Diving across the Straits

Updated: 2014-05-18 05:11

By Eric Jou (China Daily)

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Deepening demand for qualified scuba instructors is surfacing, as more Chinese mainlanders take up the pastime. Taiwan is rising with the tide. Eric Jou reports.

New work for Taiwan's scuba instructors is surfacing as more Chinese mainlanders seek recreation beneath the sea.

Taiwan's diving history and established training system has made the island a global exporter of instructors, Chinese Taipei Diving Association secretary director Lin Kao-cheng says.

Lin has dived around the world. He studied recreational diving in Taiwan and finished his doctorate on the subject in Shanghai. Lin says he has seen enormous expansion in the sector in recent years and believes scuba diving will continue to grow in China.

"Right now, what you have is that China is growing, and the people have money," he says.

"They want to dive and they travel abroad to do so. But when they arrive, they often reach locations where instructors don't speak Mandarin. This is where Taiwan comes in. Many instructors are trained in Taiwan and travel across the globe to destinations, teaching and coordinating dives, mainly for Mandarin-speaking tourists."

Taiwan offers two forms of professional instruction, Li explains.

Clubs and destinations hire instructors to teach tourists and students, or students attend higher-learning institutions where they learn more than just basic diving.

Diving across the Straits

According to the Chinese Taipei Diving Association, there are more than 300 clubs and diving instruction locations within Taiwan with over 1,000 certified instructors. This number doesn't take into account the number of instructors abroad or those working for educational institutions.

Yu Hsu-kai is a Taiwan-educated dive instructor working on the mainland. The Taipei native moved to Beijing in 2011 to work in the National Aquatics Center, aka the Water Cube.

Yu studied aquatic recreation in university and started focusing on scuba in his senior year. He has noticed a growing interest in diving during his four years in Beijing.

"I can see diving continuing to grow with in China. The problem is there are too many students and not enough instructors. It isn't that trainers from Taiwan are better. They aren't. It's just that instructors overall require more training," he says.

"What you see here is a rush to meet demand. Instructors are coming from everywhere."

Contact the writer at ericjou@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 05/18/2014 page3)