Any visit to ‘Ancient Egypt’ must include the Pyramids; the Egyptian Museum in Cairo with the treasures of Tuthankhamun; a visit to Luxor with its the Valley of the Kings and the Karnak temples; Aswan and the temples of Philae; and, if possible, an excursion to Abu Simbel in the far south. The independent traveller can visit countless other interesting historical sites in this country, which was home to one of the oldest cultures in the world, spanning 3000 years of continuous history.
Unforgettable as these places are, Egypt is not just the land of pyramids, tombs and temples. Arab Egypt, especially old Cairo, is worth a visit on its own and Alexandria still has a certain charm. The fastest-growing tourist area is the Red Sea coast where, in spite of dramatic damage to the environment (mainly the coral reefs), swimming, diving and sunbathing provide a very different Egyptian holiday. What makes any trip to Egypt special is the hospitality of the Egyptian people, so make time for tea and a chat with people where you can.
Egypt has the second biggest economy in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia; but there is a lot of individual poverty in this socially conservative country. Its most famous writer is Naguib Mahfouz, who was the first Arab-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. His best-known work is the Cairo Trilogy, Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street, which explores the urban traditional lives of three generations of a Cairo family from World War I to the 1950s. His later work conceals political criticism under allegory and symbolism.
Ethical Travel Issues and advice
Displacement of Local Peoples:
Tourism development has caused many communities to be forcibly displaced. Indigenous groups, people living in informal settlements, or people who lack official title deeds to their lands are particularly vulnerable to displacement or loss of access to lands and waters essential for their livelihoods. This often happens with little or no warning, compensation or alternative provision.
Governments and private companies have forced many tribal peoples from their ancestral lands to make way for national parks and so called ‘eco-tourism’. Fishing communities are removed from their coastal villages and blocked from accessing the sea as hotels are built and beaches are privatised, destroying livelihoods and traditional ways of life. Informal settlements are bulldozed under beautification projects in the lead up to major international sporting events.
To learn more check out the following Tourism Concern articles on Land displacement:
Travelling presents an opportunity to photograph in lots of different destinations and situations, but sometimes there may be culturally sensitive issues to think about before reaching for the camera or other photo-taking device. There are lots of people in the world who do not have clean water, electricity, schooling or enough to eat, let alone access to mobile telephones, the internet and printed media, so they have no idea where their photograph may end up or how it could be used. Sadly, in this day and age, child prostitution, child trafficking and other crimes against children are facilitated via the Internet, and photography can play an unwitting and innocent role. Photography and its use is no longer straight forward, so perhaps it is time to stop and think a little about the ethics of photography.
Taking photos of friendly local people can be a highlight for many travellers and photographers. Smiles are universal ways to engage, as is showing people the photo you just took of them. If you show an interest in their work or ask them questions, they’ll be happy to have their picture taken. In some touristy places it has become common for people to ask for money for their photos to be taken. Do as you wish, but a photo of someone you shared a laugh with may have a better lasting impression than one you paid for. Don’t forget the same holds true for any porters and guides that may help you along the way. Take an interest in them and you’ll be rewarded with more great photo opportunities.
To learn more check out the following Tourism Concern articles on ethical photography: https://tourismconcern.wpengine.com/ethical-photography/
Cultural Loss, Indigenous Tourism & Heritage Sites:
As we have extended the scope of our holidays into remote places, we now see ‘remote people’ as part of our holiday landscape. Our interest in other people’s cultures is not always sensitive. What are the implications, for example, of tourists viewing, filming & photographing tribal peoples who now demand payment in exchange for becoming models in their finery?
Performing for tourists has become an income earner for tribal groups all over the world. But the income comes with a price. To learn more check out the following Tourism Concern articles on Cultural Loss and tourism:
Camels are synonymous with Egypt for many people, and as such, camel treks are very popular amongst visiting tourists. Unfortunately, camels suffer with many of the same problems as Egypt’s working equines, often being over-worked and suffering from injuries. Although camels look strong and have a reputation for resilience, daily work carrying tourists in the extreme desert heat can be very detrimental to the animals health.
See more at Right Tourism; http://right-tourism.com/issues/beasts-of-burden/3038-2/#sthash.jcjVJsIP.dpbs
The Red Sea & Reef diving:
The Red Sea is biologically unique. Since it is narrow and surrounded by desert, it suffers only rare storms and little rain. Thus the reefs are subjected to few natural disturbances. Over one thousand species of fish and a high diversity of corals live in crystal clear waters with tropical temperatures, making the Red Sea one of the world’s major tourist attractions. Tourism is essential to the local economy and yet, sadly, diving related tourism is an increasingly common cause of damage to coral reefs in tropical tourist resorts.
See more at Right Tourism; http://right-tourism.com/issues/marine-activities/diving-snorkelling/#sthash.KEQCJ5Nr.dpbs
Tourists use more water than the ordinary consumer. Indeed, the water ‘footprint’ of the Western world, as in our carbon footprint, is very high. There are already serious water shortages worldwide and a prediction of ‘water wars’.
The United Nations has claimed that ‘The average tourist uses as much water in 24 hours as a third world villager would use to produce rice for 100 days.’ Tourists need unlimited supplies of water – they are used to it at home and desire copious amounts on holiday: for drinking, baths and showers, swimming pools, overflowing fountains and green manicured lawns.
But water, in developing countries, is often a precious commodity. More than 2 billion people lack access to clean water and sanitation, and 80 per cent of all deaths in the developing world are water related. Put a hotel near a local community and the pressure on the water supply is acute.
Tourism Concern has extensively campaigned on water equity and have published reports & articles on the topic. To learn more check out the following Tourism Concern articles: