Sustainable tourism in the Middle East driven by passion
Six Senses Zighy Bay resort sets an example of what stakeholder engagement in sustainability means.
Tourism is responsible for roughly 8% of the world’s carbon emissions while it accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP. Sustainable tourism is the answer to the tourism paradox – maximize its value creation- economic impact, and minimize negative impacts on the natural and social environment.
The demand for sustainable tourism is growing globally. Tourism in the Middle East is experiencing unprecedented growth, with countries such as Oman seeing more than 10% of their total GDPs coming from tourism. Geographically, it offers everything from a vast desert landscape to scenic beaches and mountains.
One of the most luxurious resorts in the Middle East is located in Oman. Six Senses Zighy Bay is a place where luxury meets sustainability, and the biggest beauty is that resort is close to achieve Net Zero. The hotel staff are passionate about sustainability and always put in an extra effort to assure that sustainability is imbedded in every operational aspect of the resort – from preserving resources and nature, to giving back to nature, the local community, and the local economy. The resort has Circular Economy and Zero Waste as a part of its operating model.
“Sustainability runs through our veins. Since the beginning, we have involved hosts, villagers, the local municipality and also our guests in numerous activities including tree planting, enabling access to education for women and regular ocean and beach clean-ups. “ said Armand Thieblemont, Sustainability Director.
Engagement with the local community has been one of the key priorities. Given the hotel’s location in the remote area of the Musandam Peninsula, a small fishermen community was transformed into a proper village with the commencement of the construction. The vision from the very beginning was to develop self-sustained operation that will run on the circular model and in peace with the nature, both preserving and protecting it.
Musandam in Oman is known for its tourism; however, the community development and education are still one of the lowest in Oman. The resort is contributing to support education, employment and local businesses and entrepreneurs. Today the resort employs 100 Omani nationals. An additional way they support local Dibba community is by providing education, infrastructure and strategic help to the all-girl school, Sakina Bint Al Hussein, which fosters empowerment for their students. The resort pledges to donate 0.5% of its revenue to the local communities.
One of the latest initiatives is “Sense of Oman, through a Woman’s eyes” the activity offered to guests with the Dibba Women Association, where 100% of the profits are returned to the association to invest in the infrastructure of the preschool for children aged between 4-7.
“Concretely, this means caring for the environment and looking after our local community while promoting the rich cultural heritage of Omani schools, hospitals and infrastructure.”
Behind the scene- Driven by passion
Inspired by the fact that 80% of their guests come from abroad (non-Gulf countries) attracted by sustainable tourism and keen to know more about the local culture, the resort created an activity for them to discover the local culture. This activity is conducted in collaboration with Dibba Omani association led by the local women community entrepreneurs. Guests are able to visit the center, engage with the local community, learn about local food, handicrafts etc.
The hotel management has always been conscious of the natural beauty of the place and determined that the environment should remain preserved. Until today, from the board to the management, all staff are fueled by a passion for sustainability.
The resort created “Earth Lab” initiative through which they communicate their sustainability initiatives, activities, innovations, and partnerships. Earth Lab pioneers the processes to turn waste to wealth and provides guests with multiple suggestions what to do with unwanted items, sharing new ideas for guests to take home through experimentation, innovation and exploration.
Through experimentation, innovation, and exploration, it shares ideas for guests to take home and gives them the opportunity to travel beyond the destination into first-hand discovery, from zero waste in the Earth Lab to replanting coral and contributing to women’s empowerment in local communities.
Six Senses Zighy Bay staff practice circular procurement that focuses on reuse, repair, and redesign of products.
The hotel sustainability team works closely with chefs and landscaping teams to maintain organic gardens and in-house farms. Each garden is designed to maximize the productivity of local varieties of fruits and vegetables, while also providing walkable plots to explore and forage.