Sustainable tourism was in the spotlight at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, as the event celebrates its fifth edition.
Green development used to help the industry recover from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic was at the center of many areas of discussion and debate at the show.
Speaking of regenerative tourism, John Pagano, Managing Director of Red Sea Development Company and Amaala, said, “We are serving nature better not only by protecting it, but by enhancing it.
“That’s what I mean when I talk about regenerative tourism.
“Regeneration goes beyond sustainability.
“It’s better to leave the place than when we arrive.
“That’s what excites me and I believe we are leading the way.
The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) is a private limited company 100% owned by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), the organizers of the FII.
TRSDC was created to lead the development of the Red Sea Project, a luxury and regenerative tourism destination that will set new standards for sustainability and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.
The project is developed on 28,000 km2 of pristine land and waters along the west coast of Saudi Arabia and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands.
The destination also includes vast desert dunes, mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites.
It is designed to include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment facilities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes the conservation and reuse of renewable energy and water, as well as ” a circular waste management system to achieve zero landfill waste.
The development revealed its first hotel partners earlier this week at the FII.
These include Edition Hotels and St Regis Hotels & Resorts, which are part of Marriott International; Fairmont Hotel & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and SLS Hotels & Residences, which are part of the global Accor hotel group; Grand Hyatt, which is part of Hyatt Hotels Corporation; Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts and Six Senses, which are part of IHG Hotels & Resorts; and Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, a global luxury hotel company.
“Saudi Arabia is accelerating the development of a new tourism offer in the kingdom, driven by the ambitious Vision 2030 program.
“We are proud to unveil our collection of unique and diverse hospitality brands that address this growing market and reinforce our commitment to create a premier barefoot luxury destination that will soon serve as a gateway to the one of the last unknown places on the planet. “said Pagano.
“Most importantly, such partnerships with globally recognized and respected brands are a testament to the growing confidence in our company, our flagship destination, and in Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination.
Grand Hyatt landed a spot in new tourism development
Speaking at the FII, Princess Haifa Al Saud, Deputy Minister of Executive Affairs and Strategy at the Ministry of Tourism in Saudi Arabia, said there was a need to redefine the principles that govern tourism and create a leaf road that creates new opportunities for job creation, investment and innovation.
“As a sector, tourism is too important to fail, but we need to focus on the environmental, social and economic sustainability of tourism because it lacks resilience,” she said.
Julia Simpson was in Saudi Arabia to confirm the deal
At the same time, Julia Simpson, Managing Director of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said now is the time to skip several generations of innovation and technology to embrace a new era of truly contactless and frictionless travel. .
The WTTC earlier revealed that it will host its annual world summit in Saudi Arabia late next year.
Speaking from the FII, Simpson added: “From the very beginning, when the pandemic almost completely brought international travel to a halt, Saudi Arabia has shown its full commitment to our industry, making sure it stays on top. plan of the global agenda.
“He was instrumental in the recovery of a sector critical to economies, jobs and livelihoods around the world.
“For that, we are grateful and wish to recognize their incredible efforts in bringing the global tourism industry to the Kingdom next year.”
Further details on the WTTC World Summit in Riyadh will be announced in due course.
Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister Al Khateeb said: “I welcome the decision to choose Saudi Arabia as the host country for a WTTC world summit in 2022.
“This is a vital forum for the private sector and government to come together to rethink the tourism of the future, and it’s fantastic to have this event in the kingdom.
“It is recognition of Saudi leadership in helping the global tourism sector to recover and, most importantly, to become more sustainable. “
Ahmad Arab, Deputy Minister of Strategy and Economic Intelligence at the Saudi Ministry of Tourism, said sustainability and training are two of the core tenets of our tourism development strategy.
He added, “We are committed to simultaneously protecting our natural resources and investing in our people for a sustainable future at all levels.
“This is why we have already trained 127,000 people in 14 hotel sectors.
Saudi Deputy Culture Minister Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez spoke at the event
Saudi Deputy Culture Minister Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez presented a list of more than 100 cultural initiatives, engagements and events taking place in the kingdom before the end of the year.
He highlighted the dynamic and varied program which includes many events led by the 25 cultural institutions that the Ministry of Culture has launched since its establishment three years ago.
During an appearance before a panel at the FII, Fayez said Saudi culture is being discovered and energized on an unprecedented scale and rate.
He argued that the kingdom’s ambitions present many opportunities for the local and international private sector, and that Saudi Arabia is already actively contributing to the global creative industry.
“It is an exciting time for culture in Saudi Arabia.
“In the coming weeks alone, we will be hosting our first major international film festival, our first art biennial and international festivals like Fashion Futures and MDLBeast,” said Fayez.
“These events stem from constant progress in nurturing creativity and creating a vibrant cultural economy in the kingdom.”
In other signs of regained ambition, the ministry has developed a strategy that will open up new opportunities for cultural investment through public-private partnerships or joint ventures, strengthen the infrastructure around the creative industries, and facilitate regulation for enable businesses to thrive.
Coupled with growing demand for culture across the kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s changing cultural landscape has already caught the attention of international investors.
Fayez was quick to point out that the ministry’s role was not limited to promoting creative industries within the kingdom, but also increasing and improving the quality of cultural exchanges with its global peers.
“I am deeply proud that the kingdom has succeeded in campaigning for culture and the creative industries to be officially part of the conversation at the G20,” Fayez said during his roundtable.
“It started during the Saudi presidency last year and has continued, which means that we have ensured that culture has a permanent place in G20 considerations and is part of the global economic agenda.”
Sébastien Bazin headed the Accor delegation in Saudi Arabia
Elsewhere at the FII, the Saudi Tourism Development Fund (TDF) and Ennismore signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the creation of a $ 400 million fund that would bring the company’s lifestyle brands to at least 12 destinations in the country.
As part of the deal, TDF would identify locations and provide financing options for projects across the kingdom, while Ennismore would lead the programming, design and operation of the destinations, under its lifestyle brands. .
Established in 2021, Ennismore is a joint venture between founder Sharan Pasricha and Accor, creating the world’s largest, fastest growing lifestyle company.
The development of lifestyle destinations – an underserved segment of the Saudi tourism industry – would align with the ten key destinations in the national tourism strategy, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Eastern Province, Aseer, Al Ula, Taif , Medina, Al-Baha, Hail and Al-Jouf, delivering around 2000 keys.
TDF would continue to provide new opportunities for private sector investors in the Saudi tourism space, while aligning with broader sustainable tourism efforts across the kingdom, prioritizing nature protection and supporting local communities.
TDF and Ennismore are committed to employing, training and developing Saudi talent, creating up to 3,000 jobs.
Increasing the presence of lifestyle hotel brands is at the heart of the hospitality strategy of brands that play an active role in building communities and establishing close ties with customers through shared values, unique design and destinations. catering services, both for international visitors and locals.
During a ceremony attended by Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism and Chairman of TDF, Sébastien Bazin, Managing Director of Accor, Qusai Al-Fakhri, Managing Director of TDF, signed the agreement in presence of Sharan Pasricha and Gaurav Bhushan. , co-managing directors of Ennismore.
Al-Fakhri said, “This memorandum marks an important milestone for TDF as we continue to enable private sector investors to benefit from the enormous opportunities offered by Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism sector.
“The fund would channel private sector investments to various regions of the Kingdom, enriching the visitor experience and enhancing the value of strategic projects through world-renowned hotel brands.
“These new lifestyle destinations would create unique experiences for visitors and residents, providing them with exciting entertainment and food and drink offerings, as well as spaces for co-working.
“They would also focus on the social, environmental and economic sustainability of the areas in which they are located. “
TDF was established in June 2020 with capital of US $ 4 billion to boost tourism growth in Saudi Arabia.
The Fund works to unify the efforts of the tourism sector and its partners, including lenders, operators and service providers, to improve the investment experience and facilitate the private sector’s access to opportunities in various regions of the Kingdom which stand out for their natural, geographical and cultural offerings.
Learn more about the Investing for the Future Initiative on the official website website.