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Increased tourism to sensitive natural areas without appropriate planning and management can threaten the integrity of ecosystems and local cultures. Ecotourism can provide the proper guidelines for sustainable and responsible practices that promote the preservation of natural resources and wildlife and contribute to the socio- cultural and economic growth of the local community.
Sudan is already famous among the international SCUBA diving community as a great destination to dive on healthy coral reefs with good populations of sharks, rays and other fishes. At present, the majority of the international tourists arriving in the Red Sea State are SCUBA divers who travel to Port Sudan to join the live-aboard dive boats. These activities have limited interaction with the local communities and contribute little directly into the local economy, because they are boat-based and internationally-organized. Shark and ray tourism alone brings in $314 million annually worldwide, and the sector continues to grow. The potential for Sudan to expand the range and types of ecotourism activities is high.
Recognizing the importance of addressing the needs of the local community and their well-being and working towards a state of inter-reliance between these communities and the well-being of the marine and natural environment is paramount to the sustainable conservation of biodiversity in Sudan’s Marine National Parks.
The park authority, together with national and international partners, is encouraging projects that ensure that dividends from safeguarding marine biodiversity contribute to poverty alleviation and address gender disparities among local coastal communities in Sudan’s Marine National Parks.