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DIVE PRICES

Posted By: Anonymous

DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 10:30 AM

One thing that has emerged recently is that most dive centres in San Pedro are struggling to keep their heads above water (sic). In the absence of more visitors, but with increasing competition and ever rising costs and taxes this is getting worse. Even the biggest and most successful operators are hurting. We (all of us) charge the same as up in Cozumel (round about US$30 per dive), yet they have much lower fuel and maintenance costs AND their boats don't usually go out even for local dives with fewer than 20 divers on board. I personally don't like that "cattle boat" style of diving, but there's no doubt it helps to pay the bills.

I think the present situation is untenable, but raised prices would merely encourage more visitors to avoid Belize and visit surrounding countries instead. What is to happen?
Posted By: KWIBMF

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 03:25 PM

How much of a rate increase would be necessary for a dive operator to make a reasonable profit? I wouldn't avoid visiting someplace on the sole basis of dive rates.
Posted By: isis

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 05:22 PM

I work in the dive industry in the states. It's not unusual to pay $60-70 for a two tank charter, no gear provided. Beautiful diving but cold water and gear intensive. I don't think it would be unheard of to charge similar rates for diving in Belize. When I'm planning a dive trip for my customers cost is of course a concern but more importantly is the destination. My store has a trip planned for AC next month. When planning this trip I asked my customers where they would like to go. Reputation more than cost helps me decide. In my experience, if you show people a good time cost becomes secondary (for most folks!)
So, I say, go ahead and raise your prices to stay competetive and be profitable. You may be surprised to see other shops follow suit.
Posted By: phillytodd

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 06:16 PM

Pedro 2:

I understand what you're going through, as I have a few friends who run dive shops in asia, but I can tell you that raising rates to Stateside prices will DEFINITElY hurt business ( at least for serious divers ).

The only dive that we can really be charged anything for is the blue hole... other than that the reef dives just aren't worth alot of money, when compared to dives in mexico, asia, and the middle east.

I think that offering a full gear 2 tank dive for 60-70 bucks would be the max you could charge.. but you never know.. some casual divers just want to get wet once a year and 80-100 bucks for a day of fun isn't out of the question.

I can tell you that if dive shops did raise their rates to that level, that I would still dive while in belize.. but I wouldn't choose to come here for the diving.. it would just be another "activity" ( like cave tubing or getting a massage )

As far as competition goes, like any other business, the strong will survive and all the newbies undercutting prices will eventually fall away ( or become the new biggies )

PS.. ISIS.. why don't you stick to diving in the states... it's people like you who bring stateside costs to 3rd world countries.....it's easy to tell them to raise their rates when you're not paying for it. Once they raise them to 80-100 for 2 dives.. next year, someone from manhattan will show up on the board telling them they should be charging 130 for 2 dives.. and so on and so on.

I know that you guys are in it to make money.. just remember.. pigs get fat, and hogs get slaughtered.

Ok.. 2 more days and I'll be feet wet.
Posted By: Belikin Bill

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 07:06 PM

Pedro

I like to both dive and snorkle and have done so throughout the world. Diving in Belize is very reasonable IMHO. I doubt a 10-15% price increase would be an issue with most tourists. It seems to me that most hotels/resorts have raised prices at a faster rate the dive operators have.

It would be an issue if all the major dive operators dont raise theirs. In the US price fixing and collusion is illegal, but its quite common (an legal) in some areas of the world. As a commerial attache I have seem some pretty wild schemes over time. If you would all get together and agree on a general price schedule that would still be somewhat compeditive with other areas in the region I feel it would not be a problem. I think you can achieve a small premium over mexico.
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 07:30 PM

Raise prices OR cut costs??? That is the question. First off, the prices here are very reasonable. Everyone offers very nice dive packages for five days of diving. That is a good thing.
However, here’s how I read it. No one wants to go out before 9:00 as someone just might walk by and want to go. TOO BAD! Go at 8:00 and tell the straggler to come back at 9:30.
Then at 9:30 take who ever is there and two tanks for each. Let the early bird get a good deal on tank number 3 and save the gas from coming back to the dock all the time.

It is this coming back to the dock all the time that eats up the gas. I get Everette to take me and my guest up north with two tanks, and only if he gets a call that he has more divers ready to go at 11:00 do we come back. If not we dive spots that few do and have lunch at Rojos. I ALWAYS buy him lunch.
If there are more than 3 divers we take a boat captain. If not, there is a savings.
For the afternoon dives the same thinking could be used.

It seems to me that most shops here charge about the same – which is nice – you don’t need to shop for price – shop for personality.
This is the least expensive place I have ever dived. Monterey, California is $85.00 for two tank dive and you provide your own tank and weights as well as everything else. (and you freeze your face off)
Hawaii was US $100 for two tank dive ten years ago.
I went to Cozumel twice. There were so many divers in the water at the same time it was like a parade and with the ‘drift’ (AKA current) I could not stop and take pictures. Then we had to rinse and store all our own gear. Everyone I dive with here does that for me, even fixes little problems.
Take a look at the $$$ divers invest in equipment then want to go cheap on the operator. AND – so few seem to tip these days.

Thanks for bringing this up – it needs to be an open discussion – maybe even try some problem solving instead of name calling. (What a concept!)
:rolleyes:
Posted By: isis

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 07:51 PM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by phillytodd:
[QB] Pedro 2:

PS.. ISIS.. why don't you stick to diving in the states... it's people like you who bring stateside costs to 3rd world countries.....it's easy to tell them to raise their rates when you're not paying for it. QUOTE]

Whoa! Phillytodd, what's with the hostility? People like me? Have we met? How do you figure that I don't pay for it. I plan group dive trips. If my trips aren't attractive or priced right they don't sell. This is how I make my living, commission and space on the trip. I would say I have a vested intrest in planning attractive vacations. Price is a big part of that. What I'm saying, as a consumer, is that an increase in dive package prices would not deter me from traveling to AC. If dive shops don't make enough to be profitable, they fold and go under. Then were would we be.
Posted By: RobertE

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 08:47 PM

Pedro2 - Personally I would pay more however every shop would need to raise their price as well so one shop doesn't get more business than they can handle and everyone else is left in the cold.

I don't think $40 a tank would be outrageous considering gas and all the other operating costs. I work in the industry and understand alot of the hidden costs but does everyone else? A lot of time one gets what they pay for.

As far as other sports, diving is just as cheap if not cheaper. Come to Colorado and plunk down $80 for a lift ticket or $100 for a round of golf while on vacation and have a few beers in the ski lodge or clubhouse and experience what expensive is.

Just my two cents
Posted By: phillytodd

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 09:09 PM

isis.. I'm from philly ( we're naturally hostile until we get a few belikins in us smile )

I didn't mean anything personal by it, I've just had quite a few experiences with stateside diving tour operators who have thought nothing of price gouging their clients. (present company excluded of course )

I agree that diving could cost a bit more than it does now and it's not going to stop most from diving ( it wouldn't stop me )

My point in the thread is that I'm tired of seeing 3rd world countries with first world prices.. whether it's paying 3 bucks for a redstripe in jamaica, 100 bucks for a hotel room in costa rica, or 100 bucks for 2 dives in belize. it's just an affect that us Americans seem to bring wherever we go. Probably not much I can do about that other than suck it up and pay those prices when I'm at those places.

( nothing against these countries.. god knows I love 'em.. but as a traveller I expect to pay less for goods and services when travelling to a quieter, less developed country )..

don't even get me started on the hotel rooms..190 bucks a night!!!
Posted By: atomicindy

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 10:14 PM

Dear Isis:

Last I checked most places in SP charge $60-$70US for a two tank dive, so those prices are the same as in the states.

Pedro2, I dove with you in the past and enjoyed it very much. I agree with you that diving with 20 people in not much fun. When I dove with you in December 2004, out of five dives, there were no more than two other people on the boat. For me, it was great, but not to your bottom line. Maybe some of the smaller operators could get together and try to fill up one boat together instead of takeing out three or four boats. You could still use your own divemasters but at least you would only be paying fuel for one boat. Just a thought.
Posted By: Catatonic Motivator

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 10:42 PM

That's probably something of a solution.

Generally, the operation we dive with most on AC dunks around six divers per divemaster, plus a boat captain. Usually all six divers are my family/friends, so it works out well and they seem to do OK. I can't recall that we've ever failed to tip a crew. Ever. Nor has anyone I've dived with. I thought that was expected, short of miserable performance on their part.

We have also done a specific, private charter (on Amigos Pro 48) for six of us to Turneffe South and paid whatever the rate quoted was. Worth every penny, as we had a great day. I'm sure Changa did OK by it and, if not, we'd happily pay more.

Sounds to me like an issue of number of divers per trip. I hate cattle boats, but I can live with 6-8 per dive(master), if they're decent divers.

And in P2's case, it seems he's been intent on providing a heightened level of gear, attention and service. Certainly that should attract a less price-sensitive customer and he could reflect that in his charges. We don't all buy everything we buy based solely on price, do we?
Posted By: phillytodd

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/01/06 10:52 PM

I think that Atomicindy has a great suggestion.

I notice that in several of the locations I dived in thailand that there would be more than one dive company or tour operator on a boat.. seeing as how far the good dives are from the marina ( over an hour ) it definitely makes sense to take a full boat.

I Hate how crowded it is at coz (kind of like cairns in australia ).. where you have over a hundred divers on a site... I think having 12-18 wouldn't be too bad, although I prefer smaller groups.. I think a little give and take is in order.

I also agree that price isn't the main thing... service is huge.. when I'm paying top dollar to dive, all I want to do is show up, be given coffee and a light breakfast on the boat, double check my gear that has been set up for me... dive, have a great lunch and surface interval.. double check that my gear has been setup again correctly, then have another great dive... then crack open a few cold ones on the way back while the crew takes care of my gear.

Upon disembarking and seeing my gear has been taken care of.. Pull out the wallet and take care of the guys/gals who have been taking care of me all day.

then off for a postdive siesta and happy hour. now that's a perfect day.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/02/06 08:21 AM

I didn't mean for this to be particularly about us, I just don't have a more anonymous screen name. It is a problem all operators are facing, though I doubt if they will write here.
Posted By: CarribeanSunSeeker

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/04/06 03:18 PM

I am a little suprised about some of the comments here about Cozumel diving. Although I have not been there for about two years, we did dive there twice a year for 4 or 5 years before that. We used one of the largest dive operators and dove on the "fast boats". They would take a maximum of 6-8 divers and the divemaster and Captain and would travel out farther. As a result "so many divers in the water at the same time it was like a parade" was never our experience. Many of the operators offered the same service. As far as the quality of the service we received on the boats, it was generally better than we received in AC. These trips were $60-65 a person for two tank dives and nearly always involved a longer trip than we experienced at AC. They seldom brought us back between dives, too far. I checked the website and that price appears to be current although there are always discount prices for packages. I also have no idea what may happen to the price after they rebuild from the hurricane. Talk about hidden costs!
We have also been diving in Mahahual Mexico, Guanaha Honduras and Little Corn, Nicaraga and although remote they were all less than $60 for a two tank dive. The dive operators in Bonaire are approximately the same price $60-65. The Cayman Islands are more expensive $75 to 85. I think that you have to consider that these locations are your competition for someone trying to book a dive trip from the states. I would agree that a 10% increase would probably not deter many travelers. Raising your rates more than that, I think, would affect decisions. Especially for people booking for a dive club or a group. You also have the disadvantage of a 9% tax and sometimes a park fee on top of your charges.
Cozumel does have some advantages for their operators. There seems to be an excess of divemasters. We dove with some excellent guides, with years of experience, who could only get one or two trips a week during the off season. That may have been part of the reason for great attention. Those who develop good reputations or are requested by the divers, get the work. I would also assume that fuel is less expensive. I guess there are no easy decisions for AC dive operators but I hope that my perceptions will add a little to your insights.
Posted By: ecosvl

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/05/06 12:09 AM

One thing you might consider is a Fuel surcharge like some of the other industries have had to do with the fuel rates going up. You can keep the prices for the dives but add a fuel surcharge and base it on weekly index of fuel costs.
Just a thought.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: DIVE PRICES - 02/05/06 10:24 AM

How would that go down with the customers? Charging separately for PADI costs & park fees is justifiable, and debatably also sales tax (though once it's stabilised I'd like to see everyone rolling that into core prices), but a fuel surcharge? It's never going to go away, is it? Certainly unilateral action is out of the question - all operators have to follow the same course.
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