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Tourism development in the Egyptian Northwest Coast: a sustainable development approach

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Title: Tourism development in the Egyptian Northwest Coast: a sustainable development approach


1
Tourism development in the Egyptian Northwest
Coast a sustainable development approach
  • Dr. Eman Mohamed Helmy
  • Department of Tourism Studies
  • Faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management
  • Helwan University

2
Aim of the Paper
  • The paper aims at introducing strategies and
    tools for developing tourism in the Egyptian
    Northwest Coast from a sustainability
    perspective, which implies economic, ecological
    and socio-cultural benefits to the whole sector.
  • Key words The Egyptian Northwest Coast
    Sustainable tourism development Marine tourism
    Comprehensive planning International tourist
    market segments Eco-tourism.

3
The Mediterranean tourism
  • Over the past fifty years many Mediterranean
    destinations have managed to establish successful
    coastal resorts in the international tourist
    market
  • Such destinations were pioneers of the phenomenon
    of mass tourism, providing holidays in the sun,
    sea and sand.
  • This has resulted in very reputed resorts
    offering the Mediterranean beach product such as
    in France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and
    Tunisia.

4
The Mediterranean tourism
  • in the recent years many of such Mediterranean
    destinations have been facing a fierce
    competition due to the rise of the long-haul
    destinations.
  • Consequently, some of the Mediterranean resorts
    have became more traditional and failed to
    sustain their maturity while others have managed
    to rejuvenate features of their beach product
    through attracting new market segments and
    integrating new activities and fashionable themes
    into their traditional sun, sea and sand tourism
    product.

5
The Mediterranean tourism
  • Such rejuvenated destinations have recognized
    that sustainable development is the most
    compatible approach for remaining competitive in
    the international tourism markets,
  • The Egyptian Mediterranean tourist product,
    however, has not, so far, positioned its marine
    tourist product in the international tourist
    market albeit it has been the mainstream for the
    domestic tourism market.

6
The Egyptian Northwest Coast A brief overview
  • Tourism development from 20 km west of Alexandria
    to Alameen (almost 100 km) has been characterized
    by enclave and private tourist resorts (villages)
    appealing to the upper to upper middle social
    classes of the domestic tourist market.
  • This linear form of seaside tourist villages
    reflects the orientation of tourism development
    on the Northwest Coast towards the main centre of
    attraction, the beach.
  • Such linear constructions have provoked a debate
    among developers and planners on the advantages
    and disadvantages of the current tourism
    development on the Northwest Coast

7
Egyptian Northwest Coast The current situation
  • Advantages
  • such tourist villages have succeeded, to a
    great extent, to satisfy the needs of specific
    classes of the Egyptian community and thus to
    persuade them spending their holidays internally
    rather than traveling abroad. (reducing economic
    leakage).
  • As tourism development in many sectors of the
    Northwest Coast had been retarded, the
    ecological, cultural and natural resources are
    still pure offering great opportunities for a
    future sustained tourism growth and competitive
    tourism products.

8
Egyptian Northwest Coast The current situation
  • Disadvantages
  • Inability to develop products appealing to the
    international tourist market as well as a broader
    number of the domestic market.
  • Units are used for few weeks all the year
    round
  • Resorts are exclusive to owners of the units
  • Resorts are separate and functional tourist
    villages that lack comprehensive master planning.

9
Sustainable Tourism Development
  • "Sustainable tourism development guidelines and
    management practices are applicable to all forms
    of tourism in all types of destinations,
    including mass tourism and the various niche
    tourism segments.
  • Sustainability principles refer to the
    environmental, economic and socio-cultural
    aspects of tourism development, and a suitable
    balance must be established between these three
    dimensions to guarantee its long-term
    sustainability"
  • (WTO, 2004).

10
The Egyptian Northwest Coast sustainable tourism
approach
  • This paper argues that
  • potential tourism development in the Northwest
    Coast should go beyond establishing luxury hotels
    or resorts on the coastal line to look for more
    comprehensive tourism development.
  • tourism development should be considered as part
    of a comprehensive development to the whole
    region and tourism development itself should have
    economic, natural, social, cultural and
    ecological objectives rather than establishing
    coastal resorts to increase the revenues.
  • tourism development should help developing other
    economic and social activities which go in
    parallel and in harmony with tourism.

11
Sustainable tourism development for the Northwest
Coast Comprehensive goals
  • National goals
  • Establishing new residential communities,
  • Attracting investments
  • Putting the Egyptian Northwest Coast on "the
    international tourism map and attracting more
    segments of marine and beach tourism,
  • Help offering diversified tourism products
    that appeals to eco-tourists, special interest
    tourist markets, safari segments, cultural
    tourism, spa goers as well as beach and marine
    tourism.
  • Creating a more distinctive image of the
    Egyptian marine tourism.

12
Sustainable tourism development for the Northwest
Coast Comprehensive goals
  • Regional and local goals
  • Develop the coast in size, depth and scale behind
    the seafront by stretching tourism development
    into the desert areas.
  • Improving the infrastructure services.
  • Overcoming the sever problems of seasonality.
  • Enhancing the social and recreational services of
    communities.
  • Help developing other economic activities such as
    agriculture, handicrafts and small to medium size
    manufactures.
  • Enhancing the average income of the citizen and
    living standards.
  • Employing the area's folklore, festivals,
    atmosphere and style.
  • Conserving the ecological and natural resources
    of the region.

13
Sustainable tourism development for the Northwest
Coast Compatible strategies
  • six guidelines to frame the work of developing
    the Northwest Coast as a sustained tourism
    destination
  • Create not imitate,
  • Competitive advantage,
  • Integration and harmonization
  • Comprehensive planning
  • Strategic marketing and
  • Employing sustainable tourism pillars and
    techniques

14
Create not imitate
  • The challenge is how to create a unique not a
    copied Mediterranean destination
  • The task entails
  • Evaluating experiences of other destinations
  • Identifying Successes and pitfalls of their
    planning and marketing strategies
  • Developing a unique and distinctive
    Mediterranean destination offering a different
    tourist experience by developing innovative
    tourist products.
  • Even when the main product is the beach,
    resorts' styles, atmospheres and their relation
    to other desert ecological and cultural
    activities should reflect a special tourism
    experience.

15
Competitive advantage
  • Whereas comparative advantages involve the
    resources available to a destination, competitive
    advantages relate to a destination's ability to
    use these resources effectively over the long
    term. A destination endowed with a wealth or
    resources may not be as competitive as a
    destination that is lacking in resources but that
    utilizes the little it has much more effectively
  • (Ritchie and Crouch, 2003).

16
Survey on the Northwest Coast tourist resources
  • Natural Resources
  • Long turquoise beaches. According to the Egyptian
    Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban
    Communities and the Egyptian Tourism Development
    Authorities (TDA), the Northwest Coast has been
    divided into
  • The eastern coast sector from the western
    borders of Alexandira Governorate till Ras
    EL-Hekma.
  • The middle coast sector from Ras EL-Hekma till
    Eastern borders of EL-Negela.
  • The western coast sector from EL-Negela till
    EL-Saloum.

17
Natural resources
  • Offer opportunities for developing beach and
    marine-based recreational, sport, fitness and
    therapeutic activities.
  • - beach activities
  • - marine sports windsurfing, yachting,
    fishing, booting, water skiing, sailingetc.

18
Marine-based recreation
  • Two phases will need to be considered
  • the Northwest Coast will need firstly to position
    its resorts as destinations of marine recreation.
  • When become reputable and well established, some
    of such marine activities can then solely attract
    tourists and visitors to practice or experience
    specific sports.
  • Marketing campaigns should be able positioning
    the Northwest Coast recreational activities in
    the international markets. For example, fishing
    competitions can be organized where international
    contestants can participate.

19
Spa product of the Northwest coast
  • Constructing thalassotherapy centers as an
    amenity to be offered to the resorts' guests.
  • Thalassotherapy is based mainly on heated
    seawater that can be used for treatments and
    refreshments.
  • Such centers will help diversifying features of
    the beach product while ameliorating revenues
    attained by resorts.
  • However, the success of the Egyptian
    thalassotherapy experience will depend upon the
    special management touch that will distinguish
    the thalassotherapy product of each resort from
    competitors as well as regulations of how to
    construct such centers without any sort of
    pollution of the seawater or deterioration to
    seashore.

20
Ecological resources
  • the coastal belt that extends from Alexandria
    west to Saloum, is characterized by the richest
    and most diverse flora in Egypt except for that
    of Gebel Elba.
  • Abundance of vegetation, reptiles and mostly
    small mammals together with a high number of
    breeding birds.
  • Protected areas EL-Omeid (83 km west of
    Alexandria) is a protected area renowned of its
    biodiversity. Most recently wide areas in Siwa
    oasis (306 km south-west of Marsa Matrouh), has
    been added to the Egypt's protected areas network

21
Eco-Tourism
  • All above ecological treasures show the great
    opportunity for approaching more sustainable
    tourism forms such as the eco-tourist market
    segments, characterized as very good spenders,
    responsible and tactful tourists.
  • However, the planning and marketing schemes
    underpinning such ecological treasures are
    important for developing a unique tourist product
    depending primarily on marine tourism and
    partially on other tourism forms.

22
Special interest tourism
  • For example, the coast can attract the special
    interest tourist market segments like bird
    watchers during the bird migration seasons
    (autumn and spring). , who are fond of watching
    and observing different bird species
  • Such zones should be considered as national
    parks planned, managed and marketed to meet the
    needs of such specialized segments.
  • Special accommodation facilities like the
    ecolodge.
  • Visitor centers where visitors can obtain
    publications, maps, CDs on the different bird
    species and natural biodiversity.
  • Interpretation programs to visitors on how to
    enjoy the resources and natural sceneries without
    any harm to the sustainability of the ecological
    resources.

23
Historical sites
  • The Northwest Coast is rich in sites of ancient
    history as well as modern history.
  • Such sites still need to adopt management
    techniques which will allow the sites increasing
    their revenues, satisfying their visitors,
    gaining better image as attractive sightseeing
    while conserving their resources.
  • Technology-based tourism, employing multi-media
    as well as technological devices, can be used.
    For example, a cinema hall presenting IMAX shows
    on the El-Alamein battle will be very exciting
    and attractive to many international as well as
    domestic visitors
  • visitor centers should be constructed, adjacent
    to the site or museum area where tourists can get
    all information about the site and buy all
    relevant materials and souvenirs.

24
Cultural and folkloric resources
  • One of the most distinctive resources of the
    regions is the culture, activities, rug and
    clothing handicrafts, folklore and traditions of
    its indigenous.
  • All such activities produced by tribes of the
    Northwest Coast and Siwa can specifically appeal
    to the cultural and eco-tourist and successfully
    become an integral part of the tourist product
    offered to the beach tourism customers.
  • Careful strategy should be followed to protect
    such cultures and folklore from commodification.
    Techniques of interpretation and social carrying
    capacity determination and limits of acceptable
    change should be implemented by tourism
    developers and planners.

25
Integration and harmonization
  • tourism development must be integrated into a
    comprehensive development of the Northwest Coast
  • Tourism should not be regarded as the sole
    economic activity in the coast,
  • Its development must go in parallel with
    agricultural and soft industries development,
    which will feed the tourism development with its
    requirements,
  • Tourism development should also help flourishing
    not diminishing the rural and cottage industries
    of the local community such as sheep breeding,
    handicrafts and agriculture.
  • Tourism must sustain the development of other
    small to medium enterprises which support such
    rural industries. For example, factories for
    dairy products, fruit drying and packing, juice
    extracting, natural water bottling can be
    established.
  • Vegetable and fruit farms with its huge green
    spaces, different crops, relevant enterprises and
    outlets can be regarded as an attraction
    integrated into the marine and beach tourist
    product. While, such small to medium enterprises
    can be established by members of the local
    community.

26
Integration and harmonization
  • tourism development will create many other
    relevant enterprises such as windsurf rental
    agencies, charter yacht companies, taxi
    companies, coffee shops and entertainments
    activities. Nature and scope of investments
    required for such projects should be
    predetermined.
  • Beach resorts should not be separated from the
    ecological, cultural and social surroundings.
  • Harmonization with the ecology means that such
    resorts be constructed operated and monitored in
    accordance with predetermined environmental
    management and conservation programs.
  • Cultural harmonization means that architectural
    designs, building materials, decorations and
    ambience of such resorts should reflect the
    culture and identity of the coast.
  • Social harmonization means that such resorts will
    offer job opportunities to local indigenous and
    thus meeting the socio-economic goals of the
    Northwest Coast development policy. Tourist
    activities practiced in such resorts and demanded
    by their clients should not under any
    circumstances become a burden on the traditions
    and moralities of the society.

27
Comprehensive planning
  • A master plan for the Northwest Coast should be
    able considering many factors some of which are
    relevant to tourism development such as land use
    policies, required investment and capitals,
    infrastructure, carrying capacities (physical,
    environmental and social), local community
    involvement, environmental planning and
    management and cooperation and coordination among
    different stakeholders.
  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses,
    Opportunities and Threats) should be able
    emphasizing potentials and threats to tourism
    development in the Northwest Coast and monitoring
    the planning programs to achieve the
    predetermined goals.

28
Comprehensive planning
  • sustainability demands a strategic planning
    which is still the responsibility of the
    government and its relevant authorities.
  • For example, the government holds the
    responsibility of implementing land-use planning
    measures such as zones, carrying capacity
    analysis, and limits of acceptable change (LAC)
    to control development .
  • Surveying features, facilities, services and
    themes of the other coastal destinations, of the
    twenty two individual countries adjoining the
    Mediterranean, in order to differentiate the
    Egyptian products from others.

29
Zoning
  • Land-use of the Northwest Coast suggests
    determining the following zones
  • Accommodation and resort zones,
  • Recreational zones,
  • Leisure and entertainment zones,
  • Protected areas zones,
  • Infrastructure zones,
  • Feeding industries zones,
  • Residential zones.

30
Strategic Marketing
  • Strategic management implies that the Northwest
    Coast should set long-term objectives using
    industry benchmarking which necessitates looking
    at standards of marine tourist product offered by
    the most successful coastal destinations.
  • Benchmark technique will allow marketers
    determine the most effective strategies for
    putting the Northwest Coast in the international
    tourist maps with a complete analysis of the
    total environment (politics, economy, technology,
    ecology, customer trends, personnel, competitors
    and suppliers etc.).

31
challenging factors while marketing the Northwest
Coast
  • Core challenges positioning and differentiating.
  • The Northwest Coast will need to elaborate two
    strategies to position its marine product in the
    international tourist market
  • The first strategy focuses on specific product
    attributes and how far such attributes are able
    to satisfy the needs of the targeted market
    segments. Natural, historical, cultural and
    ecological features.
  • The second strategy is positioning the Northwest
    Coast tourist product, especially the marine
    product, against existing competitors.

32
Positioning the Northwest coast tourist product
  • Studying the competition arena.
  • Market segmentation identifying target
    customer(s) and their demands.
  • Promotional images All promotional tools should
    be able transmitting a distinguishable message
    impacting on the perception of the targeted
    segments.
  • Marketing distinctiveness all marketing mix
    components and campaigns should be different from
    other competitors. For example, although the
    Northwest Coast will need to develop its own
    website as a marine tourist destination, the web
    site must have a very special touch.
  • Joint marketing All resorts can jointly finance
    a very big and aggressive marketing campaign for
    the Egyptian Northwest Coast tourist product to
    strengthen their competitive advantage

33
Sustainable tourism pillars for the Northwest
Coast
  • Environmental sustainability,
  • Local community sustainability,
  • Economic sustainability and
  • Visitor satisfaction sustainability.

34
Visitor satisfaction sustainability
  • To approach the targeted market segments and to
    attract repeat customers, the Northwest Coast
    tourism development should be able meeting the
    expectations of its visitors and considering its
    tourist product as a unique experience which the
    tourist would like to repeat.
  • Total Quality Management (TQM) can play a great
    role in reaching the international standards of
    services and amenities.

35
Conclusion
  • The paper showed the opportunities and strengths
    that sustainable development can offer to help
    positioning the Egyptian Northwest coast in the
    international tourist marketing.
  • The paper also suggested a set of strategies and
    justified the employment of environmental,
    economic and social techniques for achieving a
    comprehensive sustainable tourism development of
    the Egyptian Northwest Coast.
  • However, there are certain threats and challenges
    to tourism development in the Northwest Coast
    such as competition, seasonality and shortage in
    investments.

36
Economic sustainability
  • Ensure viable and long-term revenues and receipts
    not only on the local and regional scale but also
    on the national level. It can also generate day
    trips to Cairo and Alexandria which will benefit
    other regions' economy.
  • On the micro-level, tourism development of the
    Northwest Coast will benefit many tourist
    projects and optimize profits of the relevant
    enterprises.
  • Sustainability of the socio-economic impacts
    should guarantee more job opportunities and
    better living standards to the local communities.

37
Environmental sustainability
  • Ecological parameters to sustain the physical as
    well as the human environment must be
    implemented.
  • For example, instruments of "Environmental Impact
    Assessment EIA and environmental auditing are
    two crucial techniques to assure that the
    proposed and existing tourism projects
  • marine activities (such as vessels, boating
    and fishing)
  • physical establishments (such as resorts,
    piers, observation platforms, wharves and boat
    ramps) - are in harmony with the eco-system and
    fulfill the theme of sustainable development.
  • waste and garbage management projects are
    urgently needed.
  • The Environmental Management System (EMS) of the
    Northwest Coast should be backed with rules and
    legislations. For example, rules can be used to
    restrict type of vessels permitted to access
    sensitive areas.

38
Local community sustainability
  • Indigenous people should access the economic
    benefits as well as recreational facilities of
    the proposed tourism development. Hence, not all
    recreational and marine activities would be
    exclusive to certain resorts but, on the
    contrary, available for the use by the public.
  • Offering opportunities for a well structured
    guest-host contact rather than the enclave
    development approach.
  • The socio-cultural preservation and conservation
    of traditions should be regarded as a key element.

39
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