Sustainable tourism in Saudi: how are we encouraging it?
Saudi Arabia has always been known for its gorgeous settings made up of rolling sand dunes and stunning natural landscapes; so, it’s no stranger to tourists who are immediately starstruck by its beauty upon arrival. Recently, the country has been looking at tourism through a different lens and taking huge steps to encourage sustainability, also known as eco-tourism, as part of its plan to decrease dependence on oil through the roadmap of Vision 2030.
Its eco-tourism efforts include large scale projects such as the Red Sea project operated by The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC); which encompasses an archipelago made up of 90 islands located on the west of the kingdom and Tabuk’s shores. It aims to generate 70,000 new jobs as well as operate on completely renewable energy and a zero-waste policy.
Another of its efforts is a huge tree-planting campaign being implemented in the Green Riyadh project, a plan that aims to drastically increase Riyadh’s green spaces and in turn improve air quality and temperature.
One of the biggest steps Saudi Arabia has taken towards sustainable tourism, is the new Sustainable Tourism Global Center (STGC) – a multi-country coalition working towards reducing the tourism sector’s carbon footprint to net-zero emissions.
Regarding the coalitions goals; the kingdom’s Minister of Tourism, Mr. Ahmed Al Khateeb, says: “The tourism sector contributes to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions – and this is expected to grow if we don’t act now. Tourism is also a highly fragmented sector. 80% of businesses in tourism are small and medium sized enterprises who rely on guidance and support from sector leadership. The sector must be part of the solution.”
It's expected that avid travelers and ecotourists will anticipate seeing these large undertakings by Saudi Arabia for themselves once they’re completed, and to experience Saudi culture and history in brand-new luxurious yet ecologically conscious settings.
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