Developing a Diving Destination of Excellence

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!

Future trends

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.

 

Sharks, Rays and Turtles – Your PADI Speciality with Prodivers Kuredu

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Ray van Eeden

You got to love sharks, rays and turtles! In fact, at Kuredu Prodivers we love our residents so much that we’ve compiled everything we know about them and created two specialty courses that you should put on your must-do list: Maldivian Shark & Ray Distinctive Specialty Course, and Sea Turtle Diver Course. These two courses provide the best way for you to learn more about these incredible animals – and of course see them in their natural environment, at reefs around Kuredu.

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

During the Maldivian Shark and Ray course you will find out more about the incredible sensory system that sharks and rays possess, learn how to identify the different species, determine their gender and understand the mating behaviour, as well as the need for us to preserve and protect the current populations of sharks and rays. The narrow channels, where the currents flow in and out of the atoll and the deep out reefs around Kuredu are the ideal habitat to get encounters with sharks and rays.

Photo by Marek Machinia

Photo by Marek Machinia

For those of you prefer the sleepy headed sea turtles, the Sea Turtle Course will surely be of interest to you, especially since Kuredu is home to the largest known population of Green Sea Turtles in the Maldives. With over 63 identified individuals resident around the island, this makes it the perfect place to enrol in the course. It offers the chance to learn more about how turtles have adapted and evolved through their fight for survival, and you will also learn how to identify the different species and to distinguish whether they are male and female, and how they reproduce. Are you familiar with the famous Kuredu Caves, a.k.a. Turtle Airport? The course is also available to snorkelers.

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

The PADI Maldivian Shark & Ray Distinctive Specialty Course was developed by Prodivers to help increase the awareness about these magnificent creatures. Get in touch with us to find out more about diver qualification requirements for the courses.

Visit www.prodivers.com or drop us an email via info@prodivers.com

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PADI Pioneers: Generating Ocean Warriors in the Maldives

In a quiet corner of a luxury resort in the Maldives you’ll find an PADI Five Star IDC centre quite unlike any other.

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Teaching Maldivians to scuba dive might seem to some like selling coals to Newcastle. Wherever you stand in the Maldives, you’re always barely a stone’s throw from the ocean, and many Maldivians can swim before they can walk. Diving is in the country’s DNA.

It could come as a surprise to some then, that until the mid-2000s, there were only a handful of places offering PADI Instructor Development Courses in the country, with many aspiring instructors actually having to travel to Thailand to complete their certifications.

Founding an Institution

Luckily, this didn’t go unnoticed by Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed, the Maldives’ first and only PADI Course Director and in 2006, he decided to do something about it. Working at the time as the operations manager of Holiday Island Resort & Spa, part of the Villa conglomerate, Sendi approached the company chairman – the Hon. Qasim Ibrahim – and shared his concerns about the lack of educational opportunities for local dive and water sport professionals.

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The conversation would not only change his own life, but would ultimately change the face of diving education in the Maldives. Convinced by the lack of Maldivian educational facilities for divers, Mr Ibrahim asked Sendi to oversee the development of an institution that would change all that. Like Sendi, he wanted to provide a space for Maldivians to become qualified leaders in the diving field. And with that, The Villa Institute of Water Sports and Hospitality was born the same year.

A Place in the Sun

Purpose-built in a quiet corner of Sun Island Resort & Spa (another Villa Hotel), the institute quickly became a hub for young dive and water sports enthusiasts hoping to make a career in the industry. With spacious student and teacher accommodation and modern classrooms overlooking a lagoon that welcomes whale sharks and manta rays to its outer reef, the establishment is enough to make any Course Director drool.

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But what makes the institute really special is what it aims to achieve. Its objective? To equip a new generation of certified PADI Dive Masters and Instructors with the skills needed to become not only leaders in the field of recreational diving tourism but also trailblazers in ecological advocacy.

Expansion and Diversification

Lofty goals to say the least, but within a few short years it has managed to do just that. After a restructuring to become the founding faculty of Villa College, (now the Maldives’ leading private education provider offering courses in everything from marketing to law) and an expansion to include facilities in the capital, the reigns were handed over to Dr. Sham’aa ‘Anna’ Hameed. Under her leadership and the close involvement of Sendi, the institute is well on track to realise its vision.

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Not only does the faculty run multiple PADI Instructor Development Courses throughout the year, it now offers Certificate Three, foundation and even degree courses in marine studies that offer PADI electives as course credit.

Ocean Warriors

These courses provide students with the tools to become innovators in the field of marine studies. As a result, graduating students go on to enter the Maldivian workforce in a number of roles: as dive and water sports instructors of course, but also as researchers, marine biologists, wildlife rangers, even government environmental officials and legislators.

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What started as an initiative of affirmative action to provide quality education and training for locals has now developed into an educational model that is forward thinking on an international level. As such, they are arming a legion of self-titled ‘Ocean Warriors’ with the skills to be the next generation of environmental guardians and leaders in the Maldivian diving industry.

 

About the author: Adele Verdier-Ali is a freelance travel writer and content marketer who has been living in the Maldives for over six years. She’s a certified PADI rescue diver and when she’s not underwater, she writes about Maldivian culture and tourism. You can read more of her thoughts over on www.littlebirdjournal.com

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Big Business for Prodivers Maldives

Divers who signed up to join the Noon Atoll full-day trip with Kuredu Prodivers hoped to see some ‘big-stuff action’ with the locally renowned shark spot, Orimas Thila, high on their agenda. They got rather more than they bargained for…Blue Whale

On their way back, whilst on their dhoni, crossing the channel between the Noon and Lhaviyani Atolls, something big was spotted in the water – or rather something massive!

Blue Whale

In fact, they witnessed the largest creature ever to have lived on Earth – a Blue Whale! Great excitement ensued and estimates of size range from ‘huge’, 12 metres and 18 metres. Blue whales can grow to over 33 metres in length and have a heart weighing as much as a car. Their huge mouth can fit 100 people inside but, fear not, we are not on their menu; Blue Whales are filter feeders and eat krill – shrimp-like invertebrates.

Blue Whales have been around on Earth for about 54 million years and were once prolific, but in the first half of the 20th century they were almost hunted to extinction. There are now an estimated total of 10.000 – 25,000 individuals left on the planet and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List rates them as ‘endangered’. While whaling is no longer a threat, increased shipping leading to more collisions, oil spills and climate change all threaten the existence of the majestic Blue Whales. Blue Whale

 The ocean is full of surprises and, as well as the usual exciting encounters of sharks and manta rays, as you can see, every now and then something a little more unusual and unexpected turns up.

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New Year News – A short heads up on 2017

Hi all,

With this being a monthly blog aimed at the North of the UK I wanted to share some useful information that will hopefully bring you all a few bits of success in 2017

Freediving

I have mentioned the PADI Freediver programme before and what benefits it will bring to your Centre http://wp.me/s4SSW1-9766. It brings me great joy to announce that we now have Steve Millard on board as a PADI Freediving Instructor trainer. Steve has a long history with Freediving so I was very happy when he spoke with me about choosing PADI to help grow the Sport within the UK. Steve is happy to be your go-to person to either bring you (or the team) up to speed as freediving instructors and beyond. Or if you see the business sense to add it to your centre but don’t feel you can do it justice then he could be your instructor for hire to start building your Squad.

If you have not tried it yourself the PADI Freediver manual is 3 courses in one (Freediver, advanced Freediver and master Freediver). I will be going on the road with Rich Somerset, Steve and some of the major brands to run the Business of freediving workshops. Please let me know if you are in the UK North and would like to find out more.

Here is the latest video on the PADI YouTube channel

Live Events 2017

I will be on tour with some of the big guns looking at workshops, training and forums across the North of the UK. Locations we are looking at are

  • Newcastle – Forum, freediving and equipment in.
  • Leeds – Business Academy
  • Capernwary – Dive day, drysuit and Forum.
  • Blue lagoon, Dive day, speciality Schermafbeelding 2017-01-13 om 14.44.50workshop and Forum.
  • 8 Acre – freediving.
  • Stoney, Forum – freediving and equipment.
  • The Delph- Forum, drysuit and equipment.
  •  Gildenburgh – Dive day, drysuit and Forum.
  • Orkney – Forum.
  • Edinburgh equipment, Dive day and Forum.
  • Glasgow, equipment, Dive day and Forum.

This is not a definitive list as there are a couple of big events in the pipeline but, as I write this blog these are what I have planned for the first 6 months. I will be looking to do a good number of private forums still this year also.

Events will be shared on Eventbrite, Facebook and direct emails.

PADI Business Academy PBA Lite 2017 Blog Header

 

There is a planned Business Academy in Leeds on 3rd of July. If you have never been on one then you are missing out. We cover a whole load of Business training in an environment that you can focus on the Job in Hand. Let me know if you would like some details but it is worth coming along from a Networking point alone as there will be like minded Peers who are driven to make a success of their business.

Pricing Work Shops.

One of the most commonly raised points on a meeting is over prices. Only you know your costs but what I can help with is to make sure you are getting a profit from really crunching the numbers and suggesting solutions. Do you know which items are given you the best returns? This workshop something that can be done remotely and is a real commitment in time for both yourself and me so this will be on the first come first severed basis. But if you would like to work on it yourself then I am more than happy to send you the files to work on. As with all things that are finance you have, to be honest with the report you are running and anything shared with me will be kept in confidence.

PADI Sales incentive 2017

Emily and Su-Li have been working hard with Emma and Myself to really look at a sustained campaign for 2017. Please call them in the office for the details but it would be worth your while to get up to speed on the offers and factor them into your pricing. PADI staffThere is only one goal that we have as your PADI team and that is to help you do as well as possible. We are all believers in growing the UK market and have invested heavily in marketing the UK to new divers.

London outdoor and adventure show 2017

I will not be at the show myself this year as I will be expecting to be a dad part 2 over that weekend. A shame not to see you all but… I hope you understand. The rest of the team will be there so please come and see them. But again the main focus of the PADI stand will be to reach out to new and old divers alike to drive them into PADI dive Centres to help bring them to the underwater world that we all hold so dear.

I am looking forward to seeing you over the coming 12 months but please email/call/facebook/Whatsapp/etc etc if you need any help.

One last video to leave you with as a hopeful touch of inspiration.

Full throttle diving in the Maldives!

Underwater scooters can easily spice up your diving adventures at Prodivers! The Lhaviyani Atoll is known for its reef channels or the so called kandus where the water flows in and out of the atoll. At these spots we can see huge congregation and a abundant variety of pelagics that rush to these areas to feed. Here you are able to see a lots of marine life such as grey reef sharks, eagle rays, napoleons, tunas and barracudas – gathering in large numbers!

tribe-peak

The main advantage of underwater scooters is that they take away the effort of fin kicking to these big fish hot spots, as well as the effort of staying there. In fact, the best big fish action takes place when currents are strong and flowing in the right direction. So with a scooter you are the luckiest diver out there.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1947.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1947.

Besides increasing your chances of seeing squadrons of eagle rays and dozens of reef sharks on the channel’s edge, scooter diving is also incredible fun. With a bit of practice you can quickly be ready to fly past the reefs yourself and enjoy seeing these great areas! All of our Instructors are PADI DPV Instructors so you can do your PADI Scooter Specialty at any time you wish with Prodivers!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1935.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1935.

It is very common the first thing divers say after ascend from their scooter dive, that this was the best dive of their life. What may sound to you as a slight overstatement is very likely the same reaction you will have after your first scooter dive. Chances are that you will experience an overwhelming feeling of joy and have a huge grin on your face once you tried it the first time! Come and join our scooter dives!

www.prodivers.com

 

 

How to inform PADI about my DAN Europe insurance

Text by Laura Marroni Exec. Vice President Planning & Administration, DAN Europe Foundation, Continental Europe Office DANEUROPE.ORG

DAN Europe, does offer three plans which include such a coverage:

  • Pro Bronze
  • Pro Silver
  • Pro Gold

All of them cover third party liability and legal defence up to €4,000,000.

Whenever you take out any of these plans, you can take advantage of a useful service:

You can request a notification to be sent to PADI EMEA right after completing your purchase, informing them about the insurance you have just activated.

How to do so? Take a look at the following pages to find it out.

Suppose you are a new DAN user and you go for a Pro Silver.

First off, you start the online process via the DAN Europe website by clicking on “Join / Renew

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After setting up your own DAN account (or logged on to your existing one), you are supposed to choose a plan. Recall you want a Pro Silver, so this is the page you end up on:

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Now, pay attention to the box whose title is “Training agency”.

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If you wish a notification to be sent to PADI EMEA upon completing the purchase process, you need to:

1. Tick the box dan-1

2. Click “Edit Training Agencies” and look for PADI EMEA on the list of organizations.dan-2

3. Type your PADI number in the box on the right. If you haven’t been assigned a PADI number yet, you can select “pending”.dan-3

4. Click on “Save” and this will come out.dan-4

Please note that no notification has been sent yet.

As soon as you complete the process and your payment is confirmed, we will automatically send a message to PADI EMEA stating that you have just purchased a Pro Silver plan.

This will save you time as you will take out your insurance and inform PADI about it in one go.

Prodivers Manta Mania

Do you fancy a dance with these graceful giants? It is the time of the year again were diving and snorkelling in the Lhaviyani Atoll is special in itself, yet when manta rays start to regularly appear at the cleaning station, our happiness borders on mania!

Manta Ray @ Lhaviyani Atoll

Picture by Ray van Eeden, Prodivers Maldives

The place to be is one of the top 5 Prodivers sites situated in the Lhaviyani Atoll. Several Mantas frequently visit the dive site to have their bodies cleaned, and the plankton-rich areas at nearby reefs provided what appeared a tasty soup that dozens of Manta Rays satiated their hunger with.

On this magnificent spot, Manta Rays can spend hours as they hover above the reef and enjoy a beauty and well-being treatment after their bowls of plankton soup. This fantastic location offers unforgettable underwater experiences to divers and snorkelers alike.

For the best viewing pleasure, you’ll have to hop on one of our diving and snorkelling manta search boats. Join us for these breath taking moments!

  
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Silver Sands Celebrate!

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Aquafanatics @ Anantara Dhigu Resort, Anantara Veli Resort, Naladhu Maldives

In 2016 Silver Sands is celebrating ten years since it opened its first dive, water sports and excursions operations in the Maldives.

In ten years, they have opened ten Operations and ten PADI Dive Centers J WOW that’s an incredible achievement.

Their first Maldives operation, called Down Under and Wave, opened at W Maldives in 2006 and they have gone from strength to strength since then.

Down-Under-Wave-at-W-Maldives

Down Under & Wave @ W Maldives

In 2007 their second operation Aquafanatics, started in the Anantara Dhigu Resort, Anantara Veli Resort and Naladhu Maldives complex of hotels. In the next five years they opened Immersion and Glide at Velassaru, FLOAT at Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi, Dive Centre at Shangri-La’s Villingili and Spa Maldives, Deep & Breeze at Robinson Club, Elements at Anantara Kihavah Villas and FLOAT at Per Aquum Niyama… PHEW they have been busy!

The next few years were spent consolidating these operations and their reputation for quality and customer service. In 2015 they opened Meradhoo at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Resort & Spa and, to celebrate their tenth anniversary and 10 years of luxury services in the Maldives they opened their 10th Operation, Vommuli Dive & WS Centre at the ST. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort in Dhaalu Atoll in September 2016!

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Vommuli Dive & WS Centre @ the ST. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

 

 

 

But they’re still not stopping! In February 2017 they will open their 11th Operation in the Maldives at Kandima Maldives.

Recently, Aquafanatics was the first PADI Freedive Center registered in the Maldives followed in July 2016 by Elements also registering as a PADI Freedive Centre.  Showing that Silver Sands are constantly moving forward and embracing everything that the aquatic environment has to offer.

FLOAT @ Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi

FLOAT @ Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi

Silver Sands Operations currently employs over 250 employees including 65 PADI Professionals from many different parts of the world and owns over 70 vessels including several Yachts. Their reputation is built upon the core principles the company espouses:

“To be renowned as the Maldivian water sports and dive adventure company of choice amongst both local and international clients”.

Immersion Glide @ Velassaru Maldives

Immersion & Glide @ Velassaru Maldives

“To offer our clientele the best dive and water sports experience through activities designed uniquely for each client, delivered by a core of highly qualified staff using state of the art equipment”

What amazing goals to have and they highlight exactly the qualities that make PADI proud to have them as PADI Dive Centres!

Congratulations to Silver Sands and all their staff, we’re already looking forward to celebrating your twentieth anniversary!

Meradhoo @ Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Meradhoo @ Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Resort & Spa