ZuBlu, a Hong Kong-based sustainable scuba diving tourism startup, has just announced that it has attracted US$1 million in a seed funding round, with investors optimistic that there will be a surge in green tourism and conservation once coronavirus lockdowns ease. The funding round was led by regional early stage venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners, with additional investment from impact outfits Mana Impact Partners and Singaporean female-led angel network She1k, as well as a round of angel investors.
ZuBlu has recently announced that it closed a seed funding round with US$1 million. The startup says that it plans to use the capital to refine its platform and get ready for unlocking future demand once coronavirus pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions begin to ease in the coming months. Investors are placing their bets on a boom in travel, especially in eco-friendly tourism such as ZuBlu’s platform which promotes sustainable dive tourism and supports ocean conservation.
Founded in Hong Kong in 2017 by experienced divers Matthew Oldfield and Adam Broadbent, ZuBlu is a digital platform that makes it easier to arrange planet-friendly diving trips. Every diving operator listed on the platform is verified as responsible, and is vetted for its compliance with the United Nations-backed Green Fins regulations to make sure its marine activities do not harm ocean biodiversity.
ZuBlu’s expertise is focused on the Asian scuba diving sector, which is currently valued at an estimated US$4.5 billion. The startup itself has seen extraordinary growth in recent months even despite the pandemic, with its community growth up 425% and its resort partner network increasing by 46% since the beginning of this year.
“Through this pandemic, ZuBlu has experienced strong traction from divers already planning their trips despite the current global slowdown in travel,” commented Paul Santos, the managing partner of Wavemaker Partners that led the seed funding round.
“Scuba diving and underwater adventure travel – in particular, to remote destinations home to incredible experiences – are uniquely positioned to flourish in a post-coronavirus market. More than ever, we expect people to seek out memorable encounters, to want to escape the crowds, experience new cultures and support sustainable business practices – all of which are central to ZuBlu’s ethos,” added ZuBlu co-founder Adam Broadbent.
Indeed, some trend predictors have commented that the coronavirus pandemic is dramatically shifting consumer priorities. Earlier in March, renowned trendspotter Li Edelkoort said that she believes the coronavirus will make people realise that more material belongings will not bring happiness, and will instead lean towards more meaningful, healthy and experience-based services that do not harm the planet.
The scientific community has also made calls for consumers to wake up to the need to conserve the planet in order to avoid future public health disasters like the current coronavirus. In an article published earlier this week, a group of the world’s top biodiversity experts said that if we continue to destroy nature, we may be on course to experience deadlier and more destructive pandemics than the Covid-19 crisis we are now experiencing.
Lead image courtesy of ZuBlu.