Life & Leisure

More than pyramids, Egypt joins ecotourism

By Pablo Pérez

Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- Egypt, famous for its pyramids and temples, plans to showcase its biodiversity as it seeks to revive the tourism industry that has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Swimming with dolphins in the Red Sea or watching flocks of storks rest on a reservoir in the Sinai desert are some of the eco activities Egypt has to offer.

Intending to optimize these resources, the ministries of environment and tourism have recently launched the Eco Egypt campaign.

The move will open new opportunities for the country when touristic activities are fully reactivated and help safeguard its natural resources, the environment minister Yasmine Fouad told Efe.

Egypt welcomed 13 million tourists last year and 2.3 million during the first couple of months in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic shut it down for more than three months.

The north African country welcomed a little over 250,000 holidaymakers, mainly visiting Red Sea touristic attractions, since reopening its touristic attractions in July.

Now, authorities seek to put Egypt’s 30 national parks on the world destination map.

Egypt also offers protected areas that allow tourists to learn about the local culture, such as watching birds and stargazing, she added.

Successful ecotourism experiences have already been launched in some of these protected areas, such as that of Wadi el Gamal, in the south of the country.

In the 7,450-square km natural park, which combines an exuberant marine fauna with dolphins, corals, dugongs or turtles, dense mangrove swamp, desert and the ruins of a Roman mining settlement, the Ababda community has been involved in tourist activity.

The sea and desert were the main touristic attractions, not the local culture, according to Ayrian Qarabawy, of the Ababda community who works as a guide.

Now, the Ababda people themselves are in charge of taking visitors to the coral reefs or in search of dolphins and they also teach them about their customs, he said.

They take them to the desert and show them how to navigate using the constellations, follow animal tracks or the traditional uses of 114 types of plants in the area, he added

Ahmed Yehia, founder of Eco Nubia, an eco-hotel in Aswan built with natural materials and managed by the Nubian community, the campaign represents an important boost for this type of sustainable tourism.

Ecotourism involves the local communities in the industry compared to traditional types that marginalize them, he added. EFE-EPA


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