The American Diving Community Wants to Help
Reporter on the ground – The American Diving Community Wants to Help
I attended the DEMA dive show as a testimony to the American diving community that, yes, Americans do travel to Africa. They enjoy being in Africa. The diving is safe in Africa and the people don’t expect you to eat grubs. (My grandmother thought that my South African boyfriend would speak in clicks and have a bone in his nose).
I can sell Africa to ‘my people’, I’d thought. I want to. Tourism can help to drive some of the changes that are needed in an African country. A growing number of people in Africa rely on the tourism infrastructure. Influential and wealthy people can travel, so why not show them something beautiful, and inspire them to help ($) protect this unique resource.
I went in with old business cards, and my American phone number hand-written on them, not accustomed to networking in the US. I was acting as a temporary employee of Terra, Agua, Ceu – an inbound tour operator that would be selling packaged trips to the American wholesaler. Without my ‘cover’ I would not have been permitted within the air-conditioned conference hall – the second largest in the US – In Orlando, FL.
What I discovered when I arrived is that many of the operators were already keen on sending their customers abroad! What I also discovered was that, these customers, American divers, were already interested in helping causes like Eyes on the Horizon! Great! Job done! Well not quite, philanthropic Americans look for 501.c.3s – what the heck is that?
This is the not- for-profit status that is afforded to Non Governmental Organizations in the US. Eyes on the Horizon is a Mozambican non-profit (Feel free to make donations!) so Americans don’t get the tax break that they would if they donated to somebody like Project Aware, or the Georgia Aquarium Fund. On that note, I did have very inspiring conversations with Project Aware representatives. They had heard of Eyes on the Horizon, which made me puff up my chest.
Fun Fact: Sea Shepherd even looked into making a hotline/illegal fishing alert program and calling it Eyes on the Horizon, but saw that the name was already taken! For those of you who don’t know, EOTH has been around as a public sector group of the Minister of Fisheries since 2002, and became a non-profit in 2006! We are a long-standing operation with connections that have been fostered with long-term benefits.
So, how can we get America divers to help? We show them Africa. Let them see the brilliance that there is here… And we give them an opportunity to help us. With Eyes on the Horizon, people have the opportunity to help and feel good about their vacation. They can report to us what they see. Sharks being finned, long liners off in the distance, a pod of killer whales. Everything, and we are interested in broadcasting that to our readership, which has grown to nearly 2,000 people in over 20 countries.
If you are in the tourism business, consider mentioning our organization to your guests. Ask them to help us, not necessarily monetarily (although that is nice), but with their pictures. Vacation images aren’t just for family albums and picture frames, they can help us to help the Mozambican marine environment and make the ocean a healthier
more beautiful place.
So, greet the Americans nicely, they just came from very far away, and just mention our name to spread the word. Information is contagious.
by Eyes on the Horizon Executive Director,