Join DiveBuddy.com

Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

Needed: A Paradigm Shift in How the Dive Industry Views Inland Diving
Airworks - 7/30/2019 3:56 AM
View Member Articles
Category: Personal
Comments: 0
I recently corresponded with two well-known scuba diving professionals in the dive industry who were honest enough to admit that they are not thrilled about local (quarry and lake) diving. One made the following statement, which was echoed by the other: "I applaud local diving efforts, but I have dove in 55 degree water. It’s miserable and very difficult to train new open water divers, the lifeblood for dive shops."

Many divers sympathize with those sentiments. The stereotypical descriptions of quarry/lake diving as being “cold, green, dirty”, and eventually “boring and lame” need to be addressed head-on if there is to be a reversal of the current drop in local diving participation.

There are two issues here. Most quarry divers, including myself, don’t mind diving in chilly water if we have a good 5 to 8mm wet, semidry, or drysuit. The primary complaint is in having to put on and take off a suit when exposed to harsh external elements and the ambient temps are cold and/or windy, especially during the fall and winter months. Absolute misery!

The other issue is the loss of body heat and the threat of hypothermia due to extended diving in cold water. Very often divers will forego a planned second or third dive simply because they were too cold after the first one. There was no place for them to go and warm up, so they got dressed and went home. I’ve experienced that, and have seen it happen many times. Not fun!

Next, let’s consider "the lifeblood for dive shops“ idea. For many years, in fact decades, offering classes and training new open water divers have indeed been the bread-and-butter for dive shop owners and managers. However, a drastic change in this perspective is needed. Dive shop owners and managers should focus on meeting the needs of regularly participating certified divers as the primary revenue generator.

In other words, rather than pushing to get new divers (which is great and should be sought after), how about prioritizing already certified and active divers?

Allow me to illustrate one of the most disturbing trends that I have personally experienced and witnessed:

A dive shop owner/manager/instructor enthusiastically describes the thrill of scuba diving to a new walk-in customer, offering various classes to attend and participate in (for a hefty price, of course). The novice pays the fee, gets the training and earns a cert card. After a few days, however, that newly-certified diver begins to be viewed by the same owner/manager/instructor as "second-rate" in preference to the novice who has just walked in the door and is considering scuba diving.

This attitude is most clearly reflected in the tendency of shop owners and managers to restrict quarry use to dive instructors and their students rather than allowing already certified divers to regularly get wet just for “fun”, both during the week as well as the weekends.

Active and regularly-participating divers should be the lifeblood of dive shops. If active and participating divers are happy and content with their local dive experiences, that will motivate them to encourage others to become involved, take classes, and become certified. On the other hand, when active divers are not thrilled about local diving, that will de-motivate them from reaching out and sharing their local dive excursions. Why would I want someone else to participate in an experience that I’m not even excited about? It won’t happen.

The absolute best way of getting new people to try scuba is through the “word-of-mouth” diving experiences of excited and satisfied divers who enjoy and regularly participate in local diving.

It’s time for the dive industry to re-think its perspective on these things.

And BTW, a project that I’m spearheading addresses all the negative issues related to quarry/lake diving. If you’d like to know more about it, please email me at alrios80@msn.com.

Hail to inland diving!

Al