•Egypt’s current ecotourism policy and practices do not reflect comprehension and intention on implementation of the concept of ecotourism; it still aims to attract the largest numbers. •There is also a large gap between these polices and the practice on the ground,
•Due to economic problems, the government’s main concern is the fast short termed economic gain. •The Egyptian government aims to be recognized internationally, therefore; it aims to have polices (even if only on paper) supporting internationally renowned concepts, such as , ecotourism. Without having any real means of implementing them. •The Egyptian government aims to receive foreign funds to help implement these polices, therefore it devices plans for development which are aimed to these foreign funds and which do not address Egypt’s real problems and potentials. •There is no training or education about the value of our natural heritage and the need to preserve it, this lack of awareness makes it very difficult to maintain lasting legislation.
To be able to efficiently criticize the current Egyptian ecotourism polices, we must first comprehend the concept of ecotourism and how it was first introduced. The concept of ecotourism emerged in the 1970’s due to the increased awareness of the value of the world’s natural environment and the impact tourism leaves by boundlessly consuming its resources, leading to the realization that tourism has to be constrained by laws and regulations to limit both its environmental and cultural impacts. It gained further importance after the shift of tourist demand to more individualistic and enriching tourism experience. The term “ecotourism” itself emerged in the 1980’s and has multiple diverse definitions as shown below. Definitions of ecotourism:
•“Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of the local people” The international ecotourism society (TIES) 1990 •“Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation” Ecotourism Association of Australia 1991 •“Nature based tourism that involves interpretation and education, and is managed to be ecologically sustainable” Commonwealth Department of Tourism 1995 As we can see there are many definitions for ecotourism, but we can summarize the main concept in the following points: •Interpretation and education
•Net benefit to local community
For any government or organization to implement ecotourism; it is recommended that they follow the following principles: •Minimize impact
•Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
•Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts •Provide direct financial benefit and empowerment to local people •Raise sensitivity to host country’s political, environmental and social context. The Ecotourism market can be divided into 3 segments as follows: •Impulse: serving nature based day trips away from the main tourist destination and mainly booked locally. •Active: Young or middle aged tourists who usually book in advance. They look for discovering nature and being adventurous. •Personalized: Usually older tourists who want to enjoy the quiet and peacefulness of nature and expect to be very well looked after. These market segments serve the following types of Eco tourists: •Hard-core: scientific researchers or members of educational tours. •Dedicated: individuals who visit protected areas to lean about local nature and history. •Mainstream: People who visit unique natural destinations just for the sake of an unusual trip. •Casual: People who take part in ecotourism as part of a broader trip. At the end of the day ecotourism is a business and should be profitable, but it should be a responsible business that aims for a higher social and environmental goal....