“conservation is learning. We all learn from each other. As long as you have one goal in mind that we are not doing this for us, we’re doing it for the next generation” ~ John Thet
A visionary in our industry, John Thet treats his trade and consumer dive show ADEX like he does his three magazines: It’s all about the content, baby. John does not shy away from marine conservation: his shows put conservation front and center (and
on side stages), literally. John believes that it is the core focus and duty of the dive industry to do two things: address ocean issues and advance the industry. In John’s experience, these activities are not only mutually exclusive but symbiotic.
Scuba Diving Trends in South East Asia
While South East Asia is a popular diving destination for tourists, it hasn’t been until recently that diving has taken off with the local population. This is in part due to South East Asia’s long history of relying on the ocean as a principal food source. However, with the rest of the world shifting onto a more sustainable platform, the South East Asia market is beginning to adopt sustainable practices focused on conservation, education, sustainable travel and all forms of non-extractive business.
John began his work with Asian Geographic, which then grew to incorporate a diving branch into their magazine model. Being a magazine publisher has not stopped John from becoming one of the directors of the biggest diving show in Asia, the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX.) In fact, John’s work in the magazine has been the inspiration for the overall organization of ADEX: “I treat the dive show like a magazine. I don’t want to just run a dive show [for] buying and selling things, and I don’t want to follow the trends because other dive shows do it. Content is very important for a magazine. If you don’t have good content, nobody will buy your magazine.”
“the average diver in Singapore is somewhere in their mid-twenties”
So far, John’s approach has worked wonderfully. He estimates there are some 120,000 active scuba divers in Singapore, with numbers growing each year. As opposed to the North American market—where the diving population tends to be more mature—diving in South East Asia has attracted a younger crowd. John estimates that the average diver in Singapore is somewhere in their mid-twenties, and this reflects in the attendees at ADEX: “[Diving in Asia] is a growing market. We don’t have much history [in terms of diving]. In Asia, diving is starting to take off. That’s why I feel very good about ADEX, you can see a lot of young people…”
The fact that so many young people are interested in diving in South East Asia only makes it easier to include marine education and sustainable business choices alongside the entertainment and business at dive shows. John believes in having part of dive shows open to the public. He references his own experiences with ADEX, where some days are open to the public but others are limited to dive businesses and people involved in the diving trade. Days that are open to the public also feature sections that might inform about sustainable choices and also encourage the participation of children, which John believes is key to popularizing sustainable diving and the preservation of marine resources.
“conservation is a responsibility that supersedes business”
Like many other divers, John believes conservation is a responsibility that supersedes business needs: “When you’re in the dive industry, you have two responsibilities: one is to create awareness about conservation. The other one is to create new divers, because [if there are no new divers, our industry will never grow.” Armed with ever-growing experience and a steadily increasing number of supporters in South East Asia, John continues his work in expanding the marine network in one of the most economically active areas.
John Thet is Publisher cum Director of Asian Geographic Magazines Pte Ltd, John has been extensively involved in the dive industry since 2001 when Scuba Diver Australia evolved to Scuba Diver AustralAsia under Asian Geographic Magazine’s leadership. Under John’s management, Asian Diver became its next dominant dive title in 2009.
Since 2010, with ADEX under its wing, Asian Geographic Magazine has become a force to be reckoned with as the formidable underwater3some.com group that includes Scuba Diver AustralAsia, Scuba Diver Through The Lens, and Asian Diver, along with its show group; Asia Dive Expo (ADEX Singapore) and the new ADEX China Show (Beijing). John is also the Vice President of the Singapore Underwater Federation.
Follow John Thet to learn more about the exciting, fast growing Asian dive market. Hear his entire interview at the Blue Ocean Summit 2015t: John Thet. You can also visit John at his website UW360.
John’s experiences provide a wealth of information on how to incorporate Marine Conservation into your dive and travel business plans. To join other speakers that bring additional messages on how to “Engage Customers, Clients and Suppliers in Ocean Issues and Solutions” see Ali Miller’s article at Ocean Profiles: Ali Miller