Dive Point, a recreational and technical diving centre based in Hurghada, Egypt has made a plastic pledge to coincide with this year’s Earth Day, by permanently reducing their onboard plastic waste.
In 1969 at a UNESCO conference John McConnell proposed that an annual day be put in place to support and promote environmental protection. The first ‘Earth Day’ was held on the first day of spring (in the northern hemisphere) on 21st March 1970. The date later moved to 22nd April.
“We are always looking at ways to recycle and we wanted to mark Earth Day in a positive manner”, stated Regina Rinkenburger, Dive Point’s Operation Manager. In some countries, such as Germany and Canada it is really easy to recycle. In Egypt it can be more challenging, therefore we need to be cleverer with our waste.
We have found that recycling plastic is not a simple process; hence we must put in place as many ways as we can to reduce our plastic use. This week we have installed 19 litre water fountains on our dive boats. Each fountain is the equivalent of 31 small plastic bottles of water. Guests are welcome to fill their water containers as many times as they like. These fountains have already made a huge difference to the amount of plastic waste coming off our boats.”
What a great way to start the week. We have three pieces of positive #BalloonRelease news!
As March drew to a close we talked to the British magazine Horse & Hound about the Marine Conservation Society‘s online pledge. The MCS is actively urging people to sign their pledge to help the charity create an interactive map, to show support for balloon release bans around the UK.
As you can see in the news cutting below, we are delighted that news of the MCS #BalloonRelease Pledge made it into Horse & Hound.
“The Marine Conservation Society launched a campaign on 22 March, calling on people to lobby the councils to ban balloon and lantern releases, as it has seen the harm they cause to sea and shore life.”
TUMC’s Roz Lunn was also quoted in this article.
‘Rosemary Lunn, who works in communications in the diving industry, pointed out that Helium is a finite resource and is needed for vital work in medicine. “Times have moved on and ideas need to change”, she said.’
The second piece of good news comes from Australia and concerns a support group called ‘The Compassionate Friends‘. This group helps bereaved parents and siblings by providing opportunities for families to come together. One of TCF SA’s key events is an annual balloon release. This year’s event was due to be held on Sunday 23rd April.
It should be stated that TCF SA did not understand the impact of ‘environmentally friendly’ latex balloons until No Balloon Release Australia advised them according.
After learning the facts, a committee member of TCF SA and an organiser of the balloon release event confirmed that the group would immediately look into an environmentally friendly alternative event to replace the balloon release.
“Our information previously had been that by using supposedly biodegradable balloons, our event was safe for the environment. We’re saddened to know this is not the case.
It seems we are harming the environment by releasing balloons – this is certainly not our intention – so the committee will revise the plans for the event and come up with another way to acknowledge our precious children.”
Well done to all concerned.
And finally an update on last week’s Poundbakery balloon release.
Earlier today Poundbakery released the following statement via social media.
“We at Poundbakery are incredibly sorry for last week’s balloon release PR stunt. Whilst we did use biodegradable materials, we did not realise that these materials could still have such a negative impact on the environment and wildlife. We were both naive and ignorant of the devastation this can cause, which is why we would like to donate £1000 to an environmental charity. We are currently in the process of looking for a local north west based charity and will update you all when we have found the right one.”
Thank you Poundbakery for listening.
Did you hear the one about Poundbakery, who thought it would be a fab idea to potentially maim and kill wildlife, whilst wantonly littering the Greater Manchester area?
It is quite possible however that you read about the bakery releasing 500 helium balloons, containing free sandwich vouchers in Bolton, as a PR stunt.
This ill conceived stunt, along with Poundbakery’s Marketing Manager, Keely Palin, certainly both deserve an entry in this year’s PR Hall of Shame.
Barely 20 days ago, on 20th March, Horse and Hound reported that a young horse ran through a gate, broke two of her legs and then her neck after choking on a helium balloon that had landed in her field.
Keely Palin told The Bolton News on 7th March 2017, “The sky is the limit with this campaign and we can’t wait to see where the balloons end up.”
Whilst Bolton and Greater Manchester are not known for their turtle population, it is a shame that Ms Palin seems to have not yet grasped that the environment needs to be positively accounted for when planning and executing every piece of PR.
At present the Marine Conservation Society is urging the public to back the banning of all balloon releases.
Currently over 50 UK local authorities including Cornwall County, Durham, Monmouthshire, Worcestershire etc, have agreed to implement a ban on balloon and lantern releases on their land.
After releasing the 500 balloons, Poundbakery proudly posted the following statement on their Facebook page.
“As promised, here’s the video of the balloon release…we can confirm that the balloons (complete with FREE LUNCH vouchers) headed South East, towards Yorkshire and Manchester. However, with the British weather, they could be anywhere by now. Keep a lookout and post any pictures of the balloons in the sky…happy hunting!”
Poundbakery is encouraging everyone to tweet a photo of themselves with their Poundbakery voucher to @poundbakery with the hashtag #FreeLunch and #GoLarge. Alternatively you could always email Poundbakery with your views on balloon releases.
The hashtags for the campaign to stop balloon releases include #Pollution, #Litter, #BalloonsBlow, #Wildlife and #DontLetGo
So Ms Keely Palin. Here’s a piece of advice. A bad publicity stunt is memorable for all the wrong reasons, so here is a chance to make it right.
- Organise a Poundbakery sponsored beach clean
- Donate funds to the Marine Conservation Society to help them educate others who don’t understand just how damaging balloon releases can be
- Sign the MCS’s pledge to help the charity ban balloon releases
- And how about feeding 500 homeless people? One for every balloon you released!
Now has anyone got Bolton Council’s telephone number to get them to ban balloon releases?
The skipper of the MV Halton (Bob Anderson) is seeking new boat crew for the 2017 season.
The sturdy Halton is 21 mt /70 ft former Danish trawler providing day-boat and liveaboard charters to divers in Scapa Flow and beyond.
She is primarily based in Scapa Flow and dives from Trondheim in Norway to the Hebrides and Malin Head.
The job includes filling cylinders, keeping the dive deck tidy, rope work and looking after the divers.
The hours can be punishing, the time away wearing and living on the boat claustrophobic.
This is not a long-term diving holiday. However time is allowed for the crew to get into the water and dive some remarkable places. You’ll be part of a strong supportive team and receive training in areas you are unsure.
Bob Anderson has traditionally employed a diver because they understand the customers.
“Please be very aware you will be ‘front of house’ and be facing clients daily: a good manner with people is of prime importance!
Having said all that, this is a rare and valuable opportunity. Your predecessors have laid a high standard and allowed to boat to cover an itinerary that is second to none. I have relied on some of the best people you can imagine and the Halton has absorbed their hard work into her oak.”
You will receive a wage, all food etc and accommodation aboard the boat and any training needed. If you can step up to that challenge, get in touch.
Ever wondered how you can get involved to safely rescue stranded Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and seals?
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue team run a one day course. It includes practical sessions in the sea using life sized and weighted models of a whale, a dolphin and a seal.
There are currently spaces available on the course running on Sunday 9th April 2017 in Brixham, Devon.
To book your place, click here. Don’t forget your drysuit!
A brand new scuba diving magazine has been launched in the UK this month.
‘Scuba Diver’ is the brain child of Mark Evans and Ross Arnold.
Mark Evans is no stranger to the scuba publishing industry. He has edited Sport Diver (UK) for the past 18 years, growing the monthly publication from 76 pages to 148 pages. (Other dive magazines tend to be approximately 116 pages). During his tenure he published a monster issue of 220 pages.
“I wanted to mark a significant Sport Diver anniversary with a spring edition comprising of some long 16-page special supplements in it. It was fascinating producing such a big magazine”.
Mark Evans’ journalism career began when he was 18. He initially worked as a newspaper journalist on a number of daily and weekly newspapers, including the Yorkshire Evening Press, before joining PA Listings. This was a TV listings company – it supplied ready-made TV guides to national papers.
“At the start of 1999 I was working at the Goole Times when I spotted an advertisement in the Press Gazette for ‘an editor for a water-sports magazine’. It turned out to be a ten-year-old magazine called ‘Sport Diver’.
I started as Editor in March 1999, taking over from Gavin Parsons.
At the time I was the youngest editor of a dive magazine in the world – I was aged 25 – so my appointment caused quite a stir.
I quickly learned that there is a massive difference between writing for a newspaper and editing a magazine. But being a proud Yorkshire man I got stuck in.
My love of diving began when I was 12. My uncle was a commercial diver. He introduced me to this amazing sport off the coast of Anglesey in North Wales. A place that I still love diving today! As with many of us, I was immediately bitten by the bug. So landing this job was my dream come true. I was able to combine my hobby with my job at Sport Diver (UK).”
Over the next 18 years Mark Evans and his team built Sport Diver(UK) into a highly regarded major magazine, winning respect from the industry and a EUROTEK Media Award.
At the start of this year Bonnier – the American owners – took the business decision to close Sport Diver (UK) and just run with their USA version of Sport Diver. It meant that the British team (Mark Evans, Ross Arnold, Matt Griffiths, Will Harrison and Sam Wren) were made redundant. Subscribers were given two choices – receive Sport Diver (US), or have their subscription refunded.
However Bonnier liked Evans’ work. They wanted him to join their senior editorial team in Orlando, Florida. However, with the chances of getting a H1B professional-level visa less than 30% (the annual quote of 65,000 is vastly over-subscribed, to the tune of 350,000 plus people, meaning it goes to a lottery process), he felt it was too much of a risk with his family’s future at stake.
“I couldn’t risk my family’s future on such long odds – I didn’t want a lottery to decide where I went from here, so I thought that I ought to do what people had been telling me to do for the past 15 years or so. Set up my own media company and our first title is….Scuba Diver magazine! I’m working with the core team from Sport Diver UK – Ross Arnold (co-founder and advertising) and Matt Griffiths (art designer) – and the first issue will be landing in key dive centres in the next few days.
I am very proud of what I achieved at Sport Diver (UK).
I was there exactly 18 years. My first issue was March 1999. My last issue was March 2017. It was very disappointing when the title closed, but now the Scuba Diver team and I have a bright future to look forward to. The support from the industry has been nothing short of spectacular, and I will be eternally grateful for that.
So what can readers expect from Scuba Diver magazine? At the end of the day, diving is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable activity. So I try and keep this at the core of everything I have done, and intend to do.
It is especially important in this day and age, when we are competing with the likes of kite surfing and mountain biking, etc, which has a youthful and exciting appeal. Diving has got to move with the times to attract younger people. I can’t wait to get stuck in!”
The print version of the inaugural issue of Scuba Diver will be arriving in a dive centre or club near you in the next couple of days, so check out the list below to find out your nearest stockist and go pick up a copy for FREE. This list will be updated regularly as new stockists of Scuba Diver come online.
If you can’t wait to pick up a copy from one of the stockists listed below, you can download a digital version of the first issue of Scuba Diver Magazine here.
Scuba Diver Magazine Stockists
- Above and Below Dive Centre, Hull, East Yorkshire
- Anglesey Divers, Holyhead, Anglesey
- Aquaholics, Portstewart, Northern Ireland
- Aquanorth, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Northumberland
- Aquanaut Scuba & Snorkelling Centre, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey
- Aquasport International, Solihull, West Midlands
- Aquatechnique, Enderby, Leicestershire
- Atlantic Scuba, Prenryn, Cornwall
- Big Squid, Clapham, London
- Blue Orb, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
- Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
- Bolton Area Divers, Bolton, Lancashire
- Calypso Diving, Redcar, Cleveland
- Cameras Underwater, Ottery St Mary, Devon
- Canary Divers, Blackburn, Lancashire
- Capernwray, Over Kellet, Lancashire
- Chesterfield Adventure Centre, Derbyshire
- Christal Seas Scuba, Norwich, Norfolk
- Commercial Diver Training, St Austell, Cornwall
- Coral Cay Conservation, Tongham, Surrey
- Cork Dive Centre, County Cork, Ireland
- Dark Water Gallery, Brighton, East Sussex
- Deep Blue Sports, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear
- Divecrew, Crowthorne, Berkshire
- Dive In Scuba, Dublin, Ireland
- Diveline, Ipswich, Norfolk
- Dive Machine, Tonbridge, Kent
- Divemaster Scuba, Aspley, Nottinghamshire
- Divestyle, Wokingham, Royal Berkshire
- Dive Wimbledon, London
- Diveworld, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
- Divers Down, Babbacombe, Devon
- Divers Down, Swanage, Dorset
- Dives Warehouse, Bradford, West Yorkshire
- Diving Unlimited London, Bexleyheath, Kent
- Dream Divers, Rotherham, South Yorkshire
- Euro-Divers, Male, Republic of Maldives
- Extreme Marine Diving, Bristol, Somerset
- Fin Divers, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
- Fins Scuba, Preston, Lancashire
- Fourth Element, Helston, Cornwall
- Glaciere Diving & Sailing, Liverpool
- Go Dive, Derby, Nottinghamshire
- H2O Divers, Hindley, Wigan
- Island Divers, Cowes, Isle of Wight
- Kent Scuba, Margate, Kent
- Lakeside Diving & Watersports Centre, West Thurrock, Essex
- Lumb Brothers, Moston, Manchester
- Miflex Hoses and KUBI, Enderby, Leicestershire
- Mikes Dive Store, Chiswick, London
- Mulberry Divers, Selsey, West Sussex
- Narked At 90, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
- New Horizons Scuba, Macclesfield, Cheshire
- Northampton Scuba School, Northamptonshire
- Ocean Addicts, Cork, Ireland
- Oceandivers, County Wicklow, Ireland
- Oceanic, Honiton, Devon
- O’Three, Portland, Dorset
- Ocean Leisure, City of Westminster, London
- Ocean Turtle Diving, Basingstoke, Hampshire
- Orca Scuba Diving Academy, Basildon, Essex
- Otter Watersports, Dudley Hill, West Yorkshire
- Overland Underwater, Harrogate, Yorkshire
- Overland Underwater, York, Yorkshire
- Oyster Diving, Hove, East Sussex
- Planet Divers, Eastbourne, East Sussex
- Planet Scuba, Bishop’s Stortford, Essex
- Porthkerris Divers, St Keverne, Cornwall
- Probe Diving Services, Oldham, Greater Manchester
- Professional Diving Academy, Dunoon, Argyll
- Puffin Dive Centre, Oban, Argyll
- Reefers and Wreckers, Barrow, Lancashire
- Robin Hood Watersports, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire
- Sandford and Downs, Plymouth, Devon
- Scuba 2000, Uckfield, West Sussex
- Scubadive West, County Galway, Ireland
- Scuba Dream, North Cave, East Yorkshire
- Scubaducks Dive Centre, Aylesbury, Buckingham
- Scuba Leeds, West Yorkshire
- Scuba Zone, Finchley, London
- Severn Tec Diving, Shewsbury, Shropshire
- Sunderland Scuba Centre, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
- Sussex Scuba, Sevenoaks, Kent
- TAL Scuba, Christchurch, Dorset
- The Cornish Diving School, Falmouth, Cornwall
- The Dive Centre, County Clare, Ireland
- Triton Scuba, Southsea, Hampshire
- Underwater Explorers, Portland, Dorset
- Vale Royal Sub Aqua Club, Winsford, Cheshire
- Vivian Dive Centre, Caernarfon, Wales
- Vobster Quay, Radstock, Somerset
- Wavecrest Scuba, Newquay, Cornwall
Brits wishing to visit Egypt for up to 30 days normally require an entry visa.
The single entry Egyptian visa represented great value until Spring 2014. It cost US$15 and thousands of scuba divers were quite content to pay it. Then on 1st May 2014 the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism increased the single entry visa fee to US$25.
A mere three years on the Interior Minister, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar declared on Thursday 16th February 2017 that new fees would be introduced shortly.
Expat Cairo reported “the decree stipulates raising fees to 400 Egyptian Pound for single-entry visas and 500 Egyptian Pound for multi-entry visas“.
On first reading this seems a tad confusing because 400 Egyptian Pounds equates to approximately US$25. It seems that the Foreign Ministry has now waded in. They have announced that visa prices will be raised by 140%.
On 26th February 2017 the Egypt Independent reported that “The Foreign Ministry has decided to raise entry fees to Egypt from various land, sea, and air ports from US$25 to $60, starting March 1st, amid the rejection of tourism sector companies and officials. The immigration authorities, port authorities and the Tourism Companies Chamber have been notified of the decision.”
Raising entry visa fees will decrease the inflow of tourists – Bashar Abu Taleb, Captain of Red Sea Tour Guides
It is believed that the rationale for the increase is to bring the visa price in line with other countries. The Government Ministry has reviewed the cost of visas for Egyptian citizens visiting the UK, Europe and America and found them to be substantially more than to enter Egypt.
However this announcement has caused consternation within the tourism sector. Egyptian tourism has been suffering a chronic world of hurt for several years.
In 2010 14.7 million tourists visited the country spending *US$11 billion in the country.
Unfortunately, the tough combination of the Luxor Shooting (1997), the bombings (Taba 2004, Sharm 2005, Dahab 2006) and the 2011 Egyptian revolution has had a negative impact on international tourism.
This crisis was exasperated when Metrojet Flight 9268 took off from Sharm El Sheikh Airport on 31st October 2015. 219 Russians, four Ukrinians and one Belarusian lost their lives when the Russian passenger jet was downed by an ISIL bomb.
The ghost of Metrojet Flight 9268 continues to haunt Egyptian tourism. According to a report released by market research firm Reportlinker – citing Mohamed Abdel Gabbar (Head of Foreign Tourism, Egyptian Tourism Authority) – Italian bookings have dropped by 90% when compared to 2015 season. He observed that the rate of reservations for the coming summer is “worrisome“. No wonder the country’s tourism revenue plummeted to *US$3.4 billion in 2016. (Source: *Central Bank of Egypt).
Tourism is a vital key revenue source for tens of thousands of Egyptians. Their livelihoods and families depend on overseas visitors, hence there have been numerous calls for the planned visa price to be re-examined. It does nothing to positively promote tourism, and in fact, makes other countries a fiscally more enticing alternative destination. For example, Brits currently pay just US$20 for a Turkish tourist visa, and nothing to enter Cyprus or Malta.
Officials from the Tourism Companies Chamber have also stressed that the timing of the decision is inappropriate and would harm the tourism inflow to Egypt in light of the travel warnings currently in place. It was also raised that other countries around the world have cancelled visa charges to attract tourists.
MP Mohamed El-Masound – a member of Parliament’s tourism and aviation committee – has written to the Speaker urging him to cancel the visa fee rise stating that “the decision would have negative effects on the tourism sector”. He also questioned why the Cabinet would take such a decision when other countries such as Tunisia has dismised similar proposals in favour of promoting tourism.
If this goes ahead, Egypt will be nudged down the list of my favorite holiday destinations
The lobbying has made a small impact.
The Tourism Ministry issued a statement to the news agency MENA confirming that the visa price hike implementation would be postponed until 1st July 2017. No reason was stipulated for the delay. It does seem the decision over visa fees reflects some of the confusion in the way the Government’s functions.
I was fortunate enough to live and work in Egypt for two years as a professional dive guide and instructor. My daily office involved visting some of the very best scuba sites in the world. As I reflect on my time in wonderous Egypt I have nothing but incredibly good memories of the diving, the people and the country.
I hope most sincerely that this visa price rise is reviewed and prices are held. Egyptian tourism is having such a tough time at present and I foresee that if this price rise goes ahead, nothing good will come of it at this time.