In my last post, I mentioned Submerged Nation and their appeal to the Australian dive community to support their Local Dive Stores (LDS). You can see that story here.
While we’re known for our LUXE International Dive Expeditions, our Expedition offerings in Australia have tended to focus on the Great Barrier Reef – During 2021 we’ve been taking the opportunity to seek out exciting land based activities and food experiences, that we can add to the mix in 2022, to help regenerate the broader exploration tourism market.
This brings me to the point of this post, Submerged Nation (and Australian Underwater Products) are of course 100% correct – WE need to support your local dive store. Now you’ll have noted the “WE” – yes domestic divers need to get out there and support the local diving in their region (once lock downs permit), and not just jump on the first plane overseas they can come Nov 14th, when the international border re-opens, but the WE goes beyond that…
If WE want a financially sustainable industry, then WE as the industry must support our fellow Local Dive Stores. Those of us who have been able to sustain and operate during the past 18 months, need to look to our fellow industry, and find ways to support the broader industry – ensuring divers for the future. A strong and vibrant industry is good for everyone.
While Queensland has remained largely open over the past 18 months, the market has taken a significant hit, with no international tourism and VIC and NSW shut out for extended periods of time – many who can travel inter-state won’t for fear of becoming trapped. Recent figures for FNQ put tourism at around 30% of pre-pandemic levels. The argument is that mass tourism is dead, and while that might not be a bad thing (we are biased of course having always been focused on the Bespoke private market segment for nearly 20 years), that is a topic to debate another day. Large operators have received grants, subsidies and other forms of thinly disguised handouts as politically having a tourism operator who employ(ed) hundreds of staff go bust isn’t an option – however nationally, unlike the FNQ industry – most dive shops are smaller family operations, with some notable exceptions in the capital cities. In speaking to a number of those smaller operators, they have had little to no support, or simply have remained locked down for such extended periods. Some have closed, some are on the brink. WE will miss them when they are gone, so we need to take steps to prevent this.
The call to arms – dive store owners – organise a group trip to another state or introduce your divers to similar like minded dive operation(s) in other parts of Australia, help ensure the security and viability of the industry. There is nothing new about this idea, but now more than ever it is important to look at the big picture, working together has never been more important.
Now, I’m the first to admit our business was, is and always will be over 90% driven by International Clients, but we as a company have an opportunity in 2022 (and beyond) to introduce our clients to the fantastic diving to be found not only in Queensland, but also NSW, VIC, TAS, WA and SA – our Expedition Travel has always been driven by good diving, great wines and whiskey, amazing food and unique geographic experiences, and there are plenty hidden gems to be found in Australia.
Over the remainder of 2021, our management team will be visiting (where we can) other parts of Australia (South Australia and Tasmania we’re booked to see you in October) and will look to add exciting products – Air, Sea and Restaurant Table – to the mix we offer in 2022, we’ve already made contact with some great businesses, and look forward to meeting more.