Scuba in the United States has grown considerably since the first national certification in 1959. It was projected that by 2010 there would be 3.34 million divers (Leeworthy et al., 2005). Buttner (2007) reported that annual dive equipment sales were about $1 billion while the travel aspect of the dive industry was approximately $20 billion. Hence it is important to understand recreational scuba divers. The purpose of the study was to a) provide baseline information about diver characteristics and dive behavior and b) develop a ScubaVals instrument.
Constructs based on values literature, identified by King (2005), were used. A means-ends laddering technique (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988) was employed and the seven values of scuba divers previously identified included social integration, fun, excitement, sense of belonging, challenge, social recognition, and self-esteem. In this study, the ScubaVals instrument was developed and pilot tested. A survey was conducted in Key Largo, Florida in 2007. The survey included (a) dive behavior and psychographic variables; (b) ScubaVals; and (c) demographics. 377 completed and valid surveys were analyzed using SPSS and LISREL.
Descriptive statistics indicated survey respondents typically were male, married, educated, affluent, and had made two or more dive trips a year. They generally had PADI certification, tried Nitrox, and dived within 31 to 60 feet. On average they had experienced four dive environments, tried two types of optional technology based dive equipment, and used four point sources for identifying scuba related information. The Bollen and Long (1993) five-step procedure was used for CFA. 27 of the 43 ScubaVals items were retained and the Lambda X values of the final model ranged from .08 to .93. The 7-factor Scuba Model was a fair fit with c2/df ratio = 3.2, RMSEA = .077, GFI = .84 and SRMR = .08.
Study results will be useful to public and private sector dive constituents. For example tour operators can use ScubaVals to identify key customer values and tailor packages accordingly. And since 21% of the respondents had certifications from multiple agencies, training agencies can proactively address switching behavior. Further research is necessary. For example fun, enjoyment and social aspects are key participation determinants in risk recreation studies. However Cronbach Alpha for Social Integration and Fun were lower than the other constructs. Cluster analysis could also be conducted to segment the divers. Lastly, the effect of diver involvement levels on ScubaVals should be investigated.