Into the DEEP

By Annabel Thomas

For The Bali Times

SEMINYAK, Bali ~ Originally scheduled for February 8 at the Jakarta Convention Centre but – due to flooding – postponed until 29 March 29 and moved to Semanggi Expo, none of the exhibitors quite knew what to expect at DEEP Indonesia.

Would (could) the expo live up to its pre-show promotion as “The Biggest and Most Complete Diving, Adventure Travel and Water Sports Expo – The First in Indonesia”?

And I’m pleased to say that yes, with more than 7,000 visitors attending the show over the four days, and over 70 exhibitors, in my opinion, it did.

Of course there’s always room for improvement: some exhibitors didn’t show up, meaning empty booths; others were inappropriate for the expo (jewelry and household ornaments made from seashells and coral); but there was a good range of companies from all over Indonesia, covering an array of products connected with marine sports.

The diving liveaboard companies included Grand Komodo Tours and Dives, with beautiful photos from their newest boat, Raja Empat Explorer. Sea Safari Cruises’ booth was very popular but I felt Archipelago Fleet under-promoted themselves, which was a shame as they are a high-quality company. Ricard from Ondina, his liveaboard diving boat, was there checking out the expo with a view to exhibiting next year.

Companies from Bali included Ena Dive Centre, AquaMarine Diving – Bali, Bali Hai, Mimpi Resorts and Bagus Marine, all of whom had DEEP Indonesia Special Offers available.

Teams from Scuba Diver Australasia and Action Asia magazines flew in for the show, and National Geographic Indonesia did a roaring trade in subscriptions and signing people up to do the PADI Open Water Diver course.

“We didn’t know what kind of turnout to expect (due to the postponement and change of venue),” said David Espinosa of Scuba Diver Australasia, the official publication of the show.

“The numbers really surprised us. I’m actually looking forward to attending next year,” he said.

Diving-equipment manufacturers and retailers included Oceanic and Aquasports/Divemasters, on a large stand displaying samples from their full range of products, including Aqualung and Suunto dive computers. Olympus cameras showcased a wide variety of underwater cameras and videos, while Suzuki Marine had some really, really big engines on show.

Sulawesi was well represented, with NDC Dive Resort and Spa taking a large stand, as well as the North Sulawesi Watersports Association and the city of Manado providing regional representation. Thalassa Resort, Murex Dive and Mimpi Indah Resort (who recently became a Project AWARE Go Eco Operator) were just three of the dive resorts there. The rep at the Wakatobi government’s booth told me there will be public flights to the region off Sulawesi in 2008 – great news.

Three scuba-diving certification agencies were represented: PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), who took a pavilion in the centre of the show; Scuba School International, who had diving manuals available in Bahasa Indonesia – a very good move; and the National Association of Underwater Instructors.

Another feature was the Scubex, or Scuba Experience, dive tank, which allowed visitors (as pictured) to try scuba – which stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, by the way – for themselves: how to feel like an aquarium exhibit, in the company of a diving instructor!

An underwater photography competition attracted entries from around the world, and included anti-shark finning drawings from local children

Back-to-back showing of underwater footage, door prizes, silent auctions – there was a lot to see and to do.

Reno Kirtya of Grand Komodo Tours and Dives summed up the experience: “A great dive show! We can meet divers. We can do market penetration through direct sales and we can showcase the best diving in the world: Indonesia.”

So all credit to Dharmawan Sutanto and his team at PT Exhibition Network Indonesia for organizing an excellent show – and I wish them the very best of luck for DEEP Indonesia 2008, scheduled for weekend of March 30.

The writer is Director of AquaMarine Diving – Bali.

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