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DESERT ECOTOURISM: Investigating Ecolodges in the Sahara

Abstract
By : Aziza Chaouni

 
This paper attempts to delineate an adequate typology for desert ecolodges in the developing world by focusing on the Northern Saharan region as an area of study. To do so, it first situates ecotourism in the Sahara within the larger history of tourism in the region. Then, it studies its evolution and manifestations while concentrating on the challenges it is confronted to as well as the environmental impacts it inflicts, mainly due to the inadequacy of its accommodation facilities. Hence, the paper advances a new paradigm for desert ecolodges, stressing the importance of a comprehensive resource and waste management strategy. Other recommended features include sustainable building methods, community involvement, and nature conservation and education. Each one of these attributes is further analyzed in three successful case studies located in the Egyptian desert. The study of these cases reveal that in order to decrease their environmental footprint, desert ecolodges should put more efforts into integrating new energy and water harvesting technologies as well as establish a symbiotic relationship with the oasis landscape.
Keywords : Ecotourism, Ecolodge, Desert, Sahara, Architecture

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