Dear Minister Enough is Enough!
The Ministry State of Environment has had another stunning idea for bringing in cash – with effect from the 1st July an entry fee of LE40 (appx€5.50) per person per day is to be enforced for entry to the Wadi Gamal-Hammata National Park. This National Park is located in the southern Red Sea area and covers approximately 4,770 km² of land and over 2,000km² of Red Sea waters from Nakari in the north to Ras Banas in the south. This new fee is not just for day trippers but for ALL hotel guests, all divers, snorkelers, walkers, birdwatchers and beach users throughout the 6,000 plus km².
HEPCA is, to say the least, outraged by this new ruling concerning fees in Wadi Gamal.
HEPCA supports the concept of a fee system, after all it is proper that governments collect funds to protect their natural resources.
What is NOT proper is that in the last five years the National Conservation Sector has utterly failed to convince contributors and stakeholders of the value and usage of the monies collected.
Natural resources are depleted, abused and desecrated without intervention from the National Conservation Sector – the very people whose responsibility it is to protect them. Fishing activities in Brothers, Giftun, Daedalus, Rocky and St John’s, to name but a few, continue unabated without any attempt at law enforcement on behalf of the NCS. Rubbish piles up on the off shore islands, disregard for mooring regulations is widespread yet the National Conservation Sector, whose role it is to police these areas, do nothing. Dolphin harassment all over the Red Sea, at Shaab el Erg, Fanous , Sataya continues unregulated. Oil leaks in the north Red Sea have been apparent for more than 2 years now but the NCS have made no move to prevent, control or correct the potential damage from these leaks.
Moreover, the NCS appear to have a policy that fails abysmally to raise the level of awareness of the issues facing the national parks and their resources amongst its visitors.
In the last five years no visitor to the national parks has received a brochure, booklet, flier, presentation or seminar presenting these issues and garnering support and involvement from their visitors. They have not promoted the national parks or propagated necessary information and as a result have suffered a dramatic loss of sympathy and support from visitors and stakeholders alike.
Due to the current lack of any form of management plan and a total lack of vision on the part of the NCS, HEPCA can find no way forward but to stand against all reforms to the National Parks fees system.
Forcing hotels, dive companies and tour operators to collect a daily fee from all their guests without assessment, without consultation with stakeholders and without any prior notification to tour operators and hotel management shows only ignorance and a complete lack of vision.
The total absence of a management plan for the national parks is the main reason for the serious deterioration that these parks are facing right now, and it has to be said that the lack of vision is largely due to the low calibre of the management team. In recent years a number of excellent, professional, highly qualified staff have been forced out from the NCS – the visionaries have gone and with them, the vision.
HEPCA remains 100% committed to supporting the sustainable future of the national parks themselves, and their resources – the same cannot be said for their support of the National Parks Authority.