Saudi Arabia prioritizes tourism sector net zero target

With the global travel and tourism sector responsible for 8 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, Saudi Arabia is giving priority to achieving net-zero emissions in the sector

  
Saudis walk near the former execution site, which has been turned into a cultural showcase, titled "Riyadh's Pulse", in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 7, 2019. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Saudis walk near the former execution site, which has been turned into a cultural showcase, titled "Riyadh's Pulse", in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 7, 2019. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

RIYADH: The Sustainable Tourism Global Center launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum on Saturday aims to modernize the sector with a focus on preserving nature and fighting climate change.

With the global travel and tourism sector responsible for 8 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, Saudi Arabia is giving priority to achieving net-zero emissions in the sector.

Referring to the global emissions at the SGI event, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “This is expected to grow if we do not act now.”  

“Tourism is also a highly fragmented sector. Eighty percent of the tourism businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises that rely on guidance and support from sector leadership. The sector must be part of the solution,” he said.

Sustainable Tourism Global Center

The center will support travelers, governments, and the private sector to ensure that tourism enables growth and creates jobs, while playing its part to achieve the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, including contributing to keeping the global temperature rise to under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The facility aims to be the “north star” for the tourism sector as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and transitions toward a sustainable future.

Globally, tourism supports more than 330 million livelihoods – and pre-pandemic, it was responsible for creating one in four new jobs globally.

Al-Khateeb said: “Saudi Arabia, following the vision of the Crown Prince, is answering this vital call by working with partners to create a multi-country, multi-stakeholder coalition, that will lead, accelerate, and track the tourism industry’s transition to net-zero emissions.”

Details of the center and its functions will be  unveiled at the COP26 in Glasgow.

Gloria Guevara, the chief special adviser to the tourism minister, said: “For years and years, multiple players across the tourism sector have been working on different initiatives to accelerate the race to zero (emissions) — but we have been working in silos. The impact of the global pandemic on the tourism sector highlighted the vital importance of multi-country, multi-stakeholder collaboration. And now, Saudi Arabia is stepping up to bring stakeholders together to make tourism part of the solution to climate change.”

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