“Exploring Oman the natural way: introducing green codes for responsible tourism in Oman.”
By Marieke van der Vlugt, June 10, 2015
I, Marieke, am an active member of ENHG, in charge of their bookstall that offers a variety of natural history books for sale to members at a discounted price. One such book is “Exploring Oman the Natural way” by Robert Baldwin, Gareth Whittington-Jones and Graeme Hornby - a great read on Oman’s unexplored nature and your aspiration, if it exists, to be a true eco-tourist, ready to minimize the impact on the environment while maximizing your adventure.
Several books on Oman’s off road routes, tracks and paths for hiking and specific tourist attractions exist. But this book combines the authors’ experiences and views on Oman’s natural environment, culture and wildlife, with the concept and practice of eco-tourism as a responsible, sustainable practice. The central message: make the most of what the Sultanate has to offer. Above all, respect nature, savor a deep connection with it.
Although the book is targeted at tourists, it has a wider message to hotels, restaurants, shops and markets; in fact, all of Oman, to be more conscious about the effects of irresponsible practices in tourism. Even low key harmless activities such as hiking, camping or picnicking, authors specify, can be damaging. Pristine environments should be preserved, they insist, even where tourism is permitted. They introduce ‘eco-tourism’ as an alternative concept, a possible way to contribute to conservation; leading tourists away from “forcing an experience out of nature” to “letting the essence come to you” i.e. enjoying nature for its own sake.
The authors introduce us to ‘green codes’ in this book. Using them should “…minimize your environmental impact, reduce your carbon footprint and leave the local people feeling that tourists can be welcomed and trusted in their country.” (p.113). With many illustrations and examples, the authors take you through Oman by dividing it into eco-regions: Northern Mountains and Wadis, Northern Coasts and Islands, Deserts, Southern Coasts and Islands, and Southern Mountains and Wadis.
Overall, it is a great read for those interested in the conceptual understanding of eco-tourism, and visitors to Oman who want to do this in a more responsible and sustainable manner.