Scuba diving tourism is one of the fastest growing forms of tourism worldwide with an estimated 25 million scuba divers across the globe. Now eight small Greek islands are seeking to capitalize on this trend by launching a joint effort to develop and promote diving tourism in Greece.
The islands of Elafonisos, Kea, Kythira, Megisti, Kastellorizo, Nisyros, Oinousses, Skyros and Psara are to join forces to create a network of underwater routes in order to promote the islands and their underwater heritage. By collaborating the islands hope to raise their profile more effectively than they would be able to acting alone.
The effort is the brainchild of the mayors of Skyros, Kea and Kythira who recently presented their plans for the network at a press event in Athens during which they stressed the importance for small islands of finding new ways of attracting foreign visitors.
Among the advantages of diving tourism is that it does not require major infrastructure upgrades, it is an effective way of highlighting an area’s history, and can extend the tourism season.
Among the speakers at the event was the physicist Dimitri Nanopoulos who stressed the cultural value of Greece’s underwater ‘monuments’, such as the HMHS Britannic off the coast of Kea (a fleet mate of the Titanic and the largest ship to sink during WWI) and the Antikythera wreck which he described as “Greece’s Mona Lisa’. He called on the authorities to make every effort to surmount bureaucratic obstacles.
According the the European Underwater Federation there are over 3.5 million active divers in Europe, at least 1 million of whom organize a trip at least once a year to a diving destination. 70 % choose the Mediterranean for their trips, generating over 2 billion euros in revenue.