Another UK Dive Show has gone and so has another great weekend of bombing around the stands chatting to other divers, planning impossible holidays, listening to photography tips from the experts and drooling over new gadgets…but that’s pretty much it, when we feel it could be so much more. Yes, I'm having a little rant but only because I care.
The big players don’t show up anymore at dive shows, the small players struggle and the new players have doubts they could even break even. The show ends up looking like a cobbled up ensemble of old stock at bargain prices, a few decent looking stands with shiny new gadgets and an array of bored faces in front of posters attached on the walls with blue tack. If it wasn’t for the magazines trying a bit harder with attractive graphics, I would say that we have a very serious image issue here.
Maybe only Monty Halls’ super sexy black rib (and Monty himself, we do love him) generated some genuine "wows"…but are we ever going to get to ride on it? The truth is that we’re all are getting a bit jaded.
We just have a feeling that if the industry doesn’t re-invent itself less and less people will be coming to these events and the organisers will simply give up. That would be a huge shame, because divers need these shows and the organisers deserve a prize for not giving up on them.
Diving is on of the most interesting activities human beings could ever undertake, the ocean being an incredible asset for personal enrichment with the potential to make a difference in this world…we simply want more people to take an interest, give it a try and help us take diving out of the niche position it’s always been. And that’s the whole point, why are these shows mainly aimed at people who already dive? Why don’t we team up with other marine sports industry players and attract the people who don’t dive yet?
There is one more thing that’s unexplainable to me, how is it possible that there’s so little about the sea at a dive show? It’s all about selling equipment and trips but there’s no education and sharing of information about key marine environment facts that would make a difference to our diving. Yes, there are charities, but all they do is to ask for donations (of course), sell merchandise and give out leaflets that end up in waste bins.
The only ones who talk, share tips, give advice to the general diving public are the photo pros and the tech divers. Sadly, they totally lack in mass appeal, but the manta rays, the dolphins and the sharks don't.
Hello Cristina Zenato, would you please come and visit us?!
We also feel the diving industry should open up to children and younger people.
The general assumption that diving is too expensive for young people is silly. I happened to have a chat with a large group of university students outside the show, all active divers, all really enthusiastic.You certainly don’t have to go on a super expensive Maldive liveabaord every year to call yourself a diver.
By the way, the only stand that had something to do for kids at the Dive Show was the Manta Trust stand and all they had to do is to get a few crayons and paper out. The diving industry has a reputation for being particularly unfriendly towards children but honestly, I don’t get that at all. Aren’t those kids all going to have a blast in the ocean one day and don’t we want them to love it & protect it?
I once dived with a guy called Neil who put a tank and a regulator close to the bath to let his kids play with breathing underwater, supervised, safe and real fun - no wonder they loved it! One day those kids will be buying equipment, booking holidays and talking about their love for the sea.
And one more thing…I thought those pulled pork sandwiches were not too bad but how about some sustainable fish at the Dive Show.
So much has been said and written about overfishing, over exploitation of our oceans, sustainability, ethical farming but very few people are truly guided to sensible and informed choices beyond what the supermarkets offer (and it's shockingly bad).
What’s divers position on this issue?
After all we get really close to fish and we know that fish isn’t any different from chickens or cows. If we consume it, we should take responsibility for our choice.
I’m not necessarily advocating that divers should give up fish (although I'm considering it myself) but how about some sustainable, ethical, UK based fisheries coming to propose their products?
To end this rather lengthy rant I would like to say that I would love our Dive Show to become “The Great Ocean Show” and be so much more "all encompassing".
I know it’s easier said than done but isn't a diver allowed to dream...