Drinking purified, as opposed to mineral water in plastic bottles, taking your old batteries back home, and using gas rather than firewood for cooking are some of the ways to lessen the environmental impact of the increasingly popular desert holiday.
These and other tips concerned with issues like desert driving, accommodation, and respect for local communities and cultures are some of the "do's and don'ts" contained in a new publication on desert tourism released today bythe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Targeted at the tourism industry, the social, economic and environmental opportunities that carefully planned tourism can bring is a theme running throughout the new UNEP Tourism publication.
According to the new UNEP guide, the growth in demand for desert travel and changing consumption patterns (reduced journey durations, shorter and more frequent holidays), means that supply has shifted towards shorter, cheaper tours further afield, to the detriment of diversity and sometimes of quality. The increased availability of charter flights has also improved access to certain desert regions that were not accessible for short tours in the past years.
It also notes that desert tourism is growing fast, but the tolerance threshold for visitor numbers in these ecosystems is not high. Success in controlling the development of this kind of tourism (transport methods, group sizes, relationship between quality and fair pricing, etc.) will determine its appeal to travellers, the guide says.
Tourism and Deserts publication was prepared in partnership with the Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Development and with funding from the French Ministry of Environment.