Sharm el Sheikh's sustainable tourism plans

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By Julienne Pozgavitch

Before the 1980s, Sharm el Sheikh was nothing but a military base in Egypt. But since the early 1990s, the north Egyptian resort has flourished into one of the world's most popular tourist destinations visited by millions of sun and adventure seekers every year. With their recent security problems in the past, Egypt are once again working with tourism and hotel operators in the resort to help establish Sharm el Sheikh as the latest eco-friendly resort.

With its mountainous backdrop, Red Sea front and a history stretching back millennia, it's not surprising that many rich and famous are drawn to Sharm el Sheikh. Prestigious hotel chains such as the Savoy, the Ritz and the Four Seasons are all present in the resort, and are too working to help make it sustainable.

The hotel has already reduced their water and energy consumption and hope that other hotels will do the same. The manager of the Four Seasons, Charlie Parker, has said: "We engage in sustainable practices that conserve natural resources and reduce our environmental impact on the host destination."

In 2010, it was revealed that the local tourism board for Sharm el Sheikh was to receive funding of $238 million (or 125 million) to make the resort carbon-neutral by 2020. Their long-term plans were shared by Hisham Zaazou, a tourism official, who said that powering the resort completely on solar and wind energy and implementing electric boats and hybrid buses were their main objectives.

The resort's main draw apart from the millennia-long history is the Red Sea's coral reefs, where millions have flocked to go scuba diving or snorkelling. However, the impact of tourism has had a devastating effect on the reefs as until now, its well-being had been neglected. Now, however, the government are going to focus on preserving the reefs whilst still being able to develop their tourist industry. No doubt these plans will improve their appeal to the growing market of eco-tourism and eco-holidays.

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