GREEN DIV­ING

Action Asia - - HOW TO DEAL WITH PROBLEM TOURISTS -

One group was Chi­nese; the other cou­ple was Rus­sian. Yet dive shops such as Bongo Bongo have plenty of dirt to dish on other na­tion­al­i­ties. There’s a wisp of fire be­hind some of the stereo­type smoke. But bad be­hav­iour doesn’t heed na­tional bor­ders. How many more sto­ries have we all heard? Divers from all coun­tries and with all qual­i­fi­ca­tions can have a big im­pact on the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment. They can cause dev­as­tat­ing dam­age on a lo­cal scale, threat­en­ing the sur­vival of reef tourism in the area. But dive staff can also have an in­cred­i­bly pos­i­tive im­pact. Rec­og­niz­ing the dive shop’s ef­forts, Bongo Bongo be­came a mem­ber of Green Fins (www. green­fins.net/en) in May 2016. Nielsen found in Green Fins a prag­matic ap­proach to sup­port him and his team in deal­ing with their prob­lem tourists. Green Fins as­ses­sors use ro­bust cri­te­ria to help iden­tify ef­fec­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies across a dive op­er­a­tion. They also help bol­ster the train­ing of role-model staff like Ban­doles. This train­ing pro­vides them with new tools in a va­ri­ety of lan­guages to help bridge lin­guis­tic and cul­tural bar­ri­ers be­tween divers. Dive pros can then also ed­u­cate cus­tomers about sus­tain­able-div­ing prac­tices. The dive guides and in­struc­tors at Bongo Bongo are firm be­liev­ers that no one wants to be a prob­lem tourist. But some guests need a lot of time and train­ing to break their bad habits. It’s a prob­lem, and it can be solved. We all need to do our part to help pro­tect our reefs.

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