Bain & Company, a global consultancy firm, recently conducted a comprehensive research study focusing on Sustainable Tourism opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The study aims to shed light on the behaviors and preferences of travelers interested in MENA, with a particular focus on Egypt.
The study, titled, ‘Sustainable Tourism: An Untapped Opportunity for Green Growth,’ reveals a growing interest in sustainable tourism among leisure travelers worldwide, following a decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, tourism is expected to reach $17 trillion by 2027.
Sustainable travelers are increasingly making destination and provider choices based on sustainability records, including airlines, hotels, restaurants, and tour companies. It is evident that there is a rising demand for sustainable offerings, and consumers are willing to pay. However, the research also highlights that some travelers feel that the travel and tourism sector has not made sufficient efforts towards sustainability, indicating the need for the sector to respond and make a difference.
Karim Henain, a Partner at Bain & Company Middle East, emphasizes the increasing adoption of sustainable tourism. “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 (e.g., eco-friendly transportation and accommodation options), social responsibility (e.g., DEI standards), and community engagement (e.g., contract with locals)” says Karim Henain, Partner at Bain & Company Middle East.
The study reveals a significant opportunity among the segment of travelers known as “sustainability enthusiasts” who are interested in visiting the MENA region. To better understand the behaviors and preferences of these travelers, the research covered consumers from Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and China. The findings indicate that sustainability aspects are considered important or extremely important by more than two-thirds of consumers surveyed across these markets. Furthermore, the majority of respondents expect sustainability to become even more important in the next five years.
Egypt, one of the destinations in the MENA region, has initiated several sustainability-focused initiatives to improve its tourism sector. For example, El Gouna is recognized for its substantial efforts towards environmental sustainability and a zero-waste system, where the majority of waste is reused and recycled.
The study also assessed how travelers perceive Egypt’s sustainability efforts compared to other competing destinations in MENA, such as Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, the UAE, and Morocco. Sustainability enthusiasts ranked Egypt favorably in terms of sustainability performance, ranking it second, while the overall survey respondents ranked it fourth.
To leverage the opportunity presented by sustainable tourism, Egypt’s tourism sector needs a coordinated effort across the entire ecosystem. The suggested roadmap includes targeting sustainability enthusiasts, highlighting sustainability aspects in tourist offerings, defining new sustainable offerings, and launching flagship initiatives to improve the perception of Egypt’s sustainability performance. It also involves addressing critical topics such as sustainability certificates, green infrastructure, and ensuring the benefits of tourism are distributed to local communities. Additionally, fostering sustainable practices within the tourism ecosystem and securing necessary funding are essential.
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