Editorial – July 2020

Are You Productive or Paralyzed? –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

This COVID-19 Pandemic has gone on long enough.  I’m tired of half truths and misleading information.  I’m tired of being lied to.  Some people say this virus is going to kill everyone.  Some say it’s a hoax.  You can’t both be right but you both can be wrong.  Somewhere in the middle I suppose is the truth and we have to find out what it is and soon.  I just wish I knew who is lying to me, who is telling the truth and who just doesn’t know what’s going on.  I am just looking for the truth and yes, I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! (Thanks, Jack).

So where does that leave the diving industry?  Well, we know that we are faced with a worldwide pandemic that is killing people.  We have guidelines to follow from leading medical authorities to keep us as safe as possible and we know how to limit the spread of this virus.  We know that many people in the manufacturing of diving equipment have been laid off, furloughed or let go.  But we are also seeing a number of Sales Reps returning to their positions at some of the more established companies.  We know that many dive resorts are closed because their islands or countries have shut down.  But we also know that certain islands are opening up for visitors and dive operators are starting to resume their charters.  In all honesty I think we know more about the closures and roadblocks than we know about the re-openings and the resuming operations.

In my opinion, the worst thing we are dealing with is misinformation.  Not getting truthful answers to our questions leads us to not believe anyone.  It also leads us to not doing what needs to be done to conquer this pandemic and move forward.  Governments and their appointed or elected leaders need to seek answers to complex problems and share their findings with their constituents.  We are smarter than they give us credit for.  When the general population is aware of a legitimate problem, it leads to an agreed upon solution that is normally believed and followed by the masses.  No lies.  No hidden agendas.  No political biases.  Just an agreed upon problem, solution and action plan.

We all want to be safe and secure.  We all want to return to our beloved recreation – scuba diving and adventure travel.  To do that we need to know our part in being safe and how to prevent the virus from getting worse.  We need to know when travel destinations open up and what the local rules and regulations are.  When we know that, we can start planning our safe return to scuba diving.  When we take uncertainty out of the equation, it’s easier to get back to normal.

The Dive Industry Association is doing our part for our member companies and the general diving public.  On our website at www.diveindustry.net we list Dive Trips and FAM Trips our Members are sponsoring.  We also have a web page dedicated to the latest status for dive resort and dive operator closings and re-openings.  We do our best to keep these three pages current, but it is always better to contact these dive travel professionals directly.  Their website links and contact information is always included on our web pages.  It’s always better to stay in touch with your equipment, training and travel vendors during this terrible pandemic.  We may not all be in the same boat, but we all are in the same storm together.  Don’t lose direct contact with your strategic business partners.  They are only a phone call away.

I heard the Florida Keys was open. Then I heard it was closed.  Then I heard it was open.  Then I heard it may be closed again.  OK – Enough.  I got on the phone and called Captain Slate in Tavernier, FL.   Slate has a booming charter business there and has been in the Keys forever.  If anyone should know if the Keys are open, it’s Slate.  Well, bless his heart.  He knew.  “Come on down Brother, we’re diving”, Slate said.  Maybe his schedule isn’t as organized as it normally is because of the unpredictability of the pandemic, but my orders were to: 1) Go to the Dive Site at www.CaptainSlate.com and get all of your information.  2) Call 305-451-3020 and see if there is room on the boat.  3) Click on “Hotels” on the website and book a hotel of your liking.  Of course, two things Slate left out was; 1) Make sure you get a picture of you and Slate so you can post it to Social Media to let everyone know you’re diving.  2) Make sure you Tip the Crew.

There are a ton of Dive Boats in the Florida Keys.  Slate’s not the only one.  But rather than be paralyzed into doing nothing because of COVID-19 we can do something very positive to get the economic ball rolling again in our industry.  As an example, there are 254 Dive Stores in the State of Florida.   That’s 17% of all the 1,526 Dive Stores in the United States.  Since every dive store in Florida is within driving distance to the Florida Keys, I recommend that every store appoint one person to head up their Travel Department and plan a dive trip to the Florida Keys.  The Dive Travel Specialist at your store doesn’t have to be the owner, or the head instructor for that matter.  Just someone who loves to dive and likes people. Pick a Dive Operator in the Keys, get a recommendation from them for hotel accommodations, get a hold of your best customers, book the trip, have fun and post it to social media.

We can personally recommend:

Getting back in the ball game is not as difficult as it may sound.  Do a local trip to the Florida Keys and see how that works out for you.  Then maybe I can get you on a plane to visit Cane Bay Dive Shop and St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventure in St. Croix, USVI.  Or maybe if you’re really excited and ready I can get you all the way to Roatan again – Mayan Princess Beach Resort and Turquoise Bay Resort – both in Roatan.

Be Productive – not Paralyzed.  Be Safe and Have Fun.  Remember – Scuba Diving is the Ultimate Social Distancing Recreation.  We all wear Masks, breath from regulators and stay six feet apart.  Well, in my case, sometimes maybe just a wee bit more.    🙂

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About Gene Muchanski

Executive Director at Dive Industry Association. Board Member at Dive Industry Foundation. Marketing Consultant to the Diving Industry. I have been a certified Scuba Diver since I was 15 years old and have been a passionate waterman for as long as I can remember.
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