Red Sea Global vision puts people & planet first

“We are attempting something that has never been done before,” says Loredana Pettinati, Senior Travel Trade Director
/ New Delhi
Red Sea Global vision puts people & planet first

Upon completion, The Red Sea expects to host one million visitors annually, capped in line with its sustainability ambitions

Created recently through merger of the Red Sea Development Company and Amaala, Red Sea Global is the leading company implementing Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030, developing by far the biggest tourism infrastructure development programme in the world and putting Saudi Arabia as a serious player on the global tourism market. With Saudi Arabia counting on India as a leading source market, the Red Sea Global has been actively engaged with the Indian market and recently visited the country meeting leading travel trade partners. In an interview with India Outbound Loredana Pettinati, Senior Travel Trade Director, Red Sea Global outlines the company’s vision for developing the Indian market.
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Loredana Pettinati, Senior Travel Trade Director

What is Red Sea Global? What are the key targets and the current stage of implementation of tourism infrastructure development?

Red Sea Global (RSG) is the visionary developer behind some of the world’s most ambitious ventures, including luxury regenerative tourism destinations – The Red Sea and Amaala – being developed on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.

The Red Sea is a pioneering luxury tourism destination and is conveniently located within a three-hour flight of 250 million people and an eight-hour flight of 80 pc of the world’s population. The destination boasts a unique and thriving environment replete with beaches, canyons, mountains, and mangroves. Visitors will be able to dive in the world’s fourth largest barrier reef system, home to thriving corals and a plethora of endangered species. The destination also offers beautiful sandy beaches with sheltered warm waters and endless sunshine.

The first phase of the destination is fully underway and will offer an impressive lineup of 16 resorts with 3,000 keys and 400 residential properties. The Red Sea will also feature an exclusive international airport, an 18-hole championship golf course, a luxury marina, sprawling athletic and beach clubs, indulgent entertainment and leisure facilities comprising of exquisite F&B outlets and 40 luxury boutiques with prominent brands along with provisions to host weddings and events.

Planning for phase two has already commenced with the entire destination set to be complete by 2030. Upon completion, it will feature 50 resorts with 8,000 keys, over 1,000 residential properties spread across 22 islands and six inland sites.

While we anticipate 300,000 annual arrivals at the completion of phase one, we expect to welcome one million tourists annually once the destination is fully operational, capped in line with its sustainability ambitions.

It is one of the most ambitious, if not the most ambitious tourism-related project in the world. What challenges did you face in implementation and how did you overcome them?

We are attempting something that has never been achieved before, so there is no established road. There’s no denying that the process has required calculated risk-taking. For example, in order to achieve our sustainability goals to be net zero, we have partnered with hydrogen-electric aircraft developer, ZeroAvia, to test and develop zero-emission travel across the destination.

Achieving regeneration means being able to monitor and track impact and improvements. With an aim to ensure the environment is prioritized in a sensitive and considered way, RSG conducted one of the world’s largest environmental surveys of wildlife ecosystems along the Red Sea coast to understand and assess the natural ecosystem ahead of and during development. The research forms the marker against which we will regularly measure our success against key targets in the conservation and regeneration of the local environment.

Maintaining our stringent standards is a challenge, which is why we are establishing a series of our own subsidiary businesses, spanning the creation of a seaplane company, through to hospitality and guest experience brands.

Upon completion, what would the project look like? What role will it play in diversifying the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia?

At Red Sea Global, we pride ourselves on being a responsible multi-project developer, showing that there is a better way for developers to create, manage and contribute to the world we live in. We are spearheading a new model of responsible development: one that puts people and the planet first. Our destinations on the west coastline of Saudi Arabia, The Red Sea and Amaala, are taking shape as models for sustainable tourist destinations.

We will run our destinations on 100 pc renewable energy 24/7, making them the only tourist developments of this size in the world to do so, deliver a 30 pc net conservation benefit by 2040 and align with all of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, while providing a unique and ultra-luxurious experience for local and international visitors. We are showing it is possible to deliver world-class visitor experiences while protecting and actively enhancing the surrounding environment.

We are opening the eyes of the world to the Kingdom and in doing so, unleashing incredible opportunities for the people of Saudi. We are the cornerstone of Vision 2030, helping to transform the nation as it diversifies its economy by creating massive economic opportunities and making a central contribution to the Kingdom’s burgeoning tourism industry. With our two key destinations, we are creating 120,000 jobs and aiming to contribute close to SAR 33 billion annually to the national economy, helping to boost the sector’s share of GDP from 3 pc to 10 pc by 2030. Over the last five years, we have also successfully launched programs geared towards the up-skilling and training of young Saudis. Such efforts support the creation of a pool of talent which will power the delivery of our project portfolio and accelerate growth of the tourism sector in the Kingdom.

Grand Hyatt hotel on Shaura Island, the hub of Red Sea Project on Saudi Arabia’s west coast

When will you officially launch the product on the global market?

The Red Sea is set to welcome its first guest in 2023 as our first three hotels open, St Regis Red Sea Resort, Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea, and Nujuma, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

Which are your key source markets and where does India fit in there?

Our key source markets include European and GCC countries along with India and China in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Luxury travel is an essential agenda for the growing market of affluent Indians, who are now extremely well-travelled and discerning. Additionally, a large populace is now fixated on sustainable travel alternatives. However, according to a recent report, Indian travellers felt that in doing so they had to compromise on the luxury and comfort they desire on vacation. We are certain that India’s evolving luxury travel market would definitely appreciate our offerings designed as uniquely immersive ultra-luxury facilities that are truly one with nature.

Which segment/section of tourists would you be looking at?

Our offerings will cater to multi-generational groups in the family demographic segment but will also appeal to solo travelers, couples and friends looking for wellness, diving, adventure, culture, spa, golf and beach getaways.

You were recently in India. What kind of feedback did you get from the Indian market?

We organised two curtain-raiser events in Delhi and Mumbai and they were both very well received. We are overwhelmed with the response and great feedback from the India market. We got a chance to meet important stakeholders, know their strengths and expectations and share our plans in India. It proved very effective to bridge our way into the market and create relatability and brand familiarity. We felt it helped reassure industry stakeholders that brand RSG is actively present in the market, has ambitious plans and is excited for potential associations. As a result, the engagement we have seen post the curtain raiser has been truly phenomenal.

What is your expectation for visitors in terms of numbers and spends by 2030, when the Vision 2030 ought to be completed?

Upon completion, The Red Sea expects to host one million visitors annually, capped in line with its sustainability ambitions.

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