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The Global Picture

As a highly specialised niche market statistical information on the dive market is sparse, but current estimates suggest one third of certified divers are considered ‘active’ and there are 10 million active certified divers in the world.  The majority of these are PADI certified and in 2011, PADI issued its 20 millionth certificate to a diver in Micronesia!

Who is a typical diver?

Divers are a discerning population.  They are adventure-seekers and travel regularly to varied destinations, often looking for the ‘next experience’.  As such, they tend to have high disposable incomes (diving is an expensive activity) and are generally aged between 35 to 65.  The split between male and female divers has remained broadly similar over the years, with two thirds male and one third female.

The market can be further segmented by ‘experience’ into three distinct categories:

– Active Recreational Divers tend to dive in their home country, or locally.
– Leisure Divers are occasional divers, typically diving abroad whilst on holiday.
– Hardcore Divers are experienced, active divers who go abroad, sometimes to remote locations, for the chief purpose of diving.

Group composition can be varied; experienced divers are as likely to travel alone or in a group to a remote dive site whereas recreational divers are more likely to travel as a couple or with a group of friends, to enjoy the experience together and stay on at a land-based dive resort. 

Where do they come from?

The US and Europe are the key source markets for divers worldwide; the US is reputed to have twice as many divers as European countries.  In order of importance, Italy is home to the most divers followed by Germany, France and the UK.  Divers from the rest of the world, including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, account for 12% of the market.

Examining the markets in more detail, it is clear that:

  1. Italians are more likely to dive whilst on holiday in a family beach resort, or on honeymoon where diving is offered as an activity.
  2. 25% of active divers from the UK take an overseas diving holiday each year, and consider diving to be the main purpose of the holiday.
  3. German divers tend to spend more on the accommodation portion of their diving holidays by quite some margin.
  4. In the US, 75% of divers are under 50, although the profile of divers to the South Pacific tend to be older owing to the distance – needed to travel and the cost.
  5. Australian divers are similar in profile to the Americans, although younger (aged 30-40).  Divers from New Zealand often fit into the Hardcore Diver group, taking regular diving trips to the South Pacific, sometimes up to three times a year.
  6. By contrast, Japanese divers are equally likely to be men as women, and the demographic is younger, between 20 and 30.
  7. Wreck diving appeals more to men than women, in some instances groups will be skewed 80% male.

Where are new divers coming from?

– Budget travellers and the family market is key, particularly in light of spontaneous decisions to ‘give diving a go’ or ‘learn while on holiday’.

– The singles market is important as diving always requires a ‘buddy’ which is a good way of meeting new people.

– Growing market of 50+, which offers significant potential owing to increasingly active lifestyles.