Towards green development in the Egyptian tourism sector

June 26, 2022

A beach-side hotel in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt)

Travel unlocks an innate human desire for freedom, exploration and wonderment, a heightened sense of discovery through awe-inspiring natural landscapes and an eclectic array of unique local cultures. However, preserving our environment and local cultures from the adverse impacts of increased tourism is becoming more pressing than ever before.        

Sustainable tourism must be the answer to ensure the conservation of our natural environments and cultures for future generations of explorers and globetrotters.  

“Nature is home to all creatures. It is not enough to do less harm, it is about doing more good, so the next generations still can call it home.”- Sherif Ghamrawy, Founder of Basata Ecolodge

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines sustainable tourism as: “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Egypt’s Tourism (MBDT), a Global Environment Facility funded-project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Environment - is aiming to provide continuous support to eco-certified tourism establishments and businesses to increase sectoral awareness of sustainable operations, but also to reduce the negative impacts associated with harmful tourism development and practices.

Last May, the project’s initiative ECO EGYPT launched Egypt’s first-ever Green List (GL) to promote the tourism establishments' best practices and products contributing to environmental and cultural heritage preservation. The GL contains leading hotels, diving centers, ecolodges and products that have obtained an eco-label or are adopting significant sustainable practices. 

“The Egyptian diving and water sports industry is based on a vibrant and healthy Red Sea; protecting our marine ecosystems is key to its’ the survival. We are proud of the sustainable practices taken by our Green Fins members as they are role models in how tourism activities can participate in marine conservation.”  - Lina Challita, Environmental Affairs Coordinator at the Chamber of Diving and Water Sports.

ECO EGYPT also developed an animated video displaying the journey of a sustainable traveler. The video highlights the hotels, ecolodges, diving centers and eco-friendly products that have acquired an eco-label or have proven commitment towards environmental conservation. 

During the launch event, MBDT launched complete best practices guidelines for sustainable hotel and restaurant operations. The Egyptian Sustainable Tourism Portal (ESTP) – the first online tool dedicated to hospitality professionals and tourism experts -was also launched to help increase the adoption of green and cost-effective measures in the tourism sector.  The ESTP and hospitality guidelines were developed in close coordination with the Egyptian Hotel Association (EHA) to ensure their viability and applicability.

The MBDT project has launched the national ecolodge guidelines, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and industry leaders, to formalize the licensing and operation of ecolodges across Egypt. The ecolodge guidelines are an important milestone for the growth of ecotourism and nature-based biodiversity-friendly tourism (NB/BFT) in Egypt.

These efforts to increase the sustainability of the tourism industry will provide an important case study of Egypt’s determination and commitment to the global fight against climate change and biodiversity conservation. Sharm El Sheikh is set to play a significant part in Egypt’s preparations to host COP27.  Currently, the city is witnessing an ongoing green transformation to become a model for sustainable coastal tourism centers globally.

#LookBeforeYouBook #EcoEgyptExperiences #البيئة_تستاهل_المشوار

 Written by the Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Egypt’s Tourism Project (MBDT Egypt) team.

“Nature is home to all creatures. It is not enough to do less harm, it is about doing more good, so the next generations still can call it home.”
Sherif Ghamrawy, Founder of Basata Ecolodge