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Is the diving industry facing an existential threat from coronavirus?

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Stephan Whelan

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Pretty hard times for the diving industry. I took some time to speak to a lot of the major players globally and worked with award-winning journalist Michael Menduno to produce this sobering opinion piece for DB: https://www.deeperblue.com/the-day-the-diving-stood-still/

Thoughts?
 
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Leander

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I think it will be hard times for any industry that can't or doesn't want to adapt. Tourism is one of those, heavily invested in hotels, resorts, airlines... now all useless.

I'm not sure where I stand on this. Mass-tourism and international and interconinental air travel for leisure I see as some dark and rotting trade.
But at the same time it's also the tourism that functions as a sort of 'world-police', in a way that to the host countries it stimulates the thought of "how do we want visitors to see our country?".

With scuba being the new golf I think the dedicated dive-locations won't be affected too much. For the dive-shops that depend on mass-tourism flown in by cheap air-travel, like Greece, it's game-over.
 
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Stephan Whelan

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With scuba being the new golf I think the dedicated dive-locations won't be affected too much. For the dive-shops that depend on mass-tourism flown in by cheap air-travel, like Greece, it's game-over.
Interesting ... however, the big issue I see is that airlines may not exist to serve even dedicated dive locations. It just isn't going to be viable to service a lot of routes that serve only divers. Airlines are going to go bust in big numbers as even if restrictions start being lifted soon, how many people are going to want to jump in a plane stuck in a small space with hundreds of other people with no vaccine in play... i'm guessing very few.

Interesting article here: https://www.headforpoints.com/2020/...kruptcy-without-a-bailout-official-statement/

In case you’re wondering, below are the Citi estimates for how long the major European airline groups can last assuming that they continue to pay their bills, refund tickets and pay interest and debt as they become due:

Air France-KLM – 3 months
easyJet – 15 months
IAG (British Airways) – 8 months
Lufthansa – already technically insolvent
Ryanair – 18 months
Wizz Air – 22 months”
 

Leander

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how many people are going to want to jump in a plane stuck in a small space with hundreds of other people with no vaccine in play... i'm guessing very few.
I would guess the same, but that guess is based on what I would do myself. But then again, humans are the one species that doesn't learn from its mistakes. The fact that governments are trying to bail out airlines in a viral pandemic without a cure says it all.

I kind of hope that most if not all of them go bust. Sometimes burning the house and rebuilding it is the only way forward.
 
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Andrew the fish

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to me an “industry” is a term more applied to a coal-burning steel plant, or oil refinery. But with that, people always wanted bread and spectacle, as this is their most immediate and base requirement. I think an idea of tropical paradise is so far imbedded in people’s minds that speaking of “existential” threat is not justified. What is happening now is only a temporary setback. Sort of shakeoff. Those who leveraged or tried to grow agressively may get burned. I am comparing it to oil industry, there were a few bancruptcies since 2014, but mostly those who stretched their balance sheet too far. Sound companies were making money all the way through crisis, with some maneuvering and quick and assertive measures. This is what works.
 
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Leander

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For a long time this dream of a tropical paradise was just a dream for the masses and only for the filthy rich it was the reality. Right before corona we almost got to the point where it became reality for the masses as well. That has been undone now, and so are all the companies that aimed at the masses.
 
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J Campbell

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I think it all will come back. The pandemic will end and economies will slowly build back up. Many businesses will fail. But new ones will be born. I'm certainly not giving up on going the the Pacific someday.
 
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Leander

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Today here in Greece was the first day of eased restrictions. Free travel is now possible within the prefecture and small businesses were allowed to reopen (which on Crete means -everything-). The main street in the local town felt like Athens! So many cars, so many people.
Now of course Cretans are a hardheaded bunch who do what they like, but still, if this is anything of an example of how people will rush back to their old habbits then I guess the continuation of tourism in the way we know it depends completely on the airlines. (and so does a relapse of the virus)
 
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Stephan Whelan

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Today here in Greece was the first day of eased restrictions. Free travel is now possible within the prefecture and small businesses were allowed to reopen (which on Crete means -everything-). The main street in the local town felt like Athens! So many cars, so many people.
Now of course Cretans are a hardheaded bunch who do what they like, but still, if this is anything of an example of how people will rush back to their old habbits then I guess the continuation of tourism in the way we know it depends completely on the airlines. (and so does a relapse of the virus)
Well that is sad news... a second peak is going to be deadlier than the first
 

Leander

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Yup. I already advised a friend of mine who wants to leave the Netherlands and return to Crete to anticipate a second lockdown in the fall. But this way it's going to be much sooner.

Now here on Crete the amount of corona cases were very low. I don't know if the coutries hotspots, like Athens, were also trying to make up for weeks of missed social interaction in one day. So perhaps it"s just local.

The French lockdown will be eased in a few days. I guess that will be a better indicator.
 
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J Campbell

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I suppsoe the world must go through these cycles of denial and coping with new outbreaks. Not everyone has common sense. But eventually the pandemic will play out, lots of dead, a vaccine will be found, and then the world can resume life as usual.
 

Leander

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Sure, but for how long?

Unless we learn from our mistakes another pandemic, end-of-oil, climate-change, economic-bubble, etc, will be waiting for us when we exit corona.

The fact that the news is now about 'How to blame China' tells me that we haven't learned anything.
 
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J Campbell

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Leander - it's just as you say, "for how long" (until the next crisis) and "unless we learn from our mistakes" (we humans never have) . When I was younger I was much more optimystic about the human race. It seemed the world would continue on an upward spiral of ever greater acheivment. But I was shielded from the reality that there are alot of stupid and greedy people who only think of the here and now. There is a certain kind of person who is clever, greedy, and powerful. These people are forever trying to promote themsleves and in doing so they mess everything up. And when they fail they always try to cover their ass instead of trying to fix their mistakes. It's always been the case and it's the case right now. And I agree, blaming China is not going to move anything forward.
 

adriannaja

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I see is that airlines may not exist to serve even dedicated dive locations. It just isn't going to be viable to service a lot of routes that serve only divers. Airlines are going to go bust in big numbers as even if restrictions start being lifted soon, how many people are going to want to jump in a plane stuck in a small space.
 
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Stephan Whelan

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Perhaps we should set a calendar-event to this thread. It would be interesting to review this question in a year, five years, to see if we learned from it and how we adapted.
Let’s hope we are all still diving (and that DB still exists!) in a year. Life is going to be very hard for everyone in the diving industry for a long time. Also how many people will give up diving for hobbies that are easier to do if we have to stay out of the water for a while.
 

Leander

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...and I thought I was the pessimist. :)

If it's the pre-corona life we want to keep, well that's not going to happen. A lot of companies will go bust, and people will go broke. Countries collapsing might be a little extreme, but the economies and powers will be shifted; something that was already happening but now got accellerated.

What happened with corona was mostly our own fault as we knew something like this was inevitable, yet we didn't prepare for it. Like building on an active volcano.
So many things we do can't and won't end well, because we're greedy and short-sighted. Mass-tourism is quite a timebomb for economic and environmental disaster, and oil and the whole consumption society is like a nuclear device going super-critical.

I keep hoping that we will see corona as a warning and that we will learn from this. But in the meantime I continue learning how to hunt, gather, garden, build and improvise my way to autonomy.
 

foxfish

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Spearfishing could well become more popular !
Travel and scuba could be an issue but harvesting your own food might become more appealing for some?
It is impossible to predict the future .....
Where i live, scuba is banned due to the décompression chamber being closed but after 7 weeks spearfishing is now allowed again.
 

Bill McIntyre

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It took me a while reading this to realize that "diving industry" meant something different to me than to others in the discussion. I suppose in much of the UK and Europe, good diving necessitates travel but its not so true in California, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico coast states. We have pretty good diving here and will probably continue to have it after the state lifts restrictions on our beaches and harbors. Florida has already lifted most restrictions, and I think most of the Gulf coast states never imposed many restrictions in the first place. Sure, a lot of us do travel overseas, but it's not nearly so essential. Even the glory hunters have been able to shoot big bluefin tuna off the SoCal coast for the last few summers. Who needs to travel? And even low budget divers can drive down into Mexico and for some great spearfishing.

As far as the airlines go, if the world economy ever gets back to normal, then so will the airlines. They may be smaller and there may be some new names replacing today's companies, but businessmen are still going to need to fly coast to coast and overseas. If they fly to Athens for business, they'll be pretty close to dive resorts. The question is how long its going to take.
 

Stephan Whelan

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Hey Bill - probably worth you taking a read of the article I posted at the start of the thread if you haven’t already.

Myself and one of the major international diving journalists wrote it about the global side of things.

Absolutely right about the number of areas that have access to good local diving. The bigger issue referred to in the article is the huge global training, equipment and travel industry that is diving (of all types) is very much dependent on travel and airlines. We’ve already seen large numbers of dive stores shut never to open again, retailers are also going bust. I know of at least two major international travel firms focussing on diving about to go bankrupt. I also have a weekly call with various heads of major manufacturers and there are already concerns that some of the biggest names in the diving equipment world will disappear by the end of year.

It’s interesting to have seen the discussion in here as it’s sometimes hard for me to see the local positives when I spend so much time looking at the global negatives!


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