Remember back in August 2015 when Harry Thornton became a Suba Diver with Viking Divers at the age of 83..? On Monday the 28th of August 2017, almost exactly two years after Harry, another senior diver from Viking Divers made it into the news; this time it is an amazing and incredible record; Ray Woolley claimed the Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest scuba diver!
Wow… This is truly inspirational…
Ray Woolley spent his 94th birthday on Monday the 28th of August 2017 diving to the sunken wreck of the Zenobia ferry in Larnaca in a bid for a Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest scuba diver.
Ray’s attempt saw him dive to a depth of 38 metres for 41 minutes. The entire process was filmed, photographed and documented in line with guidelines approved by Guinness World Records. Ray will know if he has officially been awarded the title in around three months’ time.
“I only had to dive below 12 metres for 30 minutes to take the record off the last guy, but I decided to do a bit more,” Ray told the Cyprus Mail.
Daughter Lyn Armitage, who travelled from the UK to help him celebrate his birthday and milestone dive, said he was eager to get in the water and nimbly jumped off the end of the boat in great spirits.
Originally from Port Sunlight in the Wirral, Ray lives now close to Limassol in Cyprus. He was born in 1923 and first started diving with the Portland and Weymouth British Sub Aqua Club in 1960.
After taking up diving in 1960, Ray was posted to Cyprus in 1964 and was a regular diver here. In 1999 he retired and returned to live permanently in Cyprus after diving in locations around the world.
What is Ray´s secret to be so amazingly fit?
“I swim for two hours a day in my swimming pool; staying active is important. I feel terribly sorry for other people my age who are struggling a bit and may not be in the condition I’m lucky enough to be in,” he said.
Congratulations Ray! You are a true inspiration to all of us..!
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. PADIis 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.
I recently went to the PADI Business Academy (PBA) in Cyprus and I simply had to share this positive experience with all of you. As a relatively new dive center owner I have had a steep learning curve making the transition from instructor to owner. Today’s marketplace is hugely different to that which I learned in my Business A-level in the UK – oh so many moons ago – the PBA was such an eye opener to ways to move Scuba Monkey onwards and upwards.
The PBA opened my eyes in three major ways:
#1: Marketing isn’t a bad thing, you just have to know your audience and be able to take a personal approach. By knowing who your audience is you can better serve them, and this is a service like all others. You can make it an enjoyable one – both for yourself and for your prospective guests. The PBA taught us how to get the knowledge of things like website keywords, using online tools that have been at my fingertips since the beginning, but until the academy, only my web designer had ventured into this realm on my business’ behalf. Sure – my web designer explained things like google analytics to me, but Mark Spiers (PADI’s VP) gave talks and ran workshops which allowed a true practical application that led to greater understanding. Brilliant. I feel more in control, I feel calmer about the future and much much less confused.
#2: The PADI Pro website. I have used this site for close to 10 years and I honestly thought I understood all the tools available to me. Clearly not. The PBA went through every tab in the minutest detail and it was a shock to discover all the features that have been available to me all this time and had not been utilizing to full potential. Simple things like how enter your address into the store locator properly and allow your dive center to become searchable using navigation systems and smart phones. Cyprus, as the last split capital in the world, is notorious for being hard to navigate using standard GPS…..the PBA showed me such a simple fix to a problem that I have endured since I opened my doors in 2012
#3: Social Media. I was the youngest participant in this PBA, and I have been brought up in a technology rich environment (my father always shows off that he owned the first computer on the island in the early 1980’s). I honestly thought that this element of the PBA would be something that I could learn little from…after all, I already blog, link everything to the website, twitter and Facebook….what more could there be? A lot as it turns out. Marc went through every element of each platform that I already was active on…..and taught me little quirks and tweaks that could even further my marketing success. Things like scheduled posting on Facebook and how to highlight an important post are all features that have been at my fingertips, but have failed to use. The PBA not only taught me the value of these features, but also how to use them immediately. Great. I was definitely taken down a peg or two, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I have joined most other social media sites, such as Instagram and flicker and Pinterest…..I have been a member for quite some time…however the PBA again made me feel like a speck of dust in the internet wasteland by informing me about the demographics of users of these sites. It worried me to hear that Facebook was soon becoming outdated, that the Y2 and Z generations already considered this platform for the older generations. Scary isn’t it? The academy taught me that staying current to new trends will be an essential mode for dive center survival. This information did not make me loose heart however – again Knowledge is power and power means control. Workshops allowed us to use free tools like Animoto and Mail Chimp to better serve our guests and encourage them to be more interactive over all social platforms.
Bring it on…. The PADI Business Academy slogan of “Harness the Power” is true to its word…..I feel positive and energized for the 2015 season. I would recommend it to anyone – regardless of the size and history of their dive center.
This article was written and submitted by Alexandra Dimitriou, who attended the Limassol PADI Business Academy in 2014.
Alexandra Dimitriou is a dive center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner at Scuba Monkey Ltd.