Egypt’s Ahram News just reported that the Ministry of Tourism is planning to emphasize and promote green tourism, particularly around Sharm el Sheikh. “Music” to this author’s ears – 23 years ago I was finishing the second edition of Lonely Planet’s Egypt and Sudan guide and had just gone scuba diving at Sharm and other phenomenal sites in the region.

A day after I dove into the pristine waters of near-by Ras Mohammed, a charter flight landed with 200 divers — all headed for Ras Mohammed — and two days later, another group of 200 divers arrived and two days later yet another group and on and on. By the time I left about a week later, at least a thousand visitors had gone diving at Ras Mohammed. Great for the local economy, but how long could this last before Ras Mohammed was no longer pristine? This question led me back to graduate school and eventually to the World Tourism Organization and a career in sustainable tourism development.

With the establishment of a department in the Ministry of Tourism to promote green and sustainable development, the value of precious resources such as Ras Mohammed will be better protected and managed. By carefully controlling the number of visitors to environmentally sensitive destinations, the Government will be increasing the value of the destination for the world and especially for Egypt and Egyptians.

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