Over the next few weeks, we will hear a great deal about what is new in the recreational dive industry. We are rapidly approaching the DEMA show and annual convention being held in Las Vegas 16th to 19th of Nov. The show is a chance for dive professionals around the world to meet other dive professionals and interact with the dive industry. The dive industry often uses the show as a launch platform for new products. Sometimes they will do a press release leading up to the show to generate interest and lure guest to their exhibit booth. Others will have their announcements during the show. In addition to the exhibitor, those attending the show have numerous seminars that they can attend covering a range of topics. The Show is not open to consumers, you must be a dive professional to attend. Fear not, DeeperBlue.com will be sending a large team to bring our readers all the information.
The Dive Industry Is Getting Older
For myself, my agenda is a bit different. I am looking forward to seeing what new technology is coming out, however, I will also be looking at what the future holds for us, divers and future divers. The face of scuba diving has changed. The average age of scuba diving is getting older. There are a number of reasons for this, some good and some not so good. On the good side, people are more active for a longer time. Retirement is no longer a time just waiting to die and many people are retiring earlier. They see a future to live.
Retirees who had considered taking up diving while younger, but never did, are doing it now. I see many a retiree becoming certified. They and other older divers now have the time and money to enjoy the sport. I say more power to them, or should I say us as I fit that demographic. When my father retired I was 38, and I semi-retired just 12 years later. That was 12 years ago, and I still see myself as I was in my 40s, active and always doing something new. I do not think I am alone. It is not uncommon now to see divers still diving in their 80s and I have been on a couple of birthday dives, where a diver was celebrating being 90 and full of life.
On the negative side of the face of diving getting older is that we are getting fewer younger divers. While the junior diving programs allow divers as young as 10 to be certified, it does not seem to have made a great impact. The other day, I was in what can only be described as a diving super store. The store was the size of your average supermarket chain store. As I walked around, I noticed that everyone in the dive equipment areas was older. There were some teenagers and early 20s around but they were just getting t-shirts and flip flops. Those picking up small dive gadgets and looking at dive gear seem all over 40, some seem to be in their 60s. I had to chuckle to myself when I heard a lady, I would guess to be in her mid-60s, talking to a salesman. She said,
“Now that I am certified, I want my own wetsuit, I am not wearing a smelly rental anymore.”
So where oh where have all the young divers gone? I do not think the dive industry is attracting them as it used to. It seems less a thrill than it was before for those who have not experienced it. The internet and social media are making the youth less active. Yes, the last generation said that about television as well. However, it seems the younger generation has lost enthusiasm for life. I remember just a few years ago a major cell phone manufacturer set up a fake dive shop and advertised free scuba dives. Those who came in to find out the details were given a virtual dive with a VR device. Most said they loved it, and expressed they do not need to experience a real dive now. Sorry but that is just crazy, however, it does show that virtual is replacing reality in many people’s lives. Another related point is that young divers are not as dedicated to the sport as divers were 20 years ago. Thousands of divers are certified each year in Thailand alone, most doing a gap year. But when they return home, they do not continue their diving. In my view at least, when I started diving most divers had a strong passion for the sport, now it seems to many young divers it is just another thing to do.
So one of my personal focuses during DEMA is to see what the dive industry is doing to keep the industry alive and counteract the mean age of divers being over 50. I want to see what I can do through marketing and my writing to draw more people into the sport and get them passionate about it.
They say the purpose of a grandparent is to spoil the grandchild. Maybe we can start a campaign to encourage grandparents to gift dive lessons.
There is another reason I am looking forward to DEMA. I am getting an opportunity to meet up with friends I have not seen in years and to meet face to face people I have only known through social media and email exchanges. I have even heard that a couple of my diving idols will be there and am looking forward to meeting them. Gee hope I can get a selfie or two with them.