Sustainability doesn’t seem like an option. Neither does clean tourism
While tourism is rightly recognized as an economic lifeline for growth and development, it has historically been linked with devastating environmental degradation. Now is the time to reimagine the positive potential of tourism. It means looking beyond just profits to put people and the planet first and inclusively charging toward a more sustainable and resilient future.
Rethinking one of the world’s major economic sectors is not easy, but we are already witnessing a wave of change in countries like Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom is undoubtedly at the forefront of reimagining tourism as a pillar of sustainable development, framed by the revolutionary goals of Vision 2030. Government leaders, businesses, community representatives and the youth are rising to the challenge of leveraging tourism as a vehicle for recovery and transformation. This ambition is firmly on the agenda for entities such as The Red Sea Development Co., living proof that tourism can be amplified as an inspirational and transformational force with purpose at its core.
As an advisory board member, it has been incredibly exciting to witness how TRSDC’s destinations across The Red Sea Project and AMAALA are mobilizing collective action to make tourism a central driver of the green, blue and digital economies. New ventures are being incubated every day with the potential to benefit people and the planet.
Remarkable progress has already been made at The Red Sea Project to shrink the site’s environmental footprint by leading the largest-ever survey undertaken by a developer to assess and mitigate the impact on wildlife ecosystems. The initiatives span beyond the fields of sustainable aviation, smart mobility, off-site modular construction and even scientific efforts to grow corals. Despite being as big as Belgium and twice the Bahamas, less than 1 percent of the area is being developed. In fact, 75 percent of the islands have been left entirely untouched and nine have been designated as special conservation zones.
Sustainable networks are underway across every aspect of the destination to bring forth cleaner tourism. The project’s carbon-neutral operations are powered by 100 percent renewable energy. It is also committed to achieving a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040, besides building the region’s biggest landscape nursery or efficient resource and waste management systems.
But beyond construction and operations, TRSDC supports investment in other sectors. A diversified portfolio of job opportunities will welcome more than 120,000 direct and indirect employees. At the same time, a range of training and development programs will combine theoretical knowledge with practical application to fully prepare local talent for rewarding careers in science, hospitality, engineering, innovative technologies and many more.
Simultaneously, employment preparation programs and industry workshops will ensure the development’s benefits permeate across local supply chains.
This kind of innovation will undoubtedly rejuvenate the industry’s future for generations to come, a future where we deliver unprecedented sustainability, build more inclusivity and generate more resilience.
• Piers Schmidt is an advisory board member at TRSDC.