Ministry of Environment organised on Wednesday a seminar to address the Responsible and Sustainable Ecotourism Business Plan (RSEBP): A Five Year Strategic Plan/Vision for Fayoum Protected Areas 2019-2023.
The plan is prepared as the third phase for the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Project (EIECP), and is designed to cover the cultural and natural heritage in the region of Wadi Al-Rayan and lake Qaroun in Fayoum governorate. The plan includes a Qatrani fossils museum, as well as Tunis and Nazla potteries and crafts villages.
Gordon Sillence, the executive director of the Ecotourism Association, said in his speech during the seminar that: “this business plan is the product of the third phase of the Egyptian Italian Environment Cooperation Programme. The Plan will be implemented by the Ecotourism Association, as a representative and focal point for the local people and private sector, in collaboration with the EIECP and Fayoum Protected Areas.”
The project aims to produce a comprehensive business plan for the development of responsible and sustainable ecotourism in Fayoum in order to give economic value to ecosystem services that protected areas provide.
Aims of the project also include generating direct income for the conservation of protected areas, and direct and indirect income for local stakeholders, and creating incentives for conservation in local communities.
The project also focuses on building “constituencies” for conservation, locally, nationally, and internationally; promoting sustainable use of natural resources; and reducing threats to biodiversity.
According to Sillence, this plan aims to provide strategic advice on how to develop ecotourism at the community level through effective input into the five area. The plan also looks to develop the Green Fayoum Sustainable Destination Programme which aims to identify the Fayoum ecotourism products and experiences development process, and develop different types of potential recreational themes and activities.
One of the main areas of interest in the strategy is the Sustainable Business Development Programme; as well as the Promotion and Marketing Programme to identify target groups, find out effective advertising, marketing support and public relations programmes, and to select the best methods of control and assessment over the promotion operation.
The plan does not ignore the role of education and training in tourism services programme; the infrastructure development and sustainability; and policy interventions and governance programmes.
Yousria Hamed, manager over EIECP’s third phase said that it took a year to design the plan, and one of the goals is to establish a body of people, representing different areas of the labour community like tourism and environment.
She added also that one of the main targets of the plan is to create new touristic destinations and improving the infrastructure of old destinations.
The attendees of the seminar stressed the importance of the role of local communities in conserving environmental ecosystems and environmental investment.
Moreover, Amany Nakhla, the Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that the project engages the local communities in conserving the environmental sites.
“The project was started initially in Saint Catharine protected area and was generalised in other protected areas and we hope it will cover all 30 of Egypt’s protected areas,” Nakhla added.
She noted that the UNDP is interested in integrating the biological diversity in tourism.
Carmelo Armetta, Representative of the Italian Cooperation, said that the programme takes into consideration the local communities, so it aims to provide job opportunities such as another experience in Marsa Alam through providing Italian and English language courses to youth to find better places in the market.
Armetta noted also that conserving terrestrial and marine ecosystems is also included in the plan, as well as taking the impacts of climate change into consideration.