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How to survive a pandemic on a tropical island when your principal source of revenue is tourism?

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The solution lies in the schools.

Since 500,000 indentured labourers arrived from India in Mauritius to cut the sugar cane in the 19th century, the ocean has been incredibly low on the list of interests for a predominantly Hindu Island. Revenue came from sugar, later textiles. Subsistence fishing put protein on the plate.

But since 2002 the development of Mauritius as a safe investment and even safer residential option for a globally ageing population has finally placed real wealth in the hands of Mauritians. The IRS scheme, where foreigners were allowed to buy property on the beaches, and the RES Scheme, where foreigners were allowed to develop residential properties in partnership with Mauritians, have successfully unlocked the wealth of the island and placed it firmly in the hands of the Mauritian people who owned those properties.

Free education has given Mauritius a 95% literacy rate, but wealth and a growing ex-pat community has given parents a private school option, so we started our Conservation and Diving initiative with these private and International schools.

Our biggest problem was bridging the financial gap while we established local markets. The Mauritian Government’s wage assistance scheme meant that all our registered employees would be paid by Government in full while our borders remain closed.

We already had school’s interest last year when we sponsored the Northfields Island Swim, cut short by the Virus, but for us it opened the door to this hugely proactive British International School. This gave us a group of students keen to learn to dive, and they are now eagerly awaiting the holidays so they can enjoy groups safaris to the outlying Islands.

Then I was invited to talk to the teachers at the Lighthouse School about the Wakashio disaster and Cleanup. Bernard, our dive master, and I went to the school with a flash drive and a fully equipped tank. Nadine, our sponsor, warned us that there would be only a few interested teachers listening, as there were a lot of presentations. There were 15 people to start with, but when we reached the part about the Wakashio, the numbers grew.

By the end, there were 35 teachers watching the Wakashio videos, and most of them signed up to do the free Try Dive we were offering. 40% are going on to do PADI Courses. Marine Conservation is now on the school curriculum for next year.

Our MSDA is working with the Sports Ministry to have swimming and scuba diving added to the local schools curricular where it will be free, paid by the Government.

Every weekend we are busy with free Try Dives in the lagoon in the mornings, and boat dives and courses in the afternoons.

Our French speaking colleagues Just Diving and Emperator have approached the French School Ecole du Nord, and they expect to fill their boats over Christmas. 

Free Try Dives have been a huge success. The most difficult thing in a pandemic is to find a way to survive, and we seem to have found ours.


  • Words: Jill Holloway
  • Copyright: Ocean Spirit www.osdiving.com 2020
  • Images: Ocean Spirit

Jill Holloway lives in Mauritius and at Sodwana Bay Isimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa. A PADI qualified Nitrox diver with over 1,500 dives, she is a passionate observer and preserver of the marine environment, and has a database of over 35,000 fish pics and hundreds of Gopro videos on fish behaviour, which she shares with her readers.

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Looking ahead with Regaldive…

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Regaldive is set to launch three NEW small group dive holidays for 2021.

With the news of Covid-19 vaccines on the horizon there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the team at Regaldive have been busy working on some fantastic new itineraries.

Their new small group dive adventures have been designed on a unique land-based, liveaboard concept. The holidays will appeal to divers who like to travel as part of a small group and those who enjoy a liveaboard experience with an action-packed diving itinerary.

Check out some of the great value packages to Egypt, Indonesia and the Maldives here:

SHARM DIVE EXTRAVAGANZA

On this week-long adventure at the authentic family run Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village in Sharm we have included a special diving itinerary with 15 dives! Explore Ras Mohamed National Park, Tiran, the Dunraven wreck and also enjoy a couple of night dives.

This is an exceptional package with accommodation, diving, meals and transfers all included plus for single divers there is no single supplement.

Dates:

  • 6-13 May 2021
  • 10-17 June 2021
  • Price from only £695pp
  • More on this offer HERE

BUNAKEN BONANZA, INDONESIA

This small group holiday is based at the beautiful Tasik Ria Resort on the shores of Manado, facing the Bunaken National Marine Park in North Sulawesi. The spacious family run resort has excellent facilities and you will enjoy warm hospitality from the friendly team.

Our special diving itinerary includes a total of 17 dives! You can take three dives per day and the package also includes a night dive and a trip over to Lembeh Strait to seek out the weird and wonderful. Accommodation, meals, transfers and Nitrox are also included plus for single divers there is no single supplement.

Dates:

  • 01-08 May 2021
  • 04-11 September 2021
  • From only £1345 per person

More on this offer HERE


DIVE & DETOX MALDIVES

This magical dive resort has been specially selected for our small group trip – with just six rooms it offers the perfect base to rewind, detox and enjoy world-class diving. Boutique Beach is ideally located on a local island at the tip of the South Ari Atoll, an area known for excellent whale shark sightings.

We have included 17 dives in our special package, including two full day safaris, a night dive, and some secret dive spots. Accommodation, meals, transfers and Nitrox are also included.

Dates:

  • 25 April-02 May 2021
  • 02-09 October 2021
  • Price from only £1675pp

More on this offer HERE

All prices are quoted on a land-only basis. Flight prices available on request.

Places are limited to just 6-10 divers so don’t delay!


To find out more about these new small group holidays or to book, visit: www.regaldive.co.uk or call 01353 659999.

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Dates announced for Grenada Dive Fest 2021

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The Grenada Scuba Diving Association, in collaboration with Grenada Tourism Authority, has announced the 5th Annual Pure Grenada Dive Fest from the 9th-15th October 2021.

To celebrate the success of the recent fourth event Pure Grenada Dive Fest – ‘A Virtual Experience’, the Grenada Scuba Diving Association, in partnership with Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association and Grenada Tourism Authority, are giving away an awesome prize. Entrants can win a five-night stay at Grenada’s Seabreeze Hotel in 2021!

Entering the giveaway is easy. Find the post on the Instagram or Facebook page @grenadapurediving and simply follow the rules.

Full terms and details can be found on the website by clicking here

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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