Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fingers on the pulse: dive wholesalers pinpoint trends in travel. (includes article on questions commonly asked by travel agents)(Scuba Diving Vacations). USA, LLC

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The trends affecting the market for scuba diving trips include a more varied clientele, longstanding destinations' continued popularity, the availability of live-aboard dive boats that can access remote waters and the use of computer bulletin boards. Leading tour operators specializing in dive packages offer their comments and recommendations. Lori Godbold of Miami, FL's Barbachano Tours recommends an all-inclusive three-night package to Mexico's Club Cozumel Caribe.

Full Text :COPYRIGHT 1995 Cahners Business Information
A more diverse clientele, new live-aboard dive boats plying once-remote waters, the continued popularity of longstanding dive destinations, the swift and decisive impact of computer bulletin boards -- these are among the trends affecting dive travel.

For a closer look at what's happening in the dive travel world, Travel Weekly spoke with some leading wholesalers who specialize in the field. Following are their observations and their recommendations for dive packages. Package prices are per person, based on double occupancy.

Barbachano Tours, Miami: Lori Godbold, director of marketing.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN DIVE TRAVEL? "We're seeing a lot more women divers. When I started selling dive travel in the mid-'80s, it was perceived to be a macho sport. Now we see a good mix."

BEST-SELLING DIVE DESTINATIONS: "Probably 75% of our business is to Cozumel, where we have a property."

WHAT'S NEW? "We expanded to Belize and Bonaire in the last two years; before, we were basically Mexico. Next year, we'll probably add Roatan [Honduras]."

SAMPLE PACKAGE: Best buy is a three-night package at the all-inclusive Club Cozumel Caribe, featuring two days of diving (two, two-tank dives), roundtrip air from Houston, all meals, alcoholic beverages and water sports. Price: $457, through Dec. 15.

Go Diving, Minnetonka, Minn.: Connie Smith, managing partner.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN DIVE TRAVEL? "People are booking last minute, and they're booking shorter getaways. They're more into diverse vacations where they combine things, maybe hiking and diving or biking and diving."

BEST-SELLING DIVE DESTINATIONS: "We specialize in the Caribbean, so it's Bonaire, Cayman, Cozumel. Also, Belize, Roatan and all those islands off Central America -- we do a lot there. Costa Rica isn't really Caribbean diving, but we do a lot of Costa Rica."

WHAT'S NEW? "Divers have just discovered the Turks and Caicos islands."

SAMPLE PACKAGE: An all-inclusive summer special to St. Lucia features seven nights' accommodations at Anse Chastanet, two boat dives daily (12 dives), three meals daily, transfers, taxes and service charges. Price: $1,199, July 28 to Sept. 30.

Ocean Connection, Friendswood, Toxas: Sandy Liewellyn, president.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN DIVE TRAVEL? "A lot of divers are wanting more than just diving. After they've dived in the Caribbean or Cozumel, they want to go to Beeze and they want to see a Mayan ruin or more nature."

BEST-SELLING DIVE DESTINATIONS: "Belize, Cozumel and Honduras."

WHAT'S NEW? "Costa Rica is becoming a good dive destination. On the Guanacaste Peninsula in the northwest, there's a big development going up, and there are several good dive operations."

SAMPLE PACKAGE: Fantasy Island Resort on Roatan Island in Honduras has rolled back rates on a seven-night package that includes air from Houston, New Orleans or Miami, accommodations, all meals, three boat dives daily, unlimited shore diving and one night boat dive. Price: $1,088, through Dec. 15.

Poseidon Ventures Tours, Newport Beach, Calif: Art Travers, owner

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN DIVE TRAVEL? "The Red Sea is starting to get hot again, from the standpoint of both live-aboards and land-based. That was dead for years because of terrorism problems. Another area that seems to be picking up is diving off East Africa, Kenya, doing combination trips with safaris."

BEST-SELLING DIVE DESTINATIONS: "From a volume standpoint, the Caribbean -- Cayman, Roatan, Belize, Costa Rica, Bonaire, and Turks and Caicos."

WHAT'S NEW? "This fall, there's going to be a new boat coming out of Bali in Indonesia, the Baruna Adventurer. There's a new dive property in Belize called the Cottage Colony. There's new diving on San Andres island, which belongs to Colombia."

SAMPLE PACKAGE: New this year is a seven-night package on the Kisiwani, a new live-aboard dive boat in Africa that visits the island of Pemba (off Tanzania); included are unlimited diving, all meals and local transfers. Price: Approximately $1,200.

Rothschild Dive Safaris, New York: Kathy Rothschild, owner

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN DIVE TRAVEL? "The dive market is broadening. The profile of the diver is expanding to be more the business man, the professional, the yuppies and the families. As that changes, more are not just going to their dive clubs, but to the travel agents."

BEST-SELLING DIVE DESTINATIONS: "The three places locally that we send most people to would be Belize, Bonaire and, believe it or not, Puerto Rico, which has great diving off La Paguera."

WHAT'S NEW? "We have scheduled departures on trips led by shark experts and marine biologists, where people bear lectures every evening and spend a long time studying the reef. They're not just to exotic places, but to the Bahamas, Belize and Bonaire; also to Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Red Sea."

SAMPLE PACKAGE: A seven-night Research & Photography Adventure at the Spanish Bay Resort on Spanish Lookout Caye in Belize features an educational program on reef ecology led by marine biologist and standup comedian Richard Martin. Included are accommodations, three meals daily, six two-tank dives, boat transfers, tax and some tips. Price: $1,259; departure is Nov. 18.

Sea & See Travel Service, San Francisco: Carl Roessler, president/owner

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN DIVE TRAVEL? "There's a great proliferation of live-aboards. At the same time, the communications revolution is enabling divers to sort out the good ones from the not-so-good ones. When a vessel sends back people who are happy, some of them put out the word right away [on computer bulletin boards]. If someone has a bad time, they vent it to a lot of people quickly."

BEST-SELLING DIVE DESTINATIONS: "Cocos Island [Costa Rica], the Red Sea, Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea and the Galapagos. There's a new popular little place called Malpelo, off the coast of Colombia, that has an unbelievable number of hammerhead sharks."

WHAT'S NEW? "In Papua New Guinea, we now have three boats in different sectors of the country with different kinds of diving. There's a sector of the Coral Sea with some utterly extraordinary dive spots. We have a new product, the Poseidon's Quest, in the southern half of the Red Sea, where there's everything from shark action to brilliantly colorful crowded reefs.

"We put up a major [World Wide] web site in March. It has more than 40 selected live-aboards, with pictures of the boats, information from the captain, floor plans, descriptions of the itinerary, a photo gallery and information about underwater photography."

SAMPLE PACKAGE: A top seller is a seven-night package in Fijian waters aboard the Nai'a, a 108-foot motor sailer with eight private suites. Package includes six and a half days of unlimited diving and all meals. Price: $1,980.

RELATED ARTICLE: Burning Questions

As resource director for the Dive Travel Industries Association, Laurie Wilson -- who as 17 year's experience as a scuba diver -- conducts educational seminars for travel agents on dive travel. Wilson says she is most often asked the following questions by agents about diving and dive travel.

* Will my client get eaten by sharks?

Her answer is no, they won't get eaten by sharks, ours would be shark attacks are extremely rare. Many divers go diving because they want to see sharks. Divers are very happy to see a shark, thought it can terrify new divers.

* How long can you stay under water?

It depends on the depth of the dive; that will determine how long you can stay down. Typically, dive operators have a maximum depth and dive under water. It goes by tables. For example, you can stay at 60 feet under for 50 or 60 minutes.

* What are the bends?

The bends is a colloquial expression for decompression illness. This is caused by the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood or body tissues, which is triggered when divers rise to the surface too quickly. The most frequent symptoms (60% of which occur within 30 minutes of diving) include pain, numbness, dizziness, weakness, headache, nausea and extreme fatigue.

* What's a two-tank dive?

A two-tank dive actually refers to two back-to-back dives -- each with just one tank on the diver's bank--with a short break in between.


If you've been skiing in the U.S., or traveled to Baton Rouge or New Orleans recently and have some tips you'd like to share about these destinations -- particularly what you have learned on the trip or from others -- that will make it easier for you to sell the area, we'd like you to share them with us.

Please write to us about any of the destinations listed above, along with a good-quality, color photo of yourself. We'll pick one entry for each destination reference guide.

Send your typed, double-spaced entries to: Celeste Gomes, Assistant Managing Editor/Supplements, Travel Weekly, 500 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, N.J. 07094, fax (201) 319-1947.

Source Citation
"Fingers on the pulse: dive wholesalers pinpoint trends in travel." Travel Weekly 27 July 1995: S5+. InfoTrac Small Business eCollection. Web. 14 Jan. 2010. .

Gale Document Number:A17362606

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