16 1 月 Taiwan Dive: The Largest Diving Center in Taiwan
The owner of Taiwan Dive Chen Chi-En, also known as Dylan Chen, started working with his father in the maritime engineering field when he was in high school. The ocean used to be just boring for him. Chen didn’t realize how impressive the ocean could be until he became a certified diving instructor and guide, got to access a whole new dimension filled with marine life and biodiversity, and delivered the same experience for his customers. He started the dive career on his own. Founded in 2005, Taiwan Dive has become the largest dive studio in Taiwan.
Seeing a World Class Dive Operator
Chen went to Australia to work for Great Adventures — part of the Quicksilver Group — as a dive instructor in 2009. Quicksilver Group is the largest cruise company based in Australia, providing various services like catering, cruise and dive tours as well as managing a resort. “I realized dive is such a promising industry and that it could be expanded into such a large scale. You could actually be there and lead the way,” Chen said. In Taiwan, most dive studios just operate on their own, while in Australia he saw a systematic and robust staff training.
The owner of Taiwan Dive Chen Chi-En
When Chen relocated to Taiwan, he started to think about what he could do and decided to train up more certified instructors. In 2011, He became the youngest PADI course director in Taiwan, and the next year began to train staff and organize a team based on the core value he set for the company: Bring ocean into your life. From 2013 to 2016, there was surge in the number of tourists from China, when Chen seized the market opportunity and built a solid financial foundation.
Becoming a Certified B Corp
Chen said during that three years the company was mainly focused on making profits. The number of Chinese tourists started dropping in 2016, leading him to consider transformation. He was fascinated with the idea of the B Corp, the idea about what makes a good company, which goes beyond how much money you can earn; instead is about a company’s entire social and environmental performance. “I want my company to achieve that,” said Chen.
To be certified as a B Corporation, the company has to answer around 400 questions about its operations and business model across the five impact areas: Governance, Workers, Environment, Community and Customers. During the application process, Chen realized there were still many practices they could improve on and formed a clearer idea of the relationship between the brand and sustainability. With the team’s effort, Taiwan Dive received its B Corp certification in 2018.
First of all, the focus of the course was redirected from “diving” to “knowing the ocean through diving,” as to how to get along with the marine life and how to minimize the environmental impact. Besides, Taiwan Dive devotes 20% of its net profit every year to the Mission Blue, including beach clean-ups and ocean learning activities in school with their “ocean bus,” and sponsors an ocean themed event on an annual basis. In 2019, for example, Chen invited Simon Pridmore and Sofie Hostyn, best-selling authors of scuba diving books, to go on a Taiwan Dive Safari and later publish a book titled Dive into Taiwan. In 2020, the first underwater graduation ceremony was held for Kenting Elementary School in Pingtung County with Taiwan Dive’s sponsorship.
“The customers come to us not just for the product, but to support what they like about our cause and actions,” said Chen.
Aspiring to Become the Best Dive Education Center in Asia
How large can the dive industry in Taiwan be? The answer is closely related to the overall tourism market of this island. Chen said there is still room for improvement compared to the neighboring countries known for scuba diving such as Thailand and the Philippines. Taiwan Dive can train up to 800 open water divers every year, while a single dive operator in Koh Tao can train up to 10,000.
Taiwan Dive is the largest Dive operator in Taiwan so far, with more than 40 and 20 instructors respectively in Hengchun and on Xiaoliuqiu Island, which is around 7–80 in total, while all the other some 50 dive shops only add up to 100 instructors and there are less than 5 dive shops with more than 5 instructors. Domestically, there’s literally no second shop that has more than 10 instructors.
“In the entire dive tourism market, we may not be competitive enough with other Asian countries,” but Chen firmly believes that Taiwan Dive has the potential to become the best dive education center in Asia. In 2020, he founded Taiwan Dive Academy, with the intention to provide a more professional complete training course to the instructors.
For him, Chinese-speaking customers account for an important market in the future. The goal is to attract these divers who want to be an instructor to receive training in Taiwan. Chen also announced an ambitious plan to become the best dive education center in Asia by 2025. To promote our diving to the international tourists, we definitely have to get ready for that.
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