Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What if I could not afford to scuba dive this year?

by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia



boat-and-beach-hotel.jpgWell this is a question every scuba diver may ask during today's economic downturn. Beach hotels in tropical region such as Bali, Manado, or Palau islands or Phuket Thailand try hard to promote their tour and diving packages to tourists from around the world. The competition is tougher this year as the number of scuba divers is decreasing due to the economic slow down in many parts of the world.


This trend, if I have to see it from positive point of view, is good for the coral reef condition. Fewer dives mean fewer pressures to the coral reef and the marine animals. I don't mean that I reject diving. But I have to say that not many diving enthusiasts will embark on a plan for a trip to the Pacific islands this year.


This will be a hard time for diving resorts. They need to lower their overhead spending, reduce the number of employees and even had to close temporarily - I don't know for sure.


Diving is seen as the backbone of many island countries in the Pacific region besides fishery. If they receive fewer divers this year, they will face economic hardships.


Actually, divers who cannot afford summer diving in the Pacific islands of Palau, Papua New Guinea or West Papua this year can support the local diving communities through many other ways. For instance, they can pay or buy entrance ticket through the internet which is only around 20 dollars. The money will be used by the marine park management board to do some conservation projects that involve the local villagers. Diving resorts can use this quiet time by making underwater film depicting the beauty of the coral reef in their region and sell it in the form of DVD at major bookstores or video stores in big cities around the world. I see that this might be a silly idea but producing film or movie for educational purposes about underwater world of coral reef will give bigger income to the diving resorts.


Many governments support the protection of coral reef since they know that every kilometer of coral reef can provide up to 15 ton of sustainable harvestable fish. Indonesia as the largest archipelago in the world is lack of educational materials that are needed to teach school students and public society about the conservation of coral reef.


I strongly believe that although the economic downturn has also affected the scuba diving industry in many countries, there are still many possibilities for the resort owners and professional divers to make money from the underwater world without having to destroy any single coral at all.