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  1. #1
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    Why is diving on the decline in the UK?

    Spin off from another thread.

    Based on purely empirical evidence, diving is on the decline in the UK. Dive shops closing, fewer dive boats running, smaller dive shows and even declining BSAC membership, it is clear that diving is declining in popularity. Worse still, grey hair dominates which is the death knell for diving as it's a fit and heathy person's sport.

    Why could that be?

    One can see why diving favours the old and established simply due to the costs and commitment required to meet in some dank car park, gassed up and prepared for an uncomfortable steam out to a dive site for which the ferryman will want ~50 on top of the travel, kit and time costs to just be there.

    I'm curious as to how we got here. After all the active divers amongst us have been doing this for some time.

    Are we the mad ones wanting to drop into inner space to experience nature and history first hand? The thrill of exploring places that few have seen, seeing nature's marvels, putting in endless hours of practice and investing thousands of pounds on kit....

    Decline isn't just a diving phenomenon. Caving, sailing, etc. All seeing their increasingly aging enthusiasts.

    Why? What's wrong with the young? Shirley they can't all be shallow weaklings...

  2. #2
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    Well the entire country's population is aging so that would probably explain some of it.

    Would be interesting to look at the demographics of divers 20-30 year ago. Any data on average age of a club member in 1990?

    I started out on motorbikes and was part of a fairly unusual group - a young rider. Far more common was the mid 50's born agains who'd had bikes when they were 17-20's then missus and kids had come along and fked it all up for them, or the disposable income group who were 30-40 earning decent money and playing out. In diving you seem to see similar groups.


    Is it just due to general reduction in interest of young people doing anything at all? They'd rather play online games or take endless pouting selfies?


    I definitely blame the obsession about needing a different blue peter badge to use a different coloured snorkel or dive 6" deeper for at least part of it. That'd put anyone off. All that bollocks does a good job of knocking the adventure right out of it if you let it.
    Last edited by WFO; 30-10-2018 at 09:26 AM.

  3. #3
    Old but keen Mark Chase's Avatar
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    Cost and stress of work are big factors


    The cost of diving is one thing but the cost of the equipment is staggering now with dry suits at 1500 quid undersuit at 600 quid and a twinset & wing rig 1500 quid


    I may be wrong but I think the internet hasn't helped with the reporting of diving incidents being common now. Pre 2000 I never heard anything unless I was in the know.

  4. #4
    bottlefish Stuart Keasley's Avatar
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    If you asked people on this forum what inspired them to start diving, I would expect a fair amount (ie a lot, just to avoid any confusion) would mention Jacques Cousteau somewhere in their answer. He conjured up images of another world, hidden treasures, amazing nature, accessible only to a lucky few. And way back then, only a few were lucky enough to see it. So it was cool, exotic, brought out the pioneer spirit (and fed in to way too much macho BS).

    When diving become more accessible, we had a massive influx; all of those (like me) that were desperate to try, just didn't know how. And because it was special, we stuck at it. But that generation has been done. The next generation have seen a very different picture; it's now a very accessible past time, takes just a few days to qualify, anyone can do it. All you have to do is spend a lot of money and a few days at a resort. So it's not sexy any more, it's just a tick on the bucket list, along with all the other things we can do. I'm not sure that we challenge our kids in the same way anymore either; screen time has over taken heading outside and building a camp under the tree, getting your knees muddy and your shirt ripped.

    So I expect certifications and resort diving, the travel industry etc are maintaining the footfall, it's the more dedicated divers that's seen the drop off. And that's going to have a big affect on the UK; end of the day, it takes a lot more effort to get into the water off the South Coast, with far greater chance of not so good conditions, then rolling off the back of a boat in the Pacific.
    Please visit bottlefish for my personal web site, Quay Cameras to chat to me about the cameras and kit that I sell

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Chase View Post
    Cost and stress of work are big factors


    The cost of diving is one thing but the cost of the equipment is staggering now with dry suits at 1500 quid undersuit at 600 quid and a twinset & wing rig 1500 quid


    I may be wrong but I think the internet hasn't helped with the reporting of diving incidents being common now. Pre 2000 I never heard anything unless I was in the know.
    Tend to agree with Mark re cost and stress. Twenty years ago jobs were more predictable and more 9-5... That helps when you have to commit to dives months in advance. Also posted the below in the other thread but as mentioned it would be better here...

    Housing costs, transport and budget airlines. Most of the people I know who are under 35 can't really afford their housing costs. (There was an item on the telly last night about the huge rise in sales of 3 tier bunk beds , enabling you to sleep three kids in one room). Transport, many of the people I know under 25 aren't bothering to learn to drive - even if you can afford the lessons you the insurance is unaffordable, unless Mum and Dad can pay. Our club doesn't get many trainees but the ones we do increasingly don't have a car.

    Budget airlines - it can be cheaper now to go abroad then spend weekend in say somewhere like Weymouth. Uk diving isn't a cheap option anymore. (When we tot up after a weekend away there's always lots of jokes about how it would have been cheaper to go abroad.) For most people diving is easier and more justifiable to do on a foreign holiday (and it's less of a guilt trip than going off on your own when the family budget is tight) and there's a lot of opportunity for that as people take many, many more foreign breaks and holidays than they used to.
    Last edited by longbow; 30-10-2018 at 10:32 AM.

  6. #6
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    After several years of declining membership, our club has a good year for recruiting new members. We have positioned it as being family friendly and promoted diving as a family activity and have had four families with teenage children sign up, all keen to dive in the UK as well abroad. One teenage girl wants to go on to study marine biology at Uni. We've also had two older members join who have wanted to dive for a long time but only now have the time to devote to it.

    It has been damned hard work for the instructors, especially as a couple of them are real prima donnas and refuse to sign up anything done by an ADI unless they witness every single skill being performed (and they are super-critical of the ADI which is a great way to put them off) which limits us in how many students we can take. I have been instructing every week this year except when away on holiday and am doing my eighth training trip to Stoney on Sunday as well as others to NDAC and Gildensludge.

    Apart from the cost, UK weather has been a problem in recent years. As an inland branch we have to arrange trips well in advance in order to allow people to book accommodation and often time off work. Twice this year major trips have been blown out which hardly encourages new members. Getting abroad is now so much cheaper that it ever was in the past, often just as cheap as going away in the UK so why take the risk with the weather? When I started, going abroad to dive was an unachievable dream so we either dived in the UK or not at all.

    At one major event, I had one young man who appeared interested until he asked how long we spent underwater. When I said normally 45 minutes to an hour he was horrified - 'but I wouldn't be able to log on to Facebook while I was down there!'. Obsession with social media in the extreme.

    Perhaps the biggest issue is that diving is no longer seen as cool or exciting in the way that it was for previous generations and I really don't know how we can address this on the scale that is needed to turn things around.

  7. #7
    Established TDF Member Chrisch's Avatar
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    Weather. Cost. Boomers have stripped the wrecks. Fishing industry denuded the seas. House prices are bonkers and all money goes on mortgage/rent. Blown out and go to the pub is not pleasant - beer is 3 quid a pint, pubs are shit. Kit pissing contests. Misogynist old farts put women off. Clubs full of wanabees and prima donnas. Shops can't be arsed to give decent service, rates killing shops. Idiotic tank cleaning and testing rules. Traffic at the coast is shit all summer.

    But maybe, above all, you can do a week in the Red Sea for less than a weekend in Littlehampton. Good weather, good vis, good sea life, pleasant accommodation and food in the sun.

  8. #8
    Established WTF Member Spirit of Guernsey's Avatar
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    Numbers here are pretty static although our situation isn't typical. We have 3 dive schools (2 part time) and a BSAC club. Very few trainees seem to move on to regular diving.

    There are no commercial boats here, but quite a few leisure owners are happy to take divers out for the cost of the fuel, so very cheap. Dive sites are easily accessible so only a few windy days from the east will stop all diving.

    The BSAC club is static around 50 members with new ones coming in as fast as others leave, the difference is that the incomers tend to be regular divers while the leavers were social members, so more diving this year.

    Also much more technical diving over the last few years and a four-fold increase in rebreathers in the last 18 months.
    There are four varieties in society: the lovers, the ambitious, observers and fools. The fools are the happiest.
    Hippolyte Taine French critic and historian (1828-93)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisch View Post
    Weather. Cost. Boomers have stripped the wrecks. Fishing industry denuded the seas. House prices are bonkers and all money goes on mortgage/rent. Blown out and go to the pub is not pleasant - beer is 3 quid a pint, pubs are shit. Kit pissing contests. Misogynist old farts put women off. Clubs full of wanabees and prima donnas. Shops can't be arsed to give decent service, rates killing shops. Idiotic tank cleaning and testing rules. Traffic at the coast is shit all summer.

    But maybe, above all, you can do a week in the Red Sea for less than a weekend in Littlehampton. Good weather, good vis, good sea life, pleasant accommodation and food in the sun.
    Have to agree with virtually all of this.

    Another thing that stops a lot of people considering diving is the misinformation put out about it. Over hyping of the risks and the dangers of wildlife (sharks in particular) are the main ones I hear.

  10. #10
    anything but cool rivers's Avatar
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    I dive less now than I did a few years ago. It's expensive and time consuming. If I'm lucky and ropes off is a decent time, I can drive down on the day, but still get back pretty late. If I'm not, I've got to shell out for accommodation. Plus gas, petrol, and food, maybe drinks. A day out diving can cost 100-150. A weekend, twice that. And I get maybe 30-60 minutes underwater/dive. I still enjoy it when I'm out, but my trips out are less frequent. A day out on my bike cost whatever I spend at the cafe and/or pub stop. I leave when I want and plan a ride for how long I want to be out. My wife and dog can come with me if I want.


 
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