Towards a green development in the Tourism Sector

Speech Delivered By Alessandro Fracassetti, UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt

May 29, 2022

As prepared for Delivery

Your Excellency Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment

Your Excellency Dr. Khaled El Anani, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities  

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

·       It is a pleasure to be able to address you today as a partner with the government's most valuable and vital industry.

·       Congratulations to both Minister of Environment and the Minister of Tourism for launching four guidelines to strengthen green development in the tourism sector for the first time in Egypt.   

·       These four guidelines will undoubtedly help improve the performance and sustainability of tourism in alignment with the Egypt strategy 2030.

·       As a foreigner in Egypt, I was instantly attracted by the country's rich cultural beauty and some spectacular protected areas that I have managed to visit so far. 

·       Egypt is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations globally and the largest in Africa regarding travel and tourism contribution to GDP.  Egypt had 13 million tourists in 2019, ranking 19th in the world.

·       We have recently witnessed the decline in tourism due to the Pandemic and the Ukraine crises. It's time for us to think earnestly about the development of the tourism industry that is more sustainable and resilient and acts as a catalyst to unlock local socio-economic development in an integrated and transformative manner. 

·       At UNDP, we refer to sustainable tourism or green tourism as the kind of tourism that takes complete account of its current and future impacts on the economy, society and the environment. It is tourism that does not just address the needs of its visitors but also considers the rights and needs of its host communities. 

·       Accordingly, the tourism sector should promote three main dimensions: environmental integrity, social justice and inclusive economic development.

·       You will agree that Egypt tourism is in danger from global and local events. 

·       Changing climate and warming seas have bleached the spectacular coral reefs.  Strong currents and unpredictable weather patterns are eroding our beaches. These events threaten not just the tourism sector but the survival and well-being of ordinary citizens across the country. 

·       In addition to the consequences of global warming, localized human-made activities have hurt the environment. The damage created by sea plastic wastes is just one example. 

·       The second dimension of Sustainable Tourism is social and cultural development. Cultural knowledge and practices should be revived, professionalized or used to find new developments in the interaction with visitors. The Tourism Sector can employ efforts in this regard to drive local economies and enrich local cultures.

·       The third dimension of Sustainable Tourism is enhancing equality and economic justice among the local population by giving them the chance to engage in the tourism sector through the rich knowledge of the different areas in the country.

·       Sustainable practices in tourism development also require business operators to assess the future of tourism in Egypt. Globally, we are seeing rapid changes in how tourism is practiced. These changes are coming about to complement changes in travelers' mindsets, who are increasingly aware of how their decisions have lasting impacts on local communities. There is also a greater interest from travelers to interact and experience local communities and their ways of life. The tourism sector needs to assess and adapt to these global changes to be sustainable. 

·       UNDP has partnered with the government on critical initiatives such as installing PVs in hotels and museums and some protected areas such as Wadi Hitan. This will continue with the implementation of the Green Sharm Project soon to start, including the banning of plastic bags with support from the European Union. 

·       Not to mention the mainstreaming of biodiversity into the tourism sector project, which was monitoring the drafting of the four guidelines we are launching today.

·       Today's event gives UNDP a new hope to engage in Sustainable Tourism Initiatives across Egypt.

·       Hopefully, these four guidelines we are launching today will lead to lasting, positive impacts for the country, ensuring that every aspect of our culture and environment is conserved, protected, and, wherever possible, enhanced.

·       Thank you.