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Coral Bloom: Showing world the way for eco-tourism

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12 Feb 2021 03:02:19 GMT9
12 Feb 2021 03:02:19 GMT9

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has destroyed hundreds of millions of jobs globally and in the realm of travel and tourism at least 180 million people have been made redundant.

This matters to many countries, such as Austria where 15 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) is earned from tourism, and even more so in developing nations such as Thailand and the Maldives, where so many are employed in the tourism and hospitality sector.

It also matters to Saudi Arabia, where, under the Vision 2030 reform plan, travel and tourism is an integral part of the economy and employment over the next decade.

So, what might the future of tourism be?

There has long been a debate on how the sector could contribute to economic growth while preserving the environment and being ecologically sustainable.

If there has ever been a project which combines the two apparently opposing aims of sustainability and job creation, it is the Coral Bloom resort on Shurayrah Island, which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman introduced to a wider audience on Wednesday.

The resort takes its inspiration from the unique flora and fauna of the Red Sea coastline in Saudi Arabia. It comes complete with stunning architecture constructed to entice the discerning tourist combined with new beaches designed to provide a defensive layer from rising global sea levels.

So far so good, but some might argue that this is only a project for the few who can afford luxury travel. Not so. This new, unique resort shows the way in what it takes to combine sustainability with tourism while providing jobs. A shining light for the global tourism industry at large.

Coral Bloom project ticks all the boxes: It will introduce tourism to a new geography, create jobs, and preserve the environment at the same time leading the way for tourism in the post-pandemic world.

Cornelia Meyer

Vision 2030 is setting the pace for catapulting not just Saudi Arabia, but the whole of the GCC and wider Middle East, into the 21st century to create better jobs and better societies, because the projects will be innovative and environmentally sustainable.

Coral Bloom could easily have been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was not. On the contrary, it followed the mantra of building better, which was powerfully highlighted by last month’s Future Investment Initiative, the annual forum of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund named the Public Investment Fund.

Life will continue after COVID-19 and there will be a place for travel and tourism in the world. But the big question is what shape the sector will take?

The global health crisis has accelerated several existing trends with the focus on the environment, sustainability, and ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) investments just one of them.

In that sense, the Coral Bloom project ticks all the boxes: It will introduce tourism to a new geography, create jobs, and preserve the environment at the same time leading the way for tourism in the post-pandemic world.

The island resort is a pivotal benchmark for the way tourism will develop in the coming decades.

The world needs tourism jobs without compromising on environmental standards. This is a goal that is not easily achieved. But Coral Bloom aims to prove that these goals can be combined in one and the same project, which will turn it into a global example, whose reach goes well beyond the Kingdom.

Equally important, it is projects such as Coral Bloom which combine environmental consciousness with tourism, which will in the end contribute to environmental consciousness throughout the world more than anything else, because they demonstrate that lofty principles of sustainability can be matched with job creation.

All in all, the Coral Boom project sets new standards in sustainability for tourism, while being an integral part of Vision 2030, rendering it a beacon for the tourism industry of the future.

  • Cornelia Meyer is a Ph.D.-level economist with 30 years of experience in investment banking and industry. She is chairperson and CEO of business consultancy Meyer Resources. Twitter: @MeyerResources
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