North west diving firm invests to attract international visitors

Richard Lafferty, owner of Portstewart-based Aquaholics pictured aboard the new boat in Ballycastle with Rhonda McClelland of Ulster Bank
Richard Lafferty, owner of Portstewart-based Aquaholics pictured aboard the new boat in Ballycastle with Rhonda McClelland of Ulster Bank

A Northern Ireland diving business is investing significantly to compete with operators in international markets, including the Maldives and the Red Sea.

In its latest investment, Aquaholics Dive Centre in Portstewart has purchased a new commercial catamaran, supported by Ulster Bank, in an effort to attract more US, European and Asian tourists to the North Coast.

The business, which has the highest level of accredited from PADI (The Professional Association of Diving Instructors), provides diving holidays to local and international visitors, as well as diving training and sea safari boat trips.

In addition, it retails diving equipment online and from two physical outlets, and provides marine services for film crews for the likes of Game of Thrones, BBC and Disney during shoots at sea.

Owner Richard Lafferty says that diving is big business.

­­­­­­­­­­“With world class diving on the North coast, Aquaholics attracts a lot of groups and individuals from Europe, the US and Russia.

“Not a lot of people realise how attractive the North Coast is to divers and we see a real opportunity to bring more international visitors to the area.

“This new, state-of-the-art vessel enables us to provide the high quality service our customers now expect.”

Rhonda McClelland, business manager, Ulster Bank, says: “Richard has diversified the business extremely well, including his line of work in servicing media companies and film crews.

“He has also invested well in his core diving operation and we are very pleased to support this latest purchase intended to bring more international visitors to the North Coast.”