John Pagano Inspires Change at COP28: A Vision for Regenerative Tourism |
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In an era where tourism often takes a toll on nature, Red Sea Global is rewriting the script with its groundbreaking approach to regenerative tourism. At Bloomberg Green during COP28, John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Global, stole the spotlight, shedding light on the potential of regenerative tourism to redefine the industry.

Tourism has traditionally thrived at the expense of nature, perpetuating a harmful imbalance. Red Sea Global aims to rewrite this story, positioning tourism as a model industry capable of showcasing a positive, regenerative relationship with the environment," said John during his speech.

Setting the Stage for Regenerative Tourism

Anne Kawalerski, the session moderator, delved into the heart of the matter, seeking clarity on what sets regenerative tourism apart from mere sustainability. John Pagano, with over six years of experience championing this cause, provided an insightful perspective:

When we began our journey, sustainability was the initial focus. However, it became evident that sustainability merely maintains the status quo. We decided that merely sustaining is no longer sufficient. Regeneration, in practice, means actively striving to leave a place better than we found it."

Ambitious Goals and Transparent Accountability

John shared the ambitious goal Red Sea Global set for itself: increasing the net conservation value of their entire destination by 30% by 2040. This involves enhancing biodiversity, corals, and mangroves. Aware of a skeptical audience, John emphasized their commitment to transparency.

In a world where trust is uncertain, we let data speak for us. We undertook one of the largest baseline surveys ever conducted by a private developer, and the results are public. Against this baseline, we'll measure our progress. Even approaching our lofty targets is a success, and we're ready to be held accountable," he asserted.

Regenerative Tourism in Action

The discussion then shifted to tangible actions in climate and biodiversity action within tourism. John underscored the importance of action over rhetoric, proudly announcing Red Sea Global's accomplishment in building the world's largest tourism destination powered by renewable energy.

We've installed 760,000 photovoltaic panels, built the world's largest battery storage system, planted a million mangrove trees, and initiated coral growth. This is the essence of regenerative tourism—a commitment to making a positive impact," John explained.

Global Aspirations and Local Impact

As the conversation broadened to the global application of their framework, John highlighted their unique position in Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea. He expressed the hope that their actions would inspire a global transition to a new development paradigm.

We're not just doing this for Saudi Arabia; we want to lead a global transition. We believe consumers will drive this change. By demonstrating that it can be done, we hope to inspire others to follow suit," he noted.

Balancing Environment and Social Impact

Beyond environmental considerations, John shed light on the social aspect of their regenerative model. Red Sea Global actively engages with local communities, creating jobs and educational opportunities. They're committed to upskilling young Saudis, supporting sustainable farming, and fostering positive relationships within the local context.

Our focus extends beyond the environment; we're empowering communities and creating opportunities. This includes vocational training, scholarships, and supporting local farmers. It's a holistic approach that encompasses both environmental and social sustainability," John emphasized.

Dispelling Cost Perceptions

Addressing a common perception, Anne questioned whether regenerative tourism is inherently more expensive than traditional sustainable tourism.
John acknowledged the validity of this assumption at present but expressed optimism about future cost dynamics.

Yes, it might be more expensive today because we're pioneers. However, as more people adopt our approach, costs will come down. Consumers are already willing to pay a premium for sustainable options, and with time, regenerative tourism will become more accessible," he explained.

Managing a Comprehensive Approach

The interview concluded with insights into how Red Sea Global manages its multifaceted initiatives. John credited the success to a dedicated team of over 5,000 professionals, united by a shared passion for their vision.

Our journey began as a startup, and today, we're blessed with a capable team. Collaboration, innovation, and strategic planning are key to managing our diverse initiatives. It's a collective commitment to the environment, Saudi Arabia, and creating positive change," John concluded.

In an era where the call for sustainable practices echoes louder than ever, Red Sea Global stands as a beacon, showcasing the transformative potential of regenerative tourism. As John aptly summarized,

it's not just about sustaining; it's about actively regenerating for a better, more harmonious future.

In his social media profile, John Pagano emphatically asserted:

Actions speak louder than words. We're constructing the planet's largest renewable-powered destination at The Red Sea, fostering new habitats and sowing millions of trees, mangroves, and corals. Crafting a universal blueprint for regenerative tourism begins with comprehending local contexts and collaborating harmoniously with nature.


Donia Hamouda
Donia Hamouda

CEO of -
Donia's passion for the tourism sector and robust entrepreneurial drive have propelled her to establish herself as an esteemed expert in Digital Destination marketing. She has achieved this by developing and overseeing digital solutions that consistently challenge the limits of innovation in Destination marketing.

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