What's wrong with dive industry economics?

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Posted by Kendall Raine on November 21, 2000 at 10:24:02:

Much has been written recently about the declining content of agency instruction. PADI, as usual, has taken heat for their 80 hour certs., minimal DM qualifications and child abuse training criteria.

Part of the problem, seems to me, is the low cost of instruction. Put differently, you get what you pay for. While PADI has lead the fight to become the low cost provider of an increasingly anemic course of instruction, why hasn't the rest of the industry fought back? An open water cert. from any of the major American agencies costs around $250. By contrast, an hour of ski class time costs $40-$80. Private lessons are much more. An entry level sky diving cert. costs upwards of $1500. In 1972 I got my Junior Open Water Cert. for $300. That's about $1200 in current dollars. Why the compression? Who benefits? Who loses?

I have my own ideas, but would appreciate hearing from others on this. In particular, I hope seasoned instructors and store owners will share their views. How about it Ken Kurtis, Jim Hoffman, John Walker and Gerry Smith? Why is it you guys can't get paid for the high quality product you produce? Why is the industry so passive about differentiating the mass-produced video-based one-size-fits-all children-teaching-children-to-dive approach of PADI versus what many of you know is possible because you teach to a higher level? For those who don't know me, I derive no income from the dive business so I have no economic axe to grind. I'm just a guy who's confounded by John Cronin's ability to keep his foot on the industry's throat.

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