects follow the top-down logic where information about industry activity provides a logical solution regarding a specific phenomenon. This approach explains how industry dynamics in the adoption of eco-tourism affect Fairmont the Palm, Dubai.

Therefore, conclusions about general industry dynamics associated with the cost of adopting eco-tourism associate with Fairmont’s willingness to do the same.

This approach is appropriate for this paper because Fairmont has not embraced eco-tourism yet and therefore, it would be difficult to find enough information regarding its willingness to do so, internally. An inductive approach is therefore impossible.

However, external case studies may provide an overview of the cost of embracing eco-tourism. Therefore, a deductive approach would be most appropriate for this paper.

Data Collection

Considering the flexibility and convenience of online sampling techniques, the proposed study will use online surveys as the main data collection technique. Besides, the flexibility of styling of online surveys, this data collection technique is appropriate for this study because it saves time and requires minimal financial resources to conduct.

Therefore, considering this paper partly uses the qualitative research method, it will be easy to accommodate varied research questions.

Even though online questionnaires have their limitations (like limited sampling availability), the minimal resources for the study (time and finances) make online questionnaires the preferable technique for this paper (Sue 2011).

Besides the online data collection procedure, journals and books comprise the main sources for secondary data. Journals and books comprise the main sources of secondary data because they are reliable sources of information. Peer–reviewed content will be most preferable.

Context and Participants

The proposed study includes the incorporation of primary and secondary research. For purposes of primary research, professionals, who are knowledgeable about the research topic, will give their insights regarding the subject. Mainly, their contribution compares similar findings derived from secondary research.

A random selection process identifies ten respondents as the research sample. I will obtain the ten respondents through an online panel platform provided by a trusted provider, such as, Recruiting Agencies and knowledgeable expert networks.

The main advantage of this method is the potential high commitment and engagement of the respondents to the research process. Indeed, all the respondents sampled would have initially agreed to participate in similar research.

A random selection process informs this process because it will be difficult to know the respondent at a personal level. Therefore, so long as the respondents meet the criterion of selection (knowledge about the research and having worked with a reputable consultancy firm); they will be eligible for the research.

The main motivator for adopting this method is to have a highly representative sample of the respondents. There will be no preferred firms in this study because of the deductive nature of the research. A sample size of ten respondents conveniently suits this study because there is limited time to conduct the research.

Moreover, the subject of research focuses on one hotel and therefore, a few respondents sufficiently address the research topic.

Therefore, considering the fixed allocated time for data collection and the focused nature of the research topic, the study can appropriately accommodate ten respondents. The following time schedule shows how the research will occur

Preliminary Research Two weeks
Contacting Research Respondents One week
Data Collection Two weeks
Data Analysis Three Weeks
Data Presentation/compiling One week

Data Analysis

The coding and member check techniques form the main data collection techniques for the proposed paper. Both techniques complement one another through a distributed function system.

The coding technique will mainly analyse secondary data by providing an interpretive tool for sorting and differentiating the huge volumes of secondary data into easily understandable data pools (Babbie 2010, p. 400). This data analysis tool eases the process of identifying different types of information through codes.

The member-check technique complements the coding technique by establishing the accuracy, transferability, and authenticity of the information sourced. In detail, the member-check technique ensures that the context and attitudes of the findings presented in the final study represent the original sources of information (Klenke 2008, p. 43).

Therefore, this data analysis technique ensures all the findings derived from the secondary pieces of information (for example) mirror the opinions and context of the authors who developed the information.

Conclusion of Proposal

While many researchers have explored the ecological impact of the tourism industry on the environment, the proposed research seeks to provide a specific assessment of the cost of adopting eco-tourism in Dubai.

Location-specific attributes about the Island and the unique environmental dynamics of the region characterise the research process. Therefore, the findings of the paper provide a specific analysis of the location of the study – Dubai.

This is a limitation to the proposed study because it would be difficult to generalise the findings across other geographic regions.

However, a potential strength of this study is the unique nature of the research topic because the dynamics surrounding the research will be specific to the region.

Therefore, a high accuracy of the paper’s finding is expected. Comprehensively, the proposed research provides an accurate assessment of the cost of having sustainable tourism and hospitality industries.


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Babbie, E. (2010) The Practice of Social Research. London: Cengage Learning.

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