The trip provided an opportunity for staff to immerse themselves in the destination, and better understand its unique characteristics, giving a rare insight into the natural beauty of the destination. The trip was enabled by Saudia Private Aviation who scheduled two private charter flights to transport the entire team to Al Wejh airport, which is a 120-kilometre drive from the chosen campsite location.
“This trip required a huge amount of preparation. It was no small feat to transport and accommodate nearly 200 visitors at our destination,” said John Pagano, CEO at TRSDC. “We are very grateful to Saudia, the General Authority for Civil Aviation and the management of Al Wajh airport for their support and for the excellent customer service from start to finish.”
Accommodation was provided in the form of a temporary camp, traditional in style to reflect Saudi cultural heritage. Ahead of the trip, staff were well briefed on what to expect, to ensure they remained safe throughout the duration of the visit, and respected the destination by minimising their footprint in terms of litter and waste.
A carefully planned agenda facilitated the exploration of islands, the coastline and the mountainous region. A desert trail allowed groups to explore the Desert Rock area, and staff were encouraged to observe nature while being respectful of the place and creatures that inhabit it.
Many of the site’s indigenous species are recognised as critically endangered and the organisation is laser focused on protecting key nesting sites of the Sooty Falcon and the Hawksbill Turtle, among others. The Concept Master Plan has designated only 22 islands for development, leaving 75% untouched, nine of which will be protected as special conservation zones.
Staff also participated in a beach clean-up activity to help remove litter that washes up from time to time in the area. The efforts underpin a company-wide commitment to ban the use of single-use plastics at the destination and to reducing plastic waste in the environment at large.
“I believe that our entire team has been inspired by this opportunity to experience first-hand the exquisite, untouched landscapes at The Red Sea Project and to put our values into action,” said Pagano. “Learning about the variety of wildlife present across both the marine and terrestrial eco-systems is key to understanding the gravity of the work we are doing here. We are not just developing for development’s sake: we are taking active measures to leave this enchanting location in a better state than we found it.”
Once completed, The Red Sea Project will be an exquisite sanctuary offering indulgent experiences, seamlessly customized to the unique needs of each visitor. Encompassing an archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands, miles of sweeping desert and dramatic landscapes that include volcanoes, and canyons, Phase 1 of the destination is due to be completed by 2022, and will see the construction of 14 hotels across five islands and two inland resorts, creating more than 3,000 hotel rooms. There will also be a new airport, a yacht marina, leisure and lifestyle facilities, as well as supporting logistics and utilities infrastructure.
Through conscientious planning, and a responsible approach to tourism, the company aims to safeguard marine and coastal habitats, while supporting the sustainable development of luxury tourism in the Kingdom, and plans to deliver a net positive conservation benefit of up to 30% within the next two decades, equivalent to designating the entire site as a Marine Protected Area.
The destination will be fully completed in 2030, by which time it will offer around 8,000 hotel rooms across 22 islands and six inland sites including mountain retreats and desert experiences.