Two of Sharm El Sheikh's Most Iconic Dive Centres Close Due to Pandemic
In a major blow for the dive business in Sharm El Sheikh, Werner Lau and Sinai Divers have issued joint statements announcing that their dive centres will close due to financial problems brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sinai Divers is one of the oldest dive centres in Egypt, founded by German couple Rolf Schmidt and Petra Roeglin, who first started diving around the Sinai Peninsula in 1976 and opened their popular dive centre at the Ghazala Beach hotel in Na'ama Bay in 1987.
Werner Lau's dive centre has been in operation for some 20 years, and although it was forced to close in 2016 following the drop in tourism in the wake of the Russian Metrojet disaster, reopened in 2018 in partnership with Sinai Divers, which had to vacate its Ghazala Beach premises at the same time.
A statement posted on Facebook by Rolf and Petra shed light on the reasons for the closures:
In 2020, we were supposed to be celebrating 45 years of Sinai Divers! But the corona pandemic has changed the world and instead of celebrating we all had to close our first dive base. In these 45 years we have experienced and survived many things. Wars, terrorist attacks, the revolution and the effects of the plane crash. We gathered our strength and somehow we went on.
Everything is different this time. Since the bases were closed, 12 months have passed without revenue, but have continued to pay our staff a wage. But now with new financial obligations addressed to us, the economic burden is simply too high and we don't see reasonable economic opportunities for us for the next few years.
In recent years, the number of flights has been decreasing; there are no more direct flights from Germany and nobody knows if and when they will be available again.'
The closing dive centres will be taken over by Emperor Divers, another of Sharm's oldest and most well-known companies, which now also operates a fleet of liveaboards in the Red Sea, Maldives and Indonesia. Emperor has been sharing the same facilities at the Helnan Marina with Werner Lau and Sinai Divers since 2018, and will take on the Egyptian Staff from both operations.
Werner Lau and Sinai Divers' jointly-operated dive centre at the Oasis in Marsa Alam will remain in operation and is due to reopen this coming July. Sinai Divers' outlets in Dahab and Aqaba, Jordan, will also remain open for business once tourism resumes following the pandemic.