Anguilla is positioning itself to enhance its diving features in an effort to attract more dive enthusiasts and visitors to its shores who are fond of exploring the sea bed around the island.
A forum entitled “Dive Tourism – A Holistic Approach”, was held at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Tourism on Friday 28th July, 2023. There, several stakeholders with interest in the maritime environment made various presentations to support their views on a potential policy for Dive Tourism.
Delivering remarks on the forum, the Honorable Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism, Mr. Haydn Hughes, pointed out that the idea for such a consultation was conceived after he had a conversation with visiting guests. “This comes on the backdrop of a call which I received some months ago to meet with some divers at Lit Lounge in Sandy Ground,” he said. “They made it clear that Anguilla has some of the best diving sites in the Caribbean, and in the world. And I trusted their judgment.”
“I have done my own research,” he noted, “and after looking at the images provided by our local dive instructor Mr. Carl Heyliger, I have been impressed. Divers on the Island have also been successful in encouraging the Deputy Governor, Mr. Perin Bradley, to embark on his own diving ventures.”
“I am convinced that Dive Tourism is one of our pillars that has the potential of strengthening our tourism product,” he said. “Tourism benefits us all. To see this, we can just look back on a couple short years to see the damaging effects that COVID-19 has had on our economy and the economies of the world. It is therefore my wish that those gathered here for this consultation would meet with much success as you discuss. Out of discussions like these, we will be formulating a Dive Tourism policy for Anguilla.”
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry, Mr. Karim Hodge, said the tourism product can be further diversified through diving experiences: “Anguilla’s tourism product has been traditionally developed with coastal features,” he said. “However, over the past decade we have experienced a myriad of changes and challenges. These clearly dictate that Anguilla must seek to further diversify its tourism product.”
“There is a potential that exists for developing the tourism product in new areas in Anguilla,” the Permanent Secretary said. “When one visits Anguilla he or she must visit our beaches, but we need to look at a wider scope of offerings.”
“The traditional beach and restaurant are quickly becoming passive,” Mr. Hodge said, “so we need to make sure we transform them. With changing travel trends and demands, we need to look at a multiplicity of activities and experiences for our tourists and our locals who are keen on diving. Dive tourism offers a great option here.”
He noted that dive tourism can focus on a number of different avenues from snorkeling experiences, night dives, deep water dives, artificial reefs as well as the traditional daytime diving activities. He said that for dive tourism, there is a need to develop various niches and market them to tourists as one package.
Director of Tourism, Mrs. Stacy Liburd also made a presentation accompanied by her colleague, Mrs. Sharon Lowe, the Anguilla Tourist Board’s (ATB) Marketing Officer. They both highlighted the ATB’s support for the dive tourism policy.
“We are in full support of the Dive Tourism policy,” Mrs. Liburd said. “I think that this is very important, as it is key to having a guiding document that speaks to the mission, values, strategic objectives and the legal framework of enhancing our product through dive tourism.”
“As the marketing arm for the destination,” she observed, “it only makes sense for us to be able to lend our support as it relates to marketing dive tourism and adding it to our existing pillars that speak to our overall destination experience and our product offerings. But before we sit down to draft a policy, we need to have a comprehensive understanding of who the dive travelers are and what we can do to reach them.”
In defining dive tourism and the dive traveler, Mrs. Lowe noted that, based on research, dive tourism is the travelling of people from their residential area to another area to engage in a wide range of diving activities. She said it is a niche market for adventurous tourism.
“Dive tourism generates much revenue,” Mrs. Lowe reported. “Worldwide, dive tourism has contributed between US$20 billion and US$30 billion to the tourism product, and according to CTO, in the Caribbean, dive tourism [is] worth US$19 billion and accounts for 10% of Caribbean travelers.”
Also making presentations were Ms. Clarissa Lloyd, Programme Officer of the Anguilla National Trust, and Fire Station Officer, Mr. Carlisle Lake. Ms. Lloyd’s address dealt with Progress on Anguilla’s Marine Parks, while Mr. Lake made a presentation on Safety and Security at Sea.
Following the presentations, the attendees formed breakout groups to facilitate detailed discussions on the beginning of the formulation of a proposed dive policy.
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