Egypt a rising star in green tourism, says Bain & Company

18 August 2023 4 min. read

The tourism industry in Egypt has several routes towards increased sustainability, with some initiatives already under way. However, more still needs to be done to fully leverage these assets.

With the clear waters of the Red Sea, the world famous pyramids, and countless other sites of natural and historical significance, Egypt has long been a prime tourism destination for international visitors and has loads to offer.

Now, much like other parts of the MENA region, Egypt is beginning to break into sustainable tourism with a number of novel initiatives. That is according to a report from global strategy consulting firm Bain & Company, which found that Egypt’s sustainability performance ranks as above average.

Egypt a rising star in green tourism, says Bain & Company

Among sustainability enthusiasts specifically, Egypt ranked second on a list of similar destinations like Greece, the UAE, Turkey, and Tunisia, and the country ranked fourth among all respondents to the survey.

Among the sustainable tourism initiatives that Egypt has touted is the Red Sea village resort of El-Qula’an, which aims to become an ‘eco-village’ and offer visitors an authentic experience while keeping the natural surroundings untouched.

A similar town, the newly developed El Gouna, was the first in Africa and the MENA region to receive the UN-sponsored Global Green Town Award. It aspires to a zero-waste system and currently 85% of all waste produced there is either reused or recycled.

A third project, the ‘Path of the Holy Family’, aims to create a tourist route of religious interest to attract visitors interested in the historical and cultural significance of Egypt’s many archaeological sites. This would likely look to replicate on successes of other religious tourism attractions like Mecca in Saudi Arabia, or even Christian pilgrimages elsewhere in the world, like the Way of St. James in Northern Spain.

Egypt a rising star in green tourism, says Bain & Company

“The uptake in sustainable tourism is driven by an appetite to travel sustainably and make more responsible choices. Bain has developed a framework defining the components of a sustainable tourism experience around three pillars: environmental impact (eco-friendly transportation and accommodation options), social responsibility (diversity & inclusion standards), and community engagement (connection with locals),” said Karim Henain, partner at Bain & Company.

Tourism is largely rebounding after a serious decline during the pandemic in 2020, and is predicted to grow to $17 trillion by 2027 from $11 trillion before Covid-19. There is a growing demand for sustainable tourism among travelers globally, leading to some strong development in the sustainable tourism market. However, research shows that further action to make sustainable options more widely available.

64% of respondents in Bain & Company’s study said that sustainability considerations influence their decisions when planning travel, with 66% saying they would pay more for a sustainable option. Though it is not exactly clear how often these pledges would translate into action, it does indicate a shift towards more green-minded thinking among spenders in the tourism industry.

Egypt a rising star in green tourism, says Bain & Company

The report recommends that the sustainable tourism can achieve better success by focusing on infrastructure and technical solutions, expanding sustainability certificates and awards, and distributing the benefits for local communities.

Tourism is booming in the Middle East, with countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE spending big on attracting visitors. With these oil dependent economies looking to both diversify their revenue sources while also making serious strides towards net zero, industries like tourism, financial services, and tech have been high on their agendas.

Pledges to meet net zero climate targets, like Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, are hugely ambitious and require a lot of investment in the industries that will take the place of the fossil fuel industry.