Dive for Andamans

K.S. RAJGOPAL | Updated on January 12, 2012

Close encounters of the underwater kind.   -  David Loh/ Planet Scuba India

Mark Spiers, Sales Director, PADI   -  to be given.

lf05_padi2.JPG   -  to be given

All the action in recreational scuba diving, now in pristine Indian waters.

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), the world's leading scuba diving certification body, recently issued its 20 millionth certificate.

Dive businesses, resort facilities, academic institutions, instructor trainers, divers, snorkelers and other water-sports enthusiasts are members of this recreational diving organisation.

Founded in 1966 by John Cronin, a scuba equipment salesman for US Divers, and Ralph Erickson, an educator and swimming instructor, PADI aimed to make it easier and safer for more people to learn scuba diving.

Over pegs of scotch whiskey and with $30 in hand, Cronin and Erickson drew up their plan for a professional and state-of-the-art association of diving instructors.

Today, with more than forty years' experience, over 135,000 PADI professionals, and 6,000 dive shops and resorts in 183 countries worldwide, PADI is confident of setting up scuba diving services nearly anywhere in the world.

The recreational scuba diving industry is now worth $46 billion worldwide and growing, of which the Asia Pacific region accounts for 80 per cent.

PADI Director, Sales and Field Services for Asia Pacific, Mark Spiers says the association is heavily on India (particularly the Andamans), where the share of global scuba business is currently negligible but offers great scope for growth.

Explaining the special attraction held out by the Andamans, Spiers says, “There are pristinely beautiful places in the Andamans ideally suited for scuba diving, with a wealth of diverse underwater fauna and colourful corals, which are relatively very less explored.

“For example, you find here whalesharks (the biggest of the shark species and the most harmless), which will prove to be a big draw for the scuba diver seeking a special thrill.”

He said there was a 280 per cent growth in certification in India in the last six years. In 2009, PADI successfully completed its first instructor training course in the Andamans.

The association plans to globally promote India as a scuba diving destination.

“We participate at dive shows throughout the world, including Singapore, Orlando, Dusseldorf, Paris and London. For the European shows, we will be including a special section at the PADI stand, promoting India as a diving destination through posters and videos.

“We also discussed opportunities for developing the scuba diving industry with the Lt Governor of the Andamans… assuring the highest level of safety standards.”

Attracting over 100,000 new visitors to its Web site every week, the organisation mails nearly one million newsletters every month to popularise scuba worldwide.

The target age group for scuba diving is 25-35 years, says Spiers, as this is a period “when the person is without commitment, has a job and disposable income. The other target group is 50-70 years, as they have fulfilled their commitments and are free to spend on leisure and recreational activities like scuba”.

With nearly two-thirds of the scuba diving community being male, PADI hopes to balance the gender gap by advertising the sport in women's magazines.

In an attempt to address the ever-growing need for conservation and ocean protection, in 1989 PADI initiated Project AWARE to educate scuba divers on environment-friendly diving practices and the role they can play in bringing about positive changes from an underwater perspective.

Published on January 05, 2012

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