Egypt's diving chamber protests subsidy removal

Dalia Farouk, Ahmed Feteha, Wednesday 29 Jun 2011

The Ministry of Tourism has cut off its LE 6 million annual subsidy to the diving chamber, laying off all 39 employees

(Photo: Reuters)

Employees of the Chamber of Diving Tourism and Maritime Activities have started a strike in their offices, protesting the ministerial decree to cut off the LE6 million annual subsidy the chamber receives from the ministry of Tourism.

Supported by diving centres’ staff, the protesters have threatened to stage a sit-in outside the Sharm El-Sheikh international hospital, where former president Hosni Mubarak is staying, to demand the removal of the Tourism Minister, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour.

“We were informed that all chamber employees were fired, due to lack of funding,” says Mohamed Hassan, training coordinator at the chamber.

“The chamber does not have the resources to sustain itself unsupported. They fired us because they can’t pay our salaries.” According to Hassan, when the chamber was established in 2009, the Ministry of Tourism pledged a yearly subsidy that would last for five years. “They fired everybody, all 39 employees, giving us eight days’ notice.”

Al-Ahram Online has been unable to obtain a statement from the Ministry of Tourism, which does not currenty have an official spokesman.

Hassan indicated that the tourism minister ignored several complaints and meeting requests that the employees have made in attempts to resolve the situation.

Diving tourism brings in an annual income of around LE 9 billion, as Egypt is one of the top diving destinations worldwide.

The chamber is the only official entity that inspects diving centers periodically to guarantee compliance with international standards.

It also issues certification letters to divers ensuring they have received proper training and diving instruction. 

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