The fact that more than 80% of Bali’s population is directly or indirectly reliant on income from tourism is studied in universities worldwide. So, while it’s impossible to explain in one short blog post the effect of Bali’s borders being closed, you can perhaps start to imagine.
In the first half of 2020, I made the decision to start selling assets to raise money to keep the company operating. If we weren’t open to take guests diving, then my staff had no possibility of income. However, it was a ‘buyer’s market’, very few people were looking to buy (minibuses, boats, scuba cylinders, etc), many were trying to sell. The prices were eyewateringly low.
Some staff chose to leave AMD-B. We had no need to replace them. I made the extremely hard decision to furlough my drivers and dive guides (at home without pay). And to crowdfund for donations for them. AMD-B’s entire staff was absolutely delighted at the response. It wasn’t just the actual money, it was that people who presumably had their own challenges were willing to help. Those donations kept children in school, roofs repaired, motorbike credit payments made, medicines bought, so many of life’s necessities covered.
During lockdown, despite limited budget, we used our time to:
- ensure gear, compressors, boat engines, vehicles, etc were serviced and maintained on schedule;
- refresh our own Rescue skills;
- review the Theory for PADI courses offered by AMD-B;
- practise Instructor skills;
- survey for new dive sites;
- continue our regular Beach and Underwater Clean-ups;
- take over a Coral Restoration project outside Padangbai on Bali’s east coast.
Making sure we were ready to hit the ground running when restrictions were lifted.
Bali is Now Open!
And now, here we are! Travel restrictions are all gone. AquaMarine Diving – Bali still has many of our Covid-related safety protocols in place, eg: the 2nd stages of regulators are still wrapped in bags after being sterilised. We have not replaced the magazines, books, and other reading materials in our minibuses (but I’m thinking about it).
All AMD-B staff are fully-vaccinated.
We are all so grateful for guests, old and new, who’ve dug deep to come to dive with AMD-B this year. It’s been a challenge for some, whether financially, or re-arranging work schedules, but we see the efforts everyone is making.
Bali’s dive sites have had a two year break from divers (snorkellers, swimmers, freedivers, etc) – you can see them flourishing.
There are some amazing hotel deals to be had. Not all hotels have re-opened, some are still renovating. Bali has lost some landmark restaurants: Mozaic in Ubud, Metis here in Seminyak, are two examples. But others chose to stay open (like AMD-B: for the benefit of their staff) throughout the pandemic. I’m so relieved to see their gamble paid off and they’re still in business.
Bali is not receiving the same number of flights as pre-pandemic but the number are growing. I’m optimistic for Bali’s High Season (July to September) which is coincidentally Mola-Mola/Ocean sunfish Season as well 🙂
AquaMarine is actively recruiting new dive guides and drivers (yes, we have to replace the minibuses we sold), and also office staff.
It’s not actually as daunting to be re-building AMD-B as you might think: We all know what we’re doing, know what we need. We have 23 years of experience to call upon, and a rock-solid foundation on which to build.
The entire team looks forward to welcoming you all – repeat and first-time AquaMarine Diving – Bali guests – to Bali. I hope you can make it this year but if not, then in 2023 🙂
“Travel is a luxury – but it is also an investment in the wider world, in communities and ecosystems outside our own“
The Conscience Economy