Underwater tourism is opening the ocean up to travelers, offering them the chance to see the marine world that covers 70% of our planet. New, high-profile openings – such as the world’s first underwater hotel, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which opened in 2018; the world’s largest underwater restaurant Under in Norway, opened in 2019; and the hot new trend of underwater art galleries, such as 2019’s Ngaro Underwater Sculpture Trail in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands – are all bringing more people into contact with marine sites.
But underwater tourism is hardly a new concept.
Jacques Cousteau invented general-use scuba gear in 1942, and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, PADI, has issued 27 million diver certifications globally since 1967.
According to Scubanomics, there are around 6 million active scuba divers in the world, plus countless snorkeling enthusiasts, who explore the edges of our oceans, diving sunken wrecks, swimming with whales, and turtles and even going underwater caving. In addition, coastal resorts have long offered trips in glass-bottomed boats.
More recently, however, a shift in thinking has brought scuba-like adventure to people who are not skilled divers or swimmers or don’t have the time or means to earn diving certification.
Experiences such as Seawalker on Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef allow people to submerge while wearing a large glass helmet. Dressed in a protective suit, “divers” are gently lowered to the ocean floor, where they quite literally walk upright on the sand, connected by tubes that allow them to breathe normally while underwater.
Sources: conradmaldives.com, BBC, UNDER.NO
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