Sudan plans to develop eco-tourism, with some help from Jacques Cousteau

The government of Sudan has identified 76 potential sites for tourist villages along the country’s 750km Red Sea coast, and is planning to build 10 in the next year.

Sudan is probably not the first destination that springs to most people’s minds when planning a couple of weeks in the sun: summer temperatures in Khartoum regularly exceed 43°C (110°F), and even at the cooler Red Sea Coast temperatures and humidity are stifling.

Then there is the reputation of the country – still designated a state-sponsor of terrorism by the US State Department – and the existence of hazards such as yellow fever in the south.

Nevertheless, there has been a significant growth in the country’s tourist industry over the past three years, and government agencies are eager to encourage foreign investment in what is almost entirely a blank page.

Nasruddin Ahmed al-Awad from the Ministry of Tourism told Al Arabiya that the government of Sudan is hoping to market itself to adventurous holidaymakers as a place to find winter sun. It has identified no fewer than 76 potential sites for tourist villages along the country’s 750km Red Sea coast, and is planning to build 10 in the next year.

The first of its kind: Imam Osman’s DeCock’s Red Sea Resort (Supplierd)

The plan aims to take advantage of two pioneers who explored the possibilities of the Sudanese coast. One was the legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, who built an underwater station, Précontinent II, near a reef known as Sha’ab Rum in the 1960s, and televised the variety of flora and fauna and the clarity of the waters.

The other is Iman Osman DeCock, a businesswoman who opened practically the only resort on the entire coastline. This is the Red Sea Resort, about 30km north of Port Sudan, and it was opened in 2000 as eco-resort for divers. She is hoping to attract nature and diving enthusiasts to the area, which combines pristine dive sites with a wide variety of wildlife, including eagles, terns and camels.

She told the Al Arabiya news site: "The resort offers tourists the opportunity to enjoy untouched pristine beaches, the beauty of nature and the clean environment around the Red Sea mountain chain. We will be able to provide diving vacations and courses for those who want to learn."

DeCock has also provide a template for the country’s nascent tourist industry – and the infrastructure that will come with it.

Top image: A school of barracudas above Sha’ab Rum (YouTube)

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