BALI, Indonesia – Marine tourism operators in Bali said their businesses continued to thrive and would continue to do so, despite some accidents during water-sport-activities.
The businesses offer facilities for diving, snorkeling, fishing and various water sports and have seen their market continue to grow, said Yos WK Amerta, chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indone-sian Marine Tourism Association (Gahawisri).
As well as people who are already fond of water activities, many who have had no experience of water sports and other marine activities are now becoming interested in trying, despite the high cost and the element of risk involved.
“Take diving for example. It’s a risky activity and it costs a lot of money. But now more and more people are interested in diving, even after two recent accidents in Bali,” said Yos, who owns Yos Diving.
Bali was one of the areas in Southeast Asia seeing the fastest growth in businesses related to special tourist attractions, which included marine tourism operators, he said.
Currently, there are more than 180 marine-tourism companies, including some owned by foreigners, operating on the island, not including those that have no license to operate. “The rising interest in marine tourism is causing this kind of situation,” said Yos.
Ena Partha, the owner of Ena Dive, shared similar views. “So far, marine tourism has always attracted a lot of people. Some popular underwater spots, like Tulamben and Padangbai, are seeing a lot of tourists. Each operator could have dozens of customers on a trip.”
As a tourism destination, he went on, Bali boasted many long stretches of beach that supported the development of marine tourism.
Places like Kuta, Dream Land, Padang-Padang and Medewi have all been popular spots for surfing, while Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Tulamben, Pemuteran and Menjangan are among the island’s top underwater destinations.
Meanwhile, water sports have been developing well in both Tanjung Benoa and at Mertasari in Sanur, where windsurfing and kite surfing are particularly popular.
For rafting, Tukad Ayung and Telaga Waja are excellent destinations and home to dozens of rafting operators.
“Bali has a lot of natural potential. The market is also promising. The rest depends on our professional management and promotion,” Ena said.
Both Yos and Ena agreed that a number of accidents related to water activities was a reminder not to neglect implementing standard operational procedures. They also highlighted the need for human resources to improve their abilities and services, as well as to check equipment properly.
They both called on tourists to choose licensed marine tourism operators for their own safety and reassurance.
However, they did not deny the fact that sometimes tourists risk their own safety by neglecting to implement procedures and follow instructions, with some even neglecting to mention relevant health conditions that could make it dangerous to participate.