Riding the tide of sustainability in the Red Sea
We have heard time and time again that a thriving ocean is the key to unlocking long-term sustainability for our planet. As a primary source of sustenance and livelihoods, not only does it provide the essentials for life but is also the richest repository of natural resources. But what does this mean for industries like tourism?
A healthy marine environment is the foundation for much of the world’s tourism. Millions of travelers actively seek out coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and vibrant marine life each year. Hotel guests are willing to pay a premium for rooms with an ocean view. This increasing demand for coastal and marine experiences currently constitutes 50 percent of all global tourism, according to the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.
There has never been a more pressing time for us to chart a new course towards regenerating, restoring, and elevating ocean resilience. And I believe Saudi Arabia is among the best-placed destinations in the world to redefine new industry norms in protecting and nurturing this extraordinary natural resource, while strengthening coastal, marine, and cruise tourism’s contributions to the Kingdom’s economic diversification.
Prioritizing nature-positive tourism
Saudi Arabia is geographically blessed with over 2,420km of coastline, three-quarters of which is dotted along the breathtaking Red Sea. It is also one of the final frontiers for diving. A wealth of magnificent beaches, world-class dive sites, ancient shipwrecks, and uninhabited desert islands await the world’s most discerning travelers, offering unimaginable experiences amidst thriving marine ecosystems and spectacular coral reefs.
To bring this exceptional proposition to the fore as an integral economic pillar for Vision 2030, entities like Cruise Saudi, the recently established Regulatory Arrangements of the Saudi Red Sea Authority (SRSA), and our remarkable teams at The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) are undoubtedly setting the right tone. Our collective commitments to manage the Red Sea in responsible, sustainable ways is setting the foundation for the public and private sector at large to benefit from a full-suite coastal, marine, and cruise tourism market.
At TRSDC, we envision both our destinations – The Red Sea Project and AMAALA – as catalysts to develop an enhanced luxury marine and coastal tourism industry, while advancing innovation in the sustainable development of the blue economy.
Emboldened by the Kingdom’s optimal location at the crossroads of the east and west, The Red Sea Project and AMAALA are primed to rediscover the relationship between Saudis and the sea
A defining chapter in Saudi Arabia’s luxury marine and coastal tourism industry
Emboldened by the Kingdom’s optimal location at the crossroads of the east and west, The Red Sea Project and AMAALA are primed to rediscover the relationship between Saudis and the sea. Our coastal activation strategy aims to fortify the country’s role as a global maritime hub by offering unparalleled opportunities to discover some of the world’s best yachting and marine activities, extending the Mediterranean yachting season to year-round, and providing a formidable alternative for the hundreds of yachts that already cross the Suez Canal into the Red Sea every year.
To accelerate the pace of growth and provide our guests with unforgettable nautical experiences, we define our success across four imperatives – domestic leisure yachting and water sports; international superyachts visits, chartering and transit; customized international sporting events like premium regattas; and harnessing the full potential of the Saudi cruise market.
In so establishing a regenerative, sustainable, and resilient coastal and marine tourism sector, we are equally laser-focused on maximizing economic benefits for local communities. This includes both professional education and employment opportunities as we unlock the full potential of the Red Sea to enhance livelihoods, promote social opportunities, and empower every member of our value chain to embrace international standards in sustainability.
Each of these ambitions is grounded in our ultimate aim to prove that meaningful regenerative tourism development can absolutely be made possible. Our commitment to the world’s oceans – and the environment at large – will continue to be our guiding light to inform every decision, investment opportunity, and public and private sector partnership that we explore.
• Raed Albasseet is group chief environment and sustainability officer at TRSDC