Tourism Development and the Environment on the Egyptian Red Sea Coast
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Tourism has become one of Egypt’s main sources of income and has undergone rapid privatization and subsequent growth. This has resulted in numerous policy and implementation gaps including those in environmental policy. Egypt’s natural resources are thus threatened by this unsustainable tourism growth. This study analyses the impact of the tourism privatization movement in Egypt on the distribution of environmental responsibility between the private and public sectors and the environmental consequences. Changes in the roles of the private and public sectors in tourism and other roles, priorities, and agendas that each stakeholder may have are considered in this thesis. In order to gather information for this study, Egyptian laws and legislations pertaining to the areas of the environment, tourism and investment were examined. Secondary data from government sources about tourist numbers and characteristics, and about investment trends in Egypt were also obtained and examined. A series of interviews of key informants from the public sector, private sector, and NGOs were also conducted in the Egyptian capital city, Cairo, and on the Red Sea. Two Red Sea cities, Hurghada and El Gouna were visited and environmental initiatives in them were observed and made note of. This study finds that the Egyptian private sector is more successful than the public sector at planning and managing environmental initiatives, and that Egypt’s tourism pricing policy is a key influence on the level of environmental degradation. In terms of laws and regulations, it was found that Egypt has a sufficient number of environmental regulations and institutions; but that the challenge lies in their functioning and efficiency, and that the government’s environmental initiatives are largely symbolic and designed to attract foreign aid. These findings suggest that Egypt should focus on improving the quality rather than increasing the quantity of tourism. Accordingly, the marketing competitive advantage should be the quality and uniqueness of the destination rather than its low price. In terms of private-public sector interactions, governmental institutions should assume a more active role in environmental protection and should employ experts and knowledgeable professionals as decision makers, while the private sector should be encouraged to undertake large-scale tourism projects. It is found that sustainable tourism cannot be achieved without the contribution and collaboration of both parties in tourism planning and development.