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SCUBA-L  July 2003, Week 4

SCUBA-L July 2003, Week 4

Subject:

Request for comments (looking for int'l aid)

From:

Catalin Braescu <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scuba diving discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 23 Jul 2003 23:22:55 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (123 lines)

Dear list collegues,

I live in Romania, a 22 million people country located in Eastern Europe
with average individual monthly salary of about 100 US Dollars.

The whole country may have about 2,000 scuba divers; no one knows even
approximate figures.

There is no scuba store in the whole country, obviously because the market
is so small. Almost all equipment used by Romanian divers is bought from
neighbouring countries of Hungary (most) and Bulgaria.

Disregarding the military, where civilian divers have no access, there are
only two (!!!) air compressors in the whole country, all of them rather old
(at least 15 years-old).
   - Air compressor #1 belongs to a cave divers organization and is
generally not available to other divers, for security and oldness reasons;
it is very fragile and gas-powered. Location is Bucharest (capital city,
about 300 km / 180 miles).
   - Air compressor #2 belongs to the single scuba school and have been
previously always on the move between Cluj (nearby Hungarian border),
Bucharest and sea border. Since now the school is practically closed (owner
went to Greece being hired as resort diver) the air compressor is no longer
available to anyone (and never was to everyone).

There is only one (old & low-res)underwater video camera in the whole
country (belongs to a technical diving company at sea border).

During the last two years there is more and more public awareness in Romania
about scuba as a sport/lesure activity. I believe I was the biggest promoter
and all I did was to do a website (www.scuba.ro) and write scuba-related
articles for various local print and online publications (you can find my
last one at http://www.121.ro/content/show_article.php3?article_id=1595).

But writing websites and articles is not exactly what is needed right now in
Romania, since not lack of information is the reason why scuba activity is
so low here.

Basically the lack of minimal infrastructure is the reason for the whole
mess. I find myself going to a local oxygen factory beging (!!!) for filling
my tank with air, which of course is done under-the-table; what about
average scuba diver? Where does he/she have to go?

So I got a plan which I am sharing with you in order to allow you to comment
on it and make suggestions.

1. Put an umbrella organization in place.
Most organizations, be they companies or not-for-profit foundations, prefer
having relationships with fellow organizations, not individuals. Also having
an organization helps when dealing with authorities. So myself and some
fellow divers are currently registering Scuba.ro Foundation as a
not-for-profit organization under Romanian law.
1.1. PLEASE COMMENT.

2. Contact PADI and NAUI for seeking numbers.
The Foundation will contact both NAUI and PADI seeking how many licenses
have they sold in Romania during last 10 years.
2.1. PLEASE COMMENT.
2.2. QUESTION: Will PADI and NAUI provide such statistical information?
2.3. QUESTION: Do you know the person in charge the we need to contact?

3. Put in place two air compressors.
The weakest link in scuba activity in Romania is lack of air compression
available to normal divers. So we plan to have two fixed (=you can always
find them in the same location) and publicly available (=undiscriminatory
access to anyone) air compressors. Scuba.ro Foundation definitelly doesn't
have the resources for such investment and going for manufacturers to
sponsor us won't work since the market is so small (they have no incentive
to sponsor). So we plan to contact dive associations and clubs
internationally (perhaps only in Europe due to transport costs) and ask them
to donate us an old air compressor (heck, any air compressor is better than
no air compressor).
3.1. PLEASE COMMENT.
3.2. QUESTION: Do you know organizations which by their nature are more
likely to help us obtain obsolete air compressors?
3.3. QUESTION: Where can be found a list/directory of scuba associations and
clubs located in Western Europe?

4. Provide cheap "getting wet"-alike demos.
People which can afford scuba does exist in Romania but nobody is going to
invest US$ 1,500 just to see how does this scuba thing feel. In order to
escape this vicious circle Scuba.ro Foundation will provide cheap "getting
wet"-alike demos in top 5 public pools in Bucharest. Basically for about
US$15  the customer will receive basic training, will be equipped and have
30 minutes of diving in the pool under 1-on-1 surveillance. At the end the
customer will receive two Polaroid pictures for remembering the moment.
4.1. PLEASE COMMENT.
4.2. How can we tailor this "getting wet"-alike service in order to maximize
good response from the beginner, without raising the cost (or at least not
substantially)?

5. Increase public awareness with a TV documentary.
Romanians have broad access to cable TV where they can watch Animal Planet
and National Geographic; people over 30 remember Cousteau's documentaries
which were regularly aired during communist era (I wonder why, scuba
activity was almost forbidden back then). Under the umbrella of Scuba.ro
Foundation we plan to shoot a 5-episode TV documentary series. While the
response from TV stations is good, since they are willing to air the
documentary, the funding is a big problem. Total cost is about US$7,000
while no station will offer more than US$500 (a mere US$100 per episode).
They claim (correctly) that they can obtain American scuba documentaries for
about US$200 per episode and advertising won't be too good during the series.
5.1. PLEASE COMMENT.
5.2. Since most of the costs come from renting a underwater videocamera (and
lightning) from outside the country, do you know somebody (perhaps and
organization, even a manufacturer) who can rent us for free the filming
equipment?
5.3. Can you recommend us any funding scheme (grants / sponsorships /
co-producing) which can cover costs for this TV documentary series?

I kindly ask you for any comments, suggestions and criticism you may have
regarding the above described plans.

Best regards,


Catalin

--
Catalin Braescu
Bucharest - ROMANIA (Eastern Europe)
Scuba.ro

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