Friday, June 21, 2024

Scuba Diving Participation Rates Have Plummeted


Even though water sports overall had an increase in U.S. participation rates during 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, scuba diving participation decreased by 8.8 percent from 2019 to 2021.

Darcy Kieran, who writes the Scubanomics column on, cites those numbers from surveys done by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

According to Kieran:

“For more than a decade, scuba diving has been continuously losing ground year after year, going, for instance, from 3.1 million participants in 2016 to 2.7 in 2019 (pre-pandemic) and only 2.5 in 2021 (second year of the pandemic).”

While Kieran noted a small participation jump by “core divers” during 2020, that number decreased the following year. He posits that: “The dive industry is simply not satisfying today’s consumers.”

Kieran adds:

“It’s time to stop pretending that we are innovating because we moved a few commas in a scuba diving textbook or changed the color of a regulator. The entire business model needs to be redesigned from scratch. We are not in the 1980s anymore.”

Check out Kieran’s full column here.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.