Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Reports

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The spectacular coastlines along Egypt's Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba are the focus for one of the fastest growing tourism economies in the world. In order to accomplish national objectives for growth in permanent, well-paying jobs and in foreign exchange earnings, the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) has launched an initiative to make land available to investors for resort development along these coastlines. As of December, 1997, 6,000 hotel rooms are under construction in the Red Sea region and the TDA has proposals for at least 240 major resorts to be built by the year 2020.

While this program has begun to yield impressive results in terms of new hotel construction, tourism jobs and tourist visitations, TDA has recognized that priority must be given to guiding private development in ways that protect Egypt's natural heritage and insure that tourism can be sustained far into the future. It is clear from experience to date that such rapid growth, if not carefully planned and managed, threatens the very attractions that bring visitors here.

In the best practices described here, TDA defines well planned and managed -- as distinct from haphazard and destructive -- tourism development for the Red Sea coastal environment. We look to lessons gained from several case studies of tourism center sites being jointly planned by TDA and development companies and from studies of successful established tourism centers in Egypt and from other parts of the world. We also draw upon technical literature from a variety of related fields, including marine biology, landscape architecture, engineering, tourism marketing, environmental planning, and others. These lessons and research are distilled into best practices for the planning and siting of new tourism centers and for the use and protection of environmental assets adjacent to the centers including the coral reef ecosystems, the beaches and headlands, the setback areas along coastal waters, and the surrounding desert landscape.

This Best Practices Handbook is designed to be practical, well-illustrated and easily understood. It covers aspects of tourism center development that will:

  • assist the development community to achieve environmentally sound, aesthetically pleasing and market-sensitive tourism centers, and
  • assist the TDA and other public agencies by providing benchmarks on which to set environmental policies, guide the location of tourism centers and the subdivision of public lands, judge development plans and proposals, and base environmental management regulations.

In the first section, Best Practices focuses on the framework for tourism development and environmental protection: the roles and responsibilities of key groups and the development process. The subsequent section describes the unique physical and environmental context in which tourism development is occurring and the special measures needed to respect these development shaping features. The subsequent sections address the best practices to accomplish sustainable tourism development.

The best practices are not presented as a rigid set of prescribed steps and procedures, but rather as guidance and assistance in designing successful tourism facilities and managing the environmental assets on which tourism depends. Furthermore, this should be seen as our first effort. We intend to build upon and refine these practices as wel gain continued experience. Your suggestions for improvement will be sincerely appreciated.

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Tourism Development Authority