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British travel industry joins forces to seek swift government decision regarding Sharm El Sheikh

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Sharm El Sheikh

More than 30 travel businesses representing  hundreds of thousands of British travellers have attended a meeting with the all-party parliamentary group on Egypt in the House of Commons and House of Lords to explain the very negative impact that the current flight ban to Sharm El Sheikh is having on their businesses and to seek support for a swift government decision.

The travel businesses attending included airlines, tour operators, hoteliers and Nile cruise companies which have now joined forces to create the Travel Industry Egypt Advisory Group working with the Egyptian Tourist Office in London. Group members will meet regularly to build travel and government relations and include Monarch Group, Egyptair, Discover Egypt,  Egyptian Experience, Fleetway Holidays, Sharm Direct, Holiday Designers, Scuba Travel, Orbital Travel, The Holiday Place, Travel Republic, Soliman Travel, Holiday Gems, Saga Holidays, Cyplon Holidays, Cox & Kings Travel, Oonas Divers, Expedia, Noble Caledonia, Kuoni/Voyages Jules Verne, Mosaic Holidays and Red Sea Holidays.

Members of the new Travel Industry Egypt Advisory Group told parliamentarians and Lords that the nearly year-long ban on flights to Sharm El Sheik is having a serious impact on their businesses. One operator said he was now selling as much in one year as he used to sell in a week to the destination. Others expressed frustration that British businesses are being penalised compared to the German and other European companies which are now able to fly back into Sharm el Sheikh. The delegation explained that Foreign and Commonwealth Advice has affected the entire country’s reputation because travellers are confused about whether they can travel to Egypt and where they can go. The meeting also highlighted that uncertainty of when the ban will be changed is causing concern because airlines have to plan their schedules at least four months before departure. If a decision on the flight ban is not taken in the next two weeks many airlines will miss the opportunity to return to Sharm el Sheikh for winter 2016/17.

Lord Stone welcomed the travel industry group and introduced the meeting by describing how representatives of the all-party parliamentary group had recently visited Sharm El Sheikh and found the resort to be both peaceful and welcoming. Lord Stone then confirmed he has written to the UK government requesting them to fix a date for the lifting of the ban.

Sir Gerald Howarth MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Egypt also commented on the large contingent attending the meeting and said this was clearly a sign of the pressure facing the travel industry. He advised  travel companies to speak up about the impact the ban was having on their businesses, to write to their local MPs and to communicate clearly what needs to be done. Sir Gerald Howarth told the UK group of travel companies that, during his three visits to Egypt this year he’d met representatives of the Department for Transport who had told him that they felt that the conditions had been met to enable flights to resume. Sir Gerald Howarth has written to Prime Minister Theresa May asking for a swift decision on the matter.

Lord Stone has asked the government what arrangements have been made to assess the impact of the ban on British travel businesses.

Prior to the meeting at the House of Lords, travel industry delegates attended a private briefing at the residence of H.E. Ambassador Nasser Kamel. He explained that Egypt has worked closely with British aviation security experts from the Department of Transport to implement a joint action plan to upgrade security in all Egypt airports. The leading British security firm Control Risks has assessed security measures and made recommendations which have been fully implemented by the Egyptian government. Leading security firms have been appointed to deliver an aviation security programme which includes recruiting and training up to 7000 staff at airports across Egypt. These firms are also advising Egypt’s leading private security firm, Falcon Group International, who have been tasked by the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation to provide long-term, sustainable, high-level security at all Egyptian airports. In addition the Egyptian government has independently allocated USD $26 million to enhance and improve airport security. H.E. Ambassador Kamel  said: “The safety and security of our citizens and visitors is paramount”.

Mr Khaled Fouda, Governor of South Sinai who welcome the parliamentary group and showed them all the upgrades and facilities in Sharm El Sheikh airport advised: “we believe we have done everything possible and more to deliver world class and secure airports. While Germany has taken a decision to resume flights on the basis of that work, the British government still hasn’t. We have to ask the British government to be clear and let us know if more needs to be done, or to lift the ban in line with the rest of Europe.”

Mr Samir Takla, advisor to the all-party parliamentary group on Egypt said: “We appreciate the input of the British travel industry in this discussion.  It is clear that it is now time for there to be a swift decision from the British government for the commencement of the flights.”

Rasha Azaizi, Director of the Egyptian State Tourist Office in London, said: “This long term ban on flights to Sharm El Sheikh is now affecting many UK travel businesses as well as airlines and  is causing deep consumer confusion. The Foreign and Commonwealth advice is currently that it is safe to visit Sharm El Sheikh but not to go through the airport. That’s given people the impression that they can’t visit Egypt when in fact British Airways, Easyjet, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Egyptair are all already operating direct flights to other airports in Egypt. For example a new direct flight from Heathrow to Luxor was launched just earlier this month. No other country apart from Russia still has a flight ban on flights to Sharm El Sheikh, but the UK government has still not yet made a decision. We have been led to understand that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of Transport are all now happy with the measures put in place following stringent security reviews. We truly feel it’s time for the British government to make a decision before the crucial winter holiday season.”

The Travel Industry Egypt Advisory Group will be holding regular meetings to discuss how the industry can work cooperatively together to present their case to parliament and to share insight and guidance on supporting the recovery of tourism to Egypt.

Which airlines are currently flying to Egypt from the UK?

Airlines flying from the UK to Egypt as at 3 October 2016 include Egyptair, British Airways (Heathrow to Cairo), Easyjet (Gatwick to Hurgarda) Thomson (Gatwick to Marsa Alam and Manchester to Hurgarda) Thomas Cook Airlines (Gatwick and Manchester to Hurgarda)Egyptair launched a weekly direct flight between Heathrow and Luxor on Monday 3rd October 2016.

What is the current FCO Advice about travel to Egypt?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice about travel to Egypt is that: “The tourist areas along the Nile river (including Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings) and the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada aren’t included in the areas to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel.” www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/egypt

Other countries have lifted a ban on flights

The German government lifted its ban earlier this year and direct flights between Germany and Sharm El Sheikh resumed this autumn. In September 2016 Turkish Airlines recommenced flights from Istanbul Atatrk airport to Sharm El Sheikh airport after an 11-month suspension. In addition, 11 fights from Italy to Sharm El Sheikh are scheduled to take place in October. This is in addition to the flights from other European and GCC countries.

How many British travellers are affected?

870,000 British travellers visited Egypt in 2015. Visitors in 2016 are down by more than 70%.

The peak of UK travellers to Egypt was in 2010 with more than 1.5 million UK visitors.

What is the All Party Parliamentary Group on Egypt?

The purpose of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Egypt is to strengthen relations between British and Egyptian parliamentarians and promote British-Egyptian relations among both chambers of the UK Parliament. The APPG consists of forty seven MPs and Peers.

The meeting with the British travel industry was held on Wednesday 19th October 2016.

What is the Travel Industry Egypt Advisory Group?

The Travel Industry Egypt Advisory Group is made up of tour operators, airlines, travel agents and short and long Nile cruise companies who are working together to communicate travel industry views to government, to support any requirement for safety and security for British travellers and to support the recovery of tourism to Egypt.

To find out more about diving in the Red Sea, visit www.gotoegypt.org.

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Mares & SSI launch new promotion

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SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.


The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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