The success of DEMA ‘97 reflected in high public attendance has ensured support for DEMA ‘s Asian marketing strategy from both the dive industry and divers in the region
Snorkelling and scuba-diving in a shopping mall is the sort of experience most of us could do without. But the idea has proved a potent attention-grab¬ber in Malaysia and effectively focused the attention of the gen¬eral public on underwater activi¬ties. Installing dive tanks in shopping malls formed part of a six-month public awareness campaign that also included press, television and radio.
Crowds flocking to DEMA Asia ‘97 (Diving Equipment and Marketing Association), held in Kuala Lumpur in October, dem¬onstrated the impact of the cam¬paign. There was a capacity crowd on the showcase’s final day and the final tally for the four-day exhibition was more than 2000 trade visitors and well over 3000 members of the pub¬lic. When the show rotates to In¬donesia next year, says John Oetken, DEMA business devel¬opment director, it will feature two full public days instead of one-and-a-half.
The awareness campaign in¬cluded “Brut Actif Blue Deep Sea Diving Challenge”. Target¬ing non-divers and inactive divers, it offered the chance to win great prizes, drew more than 40,000 entries and brought thousands of aspiring winners into local dive stores each month. DEMA’s Responsible Diver campaign was expanded to the Asia-Pacific with over 5000 retail display kits sent to dive stores in Asia-Pacific, Car¬ibbean and US markets. Pool dives at the show’s participating hotels were also popular.
Other efforts to promote DEMA and the dive industry in¬cluded expanding the associa¬tion’s Website with more links to member sites, the latest in expo and industry information and more listings for those search¬ing for travel, training and equip¬ment purchases.
DEMA’s excellent public at¬tendance alleviated some of thedisappointment over the number of trade visitors, which was lower despite exhibitor numbers increasing to 200 and coming from a greater cross-section of the industry than last year. Slow mornings on Friday and Saturday, which were re¬served for the trade, were attrib¬uted to regional currency prob¬lems and the discouraging ef¬fect on international visitors of Indonesia’s haze problem.
Travel and tourism
Dive travel and tourism were a major focal point at this year’s show — dive-travel related in¬dustries represented 40% of ex¬hibitors. The theme was also noticeable in discussions at the expo’s Professional Develop¬ment Conference.
In his opening speech, DEMA president and Cayman Islands Tourism Minister Thomas Jefferson explained the essential elements for estab¬lishing world leadership in dive tourism. He stressed the need for cooperation between gov¬ernments, airlines, tourism boards and dive operators to help promote an industry which, when managed responsibly, can be more profitable and sustain¬able than reckless fishing prac¬tices which exhaust the oceans’ natural resources.
Also thought-provoking were the show’s seminars, which ranged from “How to pre¬serve coral reefs and feed the people” to “Nitrox today’s best profit opportunity” and “New Scubavro reaulators” .
In conjunction with the show, the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board played host to 40 travel agents from the USA and Canada who specialize in dive travel packages to Malay¬sia. The programme featured visits to five of Malaysia’s most renowned dive sites.
Looking to the future
In line with the belief that the key to growth is protecting the environment, the Marine Parks and Marine Reserves Trust Fund held a fund-raising dinner with the theme, “Our seas. . . our children’s legacy”. The aim was to raise money to educate Malaysia’s youth in the need to protect our oceans, in addition to creating a sustainable trust fund to cover marine parks maintenance. The idea behind this grass-roots approach is that today’s children are the custodi¬ans of tomorrow.
Scuba Schools Interna¬tional, Dan, Scubapro, Tusa, PADI and Naui confirmed their attendance at DEMA Asia ‘98, which is scheduled to be held from September 17-20 at the Jakarta Convention Centre. All agreed that attending two shows in the region stretched their limited resources.
DEMA Asia was voted more popular than the rival ADEC show (to be replaced next year with the Asia Dive Expo in Sin¬gapore) due to its professional¬ism, size and wide network of resources. Claus Nimb, joint managing director of PADI, ad¬mitted the opening of their Sin¬gapore headquarters made at¬tending a Singapore show al¬most unnecessary.
Robert Watts, DEMA’s ex¬ecutive director, said: “With alli¬ances in Malaysia and now In¬donesia, DEMA is making a sig¬nificant and growing commit¬ment to promote diving and ex¬panding the industry in Asia, while at the same time educat¬ing the industry and consumers on the need for and benefits of environmental preservation.
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