Leading Sharm Operator Delays Opening Due to Covid-19 Pandemic
Camel Dive Club, one of Sharm El Sheikh's longest-running dive centres, has announced that it will remain closed until March 2021 due to the financial burden placed upon it by the loss of business caused the coronavirus pandemic.
The news will come as yet another blow to the beleagured resort, which has struggled since the massive drop in tourism that followed the downing of a Russian airliner in 2015. While Egypt has lifted its restrictions on tourism for operators that have met stringent health and safety meaures, the UK's FCO still advises against all but essential travel to the country.
The following statement was posted on Facebook on 26 August, by Camel's founder and CEO, Hesham Gabr:
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT from Founder & CEO, Hesham Gabr
Dear Valued Camel guests and friends,
It is not very often that I feel I have to address you but today I am writing this letter to all of you with a heavy heart.
Since 1986, the date of Camel’s opening, we have had to endure and face many challenges. The last decade in particular was extremely hard due to the events that have taken place in Egypt and in particular the Sinai.
This time we are facing an unprecedented event that has shaken the whole world and forced us on March 19th into a temporary shut down of all diving and hotel activities. This worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill, and tourism has been the worst affected of all major economic sectors. Businesses were forced to shut down, many have lost their jobs and some have lost their lives.
Although the current situation is much improved, the uncertainty of flights remains a major hurdle for the resumption of travel. Therefore, I have decided to target the date of March 20th, 2021 for the reopening of Camel Dive Club & Hotel. We hope this will be the time when we all can travel, dive, dine, and enjoy holidays freely and safely.
My main priority from the date of the temporary shut down has been the livelihood of all Camel staff. It is the Camel staff that makes the whole Camel experience possible, something that you have grown to love about us. If I don't have my staff then I don't have Camel. I am not willing to lose my staff and will protect them whatever comes my way no matter how hard it gets. Each member of my staff is unique which I am sure you will agree with. I have taken it upon myself to make sure that every member of staff including my freelance instructors are looked after and still receive an income and does not have the door closed in their face.
In many countries, I have read about furlough and how governments have helped out small businesses. Please, let me assure you that unfortunately, this does not happen in Egypt. Here I had to take loans from banks because I felt that, ethically, I must support those who have been supporting me all these years and contributed so heavily in Camel’s success. We are after all an extended family, Camel Family.
This is obviously a heavy financial burden during a time of no revenue and with the cost of living increasing, but the day that we reopen I want to reopen with all my Camel Family around me, I don't see any other way.
I am sorry to break this news, I know many of you had holidays planned for the coming months, but again given the circumstances I believe this is the best course of action for Camel’s future and the safety of both our valued guests and staff.
As every cloud has a silver lining, due to the long break the underwater world is now even more spectacular. We are here for you and waiting for you to come back and enjoy the unbeatable Red Sea diving again.
I really hope to see you all in 2021, we need your support now more than ever. We need you to get in touch and book now for next year, we need you to pack those dive bags dust off the logbooks and GET YOUR DIVE ON! Please tell your friends and family and get them involved.
I wish you, your family and loved ones well, stay safe.
Founder & CEO