The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) head of operations Anton Bawab on why Saudi Arabia is set to become the next big tourist destination
“The 2020s will be a transformative decade for travel and hospitality, with the impact of Covid-19, technological advancements and the rise of sustainable tourism shifting traveller expectations significantly. Popular travel destinations that fail to adapt to these trends quickly enough will find themselves fast becoming irrelevant, as a growing number of destinations launch with sustainability, technology and safety at their heart.
Saudi Arabia is one country looking to reap the rewards of these changes by creating some of the world’s most ambitious tourism developments.
The Saudi Vision 2030 programme provides a framework to diversify the country’s economy away from a dependency upon oil revenue by meeting three core themes: a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.
Tourism is a key pillar of achieving this ambition, with developments like The Red Sea Project and AMAALA among others being created to not only secure the economic benefits from increased tourism, but also drive the growth of previously unexplored industries such as engineering, construction, hospitality and leisure.
New tourist projects are being developed around the world designed to meet the rising expectations among tourists about the sustainability of their travel, including those in Saudi Arabia. For example, The Red Sea Project has committed to achieving a 30% net conservation benefit by 2040, with initiatives such as the landscape nursery employing 5,000 local workers, planting over 15 million plants and encompassing over one million-square metres.
AMAALA also has sustainability at its core, with provisions such as a full solar energy farm, transport powered by renewable energy and only biodegradable materials being used at the destination.
Initiatives such as these will help to attract the 53% of global travellers who want to travel more sustainably in the future, with the Covid-19 pandemic causing many to realise the human impact of travel on the environment.
Travellers are also increasingly expecting a frictionless experience, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with contactless payment options and less close-contact becoming popular. Innovations are already emerging across the travel journey to meet these needs, from integrated payment systems to sanitising robots cleaning rooms and public areas, addressing concerns about the spread of Covid-19.
The Red Sea Project is no different and is being designed to embrace new travel technology innovations. Dozens of interconnected smart services will be installed at the destination to alleviate friction. For example, technology will enable passengers at The Red Sea Airport to be pre-screened ahead of arrival, meaning there’s no need to show passports. And this seamless, tech-enabled experience goes beyond the airport. Virtual concierge services and centralised journey planning services will further streamline the travel experience.
The Future is (Almost) Here
Saudi Arabia is shaping up to be the next big tourist destination, preparing to meet the changing needs and expectations of today’s travellers. The new projects being launched have a strong focus on sustainability, giving travellers comfort that their journey does not have a negative impact on the environment. Traditional tourist destinations should start to raise their game.
For more information, visit www.theredsea.sa/en