How can agents ensure they are booking responsible diving breaks for clients?
Around one million new divers are certified each year, with millions more snorkelling worldwide on coral reefs. This market is growing alongside an appetite for environmentally responsible travel, so your clients could soon start asking you how they can dive and snorkel responsibly while on holiday.
Enter Green Fins, a UN Environment initiative internationally coordinated by charity The Reef-World Foundation. Green Fins aims to protect and conserve coral reefs by providing the only internationally recognised environmental standards for diving and snorkelling.
The programme has been adopted in 11 countries around the world including Egypt, Thailand, the Philippines, the Maldives and Antigua and Barbuda.
It functions on a membership model and comprises around 600 members, including hotels such as Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives and dive centres linked to resorts such as Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru Dive Center and Como Maalifushi Marine Sports Centre.
All members are offered training and are assessed to ensure they are as responsible as possible.
“We have a code of conduct for members, which includes practices and processes above and below the water that have an impact on coral reefs, to minimise damage to marine ecosystems,” says JJ Harvey, director at The Reef-World Foundation.
“Before certifying, our assessors look at elements like how guides are managing guests underwater and how they are disposing of chemicals used to clean diving equipment and boats.”
The lower the assessment score, the lower the risk to the environment, Harvey explains. “Active members are listed on our website. Membership is suspended if a high score stays the same or increases over the course of 18 months, when we conduct our next assessment.”
As well as checking if a hotel, resort or dive centre is listed as a member before booking a trip for clients, agents can also download free posters from the Green Fins website, which detail how clients can be responsible divers and snorkellers, and can be displayed in agency stores.