This Seaside Resort is Committed to Making Waves

It’s more than just a vacation destination.

Jul 29, 2022
This Seaside Resort is Committed to Making Waves | It’s more than just a vacation destination.

The Red Sea resort El Gouna has everything you need for a dazzling vacation including sandy beaches, clear water, and beautiful coral reefs surrounded by vibrantly  colored fish. The resort town takes its name from Arabic and means lagoon. That’s because the community is built across 20 islands and lagoons, according to the BBC.

But what sets this Egyptian resort off from the rest, is its deep commitment to sustainability. “Creating a contained, self-sustaining ecosystem was always a target for El Gouna,” said Omar El Hamamsy, CEO of Orascom Development, the company that developed the resort over 30 years ago when environmentalism wasn’t on the radar of many countries.

Sustainability in action
El Gouna is recognized as Egypt’s most eco-friendly vacation destination and the municipal government has worked with the local hotels and businesses to preserve this unique distinction, according to a press release from Orascom.

This commitment to environmentalism has won the city many awards including the Green Globe and Travelife certifications that led El Gouna to be selected for the Green Star Hotel program. Newer buildings use phase change materials to store heat and cold and release as needed instead of depending on energy consuming devices. A solar energy plant opened in 2021.

The town was a forerunner in recycling and there are multi-colored waste reciprocals placed throughout. The waste is sorted and sent to a recycling yard located outside the town. The recycled plastic is turned into bags, hangers – that are used in the hotels –, and clothing.

The town was one of the first to use desalinated water from the Red Sea. There are 18 desalination plants and the water that is produced is used to irrigate the golf courses and parks. Drinking water comes from mountain springs.

Food at the resort is locally sourced and certified organic. Compost from organic waste is used as fertilizer for fields. Going green has permeated all aspects of life.

In fact, it has become a draw for residents and entrepreneurs who support the town’s mission. With a population of 24,000, the local community has a library, hospital, school, university, and even its own Egyptian Premier League football team, reported the BBC.

What’s next?
While the idea of an eco-friendly resort town and tourists that arrive by air travel – an unsustainable method of transportation – seem to be in contradiction, the goal of El Gouna is to become Africa’s first carbon-neutral town.

This long-time project was envisioned in 2014 in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs. The project, according to TravelMole,  is designed to stimulate Egypt’s tourism industry by attracting a wider international audience as well as strengthening the government’s efforts in the environmental sector.

“This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment preservation and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral cities,” Dr. Laila Iskandar, the minister of the state for environmental affairs, told TravelMole.

The first steps are to reform the major greenhouse-gas emission sources and work to reduce them by expanding the solar energy capacity, energy efficiency of buildings, making the water plants more efficient, and by using electric vehicles or bicycles, according to the BBC.

Other steps include expanding the mangrove forests that protect against erosion of the coast, sequester carbon, provide a breeding ground for the fish that populate the area, as well as provide clean water for the coral reefs.

“These measures are particularly important in this ecologically sensitive region that has high biodiversity in the water,” Zainub Ibrahim, a professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Canada's Algonquin College, told the BBC.

Unfortunately the Covid pandemic put a hold on many of the projects to achieve these goals but they are back on track. Once this unique resort area has achieved carbon neutrality, it will be an inspiration for other vacation spots around the world to green-up their acts.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.