RIYADH: In great news for environmentalists in Saudi Arabia, green hotels are growing in popularity among the country’s hospitality and tourism entrepreneurs. Several investors are currently shifting their attention toward projects that promote sustainability in order to attract customers and boost revenues.
The Kingdom is the latest region to boost its green sector, adopting an eco-friendly approach to hospitality and funding green megaprojects.
Green hotels are certified environmentally friendly properties. To receive a certificate, a hotel must operate according to the Sustainable Development Goals and employ environmentally friendly practices, such as using biodegradable materials and offering energy-efficient accommodations.
“Saudi Arabia has made significant achievements toward its commitment to obtaining and actioning the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are an urgent call to action by the UN to all countries,” said Abdulaziz Al-Mizani, head of sustainability in renewable energy and circular economy at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City.
The Kingdom’s sustainability goals are part of a plan to develop tourism in the country, he said, adding that this is evident in its adoption of international sustainability standards in travel and tourism, which are set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
The establishment of the Sustainable Tourism Global Center, which aims to elevate the tourism industry while aligning it with the Kingdom’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2060, is another step in the right direction.
The center brings together governments, international organizations, academic bodies, financing institutions and industry associations, with the goal of reducing the tourism sector’s estimated 8 percent contribution to total global greenhouse gases and moving toward net-zero emissions.
“The largest investor in tourism and hospitality in the Kingdom is the government since green hotels are part of Saudi Arabia’s sustainability DNA,” added Al-Mizani.
Some of the Public Investment Fund’s projects, including Red Sea Global, NEOM, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and other semi-government initiatives, align with the green hotel concept.
If hotels want to become eco-friendly properties, Al-Mizani said, they should avoid using plastic products, provide green transportation facilities, encourage a paperless policy or reduce the usage of paper to a minimum, enhance energy efficiency and clean energy solutions, and apply a food waste reduction policy.
Finally, Al-Mizani believes that business owners should support, advance, and motivate tourists and guests to take part in the overall sustainable efforts in Saudi Arabia.
“If we think about the developer’s commitment to building green hotels, it is a long-term commitment toward clean energy and a better environment for us and our children to live in,” he added.