Wednesday, 30 October 2019

CNN’s Destination Egypt highlights legacy of eco-tourism on the Red Sea coast

In a report as part of CNN’s Destination Egypt, the programme travels to the Red Sea coast to explore one of the country’s best kept secrets – the coral reefs in Marsa Alam.

Home to over 300 different types of fish, the reefs are a treasure trove for snorkellers and divers. Their popularity has led to the foundation of several eco-resorts in an effort to protect some of the world’s most spectacular reefs.

The coral has far less environmental damage than other reefs around the world – thanks in part to Hossam Helmy, who has been at the forefront of conservation efforts for over 30 years.

“The most important thing I think is the control of the people who are using the sea.” Helmy explains to CNN.“If you manage to do that in the right way you will save the marine life on the bay.”

Having founded his first eco-resort in 1989, Helmy now runs three resorts and campaigns to protect some of the world’s most spectacular reefs.

Helmy’s passion for the eco-tourism has been reflected in the size of his resorts, which are limited to accommodate just 175 people in order to minimalise its environmental impact. The Marsa Shagra Village uses solar energy, restricts and recycles plastic use as well as organising daily clean ups of local beaches.

He explains to the programme: “This is the value we have, the house reef, the marine life inside… You sort of get that feeling that if you're really doing sort of that sustainable tourism model, that you're not just taking from the place that you go to but giving back to it as well.”

CNN hears that eco-tourism is a further attraction for visitors to Egypt and the programme speaks to visitors to Helmy’s resort to understand what originally drew them to the Red Sea coast.

One visitor tells the programme: “As a tourist it makes me feel good. It gives me peace of mind to think that I'm doing something for the environment.”