While tourism has long been an essential sector in Egypt's economic, cultural tourism capitalizing on Egypt's rich heritage remains an untapped opportunity. The city of Esna in Luxor, with its rich and storied history, showed potential to become a center of cultural tourism. However, a lack of site management plans, effective urban management policies, and a low level of local capacity was prohibiting the city from reaching this potential.
To transform Esna into a cultural tourism hub, we partnered with Takween Integrated Community Development to develop, implement and promote an alternative tourism approach focused on enhancing cultural assets and preserving cultural heritage. This approach struck a balance between heritage conservation, tourism requirements and local development needs – thereby ensuring socioeconomic benefits for the local community by engaging them in key activities throughout the project. The project worked on reviving and rehabilitating historical buildings in Esna, in order to provide an innovative offering to tourists interested in exploring the rich history and culture of the city. To ensure the inclusion of the local community in this endeavor, CID worked on building the capacity of local craftspeople to produce high quality handicrafts that honor Esna's cultural heritage. We then worked to develop the handicrafts supply chain to link the these craftspeople with traders in the newly-refurbished bazaar.
The CID team was also tasked with the destination branding for Esna. We worked closely with the Takween team and local stakeholders to develop a brand identity that was reflective of Esna's history and cultural fabric, and a plan to communicate the new Esna brand to key stakeholders including tour operators. We also conducted awareness raising campaigns on Esna's cultural assets, in turn building the capacity of the local community to become guides for incoming tourists and be a part of their city's story.
The project has successfully developed the Wakalet el-Geddawy Site Management Plan and updated the 2010 Esna City Center Revitalization Plan. We have created sustainable livelihoods opportunities for local craftspeople through skills development activities and market linkages, while also leading awareness-raising and community engagement workshops for 700 students and youth from Esna and neighbouring villages on the value of cultural heritage assets in Esna.
We are also proud of our work with Takween and local stakeholders to develop a visual identity and comprehensive brand communication strategy for Esna that leveraged on its tangible and intangible heritage assets. Utilizing this brand, we have already begun communication efforts on the ground and have successfully introduced the city to the itinerary of multiple tour operators, effectively putting Esna on the map - literally and figuratively.