Egypt’s Environmental Affairs Agency has decided to resume diving and scuba activities for yachts on cruises in six nature reserve diving sites in South Sinai, starting December 2020, a statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Environment read Wednesday.
The South Sinai permitted diving sites are: the Temple, North Laguna, South Laguna, White Island, Electricity, and Map.
This comes after the cessation of diving activities for about nine months amid coronavirus pandemic measures.
South Sinai governorate has been among the governorates seeing the lowest rates of coronavirus infection in Egypt. Unlike Cairo, Alexandria and Gharbiya governorates that are seeing the highest rates of infection, South Sinai, Minya, Suez and Ismailia have recently seen a drop in infection rates, Egypt’s health ministry announced Wednesday.
According to the statement, “These sites were chosen after carrying out a number of field studies and scientific surveys, and after ensuring that they are distinguished by all the appropriate environmental requirements for diving sites to achieve the enjoyment of those involved in diving activities,” quoting Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad.
The decision stipulates that all diving centres and tourism facilities implement regulatory and environmental controls to carry out marine activities.
The resumption of activities comes within the framework of the ministry’s efforts to achieve sustainable development in natural reserves, support ecotourism activities, and preserve the natural resources and touristic position of the region, as well as supporting those working in tourism-related marine activities.
According to the British Dive Magazine, Egypt ranked the second best diving destination in the world in 2020 after gaining the same position in 2019.
In September, Egypt’s environment ministry launched ECO Egypt, a campaign aimed at promoting nature reserves and ecotourism in Egypt, with the aim of raising public awareness about the importance of the environment, natural resources and environmental tourism.
At the time, Fouad said the three-year campaign would introduce eco-friendly destinations in Egypt for tourists to enjoy nature's creations, learn about the cultures of local communities, and have a diverse and rich experience.
The campaign kicked off in Egypt’s oldest reserve, Ras Mohamed, declared a natural protectorate in 1983, that is home to 220 species of coral reefs and 1,000 species of fish.