Egypt’s Red Sea province, home to some of the country’s most popular beaches, announced on Monday that it would start implementing a ban on jet skis.
Red Sea province governor Amr Hanafy said the decision to ban jet skis was first announced in 1992, but people at the time did not take it seriously and continued using them. The ban was reintroduced in 2010, but it was still not upheld.
Mr Hanafy said the decision will now be strictly implemented due mostly to safety concerns on account of the often serious and gruesome accidents involving jet skis.
On July 26, a man died at a resort on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast when a jet ski collided with an inflatable boat he was in with his family. The man’s wife, son and daughter were seriously injured and taken to hospital for treatment. They are now in the ICU, according to a Facebook post from his daughter.
The jet ski that caused the accident was being driven by an unsupervised 15-year-old girl, who has since been arrested.
Speaking to Min Masr, a popular talk show in Egypt, Mr Hanafy said that his province, on the shores of the Red Sea, has noticed an increase in the private use of jet skis.
He said he will not wait for an incident similar to the one on the north coast before the ban is implemented in the Red Sea area, emphasising that anyone who is seen with a jet ski will have it confiscated immediately.
Mr Hanafi added that all jet skis in the Red Sea area were privately owned as there are no rental shops anymore following the 2010 ban. He added that the province has stopped issuing jet ski licences and those who take them into the water do so illegally.
He urged people to seek different forms of entertainment when they visit the country’s beaches.
Hassan Ahmed, who works for Sea Waves watersport centre in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, told The National that all the shops in the area stopped renting jet skis to tourists in 2010 after concerns from officials about damage to local nature reserves and the fragile ecosystem.
"It's not just Hurghada, it's Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Marsa Allam. You won't find any jet ski rides on offer anywhere in the Red Sea," Mr Ahmed said.
"The ban caused a stir when it happened. We were told at the time that the border guards were concerned about the use of such a high-speed vehicle in the Red Sea. We were also told that because jet skis have internal motors that work under the boat, they were killing the reefs and the fish. So we stopped offering rides."
However, he said because there was still a lot of interest from tourists for jet ski rides local dive centres started offering "zego boat" rides, which he said was a safer alternative.
"Zegos are small and safe. They are sort of like a mini-speed boat. They're popular with families and children ... Also their motor is external so they are not damaging to the reefs and the marine life and the fastest one has a maximum speed of 40 kilometres per hour," he said.
"The slowest jet ski, by comparison, has a maximum speed of 60, but most can reach speeds of 120. This is why they are unsafe and somewhat difficult to control if you don't know what you're doing."