As someone who has been diving off the Algarve coast for over 25 years, it is a relief indeed to finally see (Algarve Resident, March 14) that a decompression chamber is finally being installed, albeit at the private hospital in Alvor as opposed to the state hospital.
With the new artificial reefs off Portimão (purpose sunk shipwrecks) set to become a popular attraction for holiday divers, the fact that there is now a chamber so close to hand is excellent news.
Of course, the wrecks in question and indeed most of the diving to be had off this coast are at depths that do not impose a great risk, but as any experienced diver knows, the risk, as small as it may be, is always there.
The fact that the chamber is in a private hospital will not be seen as a negative for divers, most of who would have health insurance anyway, but it is encouraging to see that HPA will also be extending use of the facility to patients under the state health scheme.
I do have my doubts about the Algarve promoting itself as a dive destination however, and was very surprised to read recently how the tourism board took a stand promoting the region at a recent dive exhibition in London.
The sea conditions here are simply not reliable enough to promote dive holidays. But that said, for those of us who persevere and when the conditions are right the Algarve offers some excellent diving.
The growing community of local divers alone is sufficient to justify this vital new facility and it can only help in the efforts to promote our diving to tourists.