ARIZONA — This month the International Programs Office hosted a delegation from Egypt for a week-long study tour on cultural heritage and tourism in Sedona, Arizona. The delegation included participants from the Egyptian government, the U.S. Agency for International Development in Egypt and an Egyptian nongovernmental organization. Staff from the Coconino National Forest helped host the group and were able to demonstrate the agency’s history and experience in cultural heritage site management through visits to the Red Rock Ranger District, Honanki Heritage Site, Palatki Heritage Site and Oak Creek Vista. The group also visited
National Park Service lands. Sample topics covered during the week included income-generating activities from sustainable tourism, ecological considerations in site development, grassroots partnerships with NGOs, interpretive guide training, and antiquities preservation and visitor management practices.
Forest Service staff helped create a forum for the Egyptian visitors to help them analyze the current landscape of tourism and antiquities management, and to consider how the U.S. practices and policies could be applied in their country. Participants appreciated the opportunity to dialogue and collaborate with their colleagues from other ministries or sectors.
Tourism is a significant driver of Egypt’s economy and depends heavily on the country’s heritage, cultural and natural resources. Foreign visitors are attracted to the massive deserts and ancient structures that populate the Egyptian landscape, offering evidence of global historic and cultural significance. However, despite the variety of tourist destinations the country has to offer, site management remains a challenge.
The Forest Service has worked with Egypt for over 10 years on a variety of natural resource issues including ecotourism, interpretive planning, environmental education, migratory bird conservation and recreation management. Work on cultural heritage and tourism is the latest effort to help Egyptian partners build capacity as well as enhance economic opportunities for communities surrounding natural areas and historic sites.