Friday, September 18, 2020

Divers Await Word from Greek Government

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It is estimated that roughly four million European scuba-divers do not dive in Greece because of the strict regulations that govern the sport of scuba diving. The prime reason for the rules is to protect ancient Greek shipwrecks thought to be over 1,000 in number.

The majority of the Greek coastline is not open for diving. The limited areas where diving is allowed means there simply is not enough tourism for either the local municipalities to develop underwater parks, or support the various the tour operators, hotels, diving schools and enthusiasts that might otherwise call the coast home.

Scuba divers are anxiously waiting news on exactly what scuba diving areas will be added. The day after the new legislation is approved the number of scuba diving centers will more than double according to Vourekas, a port authority captain.

"If we have underwater parks, and if the ministry of culture opens the antiquity-laden seas, then we believe we’re going to have between one and three thousand diving centres in Greece," he said. Currently there are about a hundred.

As we all know, Greece is rich in ancient history. But did you know that it is also rich in terms of its underwater world? It has over 16,000 kilometers of coastline along its mainland and island shores…

The government of Greece announced it is going to make its current marine tourism regulations into law. The "new" legislation should be completed this month. There will be changes in certification rules and provisions for underwater parks. Divers are eagerly anticipating changes in certification rules and provisions that encourage diving and designate and create underwater parks.

A European diving standard (requirements for recreational scuba diving providers) has been written. Almost all of the of the provisions have already been met by 19 of the 20 European nations involved according to Greek merchant marine ministry’s Yiorgos Vourekas.

"If the international organizations that currently offer diving courses meet or exceed the European standard, the training system will be recognized by the Greek government," he said. "So anybody from the European Union and even from other countries who has permission to work in Greece and has a recognized diploma can be an instructor." Another change will be that at least two people have to go on a dive.

Once this new set of laws is approved Vourekas believes at least twice as many dive centers will sprout up. "If we have underwater parks, and if the ministry of culture opens the antiquity-laden seas, then we believe we’re going to have between one and three thousand diving centres in Greece," he said. Currently there are only about a hundred.

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Cliff Etzel
Cliff Etzel
Cliff is the former Freediving editor of DeeperBlue.com. He is now a freelance journalist and film-maker.

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