My trip to Sharm el-Sheikh was one of the most important trips I’ve done. Not only it allowed me to be in contact with a different culture, it also allowed me to add another country and continent to my list of visited places. This trip also marked the restart of my life as a traveller and brought back that wanderlust bug that you know too well.
Booking the trip to Egypt brought me some bitter-sweet emotions. The excitement of travelling to somewhere new and different from what I knew.
It also brought bitter emotions, because we weren’t sure if the country was safe (the protests in Cairo and the confrontations were still too fresh in our memories). Plus everyone warned us that we would probably get sick and told us not to drink the water, eat salads and avoid ice at all cost – in the end, we ignored all these warnings and didn’t get sick!
As soon as we left the aircraft and entered the arrivals hall, our driver was waiting for us, holding a card with my name. He informed us that we didn’t need to pay for the visa because we would stay in the Sinai area. The Egyptian stamp was the first stamp in our passports. We were extremely excited and dreamed of having a passport full of these little stamps.
Inside the car, our driver gave us some useful information about Sharm and went through the costume of tipping in Egypt. He told us that we should always carry a few Egyptian pounds to tip someone that did a good job or treated us well.
By the time we got to the hotel. the sun was already going down and after being shown to our own little villa, we decided to explore the area inside the resort. As we got close to the beach, my jaw dropped at the unbelievable view.
As we explored the resort further, we came in contact with the welcoming Egyptian nature. Every worker made us feel like the most important people in the world. We stopped by one shop inside the resort and the owner immediately made us tea, chatted amiably and even shared his dinner with us.
A Gorgeous Paradise
This part of Egypt was completely different from what I imagined. The water is crystal clear, full of corals and fish that come to swim around your feet if you stay still long enough. The people were friendly and very welcoming. Finally the food completely different from what I expected and quite tasty.
Snorkelling in the Blue Hole in Dahab or diving in Ras Muhammad National Park was a wonderful experience. It seemed like you were transported into an underwater paradise. The vibrant colours of the corals, the colourful fish with all sorts of shapes and sizes… It was a one of a kind experience.
Climbing a canyon to see the beautiful landscape of the desert or riding a camel along the waterline of the Dahab is an experience that will always stay with me and will always remember – even if I still prefer riding a horse than a camel.
The Importance Of Tourism
On the third day, we got picked up at the hotel by a tour guide in a jeep. He informed us that we will be picking up a few more people before heading to the port where we will spend a whole day on a boat, diving, snorkelling and relaxing.
As the jeep drove along the empty road, no people or cars in sight other with exception of one car that kept it’s distance from ours. We kept talking with our guide and asking him questions about his country, the Egyptian costumes and talked about marriage costumes (he was to be married soon)
Fun Fact: Did you know that the groom has to offer gold to the bride so the family accept the marriage? Also, whatever the bride earns while married, it’s hers even if they divorce.
One of our travelling companions spots the car that has been following us for some time and asks the guide about it. We all stare at the car and notice a man dressed in black carrying a machine gun – that made us worry a little bit.
“Oh they are escorting us. They are Policemen, we hire them to keep us safe on the roads. Tourism is very important for us. Without it we won’t have a job and can’t provide to our families. We need to make sure you are safe at all times”
We all relax and keep our trip towards the port where our boat is waiting so we can start a day out and eventually dive on Ras Muhammad National Park.
As we chatted with our guide, we learned that it’s very hard to find a job in Cairo and that the tourism industry provided enough work for everyone from and around Sharm-El-Sheik surrounding areas.
This is a clear example of how good tourism can be for everyone. As we rode the jeep, we could see undeveloped areas all over and even more areas in which the building of a new resort had started.
This massive growth in tourism didn’t come without its price and the usual growth pains of a destination. The coral in the private beaches that belong to the resorts was dying and the sea was being polluted by thousands of people bathing in it while wearing non-biodegradable sunscreen.
Sharm-El-Sheikh was popular amongst holiday makers because of the cheap prices, the beautiful beaches, the exciting sports and the friendliness of the locals. It’s hard to believe that something could turn this popular destination into a place to avoid at all costs.
The unfortunate events of October 31 in 2015 brought a halt to Sharm-El-Sheikh popularity and it would deeply damage this part of Egypt.
The following days after the Metrojet Flight 9268 was brought down by a bomb killing the 217 passengers and the 7 crew were chaos. Airlines sent a lot of empty planes to try and take home as many people possible . Many flights had to be diverted and had to spend the night elsewhere because the airport couldn’t cope with such high demand for flights.
On the ground, the airport turned into a campsite with people sleeping on the floor and benches. Bags were everywhere. Holidaymakers just wanted to go home, to forget the holidays and to feel safe once more.
This attack shocked the world, it hurt two countries deeply and destroyed holidays of so many people. The attack damaged not only Russia but Egypt as well. All those people that relied on tourism to live and made everyone feel welcome, were now in danger of losing their jobs and ways to provide for their families.
The Guardian released a piece about the collapse of the tourism in Sharm el-Sheikh. After being there, seen the amazing people and culture it really breaks my heart to see the state of decay that the whole place fell into.
Is This The End of Sharm El-Sheikh
It’s hard to guess how this part of Egypt will fare after this tragic event. It’s even harder to try and predict if Sharm-El-Sheikh will ever be popular amongst holiday makers and if tourism can bring back jobs and income for the locals.
With most governments recommending travellers to avoid Sharm-El-Sheikh at all costs and with so many flights cancelled from the U.K. perhaps the coral reef will have the opportunity to recover some of its health since people stopped contributing to its destruction.
If you would like to visit a place that’s very similar to Sharm and allows you the same sort of holidays, you can still fly to Hurghada in Egypt.