A couple of weeks ago at the London Dive Show Egypt once again won dive destination of the year according to Diver Magazine readers. No mean feat considering the alternatives, Maldives, The Cayman Islands, and Truk, to name a few.
In recent years Egypt has suffered civil disturbances, terrorist attacks and some highly publicised accidents. None of these events are known to attract tourists so in turn The Red Sea resorts have suffered a decline in divers.The FCO website (at the time of writing) advises that the dive resorts are safe.
Egyptians take tourism seriously; it's a major economic driver for the country. Having visited many times I can vouch they take tourist security very seriously. Why then are the Egyptians resorts seeing fewer divers? It is well known Egypt is the destination of choice by most British divers. It's only 5 hours away, flights are cheap, and the sea temperature is great and the diving phenomenal. The resorts are generally run by English speaking dive professionals. What is there not to like?
I was chatting with Andy Goddard a hugely experienced and knowledgeable dive professional, Managing Director of Andark Diving in Hampshire and a committee member of SITA . He expressed huge concern for the UK dive industry due to the lack of confidence our divers have in The Red Sea. It stands to reason, if the most popular dive destination is experiencing a slump so will UK dive kit, travel and training. Maybe divers are swapping to alternate locations (over the next few weeks we will be running a serious of blogs on alternatives) but the divers I spoke with didn't mention changing their holiday location from Egypt. Maybe they are simply delaying their trips and 2013 will see a resurgent supply of travelling divers. We need to support both Egypt and our fellow dive professionals in the Red Sea resorts but what more can we do? Are you a diver and now feel nervous about visiting the Red Sea? Please let us know your thoughts and concerns.
Image above from Nataraj Metz over at Flickr.