Let´s talk about how to develop a diving destination of excellence. One of my many duties as a PADI Regional Manager is to help the dive industry grow in the particular Region I manage. As a PADI Regional Manager, I´m responsible for Cyprus, the Canary Islands and Switzerland. This time – I would like to have a closer look how to develop Cyprus and how to bring Cyprus on the map as a diving destination of excellence.
What is a diving destination of excellence?
Diving is classified as adventure tourism – and the definition of excellence is measured by the image of the destination itself by the tourists themselves.
I´m sure you heard about the Zenobia Wreck, which sunk on the 7th of June 1980. The Zenobia lays now at roughly 42m and about 1.5km offshore in front of the marina in Larnaca.
In order to be classified as an excellent destination the Zenobia must fulfil both short term and long term criteria.
Short term view:
Ability to fulfil divers expectation: The diver must be immediately satisfied.
Long term view:
- The value generated by diver tourism must be shared between all involved parties
- Preserve the dive sites: marine conservation
- Must comply with the ethical principles recognized by international law
The Zenobia has long been classified as one of the top ten wrecks in the world. We can look at past wreck specialty certifications from 2004 – 2014.
As you can see the number of these certifications has remained vastly the same over this period. This illustrates that we have maintained this dive destinations’ global rating, but also shows us the opportunity for growth. The Zenobia already generates 25 million euros per annum in dive tourist revenue. Promoting the Zenobia in the right way will ensure a steady and sustainable growth of revenue, and dive-tourism Island wide will also benefit. This niche in adventure tourism will put Cyprus on the destination of excellence map for reasons that go beyond that of the “cleanest beaches of Europe” and with the right market strategy we could also get the on the top dive destinations of Europe too.
How do we do this?
Cooperation, cooperation, cooperation!!
Official bodies like the CTO, the CDCA and all dive operations must have the same goal and we must, above all work together. Competition should be seen as a challenge to raise the overall standard of this beautiful island as a dive destination. The Zenobia and the purposefully sunk wrecks all form artificial reefs that boost fish stocks and get some more life into the Mediterranean. Improved fishery Laws and enforced marine parks will all help generate dive tourism by making our sea more alive, more beautiful and therefor more interesting. PADI is here to support you, organizations such as Project AWARE have the sole aim to improve the ecology of the world’s oceans, and it offers support to regional areas to allow this improvement to happen in a sustainable way. Improvements must have long term goals to ensure divers are both immediately satisfied, but also want to return year after year. Sustainable growth through quality will ensure quantity with continuously grow. We have been doing a fine job……now let’s strive for excellence.
How does dive tourism affect island wide tourism?
Divers who are attracted to Cyprus as a dive destination will most likely be travelling with non-diving companions or family. These non-divers also have satisfaction criteria that must be met by the island. This naturally generates growth of Tourism Island wide, by the normal avenues of tourism – such as hotels, restaurants, attractions and activities outside of the diving realm. The beauty of the islands marine environments may even generate a growth in entry level certifications and diving, especially when the dive sites are in the caliber of the Zenobia. Diving is, as we all know, highly addictive. This enthusiasm is contagious. Marketing and promotion in the right way will ensure that this enthusiasm is transformed into new diver acquisition and an every improving revenue in the dive tourism sector. It’s a circle of benefits that feed each other. Let’s keep the keep the wheel turning!
Seeing as diver numbers for wreck specialties have remained fairly constant over the last decade we can see that growth needs come both from successful marketing of the current dive attractions and the development of ever more niche markets within diving. The ever increasing interest of side mount and technical diving allows ever new avenues of diving opportunities to be explored and profited from. By maintaining high standards, variation and cooperation within the industry we can ensure future trends are positively advantageous to tourism as a whole.
Let´s work together and bring more divers to the beautiful island in the eastern Mediterranean.