Cayman impresses at DEMA show

Environmental initiatives praised

The Cayman Islands made a big splash at this year’s Diving Equipment and Marketing Association show in Orlando, Florida.

Cayman dive industry legend Ron Kipp said the Diving Equipment and Marketing Trade Show ended its 35th year on 5 November at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Slightly more than 1,200 booths offered equipment, travel or other related services to the 10,000 registered attendees, he said.

“The mission statement of DEMA is to promote sustainable growth in safe recreational diving and snorkelling while protecting the underwater environment,” he said. “The Cayman Islands Tourism Association continued a strong presence of Cayman dive operators, properties, the Department of Tourism, National Tourism Association, CITA and Cayman Airways. The Cayman Pavilion, a trend that was begun in 1981, consisted of 13 booths and 30 dive operators or properties.”

Interactive zone

New in 2011 was the Cayman Interactive Zone, he said, which was a small presentation area in the pavilion with more than 20 varied presentations during the four-day event. Subjects such as Dive 365, Cayman Marine parks, Kittiwake and the Caribbean Lionfish dilemma were discussed by both Cayman public and private sector speakers.

Environmental responsibility and the response to the growing Lionfish issue were elements which impressed attendees, said Keith Sahm, of the DEMA board of directors.

“We could do feature presentations in the shared zone and it was our first time to do this,” he said. “Lionfish got a lot of attention. Overall, in the United States people regard Cayman very highly in how we protect our reefs. The guys from the Department of Environment were there as it’s 25 years of our marine parks. People are very impressed with the way Cayman is a place that really cares about the reefs.

“It is the same with the Lionfish,” Mr. Sahm said. “We are taking a stand; we are the first international country where government, DoE and PADI have symbiotic Lionfish culls. That is huge; people are looking at that and asking why nowhere else in the world is doing it. That really grabbed people’s attention at DEMA.”

Other topics of conversation were The Kittiwake and the Dive 365 initiative, he said.

Future vision

In general, Mr. Sahm said there was a talk about a 2020 vision, which he said was ‘very interesting’.

“They held these events throughout the United States, get a consortium of industry people together,” he said. “Different people’s views on where the industry needs to head are eye-opening; East Coast is very different to the West Coast.

“I have been on the DEMA board of directors for six years and the focus has been on trying to get non-endemic companies involved with looking at scuba diving,” Mr. Sahm said. “You notice there are more commercials on TV like insurance companies, banks or American Airways featuring diving. This is all leading up to the Be a Diver Adventure Sports Festival in April 2013. Cayman Islands could have a huge presence there – the draw is to bring people from all over the United States to this Fort Lauderdale festival and it is going to be huge.”
He said that as well as being an event open to consumers, it will be celebration of diving, adventure sports, water sports and outdoor lifestyles. The festival, Mr. Sahm said, will include events, music, exhibits, seminars and other activities to promote diving and attract the attention of lifestyle sports enthusiasts. One of the bands lined up to play are funk legends Earth, Wind and Fire, he said.

The 2012 DEMA Trade Show is scheduled for the Sands Convention Center from 14 to 17 November, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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