Mark Spiers is vice-president, training, sales and field services at PADI. During his career he has managed and owned PADI Dive Centres in the UK, Spain, Portugal and Thailand.
What has been the most rewarding experience when travelling for work?
I’ve been privileged to interact with people on a local level, rather than just as a tourist. It reinforces to me that people are fundamentally the same, regardless of their nationality or beliefs.
What has been the most challenging experience abroad?
Being involved in the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 when I lived in Thailand.
What’s the most unusual thing you've seen on a dive?
An underwater statue of Christ of the Abyss at Portofino Marine Park, near Genoa in Italy.
What's the deepest you've been?
I’ve dived down to 72 metres, however this required specialised technical training and planning, as it’s beyond recreational scuba limits. Actually, some of the best diving is within 20 metres of the surface.
What's your favourite diving destination?
I love the Maldives. It offers great diving just a short distance from the resorts. Last time I was there I was lucky enough to dive with whale sharks, which was amazing.
Any contenders in the UK?
St Abbs near Edinburgh is still one of my favourite dive spots with its many soft corals. There is a place called Cathedral Rock, which is absolutely striking viewed underwater when the sun is shining through it.
Which dive has left a lasting impression?
Actually, another UK dive and one of my earliest. I was doing my first night dive in Anglesey and, as I shone my torch around, I spotted a dogfish, then another and another. There were literally hundreds of them just sitting stationary in the water.
Is it difficult to travel with diving equipment?
Yes, it can be. However, PADI Dive Centres and Resorts all have equipment to rent, so many people just take a mask and snorkel with them and rent locally. Airlines could help by extending the allowance for diving equipment, just as they do for other sports, such as golf.
How has climate change affected your line of work?
Personally, it’s made me more aware of the impact of my travel and the things I can do to minimise it. As an organisation, PADI recognises the impact that climate change has on the ocean and we are committed to enabling people around the world to seek adventure and save the ocean, in order to bring awareness to divers globally on what they can do to make difference.
Is it hard to settle back into reality (on land)?
It can be. The weightlessness that you experience underwater is very relaxing. Then there are those high energy dives that are really exciting. The best way I’ve found to deal with this is to plan another dive trip straight away!
What's your dream destination?
I’d love to dive the Galapagos. It’s such a unique destination with so many unusual species of marine life to see.
What's your indispensable travel gadget?
I use Twelve South’s AirFly Pro [wireless headphone adapter] to connect my AirPods to the IFE system.
What's your IFE pick?
I love Amazon’s Kindle as it means I’m never short of a new book to read.