Green hotels, eco-friendly diving centres, and electric buses are some of the main facets of the sustainable tourism sector in Egypt.
Sustainable tourism “is 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,” says the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Under this motto and in preparation for the UN COP27 Climate Conference in the city in just a few weeks, work is ongoing to turn the tourism sector in the Red Sea coastal city of Sharm El-Sheikh, one of the world-renowned tourist destinations in Egypt, into an eco-friendly green sector.
To reach this goal a ministerial decree was issued a few months ago obliging all hotels, cafeterias, and restaurants with tourist licences in Sharm El-Sheikh to obtain an international sustainable practice certificate within six months.
This also came within the ministry of tourism and antiquities’ Sustainable Development Strategy 2030 to transform tourism in Egypt into an environmentally friendly sector.
To follow up on the progress being achieved, a committee headed by Mohamed Amer, head of the Central Department of Hotel Establishments, Shops, and Tourist Activities at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, has been formed to inspect all tourist establishments.
Some 132 hotels have obtained a green practice certificate, while 44 diving centres and water activities have received a Green Fins certificate, Amer told Al-Ahram Weekly. Ninety per cent of the hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh are eco-friendly, and they are ready to welcome the COP27 member delegations, added Alaa Akel, head of the Steering Committee of the Chamber of Hotel Establishments.
Several workshops have been organised to raise awareness and train tourism sector employees on environmentally friendly green practices and familiarise them with the programme of this certificate and the requirements and practices that must be met and applied to obtain it.
In preparation for the COP27, the Red Sea coastal city has also established 24 smart charging bus and car fueling stations to host a collection of 130 eco-friendly buses among them 50 operated using electrical energy and 85 using natural gas to transport the conference attendees through determined routes.
Eighteen main squares in the city have been developed in collaboration with businessmen and investors, among them Al-Salam and Sahet Al-Alam squares. South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda said that the development had included the installation of a new lighting system, extending the landscape and greenery, and adding water fountains.
The governorate has completed the cultivation of palm trees along the middle road and continued the cultivation of trees along the road leading to the conference hall and other roads and squares all over the city.
Fouda said that almost 90 per cent of the roads in Sharm El-Sheikh, which extend over 200 km have been upgraded. Parking plots have been created in different areas of the city, and the city’s main garden has been refurbished. New roads have been paved and developed to facilitate the transportation of the COP27 guests and tourists.
To increase the greenery across the city, 400 palm trees have been planted together with 4,000 decorative trees, 190,000 bushes, and 40,000 square metres of grass.
The Neama Bay Dock for water sports and diving is also under development. The dock, which dates to 1984, has been upgraded several times in recent years. The current renovation, which began six months ago as part of the development of Neama Bay, seeks to place it on a par with world-famous water sports centres.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 October, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.