Dr. Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities reassured holidaymakers that safe travels are possible at a time that continues to be defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. His remarks came during a presentation of Egypt’s comprehensive action plan for safe tourism at ITB Berlin NOW.
The digital meet-up for the travel industry took place from March 9 to 12 with the participation of travel professionals from across the globe.
At the core of the Ministry’s action plan is the drive to protect the health of all residents and visitors, therefore the strict implementation of COVID-19 safety and hygiene measures remains a key focus. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is cooperating with the Ministry of Health and Population and the Egyptian Hotels Association, to develop and implement the measures that comply with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has issued the Regulations for the Resumption of Tourism to Egypt that are applicable to all tourist facilities across the country. Hygiene Safety Certificates are now a pre-requisite for hospitality establishments, archaeological sites, and museums to resume their operations and receive visitors.
COVID-19 testing centres have been established at Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports to conduct PCR tests on arrival for tourists who do not possess a negative PCR test certificate not older than 72 hours at a cost of US$30 or their equivalent. It also provides PCR and antigen tests for tourists on demand upon departure to their countries to ensure their safe return home.
Hotels quarantine guests who test positive for COVID-19 in separate rooms, covering the costs of lodging, food and soft drinks until their departure. Serious cases receive medication and treatment at hospitals free of charge from the Ministry of Health and Population until full recovery.
On June 18, 2020, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) granted Egypt its Safe Travel Stamp, which recognizes destinations around the world that have implemented health and hygiene protocols in line with WTTC’s Safe Travels Protocols.
Furthermore, Egypt has implemented temporary regulations with the aim of reviving its tourism and aviation sector, and incentivizing holidaymakers to consider the country for their next vacation. To achieve optimum value addition for everyone, Egypt is closely collaborating with industry partners, such as tour operators and airlines, in this regard.
As part of these measures, travellers arriving in the governorates of South Sinai, Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan are exempted from paying visa fees until April 30, 2021. In addition, the country has reduced jet fuel prices by 15 US cents per gallon from January 21 until end-2021. Meanwhile, airports in touristic governorates can benefit from a 50 percent discount on landing and housing fees and a 20 percent discount on ground handling fees until April 30, 2021.
Over the past few months, the country has witnessed a significant increase in tourist rates. Around 10,000 tourists a day arrive at airports located in touristic cities, which have consistently reported one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany used to rank first among source markets.
Dr. El-Enany said: “COVID-free destinations now top the wish list for the world’s tourists. In this context, Egypt’s stepped-up efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus have been successful, as the recent continued growth in inbound tourism numbers testifies. This positive trend is a clear proof that our tightened precautionary measures are respected and observed, and that visitors have confidence in our preparedness to tackle the greatest health crisis of our time. We look forward to welcoming a steady stream of tourists from all countries.”
Find out more at www.egypt.travel
Book now for Underwater Video Workshop at Marsa Shagra this November
Improve your underwater video skills while meeting new dive buddies and enjoying a relaxed week of world class diving at this Underwater Video Workshop in Marsa Shagra Village, Egypt from November 19th – 26th 2022.
After the huge success they had with their first live and on location Underwater Video Workshop in Bonaire earlier this year (see what the participants said about the workshop in Bonaire), Matthias Lebo and Sebastian Kuntz from the Underwater Filmmaking School spontaneously decided to host another Underwater Video Workshop, this time in the beautiful Red Sea.
A maximum of 10 participants will be able to enjoy 7 nights at Marsa Shagra Village near Marsa Alam with 5 days of unlimited house reef diving, some trips to the famous Elphinstone Reef, Marsa Abu Dabab and the Dolphin House, all while working on their underwater videography skills.
The Underwater Video Workshop includes:
- IN WATER COACHING:
Matthias & Sebastian will be actively coaching before, while and after diving with the group, sharing their knowledge, giving tips and helping with any underwater videography related questions that may come up during the workshop.
- EVENING SESSIONS:
The evenings will be used either to learn about specific underwater videography topics or to review your footage taken during the day. Mini-challenges will help put in action what you learn during those evening session.
- EQUIPMENT TESTING:
You will have the possibility to test out different underwater camera gear that they will bring with them and will be available to you on location throughout the workshop.
EUR 1950.- per person (double occupancy – twin or double)
EUR 2600.- per person (single occupancy)
Included in the workshop cost:
- 7 nights accommodation for double occupancy
(Add 650€ for single occupancy)
- full-board including normal soft drinks, water, coffee & tea
- Transfer from/to Marsa Alam Airport
(Add 52€ per person for Hurghada Airport)
- 5 days unlimited house reef diving
- 2 speedboat trips to Elphinstone (single tank)
- 1 trip to Marsa Abu Dabab (two tank)
- Possibility for personal coaching through Matthias & Sebastian during all diving days
- Possibility to try out different underwater camera gear
- Daily presentations/mini-challenges/footage reviews
- Fun filled week with like minded divers
- Exclusive Workshop Welcome Bag (EWWB)
NOT Included in the trip costs:
- All flights
- Any required visas for travel to and within Egypt
- All beverages (besides coffee, tea, water and normal softdrinks)
- Travel and Dive Insurance (strongly recommended)
- Rental Equipment (if needed)
- 32% NITROX (2€/tank)
- 15L tanks (3€/tank)
- Privat 1:1 sessions with Matthias or Sebastian
- Additional dive trips
- Personal expenses
- Gratitudes/tips for the hotel and dive center staff
The workshop is suitable for every experience level, from beginner all the way to experienced underwater videographers.
6 Best places to go diving in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a land of contrasts, rich in ancient history and dazzling cities with dramatic desert scenery throughout. It is one of the least-dived areas of the Red Sea and offers incredible diving among untouched reefs full of life. There are shallow reefs swathed in soft corals, deep walls and challenging wrecks to discover there. Boasting a wealth of reef and pelagic marine life, plus abundant sharks and mantas, Saudi Arabia needs to be on your diving wish list. Read on for our pick of the best places to go diving in Saudi Arabia before the rest of the world discovers this hidden gem.
Diving in Makkah
The Mecca Province, also known as the Makkah Province, is home to Mecca and the main port city of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah. This historically-rich area offers spectacular Red Sea marine life and is home to some of the best diving in all of Saudi Arabia. This is where most of the cities that offer scuba diving in Saudi Arabia are found.
The coastal town of Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s best-known dive destination and offers fantastic wreck diving for all experience levels. As well as hosting famous wrecks, Jeddah has thriving reefs busy with vibrant Red Sea marine life.
There you will find the Ann Ann wreck, the biggest wreck in Jeddah. She sunk in 1977 and is a staggering sight, covered in soft corals. This is a challenging dive, but with the right conditions, you can start at the stern at 32 meters deep and work your way up to 5 meters at the bow.
The Boiler wreck is another one of Jeddah’s top dives, offering deep reef and wreck diving from 45 meters deep up to 15 meters. As well as the wreck itself, there are caves, a tunnel, and a reef wall covered in black, pink and bright red corals. On any given day, you have the chance to see sharks, manta rays, and large pelagic fish at this remarkable dive site.
These are just two of the many highlights of diving in Jeddah. You can go diving from shore at Jeddah’s luxurious resorts or explore further afield by day-boat diving. With a range of dive centers to choose from, Jeddah is an excellent place to get a scuba certification and experience some of the best Red Sea diving there is.
- Farasan Banks, Al Lith
Al Lith, one of the largest seaports in Saudi Arabia, sits just south of Jeddah and is the gateway to one of Saudi Arabia’s best-loved dive spots; the Farasan Banks at Jabal Al-Lith Island.
Jabal Al-Lith Island is stunning; swathed in white-and beaches and surrounded by mangroves and thriving coral reefs full of marine life. This little island is fast-gaining the attention of tourists and is an unmissable dive spot.
At the Farasan Banks, you can enjoy diving in the light-filled shallows or explore the depths, which plummet down to 500 meters. It’s an excellent destination for novice divers and experienced technical divers alike.
The Banks are well-known for their diverse marine life and boast diverse corals, a mixture of Red Sea reef and pelagic fish, plus numerous sharks. White-tip reef sharks, grey reef, silky, and hammerhead sharks can all be found there.
- Five Sisters, Rabigh
Another great city for diving, Rabigh sits between Jeddah and Yanbu and offers excellent coral reef diving. It is most famous for hosting the Five Sisters Reef: a series of five coral atolls just offshore from Rabigh.
The Five Sisters Reef is Rabigh’s most popular dive area and offers outstanding diving. This area is completely untouched, and each atoll has different underwater landscapes, including steep walls, plateaus, columns, and anemone beds. The dive sites are teeming with a wealth of reef life and are covered in corals. Added to that, schools of pelagic fish, hammerheads and mantas are often seen in the blue.
Diving in Madinah
The Madinah Region hosts another of Saudi Arabia’s top dive areas, Yanbu. This ancient port city north of Jeddah dates back to around 500BC and was an important rest stop for traders navigating one of the world’s oldest trade routes, the Incense Route.
Today, Yanbu is a major port and fast-growing tourist destination, surrounded by azure waters, gorgeous beaches, and untouched reefs. With access to areas such as the Seven Sisters Reef, Yanbu truly deserves its nickname ‘the Pearl of the Red Sea’.
- Seven Sisters. Yanbu
Seven Sisters Reef is known for one thing – hammerhead sharks. This reef hosts these unmistakable sharks almost year-round and offers excellent reef diving as well. There are beautiful shallow coral landscapes to explore, plus plunging walls patrolled by schools of barracuda and snapper.
- Abu Galawa, Yanbu
Abu Galawa is part of the Seven Sisters Reef and is an underwater world covered in corals and visited by numerous sharks, including hammerheads. It is one of the most rewarding dives of the Seven Sisters Reef system.
Diving in Tabuk
Tabuk Province is less well-known for diving than other areas of Saudi Arabia, yet it boasts the longest stretch of Red Sea coastline in all of Saudi Arabia. It is home to the Red Sea Project and NEOM, two impressive coastal development projects that will put Tabuk firmly on the map of enviable places to go diving in the Red Sea.
Go diving in Tabuk before the rest of the world discovers this dive area. You will be rewarded with crystal-clear, warm waters and pristine coral reefs few people have ever dived. If you like exploratory diving, Tabuk could be the place for you.
Kathryn Curzon, a conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.