Environmental pioneers: A new era of tourism

Environmental pioneers: A new era of tourism

By John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company

We have entered a new age of travel. An age in which technological advancements making travel even more attainable, coupled with a new generation of environmentally conscious explorers, has put sustainability firmly at the forefront of the industry’s mind.

Protecting the planet has become a major global concern and with new areas of the world opening their doors to visitors, tourists are becoming even more conscious of the social, economic and environmental impact their choices on travel have. At the same time, many tourism destinations are aware of their responsibility to ensure that tourism is managed sustainably and in harmony with the natural environment.

At The Red Sea Development Company, we know that only by protecting the pristine, natural environment surrounding our destination will we be able to create something that is responsible, truly exquisite and that will last for generations to come.

And it is only be taking a pioneering mentality that we will achieve our ambitious goals. By doing things differently; challenging ourselves every day; embracing the very latest technology; and creating partnerships with global experts that achieve the unexpected.

It is remarkable what can be accomplished when academics, subject matter experts, private businesses and individuals come together. The future of sustainable tourism begins with innovative partnerships, which lead to revolutionary scientific research. This is where I’m proud to say The Red Sea Project is leading the way.

One of our key partners is King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). We collaborated during the initial planning stages of the development to conduct the largest ever marine spatial planning simulation. This ground-breaking initiative mapped the entire area of the destination, assigning a conservation value to each ‘zone’, and informed how The Red Sea Project could be developed in the most sustainable way possible. Beyond simple conservation, our master plan will enhance the destination and its ecosystems, delivering a net positive conservation benefit of up to 30 percent. We will leave 75 percent of our 90 pristine islands untouched, with nine island designated as special conversation areas.

We continued our partnership with KAUST by launching the Brains for Brine initiative this year, making us a catalyst in innovation. We challenged global academics and experts to help us identify innovative ways to manage the by-product of water desalination, in a way that is sustainable and commercially viable. We received more than one hundred submissions and plan to pilot the most promising entries at the destination.

We’re taking tangible steps to enhance the region’s coral reef population, opening new horizons in environmental regeneration through an innovative coral gardening initiative. This will help us to create new habitats and even educational installations for people to better understand and enjoy these amazing living sculptures. We are also aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in order achieve a better and sustainable future for all.

Our destination is a unique constellation of stunning islands, a thriving reef ecosystem, dramatic mountains and canyons, sweeping desert dunes, rugged volcanic landscapes and the footprints of ancient civilizations. We are going beyond what is expected to protect this natural landscape and the habitats that thrive there. And redefining the relationship between modern, luxury tourism destination and the natural environment.

By John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company

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