More than 50 dive centres have ceased operations
The dive industry in Sinai has been hard hit by the current recession in the tourism sector, and more than 50 dive centres have ceased operations as a result.
Following the crash of a Russian passenger plane last October – suspected to be due to a terrorist attack – almost all European airlines have suspended their direct flights to Sharm el Sheikh and the Sinai.
According to Tourism Ministry's economy advisor Adela Ragab, the number of Russian tourists visiting Egypt in 2015 has dropped by 23.9 percent, compared to the previous year. For tourists from the UK and Germany, the number fell by 4 and 16.4 percent respectively.
The resulting fallout means that the hotels are almost empty and the number of scuba divers heading there for a dive holiday is almost nil.
In South Sinai, there are perhaps 130 dive centres. Many centres in Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab have ceased operations (or at least closed temporarily). Many temporary staff have been dismissed, while permanent staff are “on leave” (until the tourism sector picks up and scuba diving guests return).
One such centre is Werner Lau Dive Center. Owner Werner Lau originally intended to close shop at the end of 2015, but was persuaded by a wave of objections and strong support, and decided to temporarily close and reopen in March 2016. He hoped that direct flights would have resumed by April, bringing back the tourists and divers. (taucher.net/diveinside-werner_lau_sharm_el_sheikh_oeffnet_wieder-kaz5978).
On the ground, the situation is equally dramatic. According to Egyptian sources, the country is doing its best to revive the economy and tourism with the help of advertising campaigns and discounted holiday deals to foreigners. This appears to be an economically vital step, considering that the income from tourism amounts to 11.3 percent of Egypt's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In any case, if you want to travel to Sinai, there are still flights that do make their way to Sinai. Go to the Sea More Travel website to see the available flights that are currently available. (www.seamore-travel.de/blog/fluege-nach-sharm-el-sheikh.html).