As the global coronavirus pandemic has raged on, few have been hit harder than the shops, resorts and liveaboards that underpin the dive industry. This is particularly true in Southeast Asia, home to the world’s most biodiverse seascapes and by extension most revered spots for underwater imaging. With much of the region heavily dependent on foreign tourism, the economies of many places have been devastated by the pandemic, and tourism ministers are keen to get travel corridors open to allow travellers back in to their countries—safely.
Many resorts and liveaboards have used the last 18 months productively, of course, and Wakatobi in Indonesia’s southeastern Sulawesi is no exception. They’ve been busy updating facilities and accommodations, sprucing up dive boats and keeping everything well maintained, and continuing to provide support for local staff. With reef patrols also continuing, Wakatobi’s famously healthy reefs remain pristine, while certain dive sites that had been left alone to regenerate have now completed their return to former glory.
In Wakatobi’s latest blog post, resort managers report on their initiative to get their staff and others in the surrounding area vaccinated against COVID-19. When vaccines finally arrived in June, Wakatobi organized a vaccination program for staff and created a video that was posted online and shared with local media. The example set by Wakatobi could then be used by medical teams to tour the area and encourage villagers to get the jab.
While there’s no date set for a return of international travel to Indonesia, authorities are focused on Bali as the principal gateway, which is encouraging for Wakatobi, whose guests arrive from Bali via a three-hour private charter flight (plus a short hop by boat). They’ll be many divers and underwater photographers keeping their fingers crossed that the opening of this particular travel corridor will happen soon.
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