COVID-19 in the Sinai: Blow to the Area’s Tourism or a Boon for Its Environment?

Between 2020 and 2021, Egypt has witnessed a drop of over 67 percent in the number of tourists visiting it. But a local environmentalist says it has actually been a blessing for the coral reefs and the region’s environment.

The past ten years haven’t been easy on Ayman Taher, an ECO-tourism expert, environmentalist, and the CEO of Blue Heaven Holidays, a company focusing on the diving experience in the Red Sea.

First, it was the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011 that saw the Sinai Peninsula undergo turbulence after the grip of the central government had been weakened, allowing terrorists to rear their heads. 

Then it was the downing of a Russian plane with its 224 passengers by Daesh* terrorists that turned the Sinai into a dangerous area, where many airlines refused to fly. 

And, more recently, it was the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that closed off the area to foreigners.

Is Tourism Doomed?

Since the outbreak of the virus in Egypt in February 2020, the North African country has seen a number of waves, registering over a thousand new daily cases during peak infection periods.

To contain the spread of the disease, Egyptian authorities have implemented a number of restrictive measures. They shut down private and public institutions, restricted mass gatherings and made wearing of face masks indoors mandatory.

In the Sinai, they reduced accommodation capacity in hotels and resorts to 50 percent. Open buffets and self-catering have been scrapped, while PCR tests…

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