For the second day, hundreds of owners of tourist boats and diving centers in Hurghada suspended, on Sunday, their work in organizing cruises and diving trips in accordance with the agreement taken by workers in maritime activities, rejecting the decision of the Minister of Environment to collect a visit fee worth between 5 and 10 dollars per tourist and the diving centers responded to the decision bu suspending Marine trips where the diving areas were free from any presence of tourist attractions for the second day.
A statement to those involved in diving activities affirmed that any marine activity has been suspended, and this is because of the arbitrary decision issued by the Ministry of Environment, which entails the collection of levy fees on individuals and boats during cruises at all dive sites. The Ministry of Environment and Red Sea reserves was supposed to impose fees on the subject diving sites For national reserves only, not all dive sites.
Fees are estimated at amounts of 5 to 10 dollars per person using diving sites and 20 to 60 dollars on boats according to the size and length of the boat, in addition to the legal and recognized fees paid daily to taxes and annual insurance for boats, diving centers, marine activities and their employees.
This decision represents a very significant negative impact on diving tourism, and thus the cost will become outside the ability to cover in the short and long term. Also, the decision has a negative impact on tourists and divers coming to practice water sports in the Red Sea because of the high cost to them, and thus a depression will occur in the field and the greatest possibility will change their tourist destination for other comoetitor countries in the same field.
For his part, the board of directors of the Chamber of Diving and Marine Activities headed by Hisham Jabr expressed sorrow over the recent decisions issued by the Minister of Environment, which did not take the opinion of the Ministry of Tourism or the opinion of the tourism sector to study the extent of the impact of these decisions on Egypt's coastal tourism, despite the Minister of Environment's claim otherwise.
A statement issued by the Chamber confirmed that since the issuance of these decisions, the Chamber of Diving Tourism and the Egyptian Federation of Tourist Chambers tried to explain to the Minister of Environment that the tourism sector is always and never with the right of the state to collect fees to visit natural reserves, provided that the value is determined after studying The Egyptian tourist market and its ability to withstand new financial burdens, and taking the principle of gradual collection of fees, and we warned against incursion and imposing fees on areas that are not among the reserves, but the Minister of Environment wants to impose fees on diving areas that are not protected in each of the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates.
The statement added that after the Minister of Environment stubbornly refused to amend its decisions and insisted on exporting the image, as it was looking for the right of the state as if we were against the right of the state and this is not true at all, we had to file lawsuits against this decisions, but unfortunately, the administrative court will not take a decision until after about a year.
The statement clarified that it was the best evidence of the failure of the Minister of Environment’s decisions to impose fees, which is evident in what came in this decision in Article 14 of Article 1 circulating the visit fee over the entire surface of the declared area as a natural reserve in the Ras Muhammed area, and the coast of Sharm El Sheikh with the same value. Legally an environmental management area, not a reserve, so how does a visit fee apply to it? Is there a nature reserve anywhere in the world with 200 hotels and 56,000 rooms?
After that, the Minister of Environment issued a so-called explanatory memorandum to explain how to implement its decision and excludes - in this memo - hotel guests, if these hotels are "facing" a natural reserve site.
The statement stressed that the basic principle is that if a visitation fee is imposed on the declared areas as reserves for all its visitors, then no one may be excluded from this fee except for reasons determined by law, and the reservations law does not permit the exclusion of any of the visitors from the visit fee, which is applied to those visiting a reserve such as Ras Muhammed from On board a boat, he pays the visit fee, and whoever comes onshore from the land also pays the visit fee, so when was the exception referred to in its explanatory note, even though the law did not give it the right to dispel the state’s right if it was protected as it claims?
The statement accused the Minister of Environment that she wanted to impose fees for visiting the reserves 4 times, the first time under the name of $ 5 for each tourist and the second time for the boats carrying the tourists ranging from $ 20 to $ 60 depending on the length of the boat, and the third time an annual fee for the diving center or marine activities To visit the reserves, its value is determined according to the financial statements of the company that owns the center. And the fourth time is an annual fee for the boat, to visit the reserves, and its value is determined according to the financial statements of the company that owns the boat.
The statement continued what we warned of is happening now because the problem has reached the international media, and we ask the Minister of Environment to freeze the decision until the decision is reached to reach a consensual solution that guarantees the right of the state and does not violate the law and does not harm the economy of tourism and its employees and ultimately preserves the reputation of the Egyptian tourist destination.
Source : Mohamed Soliman /Almasry Alyoum