National Geographic Center's founder and 100 dignitaries participate in Egypt's first Niche Tourism Forum in the New Valley
- Egypt: Thursday, January 10 - 2013 at 12:16
- PRESS RELEASE
The founder of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Development, Mr. Jonathan Tourtellot, along with more than 100 dignitaries including several officials and ambassadors, will participate in the country's first Niche Tourism Forum.
During the forum, Mr. Tourtellot will discuss the concept and benefits of geotourism in the promotion of the sector while maintaining the natural and cultural heritage of the area of the New Valley. As the primary author of the Geotourism Charter, Mr. Tourtellot is considered an authority on this growing trend of international tourism.
The Niche Tourism Forum, organized by Mawared Foundation for Sustainable Development, and YPM Business Consultants in close collaboration of the New Valley Association for Investment and Tourism, and the Governor of New Valley aims to create eco-friendly tourism in Egypt while promoting the sustainable development particularly in areas of the country that are not fully discovered by the international community.
The effort is to focus on community creative products and stewardship coupled with natural and cultural heritage as points of tourism attraction. The forum is being held under the auspices of the Governorate of New Valley and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. This project is also being executed in cooperation with the UNDP.
"The overall purpose of the forum is to promote new tourism destinations in the country that are thus far undiscovered, with an emphasis on protecting the ecological balance of the area while ensuring sustainable development among its residents," explains Mr. Tarek El Baz, Chairperson of MAWARED Foundation for Sustainable Development. "The area of the New Valley boasts some of Egypt's best kept secrets when it comes to eco-tourism with distinctive features of the area. However, the idea is to promote tourism without negatively impacting the ecosystem. This will also offer a creative approach to tourism promotion and cultural protection while creating jobs and revenue-generation opportunities for an underdeveloped and under-serviced area of the country."
The one-day conference included several activities that all took place in the New Valley and include several keynote speeches addressing the concept of geotourism, how to implement it effectively while working simultaneously to ensure the development of the area and job creation for local residents through tourism and the promotion of traditional crafts to make them more commercially viable.
The project has also been adopted by the Governor of New Valley, Mr. Tarek Mahdi, who sees it as one of the ways to develop this under-serviced area of the country.
"There are unique features in this governorate that could turn it into one of the main tourism destinations in Egypt," explains Governor Tarek Mahdi. "This area has two natural oases - the White Desert in Farafra Oasis and the Kharga Oasis, which was one of ancient Egypt's trade routes. It also has the Gilf El-Kebir. This natural beauty is also coupled with a culture and history that is special to this part of the country. Therefore, sharing it with the world without exploiting it, could add tremendous value to the lives of the people in this area."
The concept of geotourism was first formally introduced in 2002 through a study conducted by the Travel Industry Association of the America, in cooperation with National Geographic Traveler Magazine. Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place including its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and well-being of its residents. This form of tourism is designed to help enhance the culture of the area as well as reinforce traditional crafts, traditions and cuisine while allowing the residents of the area of benefit financially and developmentally.
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