BirdLife International Organizing a Regional Ecotourism Workshop on “Capitalizing on the Current Success Towards a Regional Ecotourism Roadmap “in Aqaba

Posted on Thu, 10/08/2023

Aqaba, Jordan – [10- August 2023]

Under the patronage of H.E Nayef Al Fayez; Chief Commissioner of Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZA) and honorary guests; H.E. Dr Yasmine Fouad Minister of Environment in Egypt and H.E. Khaled Mohammed Governor of South Sinai Governorate, the  MoE/EEAA – GEF - UNDP - BirdLife International “Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB II) Project” held a Regional Workshop on “Capitalizing on the Current Success Towards a Regional Ecotourism Roadmap“, for three consecutive days 9-10 and 11 August 2023, in Aqaba – Jordan. The workshop was held in collaboration with the MoE/EEAA - GEF - UNDP “Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Egypt Tourism project”.


The workshop aimed to promote sustainable tourism practices, raise awareness about the importance of preserving natural resources, and foster collaboration among stakeholders in the tourism industry.


Eco-tourism has emerged as a vital tool in promoting sustainable development along with conserving and protecting natural habitats and biodiversity. Recognizing the immense potential of eco-tourism in region, this workshop was focused to enhance the regional cooperation on ecotourism. The importance of exchanging knowledge, experiences and future ambitions amongst nation states will be paramount in the creation of a strong ecotourism sector across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Fostering multilateral cooperation will help propel the region to the forefront of ecotourism globally; helping address rising consumer demand and paving the way for sustainable economic development. 

The Chief Commissioner of Aqaba Special Economic Zone, H.E Nayef Al Fayez; expressed his enthusiasm for this collaborative effort; he said: "We are honoured to host this regional workshop and support this regional initiative, and Aqaba is delighted to be in the heart of the effort to encourage regional ecotourism ". "Aqaba possesses remarkable ecological treasures, and by adopting sustainable tourism practices, we can ensure their long-term preservation while simultaneously supporting local communities, and we are committed to promoting responsible tourism that safeguards our natural resources." He added.


The workshop featured a diverse range of sessions, presentations, panel discussions, and interactive deliberations that explored different aspects of eco-tourism. Topics covered included sustainable tourism development, conservation of natural and cultural heritage sites, community engagement, responsible travel practices, and the economic benefits of eco-tourism.

H.E. Dr Yasmine Fouad Minister of Environment in Egypt said: ‘’ This workshop served as a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration, enabling us to collectively develop strategies to maximize the potential of eco-tourism in the region."


Furthermore, participants discussed the need for capacity building programs to enhance the skills of local communities and tourism operators in ecotourism management. Training programs on sustainable tourism practices, biodiversity conservation, and community engagement were identified as crucial for the successful implementation of ecotourism initiatives. Also, the participants emphasized the need for effective regulations and guidelines to ensure that ecotourism practices are sustainable and do not harm natural resources.


H.E. Khaled Mohammed Governor of South Sinai Governorate said: ‘’Through this workshop, we aim to inspire stakeholders to embrace sustainable practices in the tourism sector and contribute to the development of eco-tourism as a driver for economic growth in our region." "South Sina Governorate is committed to sustainable development ensuring respecting nature while providing a unique global tourism destination”, he added.


Ms. Randa Aboul-Hosn, Resident Representative of UNDP in Jordan explained that “The meeting in Aqaba comes as part of the implementation of a comprehensive strategic vision that seeks to sustain the natural resources of the Gulf of Aqaba and cooperation for the benefit of all, it is a practical translation of the directives of the political leadership in Jordan and Egypt regarding the intensification of regional efforts and cooperation in the field of protecting ecosystems, specifically in the Gulf of Aqaba. ‘’ There is no doubt that there is great international interest in the environment of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea, which is reflected in the implementation and support of various projects and programs, this is an affirmation of the importance of this ecosystem not only for the region but for the whole world. This is an incentive for all of us to pay appropriate attention to this area, not only as institutions and governments, but as individuals, by protecting it from any damage that may arise from dumping, overfishing or breaking coral reefs. ‘

The workshop also addressed the importance of collaboration and partnerships among various stakeholders. Governments, NGOs, local communities, and private sector entities need to work together to develop and implement sustainable ecotourism strategies.

Mr. Ibrahim Khader, Middle East Regional Director of BirdLife International, expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes of the workshop. He stated, "Ecotourism has the potential to contribute significantly to nature conservation and local livelihoods. However, it is essential to address the challenges faced by the industry and promote sustainable practices. This workshop provided a valuable platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration, and we are confident that it will lead to positive changes in the region."

One of the key outcomes of the workshop was the development of a set of recommendations and guidelines for promoting eco-tourism in region. These recommendations will serve as a Roadmap for policymakers, tourism operators, and other stakeholders to integrate sustainable practices into their operations.