Responsible Tourism Policy
Wicked Diving Responsible Tourism Policy – 2014/2015
Our Responsible Travel Policy has been constantly evolving since we began operating and as we and the world we live in change, so this policy is adapted to meet those changes. Its purpose is to serve, structure and minimize any negative impact upon the local communities and environment. These guidelines are at the very heart of all of Wicked Diving’s operations and forms the underlying principles of the company. We know we cannot change the world overnight, but we can help make a difference – one dive at a time! We hope that you feel the same way.
Wicked currently operate in 2 locations; Khao Lak (Similans & Surins), Thailand and Labuan Bajo (Komodo), Indonesia. We have a third location in development and will have a permanent base in WaiSai (Raja Ampat), Indonesia, by the end of 2014. As we have grown as a business, so has our ability to offer more and more to the areas in which we operate. As Wicked Diving is based in and entirely supported by the local ecosystem – we are acutely aware of our impact on and responsibility to this environment. We do our utmost to effectively implement our Responsible Tourism Policy with this in mind. Being locally based means that our economic impact directly affects those that would most benefit by our operations. Again, this is a key pillar of our actions and responsibility.
Wicked Diving sincerely understands that the environments, cultures, and economies of the region in which we conduct our business are fragile, requiring a sustained commitment to ensure that any interactions have a lasting positive effect. The principles of Responsible Tourism are intrinsic in how Wicked Diving operates as we believe this approach can positively assist local communities, providing income and the financial incentive to protect the areas’ natural environments and local communities.
Wicked Diving’s Responsible Tourism Policy is based around our aim of being a socially responsible business engaged in the conservation and protection of the environment and local communities. In addition we support local, national and regional policies that increase the protection of the marine environment. The fundamentals of our Responsible Tourism policy can be categorized into Environmental, Social, and Economic policies. However, we appreciate that in reality there is often an over-lap between these policy areas.
As a final note – the best of intentions cannot always overcome the reality of some situations. As rules, laws and cultural shifts occur, Wicked Diving is willing to adapt in hopes that we may continue to affect them – as such our Policy of Responsible Tourism is a living document. If you feel that a portion, section or even the underlying fundamentals of our policy could be improved – please feel free to contact us – email@example.com
We consider it our responsibility to protect the environment we live in, so it’s only natural that marine research, conservation and education are an integral part of everything we do and the Wicked Diving experience. It goes without saying that we take a responsible approach to diving – why wouldn’t we?! … read more.
We proudly contribute to a number of marine research and conservation projects. This includes providing data on the status of coral reefs Reefwatch and Reef Check Indonesia and on manta ray and shark sightings to many major NGOs including The Manta Trust, The Marine Megafauna Foundation and Shark Guardian.
We offer specific educational and conservation trips, such as Manta Rays, and Shark. All trips include presentations, activities around the specific marine life and information for guests on what action they can take to help protect and conserve. In addition, we encourage our guests to collect data and become involved with the Citizen Science movement. In Indonesia our instructors also conduct free Manta Ray awareness talks that are open to the whole community.
We have also worked in Thailand to create an artificial reef to reduce pressure on certain dive sites and to encourage new coral growth and attract more marine life to the area. Marine education is an integral part of our holiday experience and guests can take specific courses if they want to learn more or gain specific skills.
In Thailand, we plan to offer a broader spectrum of marine education programmes aboard our liveabaord. Linked to this, Wicked will strengthen its relationship with NGO Shark Guardian. We will be collecting more data for them, and as one of their flagship partners, our dive instructors will be involved in community talks and mobilisation.
In Indonesia, we will be working much closely with our local dive guides to create a more sustainable approach to data collection. In addition, we will be more deeply involved in the socialisation of Indonesia’s new nationwide manta ray sanctuary and are planning to work with our partners to help monitor landing sites in the region.
The environment around us, both in and out of the water is our playground, and we love it….! We are privileged to be able to enjoy it and we consider it our responsibility to respect it and help protect it.
Conserving energy is a must for any business. It’s important in terms of minimizing the carbon and pollution we are emitting, and let’s not hide the fact that it makes business sense too – it can save you money. The sun and wind are natural resources in abundance here. We much prefer clean energy and use them wherever we can. In terms of energy usage, as a dive organisation we cannot operate without using fuel. In the locations we operate there are no alternatives to diesel and petrol, so it is impossible for us to make a straight swop to more ‘green’ fuel sources. Believe us, when we can, we will! However, we can make sure we only use what we need, and with regular monitoring and reporting of fuel usage and adjustments of our dive schedule, we can and have made some significant reductions in fuel usage. In addition, maintenance of all engines and generators is integral to ensure the fuel we use is not wasted. We strive for efficiency.
In Indonesia, we have cut the Jaya usage from 700L to 600L with the installation of a newer engine. (that is a savings of 2500l in one season). Our beautiful schooner is a ‘quiet’ boat at night as she uses passive ventilation and sea breezes to keep cool, so there’s no need for air con and use of a generator…. it’s so nice to be ‘hum-free’. The fish like it too! All water is warmed through passive solar.
Our additional vessels, the Bali Prima and the Diana are also subject to regular maintenance and have both had complete engine overhauls to ensure that they are running as efficiently as possible.
In Thailand, The Mariner is a very economical boat, also subject to stringent mentoring and maintenance. We have plans to install 38 inch propeller blades in 2014 this year and this will save 500 l of fuel a month. We are also looking at building a cradle for the dingy so that it is out of the water during sail times and will also save about 200 lt a month in fuel.
In our office we have skylights, large windows and open areas which allow passive lighting during daylight hours. In the areas we have installed air conditioning we have ensured insulation exists to reduce waste and we’ve made sure that we have modern, highly efficient units installed. Staff are briefed to turn the aircon off when classrooms aren’t in use. As an unnecessary suck on energy, we switch off all PC’s at night.
We already use some low energy lightbulbs. To avoid excess waste, we will be switching any remaining lightbulbs to low energy alternatives as and when they ‘blow’. When replacing appliances and electronics we seek out the most energy efficient options.
Water should ALWAYS be used sparingly. Even in our locales where we can have an average of 4 meters of rain per year. On our boats we have simple spray guns to rinse off after being in the salt water. There is no need to shower after each dive/snorkel, you’re only going to be jumping straight back in! Our guests are also briefed to try to conserve water as much as possible whilst on board our vessels. In the bathrooms, we have installed ‘on demand’ systems, to ensure that we cannot waste water by someone forgetting to turn off the tap. We capture rainwater for use in our rinse buckets at the shop and on our boats.
Where appropriate the cleaning products and toiletries we use are made from natural products and are biodegradable. Please note that we cannot comprise in terms of hygiene and we have a responsibility to our guests to ensure good cleanliness and sanitation at all times. Our guests’ health has to trump our desire to reduce chemical waste when it comes to killing germs.
We use a selection of natural products produced by Baan San Fan Orphanage, Boomgreen and Bali Soaps.
The amount of waste generated is a huge problem in many countries, and both Thailand and Indonesia are no exception. There is limited, or no infrastructure for waste disposal, with very few reliable recycling facilities. At Wicked we are committed to reducing the amount of waste we generate, and we encourage our guests to join us in this. Any waste produced is disposed of in the most effective ways possible.
- Plastic waste is a big problem, so we avoid using any single use containers and provide all guests with one water bottle that they can refill from our water dispensers. In addition, we also provide water refills stations within our shops that anyone is welcomed to use.
- Our day trips are a no plastic affair. Reusable metal tins are provided for lunch, as opposed to the polystyrene that is normally given. No plastic cutlery is used and even sauces are requested in grease proof paper packages, rather than plastic. Drinks are provided in refillable containers.
- On our liveaboard boats, guests are provided with refillable bottles for the entire trip. Soaps and Shampoos are provided in wall-mounted reusable dispensers and the products are purchased in bulk.
- We encourage all guests to avoid accepting plastic bags for purchases in shops and to reuse the ones they have. Locally made cotton bags can be purchased inexpensively at our shop and other local shops.
- All cans and glass are recycled. Then final destination of plastic depends on the location. Phuket has a recycling service, however nothing substantial exists in our Indonesian locations to recycle plastic. We are always looking for more alternatives and will continue to do so until we find a reliable solution. There are marked bins on our boats and in our shop for guests to use.
- Food waste is currently not recycled because it’s so hot here it can be rather smelly! So, we’re looking into hygienic, non smelly ways to do this.
- We minimize the amount of toxins and chemicals released into our environment by supplying our guests and staff with biodegradable soaps and shampoos.
- All batteries on our boats are recycled. In Thailand, a safe recycling station does not exist, so we ask guests to take them back to their home countries. In Indonesia, we work with a trusted partner in Bali and periodically ship our batteries over for recycling.
- We ask all guests to help us in our mission to cut waste and bring as little single use waste and plastic. In addition, we ask our guests to be smart when shopping in our areas of operation.
- Implementing a procurement policy which effectively minimises the amount of waste that we use when purchasing goods for our boats.
- Waste management education programme for staff. We want to train our local staff on why we must work to reduce waste and the impact of this.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL
Wicked Diving feels that a significant part of our responsibility as guests in our community is to contribute and support the local economy, as well as respect local cultures and people. This includes caring for our staff, participating in local projects, educating and learning, as well as abiding by the laws of the country we inhabit. We strive to have a positive impact within our local community and environment and our activities are never at the expense of people, culture, or the environments in which we operate.
We recognize that our staff are our most important asset, so we encourage a family feeling and team approach where we all take care of each other. We employ western, Thai and Indonesian staff throughout the business. Our staff are a mix of men and women, there is no gender discrimination here, and we offer favourable employment terms, well-over industry standard pay, and training and advancement opportunities. We conduct annual performance reviews and love to promote from within. Our staff are all encouraged to capitalise on their innate skills to develop in their individual roles.
We consider Wicked Diving to be a family, not a job. Every effort is made to care for and work with our staff as we would a family. Once part of the family, we make every effort to assure a long and vibrant career with Wicked. Vacations and familial obligations are part of this. We also schedule workloads so that staff get rest and opportunity to off gas – lowering the chances of accidents. For our local staff we offer year-round employment rather than the seasonal work.
Wicked Diving provides work permits and visas to foreign staff. In addition, Wicked Diving pays all taxes and welfare costs as matter of standards.
STAFFING OF PROJECTS
At Wicked, we actually employ staff members whose main responsibilities is the management and development of all of Wicked Diving’s environmental and community projects. These are individuals who are always striving to better our operations, who are abreast of changes in the regions and who inspire our teams to get involved.
All of Wicked Diving’s dive staff are contractually required to contribute to these projects. Their time is paid at the same rate as if they were diving. Not only does this give necessary manpower to large projects, but it attracts like-minded, passionate people to the business. Our long term trainees seeking professional dive certification also have ‘eco projects’ built in to their schedule. We intend to train the new breed of professionals in line with our principals – to respect and positively impact the community and environment.
SUPPLIERS – FOOD
We love food and it’s a very important part of our liveaboard experience. So for the benefit of our guests and ourselves we aim to use local fresh ingredients and homemade products. Due to remote locations, sporadic restocks and cargo ship delays, we are not always able to access exactly what we like, however we do our best to ensure that we use as many locally sourced products as we can.
In Thailand, the Baan San Fan Orphanage provide us with super tasty pineapple jam and honey from the mountain villages. We also receive their very own organic eggs to serve on our liveaboards! Not only is this locally sourced, but by supporting this project we have allowed the orphanage to develop an income stream to become self sufficient.
In Indonesia, our coffee comes directly from the village of one of our office staff. So do our chickens! We couldn’t ask for fresher than that. In addition, we also stock local honey, nutmeg jam from the Banda Islands and coconut oil from Raja Ampat.
Please note that we DO NOT serve fish at all. It always comes as a surprise to us that so many people love to look at fish underwater and then want to eat them afterwards! However, the real driving force isn’t ‘fish are friends’, it’s actually a matter of sustainability. In all of our locations we are not confident that the stocks on offer have been caught in a sustainable fashion. We are always reviewing this and looking for alternatives – we do of course want to support any person or organisation who is making a business out of using correct fishing techniques and procedures. Don’t worry though, there are so many yummy alternatives; chicken, beef, tempe, tofu, bacon and of course heaps of vegetables.
For more information about sustainable fish stocks in your country, look at these great guides produced by WWF.
SUPPLIERS – PRODUCTS
It can sometimes be a bit tricky, but where we have a choice we use ethical and responsible suppliers that produce products that are at least one of the following: Locally made; Organic; Made from natural ingredients; Chemical Free; Reusable. We are constantly reviewing our supply chain and seek to work in partnership with local organizations to develop better and smarter products.
From coconut jewellery, made directly on Komodo Island, to the reusable shopping bags provided to us by the Baan San Fan Orphange, we try to think sensibly about where we source, but also the purpose of us supplying these products to our guests. Whether it’s to generate income for lower income groups, or to reduce plastic waste, we think everything should have a purpose.
At Wicked education is an integral part of what we do as we feel we have a responsibility to encourage mutual education and learning between ourselves, our guests and the local community.
Schools & Colleges
- In Thailand, we work in partnership with F.E.D., a local school for children of migrant Burmese laborers, and BaanSanFan Orphanage running educational program and beach clean ups for the children.
- In Indonesia, we work with Tourism School SMKN1 to provide marine conservation courses, swimming lessons and diving lessons too.
- In both locations the objectives are clear – foster a love for the oceans and inspire a sense of pride and motivation to care for these fragile environments. This can take many guises, the opportunities for lessons and activities are endless, however the end goal is the same. Let’s start growing that love for the seas, at early ages, to protect for the future.
Dive Professional Training
- In Indonesia, we are committing to working with the young residents of Komodo. In conjunction with NGO Komodo Kita, we are training and employing young men to give them a chance at an alternative future. We were recently recognised by Wild Asia’s Inspiring Stories from Destinations Programme. Please follow the link below for more information.
- Training new dive professionals through our Dive Master Training program link is an important part of our Wicked philosophy. Each 6 week program includes 3 days dedicated to working on an environmental project, making it a very unique experience.
- Staff can develop their skills through work and education. As well as running regular Dive Professional courses, our staff are encourage to join and participate in our education trips, given subsided and free access to reef monitoring courses and are encourage a supported to further their progression within the dive industry, by giving affordable access to instructor courses.
- Good diving technique is crucial to protecting the environment. Eco tourism can only be a solution if it doesn’t start to contribute to problems. Codes of conducts are in place and our guests are informed as how best to dive with marine life, such as mantas, how to minimise their impact. Diving passively should be a natural part of guests’ interaction. If guests need special help, our guides are on hand to give advice and courses if new techniques need to be learned.
- Wicked’s guests get the opportunity to participate in educational courses. These include regular dive courses and more importantly specific marine conservation projects if they so wish. This includes specialist liveaboard educational trips, participating in free coral reef data collection programs, and capturing ever valuable data on mantas.
- Information on all our responsible tourism activities are available for guests to read about around our boats and shops and we produce many online articles to help give our opinion to the industry.
THE 2% POLICY
So, how can we make all of this happen? Yes, you guessed it…we put our money where our mouth is. We use 2% of all our revenue to help our local communities and/or ecosystems. This helps to support all of our projects– from the Baan San Fan Orphanage to the creation of an internship program for Komodo Villagers to become dive guides. To date this has generated more than $50,000 in support – and this is all due to you. By choosing us, you are also helping these programs and many more.
As a consumer, we believe that following the journey your money takes is very important. So how does this relate to our 2% Policy? Let’s use the example of one of our projects – our Komodo Dive Guide training programme. When you book a trip with us, some of your money helps to pay for this project that means we can offer these young men and their families a new future. So, your money raises their standard of living and quality of life. It also means we can teach them how to be good dive guides – that means dive guides who are safe and who consciously strive to protect the environment. So, your money benefits the marine world and helps to contribute to the safety of others. When they are certified and working with us, they will most certainly be renowned within their community. They will be able to share their successes and inspire their peers to follow their dreams. Not only that, but they will bring much needed language skills to their community and family. So, your money is influencing a whole community, not only with education, but also by creating a different image of what can be achieved with support and hard work. It’s quite the journey – just because you decided to go diving!
Then moral of this story is that in a simple, considered action it is easy for you to contribute to something bigger. Do your research; there are a whole host of wonderful tourism operators doing inspiring things. Check out these stories from the Wild Aid Responsible Tourism Initiatives to give you some inspiration as to where to go next.
Money doesn’t grow on trees – but it can help to plant new ones.
So there’s a taste of what we do here at Wicked. In our experience, this isn’t difficult, it’s fun. As ever, if you have any questions or want to know more about anything we do please drop us a line, it would be great to hear from you.