The Rise of Egyptian Tourism Endangers Its Coral Reefs

The Egyptian tourism sector has been improving since 2017, overcoming an abrupt downfall caused by political and security problems that hit the country in 2011 and then again in 2015. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism contribution to the country’s gross domestic product in 2018 increased by 16.5%, reaching its highest peak since 2010. Although the increase in tourism numbers is positive for the overall tourism sector, the environmental pressure, especially on the coral reefs, has yet again increased. This has been recorded in the city of Hurghada, one of the country’s main tourist centers located on the Red Sea coast. Many tourists visit it to admire the depths of the Red Sea and its’ crystal-clear turquoise waters that are the home of small pink jellyfish, clownfish, porkfish, and butterflyfish swimming among the violet and green coral reefs. Unfortunately, scuba diving isn’t the only thing pressuring coral reefs. About 1.700 tour boats navigate these waters, as well as trading ships that cross the Suez Canal. The NGOs and the government are investing many efforts to preserve the sea environment and the coral reefs.

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), at least 20 percent of the world’s “most beautiful, most sensitive and more diverse ecosystems” have been destroyed and 60 percent are threatened by climate change, tourism or predatory fishing. Scientists consider that Red Sea corals are the most resistant to climate change and can become a global “refuge” for marine biodiversity, but they need protection from other hazards.

Travel consciously, think tourism. 

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