In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…
What is the name of your business?
Oyster Luxury Travel & Diving Ltd
What is your role within the business?
How long has the business operated for?
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
I did my first Discover Scuba in the South of France in 1997 and completed my Open Water in 1999. I am currently a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and have been teaching for 14 years.
What is your favorite type of diving?
Shark diving! There are few things in life that are as exhilarating as diving with sharks. They are amazing creatures that have been around since before the dinosaurs.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
We are a professionally run 5 star PADI dive centre offering courses from beginner to instructor. Incorporated is a fully bonded travel centre which means we can offer holidays around the world as well as UK trips to our customers and club members. We stock the major brands of diving equipment at competitive prices and are proud to be an Aqua Lung partner centre. We have 6 pool locations around the South East to make it as easy as possible for customers to take their first breaths underwater.
What is your favorite dive in your location and why?
I’ve been really fortunately to have been to some truly amazing places including the Med, Red Sea, Mexico, Thailand, Virgin Islands, Barbados, Sudan, UK, Australia and Djibouti but nothing has ever come close to the Galapagos. The shear abundance of marine life, the giant schools of hammerheads and huge whale sharks is unlike anywhere else on earth. It’s very expensive but worth every penny.
What types of diving are available in your location?
We offer dives around the UK and we have regular boat dives off the South Coast close to our offices in Brighton. We also visit some of the inland sites to complete training and allow newer dives to gain additional experience.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
Since we’ve become one of the largest dive centres in the UK I find that I am spending less time teaching courses then I used to. So, I’m always really pleased to receive thank you emails from customers that we have taught as it means that all the hard work we put in is paying off and our instructors and Divemasters are doing a great job.
What is your favorite underwater creature?
After sharks I love big schools of fish. Watching hundreds of barracudas swirling round and following each other’s tails is great to watch. However, I could also just plonk myself on the sand (carefully of course) and spend hours just watch clown fish dancing around their anemone.
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
We have recently taken delivery of Ocean Reef Full Face masks with underwater comms so we can’t wait for our customers and instructors to give these a whirl. We’ve also just become stockists for Paralenz so it means that the quality of the videos we and our customers produce on our trips will be even better – even our most technophobes can operate them.
As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
The biggest problem Oyster Diving face in the UK is awareness of the ‘referral system’. Many people in the UK have the idea that diving in the UK is dark and cold and don’t realise that you can complete the theory and pool skills saving on valuable holiday time. If the industry could generate more awareness of the referral system then it would allow our instructors to educate people about ways to keep warm and talk about some of the great dive sites we have in this country. This means they could carry on diving on returning from holiday and continue their new passion instead of just forgetting about it and moving on to the next challenge.
I find that the other challenge in the UK is getting new divers boat diving in the sea. If you look at most of the dive boats these days they have an aging population of men on them who have been diving for years. I believe the one of the reasons for this is that many of the dive boats don’t offer the same level of service that people find on their overseas holiday. So, when people do go for their first UK sea dive they are usually disappointed, feel uncared for or are just scared.
A lot of new divers are understandably anxious when they do their first sea dive. I think it would be great for the industry to have boats that offer proper briefings, an experienced guide that knows the dive site and an option for some decent food (even if it’s sandwiches and hot chocolate) or a few few other luxuries.
We are trying to introduce this level of service to our South Coast boat dives but without owning our own boat it is very difficult.
Is your center involved in any environmental work?
We believe that as divers we are the ambassadors for the underwater world and need to educate people on the impact that our lifestyles are having on the environment. We have set up some corporate dive clubs where we give regular talks on what we can do to help our oceans. We regularly post on our social media and newsletters with the latest news. We have run many ‘Project Shark’ trips with blue o two which have also encouraged many of our customers to spread the word about the plight of many shark species.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?
I think in the modern age of cheap and fast travel it gives us a great opportunity to visit destinations that would never have accessible to our parents. I would like to see more schools offering diving and holidays to accompany their usual annual ski trip. Diving offers kids the chance to put many of their subjects they learn such as physics, chemistry, maths, biology and history in to practice in a fun and rewarding manner. Unlike many school sports you don’t have to be a great sportsperson to be a great diver so everyone can get involved regardless of age and sex.
On school trips we run we find the students really bond with each other despite being in different year groups and coming from different backgrounds and it makes them much more sociable when they return home as well as having a new passion that can be used in a future career.
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
I would say come along to one of drinks nights in London or Brighton and meet some new friends. We have a great crowd with people from all different ages, different levels of dive experience and from different backgrounds from bin men to wealthy stock brokers. By meeting like-minded friendly people opens up the opportunity to join our holidays around the world and have some amazing experiences.
Where can our visitors find out more about your business
We have two websites:
Dive School, Club and Holidays – www.oysterdiving.com
Online dive shop www.oysterdivingshop.com
We have a freephone number 0800 699 0243 and people are always welcome to e-mail us at email@example.com.