As a person who relies on the scuba diving and tourism industries, for income, and as a career, it may be time to worry. Right now we are in the midst of very uneasy and unpredictable times. However, we can speculate what may happen in the future within the recreational scuba diving industry. Here is what I think about diving after COVID-19:
Overseas Tourism After COVID-19
Travel restrictions will continue for the next few months. Some countries such as Australia and New Zealand are strongly suggesting to their citizens to not travel until at least the new year. This will wipe out a large percentage of tourism that relies on these tourists. Indonesia is a top destination for Australians, with Bali being so close and accessible so tourism numbers there will struggle.
Fiji, another top destination for Australians, and other island nations will also see the ramifications of COVID-19. When travel restrictions are lifted again, these smaller destinations will still see a lack of tourism numbers. This is because they do not have the infrastructure or hospital care to deal with a sickness such as COVID-19. This will deter many tourists from visiting.
Local Tourism After COVID-19
There is a large push to ‘stay at home’ and to spend your money in your local economy. Governments will want you to keep the money local and will incentivize and encourage local travel destinations. With oil and fuel prices down, families and groups will be traveling within their own countries by car. This could positively affect local dive centers.
Local Dive Centers
Local dive shops will offer great services and deals to keep your scuba diving spending ‘in-house.’ They will offer equipment prices with extras such as free or cheaper servicing. This is also a great way to support your local dive shop. Local dive shops may also find a boost in their sales. With more people looking towards purchasing their own equipment instead of using rental dive equipment. There is always a small risk of viral transmission when using rental gear; the mask, mouthpieces on the regulator, or snorkel. We may see more ‘holiday divers’ wanting their own equipment for their own peace of mind.
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Holiday Dive Centers
Dive centers or shops that rely on tourist numbers will struggle. There will continue being a major drop in tourists which means there is less work to go around. Many dive destinations rely on ‘high seasons’ to cover their ‘low seasons.’ Unfortunately, there will be no high season this year. This means dive centers will be highly competitive against each other. This may see a drop in prices (good for the consumer but bad for the dive instructor and the center), which may lead to a drop in service and quality in diving after COVID-19.
Dive Instructors and Dive Masters
Dive centers will close around the world due to a lack of demand. This means there will be less work for dive professionals who rely on that ‘high season’ of work. Experienced professionals will continue working but with less students. And if your pay structure relies on commissions, then you will have less income. New dive professionals will struggle to find work and experience as there simply won’t be enough work to go around.
E-Learning Dive Courses
Already we are seeing large dive agencies pushing for online and electronic learning. This means sending the theory and video components to the student directly. The student will then book their own in-water component with a dive center (local or overseas). RAID (The Rebreather Association of International Divers) and SSI (Scuba Schools International) already had a very good online system for e-learning, and PADI (The Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is just catching up.
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Skills such as buddy breathing or buddy checks will be adapted for the current climate. PADI is already looking at ways to adapt specific skills for scuba diving, freediving and first aid courses that require close contact between people. Regardless of what the dive agencies will decide, people will not want to share a regulator on-land or underwater. They will also be hesitant to give rescue breathes in a role-playing scenario.
Despite these perceived negatives for the industry, there will be some positives. This pandemic has changed some people’s thinking and there will be a shift to collect experiences rather than possessions. We may see a rise in recreational diving at some point, when people decide that ‘life is too short’ and are keen to try new experiences such as scuba diving after COVID-19.
Keen divers who usually only manage to dive once or twice a year may also want to pursue their passion full-time. These people will want to shift their life from a 9-5 office job to a career on a tropical island. We could see a rise in professional courses with more people wanting to complete their Dive Master and Instructor courses.
In conclusion, there are many possibilities for diving after COVID-19 situation has calmed down. We will see a shift from recreational to professional diving courses and more online teaching components. Short-term, we will inevitably continue seeing a fall in tourism numbers. But we may see an eventual rise that could exceed previous numbers. Either way, the best thing is to not panic. And to continue doing the things that you enjoy and are good for your well-being. Which definitely includes scuba diving!
What are your thoughts on the diving and tourism industries after this pandemic? Will there be a shift in where you spend your money, or the career you choose? Let me know in the comments below.