The transfer of sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia will result in a 40% decline in annual diving activity, according to an official at the Chamber of Diving and Marine Activities.
The official, who spoke to Daily News Egypt on condition on anonymity, said that 40% of diving tourism to South Sinai visits Tiran island’s coral reefs.
The Egyptian government announced the demarcation of maritime borders with Saudi Arabia and the transfer of the islands from Egyptian administration during Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud’s visit to Cairo this week.
According to the official, the tourism sector’s losses will continue to increase, as more than 60% of the diving centres and marine activities in the Sinai Peninsula closed during 2015, especially with the decline of inbound European tourism to Egypt after the Russian plane crash at the end of October 2015.
The diving tourism industry’s losses during 2015, according to the official, amounted to approximately EGP 1.5bn, due to the decline in inbound tourism to Egypt.
Inbound tourism to Egypt declined over 2015 to 9.3 million tourists compared to 9.9 million during 2014.
Tourism revenue also fell to $6.1bn during 2015, compared to $7.3bn during 2014.