LONDON: Tourism and hospitality leaders from around the world have gathered for a summit in the UK capital to explore ways to manage, operate and grow a reliable and reliable tourism and hospitality industry. sustainable with an emphasis on reducing environmental damage.
On Friday, delegates to the RESET Sustainably: Tourism, Hospitality and Travel Summit, organized by UK hospitality and tourism development company TLC Harmony, discussed several critical sustainability issues, including economic impact, biodiversity, on-chain payments, marketing and the nature of women’s economic power in choosing a vacation destination.
Dr Omar Al-Attas, environmental sustainability manager at the Red Sea Development Company, said it was important to attend such summits with the aim of sharing, inspiring and learning at the same time.
“We are working on so many different levels, and we have reached great levels that we would like to share with the rest of the world,” he told Arab News. “Protecting the environment of this world cannot be the mandate of a single entity or a single country, it is a collaborative work for all of us to be able to achieve this goal.”
Al-Attas said he shared the efforts of the Red Sea Project since its inception, which aimed to ensure that all pillars of sustainability were integrated at every level. The company has also commissioned several environmental studies to assess different types of ecosystems so it can monitor and protect them, he added.
“We have identified all types of coral reefs, as well as the health and varieties thereof all around the lagoons, and very soon we will be releasing our data for the Amala destination as well,” he said. , referring to the land and real estate megaproject that is part of Saudi Vision 2030.
Al-Attas said he has identified more than 240 species of fish, as well as dolphins and dugongs, to ensure that development projects do not affect “all the beautiful parts of this ecosystem”. In addition to focusing on marine life, their studies have also identified over 25,000 birds in the area.
“For the Red Sea Development Company, we have ensured that we are definitely aligned with the Saudi vision in all its pillars, with regard to regenerative tourism, and also with regard to the environment, as well as the social implications” , did he declare. .
“If you talk about the Saudi green initiatives, we now have multiple initiatives within this program, from the protection of the land navy (life), where what we do within our surveillance system, how can we also work in (the) announcement of marine protected areas in our lagoons and beyond to help us achieve all of these goals,” he said.
The Red Sea Development Company’s model is aligned with the goals of the Saudi government and those of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he said.
“We cannot work alone, we must work together in a collaborative way and also exchange information, knowledge, efforts and achievements. This will help all of us achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, which is to protect this globe and this world and the environment,” Al-Attas said.
The first RESET Summit was held in May last year as the world emerged from COVID-19. The tourism industry, which accounts for 10% of global GDP, has been hit hard by the pandemic and around 200 million people have lost their jobs, said Nicki Page, founder of TLC.
“We felt we had to do something, and while we didn’t have the set up to make RESET a global annual event, that seems to be where it’s going,” she said, adding that this year, they had speakers from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, Germany, Denmark and Guatemala.
TLC launched the Greenhouse Gas and Biodiversity Impact Measurement Tool, or GABI, and the Planet Tip at the summit, which support the measurement of hospitality and operational delivery of hotels through the main climate impact indicators. This places a financial value of the impact per hotel night, per dinner or per product or service.
“The tool gives real economic value to the harm it has done to nature, and we’re just asking that we put some of that back, and that the ‘Planet Tip’ allows a consumer, along with the company, to teaming up on a journey to make us kind to nature, because we definitely love to travel, and we definitely don’t want to stop enjoying beautiful places and beautiful hotels,” Page said.
She said one of the sessions focused on women, as they usually choose where the family goes on vacation and it was important to understand their role in choosing a sustainable trip.
Marilu Sicoli, senior partner at London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners, spoke about the unique nature-inspired megaprojects they have been working on with the Red Sea Development Company since 2018.
She highlighted their work on the island of Shurayrah, one of 22 out of more than 90 that is being rehabilitated as part of their master plan. She also spoke about the work being done at the Southern Dunes, one of two inland hotels in the desert and close to the Red Sea, as well as progress being made on Ummahat Al-Shaykh, which is another hotel complex with super luxurious villas.
“We’ve been very busy in that sense, and we’ve really tried to keep the vision and the touch light in all these beautiful venues,” Sicoli said.
She added that architecture within the framework of sustainable development was “absolutely key to everything and good design is certainly the key to succeeding in this incredible and ambitious operation that the Red Sea is proposing, so I think we had a lot of lucky to be part of that, and our designs definitely fulfill that ambition.