Red Sea Global (RSG), the multi-project developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism destinations, The Red Sea and Amaala, has pledged that its destinations and experiences will be fully inclusive for guests with disabilities, specific needs and access requirements, by implementing an accessibility agenda that is aspirational, alive and responsive, making a real difference to guest experience.

The developer has pledged to ensure all guests will enjoy luxury hospitality and unique experiences – from sailing, kayaking and diving among shipwrecks and coral reefs, to exploring the inland environment and stargazing in the desert.

The objective is to ensure guests enjoy RSG destinations with equity and dignity through the delivery of spaces, products and services irrespective of physical or cognitive ability.

“If we are truly going to do better by people and planet, we can’t leave anyone behind. There are approximately 1.3 billion disabled people globally. It is not only totally inexcusable for our industry to exclude so many people, but commercially short-sighted,” said John Pagano, Group CEO of Red Sea Global.

“We pledge to pursue a total commitment to accessible tourism from day one. As a visionary developer, we have the chance to build in accessibility from the ground up, creating exceptional experiences for every visitor to treasure, regardless of their physical or cognitive ability.”

To drive this leading commitment to accessible tourism, the developer will now require all its employees, consultants and partners to follow the UN-backed standard, ISO 21902 – Accessible Tourism for All, throughout their work.

The standard means every contractor at RSG’s destinations must ensure guest experiences take a universally inclusive approach. This commitment includes using new technologies – such as smart mobility and logistics – to radically enhance luxury tourism experiences for people with disabilities and their families, who have historically been underserved by the global industry.

Tony Coveney, Multi-Property General Manager at The St. Regis Red Sea and Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, said: “One of our core values is "Putting People First," which is reflected in our approach to supporting equal equity for all, irrespective of their special needs or disabilities. At Marriott, we believe that by prioritizing the needs and concerns of our guests, associates, and partners, we create a more welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive and succeed. Our commitment to equal equity is an embodiment of our core values, and we will continue to uphold these values as we work to promote accessibility and accommodation across our global enterprise.”

Truly accessible from the very start

The Red Sea destination is on track to welcome its first guests this year when the first three hotels and phase one of the Red Sea International airport open. Upon full completion in 2030, it will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. Phase One of AMAALA is focused on the Triple Bay masterplan, and will be ready to welcome first guests in 2024.

The enormous, varied terrain of the destinations’ landscapes present several accessibility challenges. However, from opening, The Red Sea and Amaala will incorporate and continually improve inclusive infrastructure to enable guests to enjoy world-class destination experiences, regardless of age or ability. This includes:

  • Guests with a disability who take part in activities will be provided with adaptive equipment and partnered with specially trained instructors. Guests enjoying watersports, for example, will benefit from specialist sailing equipment including kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. Through RSG’s diving subsidiary, Galaxea, PADI-certified adaptive support divers will be trained to cater for those diving with disabilities and special needs.
  • Operating seaplanes at the destination under the global standard of ‘Passenger Acceptance’, making bespoke provisions for guests with disabilities to mitigate unique boarding challenges.
  • Deploying enhanced ground support equipment and Ambulift services to assist passengers disembarking planes and other modes of transport.
  • Training handlers at the destination’s airport, Red Sea International, to enable safe transportation of wheelchairs and specialist equipment.

Supporting families and caregivers

Red Sea Global is also creating wellbeing programs for families and caregivers of people with disabilities, providing opportunities and experiences that support mental wellbeing and allow for a sense of personal and shared achievement.

To support parents, and especially the parents of children with special needs, RSG’s adventure sports subsidiary, Akun, will offer a bespoke set of adventures and activities for parents that can help build wellbeing and mental strength. In line with RSG’s commitment to Respect and Resilience, these experiences will focus on the therapeutic benefits of the natural landscape.

“The unique needs of people with disabilities have been widely overlooked by the global tourism industry to date. It’s vital that we use our platform as a leading regenerative tourism developer – and a cornerstone of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 transformation – to shine a spotlight on these issues, if we are to create a truly pioneering industry that caters to all,” said Rosanna Chopra, Executive Director, Destination Development at Red Sea Global.

Pushing boundaries beyond the guest experience

In line with the guidelines set out in the ISO 21902 standard, this accessible tourism initiative will extend to all aspects of RSG’s ecosystem, further benefitting employees, local communities and partners.

Work will also be dedicated to building the capability of tourism businesses to support workers with a disability, including sharing resources to ensure operational teams have the skills to employ workers with a disability.

To ensure the active participation of people with disabilities in the future of the tourism industry in the Kingdom and beyond, RSG will continue to work with its hospitality and leisure partners to invest in opportunities for staff and potential talent, regardless of their physical, cognitive, or sensory needs.