HONG KONG, 18 December 2018: There’s a wider range of dive products, dive resorts, and options for exploring under the sea, as well as more people in Asia taking up diving, according to participants in this weekend’s Diving Resort Travel EXPO.
Held in Hong Kong, the annual event featured 200 exhibitors and attracted nearly 50,000 visitors.
The most recent DRT brought together dive enthusiasts, marine conservationists, tourism boards, equipment manufacturers, dive resorts, and diving organisations, from throughout Asia and beyond.
Two trends observed, particularly in Southeast Asia, were the consolidation of some dive operations, resorts and live-aboard options offering products not just in one location in Asia, but also around the region and the new entrants in the market as well as investors, developers and tourist operators.
Cheap flights around the region have enabled more divers to travel to parts of Asia which were formerly prohibitively expensive, though many of the top dive resorts are in more inaccessible locations, and require travel by plane and boat.
With more people taking up diving, particularly in China, there is growth in the market, but it is not just fostering a greater appreciation of ocean life, there is also growing awareness about global environmental challenges and local sea issues.
Scuba diver and conservationist Kitti Chan, said how last year while out kayak paddling she spotted some abandoned fishing nets in the shallow waters near Sai Kung in Hong Kong, and she decided to remove them.
Now each week a team of volunteers (https://www.facebook.com/groups/HKGhostNet/) join her in taking away the ghost nets, which can trap fish and aquatic life, and damage shore ecosystems.
Another speaker, award-winning photographer, Joyce Ng told the audience that she hopes her photographs showing the beauty of the ocean will motivate others to protect it.
To make more of a connection between the ocean and humans, she swims into photographers frames as an underwater model and mermaid, to make the link more tangible.
There are now liveaboards, both charter and offering scheduled trips, working year-round in Southeast Asia.
This year sees new dive resorts opening in the Komodo area of Indonesia, Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago, and in the Philippines.
“Resorts are better able to cope with couples and families, as they offer more activities,” says All Star Liveaboards’ Peggy Purdy. “Because if you don’t dive, being on a dive liveaboard can be boring.”
For divers though, liveaboards enable two or three dives a day at remote locations and prime dive spots, with the option of night dives. Average prices are around US$250 a day a person.
Some of the best dive resorts in the world are in Asia. The 10 best dive spots in Asia are found in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, India and Japan, a recent CNN article claimed.
Bunaken’s Siladen Resort and Spa in Indonesia was voted the best dive resort in South East Asia in 2017, in a Seasia poll (seasia.co), with a Maldives resort coming second. Dive resort promoters and DMOs from as far away as the Maldives, Okinawa, Israel’s Red Sea, and the Galapagos islands had exhibition stalls at the expo.
The next major event is the joint TDEX – Alliance EXPO in Bangkok (www.thailanddiveexpo.com/en) at the International Trade & Exhibition Centre, 16 to 19 May 2019, highlighting the growth in scuba diving in the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand with both overseas and domestic divers. The TDEX expo aims to re-establish Thailand as the ‘The Real Diving Hub of Asia’.