SANGANEB, Sudan, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Sudan's Sanganeb Island in Red Sea is a global wealth that should be preserved and developed into a tourism resort, said Secretary-General of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai Wednesday.
He called for briefing the world on the island and providing the necessary requirements to make use of it as a tourist destination, he told Xinhua.
Sanganeb Island, Sudan's first sea reserve, lies some 13 nautical miles from Port-Sudan harbour on the eastern coast of the Red Sea State in eastern Sudan.
According to environment studies, Sanganeb Island is home to around 124 groups of coral reefs, about 250 species of fish, like sharks, while types of whales and dolphins occasionally visit the island.
During his visit to the Island, accompanied by Sudanese officials and a media team, Rifai added that "I did not know that Sudan maintains a huge fortune like this island. I was surprised by the beauty of this island which enjoys all elements of maritime reserves."
He urged the Sudanese authorities to provide infrastructures at the island, encourage tourism to it, prevent overfishing and protect it against marine pollution.
Sanganeb Island is nicknamed "the Bride of Maritime Tourism in the Red Sea" as it is completely submerged in the water, which allows it to be a suitable place for scuba diving and attract under water photographers due to its pure blue water.
On June 17, thanks to Sudanese efforts, Sanganeb Island was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) during a UNESCO committee meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.
"We have exerted a remarkable effort until Sanganeb Island was inscribed as a world heritage," Mohammed Abu Zaid, Sudan's Tourism Minister, told Xinhua.
"This is the first maritime reserve in Sudan," he added.
Abu Zaid pledged that his country would work to preserve and protect this maritime reserve, pointing out that the authorities prohibit fishing at the island areas and punish the violators with the aim to keep the island's ecological balance.
Sanganeb Island includes a huge lighthouse to alert the big ships to avoid passing through the shallow water and coral reefs zone at the reserve. The lighthouse was built in 1898.