PADI has ruled that it wants all dive-centres trading under its banner in the Middle East, including its biggest market Egypt, to deal exclusively with the training agency, and has contacted existing member-centres to inform them of the change, which is effective as of the start of this year.
“PADI EMEA will no longer accept membership from centres offering other training organisations in the Middle East and Egypt,” the agency has told centres in the region. “This strategic change was made after careful consideration and with the interests of the PADI membership at the heart of the decision.”
PADI says that it has already rolled out the strategy successfully in other key EMEA [Europe, Middle East & Asia] regions, in the form of Africa and the Indian Ocean.
It argues that, with 100% PADI centres, it will be strongly positioned to “provide the best possible business, training and marketing support and resources to our membership, while protecting the PADI brand”.
‘Frustration and confusion’
Single dive-centres putting out multiple competing offers from different training agencies and brands have been found to present “an ongoing source of frustration and confusion for new and existing divers”, according to PADI, which says that its research indicates that more than 75% of divers actively seek out its centres as representing “the best in the industry”.
According to its website PADI is currently represented at more than 450 dive-centres in the Middle East: in Egypt (210), the United Arab Emirates (84), Saudi Arabia (56), Jordan (21), Kuwait (21), Qatar (18), Bahrain (13), Israel (13) and Oman (12).
Those centres now unable to maintain their PADI membership because they wish to offer other training options can continue to certify and service existing PADI divers through their individual memberships if permitted by local regulations, and as long as they follow PADI standards and procedures.
Rival training agency Dive RAID International was quick to respond by stating that it did not plan to “embrace a similar tactic” and restrict its own members from conducting business “however they wish, and in a way that works best in their market”.
“We are aware that a competitive certification agency has recently decided that dive-centres in certain regions who ‘fly its flag’ may no longer offer courses from other companies,” it said, adding that offering customers a choice would result in “what amounts to expulsion”.
Implicitly acknowledging that the PADI brand was widely recognised even among people on the fringes of diving, RAID stated: “We do understand that an analogy exists that while Hoover is synonymous with vacuum cleaners, consumers sometimes choose to buy a Dyson because it better suits their needs.
“The same may be said of consumers deciding to buy scuba and freediving training. Brand primacy does not equate to the best choice for every consumer and RAID believes in a fair, open market.”
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