Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Travel has come to a standstill during this pandemic, and the tourism industry is
definitely on decline. Scuba diving is a part of the tourism sector, and I have talked to 2 divers about how they have been affected during this time.
Covid-19 has brought the world to a standstill, with border controls, lockdowns and movement restrictions implemented by governments around the world to curb the spread of the disease. Singapore has closed her borders to foreigners, and put in place the Circuit Breaker measures, where non-essential businesses are closed, and people are encouraged not to leave their homes without valid reasons. Singapore’s neighbours have also implemented measures, with Malaysia’s Movement Control Order, Indonesia’s partial lockdown and Thailand’s curfew and partial lockdown. These measures have hit the tourism industry hard:
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has estimated a decrease of 20 to 30% of international tourist arrivals in 2020, with the Singapore Tourism Board expecting a drop of 25 to 30% of arrivals to Singapore in 2020. Eco-tourism is not exempted from the impact of this pandemic. What is ecotourism exactly?
Eco-tourism is when you practice responsible travel to areas that are
natural and conserve the environment. Your visit should also support locals and your aim should be to learn more about the culture and environment of the area. There are many forms of ecotourism, and one of them is scuba diving.
Scuba diving has been debated by many regarding its effects on the marine environment. Some say it is harmful to the environment – large fuel boats, anchors and clumsy divers could damage coral reefs and disturb the creatures living at dive sites. However, more and more divers and companies are making scuba diving eco-friendly. With the correct training, divers can interact with their surroundings properly while causing minimal disturbances to its inhabitants. Many divers and companies are also placing emphasis on learning about and conserving the ocean and its inhabitants. “[I focus] on the safety of [my] divers and the preservation of the environment”, said Ms Denise McIntyre, a dive instructor certified by both PADI and SSI. Denise regularly takes and posts pictures of the creatures she sees during her dives on Instagram, sharing her knowledge with everyone.
Check out her Instagram page @dmcthediver to see more beautiful photos!
Photos by: Denise McIntyre
The scuba diving industry is worth billions of dollars worldwide, and a lot of that money comes from tourism. Scuba diving is regarded as one of the most important forms of marine tourism, where people travel to different areas of the world to visit dive sites and see different marine animals. Now, with global lockdowns and travel restrictions, the diving industry is sure to suffer.
My friend recently told me that she had to cancel a diving trip she had booked with a dive company in Bali where she was looking forward to diving with manta rays.
Local dive company The Dive ship also had to cancel their dive trips during this time. “Malaysia, Indonesia where we visit often for diving has also closed their doors for diving and not likely to resume in next few months” said Mr Jason Ng, Course Director and co-founder of The Dive Ship. Other than the travel restrictions, the Circuit Breaker Measures in Singapore have also put a stop to the majority of The Dive Ship’s business activities. They are only able to hold theory classes online during this time and have to put on hold their practical classes. Independent dive instructors like Denise McIntyre also feel the pressure of the measures. “Covid-19 came between my jobs. This was meant to be a break after 1.5 years of diving non-stop almost every day” said Denise, adding that “I am definitely unemployed longer than I intended to be as the diving/tourism industry has come to a halt.” Although the times are tough, she is staying positive and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Both Jason and Denise are staying positive, giving words of encouragement to fellow divers during this time. When I asked them how they would like to be supported during this time, both gave very heart-warming answers. Denise would love for more people to share and donate to her initiative, Street Children of the Future in Bangladesh. “It's only a few months old where I've been working with a tour guide based in Srimangal to feed, clothe and educate child beggars who live at the train station.” This initiative, having only been started a few months ago, is relatively new and not many people are aware of it. “If donations aren't possible, just sharing to raise awareness would help”. Even though Covid-19 measures have made it hard for her and her team to continue their work, they are still pushing forward and trying their best to help these children. You can learn more about her initiative here: https://streetchildrenofthefuture.wordpress.com
Jason replied saying “I feel that the divers may not be going through an easy time as well. As such, I wouldn’t ask or request for divers to support their local dive companies for now”. He added that “when the situation clears, do come back and do some diving with local dive centres for both local dives or overseas dives”. The Dive Ship offers PADI courses of different levels to cater to everyone, from novice divers to seasoned divers. They also have diving trips that you can join, so be sure to check them out at https://www.thediveship.com/ . They also post facts and pictures of marine animals, the ocean, diving, and more, so head to @thediveship on Instagram to learn some fun facts.
Photos by: The Dive Ship
Although both of them are facing difficulties with the circuit breaker measures, they are still thinking of others before themselves. This is a good reminder that while everyone is going through tough times, including the team at Ocean Purpose Project, it is always nice to think of others and provide them help if it is within our abilities. From all of us at Ocean Purpose Project, stay home, stay safe, stay positive and we will see you at future events soon!
Thank you to Jason Ng from The Dive Ship and Denise McIntyre for their inspiring insights!