Sunday, October 26, 2008

DEMA Las Vegas 2008 Comes to a Close

Day four.

I awoke today feeling excited but oddly not at all for the last day of DEMA. I needed the “keep your eye on the ball” mentality today because I had a job to do. With only six hours left in the DEMA show I had to concentrate on what was at hand rather than the fact I’d soon be reunited with my family. During last nights 5-minute telephone conversation with my daughter she had told me “only five more sleeps daddy before you will open my door”. Her words were now playing in my head over and over again only the number was now four.

Time to concentrate. One day left. What’s the priority? What’s left to do? Agghhh! I could use another 4 days here. The first three have been fantastic for their own reasons and I knew today would be no different except of course it would be the last and I was feeling like a kid in a candy shop when Mom and Dad give the 2 minute warning. I had made my list and knew getting to the show floor would keep my head in the game and focused on things other than future giggles over pancakes in my own kitchen.
(DEMA Floor by Indonesia)
Zip…….. 7 hours later and DEMA is over! Just like that. The full tally of people I’ve met is not yet complete nor is my informal survey designed to find out just how many of these dive industry folks even know where Saipan is let alone how many have dove the waters surrounding it. All week I’ve talked about Saipan, Tinian and Rota to many of the leaders in dive travel, underwater imaging and marketing industries as well as training and conservation organizations. My goals were clear from the beginning.
(Annie Crawley and her very proud Mom!)

(Me and Bob Talbot - never been to Saipan)
Networking with the intention to promote the CNMI, The Underwater World of Saipan DVD and my skills as a videographer. I was also here to learn from the best in terms of both people and locations including how and why they have become or continue to be successful. Finally I was determined to enter the world of still underwater photography by purchasing a housing for my Nikon D200 or perhaps a smaller less expensive option. Either way I was in need of expert advice and this was the place to find it as well as invest in the future.
(Wyland and I, yes if he looks like he is in pain he is . He just had a turtle added to his arm)

(Friends of Jennifer McKinnon and our Underwater Historical Trail)
During every interaction the discussions included Saipan and the CNMI. Among the things that brought the most interest and further discussion were the potential marine monument in the northern islands and the development of a historical underwater trail including the many WWII relics scattered around the Saipan lagoon. It should be noted here that I have now experienced first hand the beginning of what would be a very real increase in worldwide exposure should these two endeavors become reality. This is especially true for the monument as more than a few prominent leaders in this industry raised eyebrows with interest and expressed support for the concept of large-scale conservation in the region. All agreed it would be good for tourism and the planet.
(Ikelite housing - possibly)

(Sea and Sea - mmmm possibly)
As you walk parts of the floor at DEMA it’s like walking the globe. The Micronesian section takes you to Yap, Chuck, Palau, Kosare, Pohnpei. The Bahamas and Cayman Islands occupy large areas of the floor while additional Caribbean destinations have smaller booths nestled together according to geographical location. The same is true for Asia including the large set-ups from the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. North and South America are well represented especially California and the Florida Keys. Within each section are individual operators and resorts looking to stand out from the rest by offer something no one else has or fulfilling a local need.
(Jeff, a good Canadian putting us on the world map with the Diving Almanac)

(Joey who knew where Saipan was!)
(Wendy and Jason Heller from .......
At the end of the day my opinion that the diving in the Marianas deserves discussion among the most popular dive destinations around the world holds true. Ultimately Mother Nature has delivered the necessary features and diversity for us to become popular with divers around the globe but at the same time the level of success for our dive industry is dependent on effective marketing and delivery of a positive experience for all who visit.
(The Put Another Dollar In - PADI booth)
No doubt improvement in both these variables is needed especially outside the Japanese market but at the same time increasing international awareness while improvements to service and infrastructure are made is not only possible but also proactive and necessary based on the initial response to my most popular DEMA question “Do you know where Saipan or the Northern Marianas Islands are?”
(Bill Acker from Yap)(Sam of Sam's Tours Palau)
While I believe I have done a lot to spread the good word and promote the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota I came up a little short in deciding upon a housing option for my still camera. DEMA was the place to put my hands on the hardware but in the end it will be getting home to my family and resuming income generation that will allow the actual purchase!
(The Wetpixel Team including Adam, Alex, Eli and Eric Cheng)
Only 4 more sleeps! This next one will go by quickly. It’s been a long four days and even though I wish I could have accomplished more I am truly happy I was able to make it here at all. I am happier still that I’m now closer to getting back to warm weather and crystal clear water only minutes away from my home.

1 comment:

KelliOnSaipan said...

Mike, it will be good to have you home on Saipan again. But thanks for keeping us updated on your life experiences over there. Harry and I had a great time at the Marianas Dive UW pumpkin carving contest. Wish you could have been there. See you soon. Kelli