With internationally recognized coral reefs, clear warm coastal waters, outstanding desert landscapes, sites of cultural and religious importance and near permanent sunshine, it is clear that the wealth of Southern Sinai lies in its natural resources. Those resources, coupled with their proximity to European tourism markets, have stimulated the rapid growth of tourism development that the region is currently experiencing.
Expansion of a local tourism economy is reflected in the number of beds available in the area. 1,030 in 1988 and an expected 12,248 by the end of 1995.
floating swimming platform
The Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, recognizing the close linkage between tourism, sustained tourism development providing national economic benefits and the environment, have charged the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) with the task of ensuring that development does not lead to environmental degradation. The EEAA, represented in South Sinai by its Natural Protectorates staff, has established a policy that effectively reduces damage to coral reef areas, eliminates discharge of pollutants to the sea, protects the integrity of coastlines, provides coastal development solutions to investors in the area, liaises with local government authorities to ensure co-ordination, and provides services to increase the environmental awareness of investors, property managers and tour operators in the area.
The policy is showing encouraging results. To date there have been no direct or indirect sewage discharges into the sea (small craft operating in the area remain the only source of discharge but these will soon be regulated with the construction of a commercial marina in Sharm El Sheikh). All discharges of brine effluents from desalination plants are monitored. All discharge points are strictly controlled, inspected and approved by the EEAA.
Alteration of existing coastlines is prohibited and all developers must submit their access requirements to the EEAA for approval. Constructions within the setback area must be approved by the EEAA who act upon recommendations of their staff in the area.
Mooring buoys are installed to protect corals which would otherwise be damaged by the use of anchors. Fish feeding and bottom fishing are prohibited as these upset the equilibrium of the reef.
Artificial beach, designed by park staff to protect coral reefs.
In the desert, track systems are being established to protect fragile desert ecosystems. Tour operators are requested to ensure that their divers keep to the tracks and return with their wastes. Likewise, the EEAA requests that tourists refrain from disturbing Bedouin settlements. The task is difficult but results are now visible and encouraging. Your assistance is vital.