Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation and Bahamas Dive Association showcase dive operations still open in the country in wake of devastation on 2 Islands from Hurricane Dorian
An impressive contingent from The Islands Of The Bahamas is in attendance at DEMA, considered the world’s only international, trade-only event for diving, action watersports, and travel professionals. The massive trade show is taking place this weekend, November 13-16 at the Orange County Convention Center, West Hall, 9800 International Dr, Orlando, FL. The Bahamas Booth is number 2009.
The Bahamas group, comprised of members of the Bahamas Dive Association (BDA) and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA), is representing the Bahamas’ lucrative dive business, of which some 90 percent is operative and open for business despite the tragic blow to two Islands by the devastating cat 5 Hurricane Dorian, some two months ago.
Neal Watson, President of the BDA, and one of the leaders of the group, said that “The timing of the DEMA show has been perfect to meet with the dive travel leaders and publications to explain face to face our message.”
And the message according to Watson is, “Because we (The Islands Of The Bahamas) are blessed with a country of 100,000 square miles, 700 Islands and an area spanning from north to south over 500 miles, despite the disaster to Grand Bahama and the Abacos, 90% of the country and the majority of the Bahamas dive operators were not impacted.”
The Bahamas Diving Association is the official dive association for The Bahamas and represents 37 dive operators on 11 islands, including dive liveaboards. The Bahamas boasts thousands of dive sites and are famous for Reefs, Wrecks, Walls, Sharks and Dolphins. “The best way to support those that were impacted (by Hurricane Dorian) is to visit The Bahamas and dive our beautiful reefs, walls and magnificent and abundant marine life,” said the BDA President.
DEMA (The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association) is the trade association for the international scuba diving industry. With more than 1,400 Member business members, the association’s mission is to bring businesses together to grow the Diving Industry worldwide. Each year, the International Show is held to serve as a means for members to connect with hundreds of dive equipment manufacturers, “travel destinations, apparel wholesalers and service providers, and network with 9,500+ credentialed industry colleagues,” according to the show organizers.
Show organizers also say that DEMA provides the opportunity for those in the dive business to educate themselves and team by taking advantage of 250+ professional development sessions featuring industry trends, current economic topics, and technical training, as well as resources and networks that will enhance business knowledge.
Prominently featured at the show, The Bahamas team is not only spreading the word about those dive businesses in the country that were not affected, but also sharing good news about the ones that were affected.
Show attendees are learning that despite the massive damage to the Abacos and Grand Bahama, UNEXSO in Freeport is open for business and Old Bahama Bay on West End, Grand Bahama, reopened November 1.
Also, a number of dive operations are back and Brendal’s Dive, Abaco, which was in one of the worse parts of the disaster is rebuilding and miraculously, his dock survived and his shop is being repaired. Brendal himself will be at the show Friday and Saturday to share on the restoration that is underway, not only for dive/tours in Abaco, but for all the stakeholders/hotels and charter companies.
In addition to The Bahamas Booth, other Bahamas based DEMA show exhibitors include the following, with respective booth numbers:
Aggressor Adventures 1115
All Star Liveaboard 1915, 2014
Juliet Sailing & Diving 2012
Seadragon Bahamas 2000
Bahamas-Based Dive Operators:
Bimini Scuba Center 2002
Bimini Water Adventures 2003
Riding Rock Inn Resort & Marina 2001
Stuart Cove’s 2013
The upbeat Bahamas team at the show includes Watson and members of BDA; Bahamas Dive Consultant, William Cline; Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation’s Sr. Director, Vertical Markets, Greg, Rolle and Bahamas Vertical/Sports Executives, Ahmad Williams and Aram Bethel.
At the Bahamas pavilion during the show, the BDA and the BMOTA co-sponsor a daily social at 4 p.m. called “It’s Kalik o’clock somewhere” as beer is served and operators take the opportunity to interact with dive travel sellers. According to Cline, the event on the first day of the show drew over 500 sellers.
The Bahamas booth, number 2009, at the show cannot be easily missed with the oversized banner atop it with a huge fish and boasting, “It’s Bigger in The Bahamas.”
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