Tourism Industry Protecting Our Oceans

135

World Oceans Day, which takes place on Wednesday 8 June, is a chance to celebrate our seas and remember that it is our behaviour that impacts on the ocean’s survival. Our oceans come under significant strain from every day from overexploitation, illegal and unreported and unregulated fishing, marine pollution and climate change. However, despite the difficulties, some economic travel companies have implemented key initiatives to protect the world’s seas.

From grey reef shark tagging and turtle monitoring in Africa, to helping marine biologists collect data at the Great Barrier Reef, below are the travel companies making a difference in the fight for ocean conservation.

Building on the incredible influence andBeyond has on protected wildlife land, it is expanding its focus on wildlife conservation to include the preservation and sustainability of the seas, with its new project Oceans Without Borders.

Each of the three islands, andBeyond MnembaBenguerra and the newly acquired Vamizi island, are situated within protected marine areas and have a strong conservation focus, all with dedicated projects as well as shared initiatives.

andBeyond Vamizi Island is at the heart of Oceans Without Boarders, with its permanent team at the Vamizi Research Centre working to protect the sensitive eco-systems.  Project highlights include grey reef shark tagging, as Vamizi is home to one of the very few congregations on the east coast. Highlighted projects at andBeyond Mnemba Island include green turtle monitoring, while at andBeyond Benguerra Island the team is working to conserve the habitat of the endangered dugong in conjunction with Africa Foundation and the island’s local community.

All three projects are about simple, barefoot luxury and a respect for our oceans, with Benguerra the company’s most recent opening. It re-opened in July last year following a brilliant renovation and with a design that takes its inspiration from Mozambique’s Portuguese heritage.

Since its re-opening, and in tune with andBeyond’s ethos, guests are now able to support some of the many conservation projects Benguerra has undertaken as well as enjoying its raft of activities.

Benguerra sits alongside a permanent deep water channel which is renowned for its excellent game fishing and its brilliant location is also good for turtle encounter as the island’s massive sand dunes form the ideal habitat for turtles to nest.

The Residence by Cenizaro’s Zanzibari hotel has recently launched a new partnership with leading dive centre, One Ocean – which contributes to the Mnemba Island Conservation Area (MIMCA).  The new dive experience has been carefully designed so guests can enjoy the staggering variety of marine life in an area that was once threatened by overfishing and a general disregard for the fragility of the environment.

Mnai Bay, Zanzibar’s largest marine protected area, was declared a Marine Conservation Area in 1997 and guests are now charged a US$3 levy on all water-sports and diving within this zone. The revenue is paid into a community conservation fund which is used to show local fisherman, and their communities, the real economic value in protecting rather than exploiting these exceptional reefs.

Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about the importance of minimising island rubbish by actively recycling plastics and metal and why One Ocean uses such efficient boat engines.

The One Ocean dive experience at The Residence Zanzibar is for certified divers only. Rates are as follows: Single Dive (US$85); Double Dive/1-day (US$125); Four Dive/2-days (US$240); Six Dive/3-days (US$350); Eight Dive/4-days (US$455); Ten Dive/5-days (US$555) per person.

Rates at The Residence Zanzibar start from £418 per night, based on two sharing on a half board basis including taxes and fees. To book call the hotel on +255 245 555 000 or visit the website. www.cenizaro.com/theresidence/zanzibar.

Passionate about marine conservation, Fairmont Mayakoba, has a dedicated Ecology Manager and Coral Reef Restoration Team. It also has a special partnership with the non-Governmental organisation Oceanus A.C.

Now guests can join one of the team for a fascinating adventure of discovery on a private snorkelling tour of the resort’s coral nursery. The experience takes a behind-the-scenes look at how precious Acropora Palmata coral is grown, harvested and transplanted into the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest reef in the world. Its special partnership with Oceanus A.C. means Fairmont Mayakoba is one of the only hotels with coral nurseries that can reproduce the Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata).

The exclusive trip costs US$75 per person (approx. £52) with all proceeds donated to Oceanus A.C. Rates at Fairmont Mayakoba start from £198 per night. To book call the hotel on 1 800 540 6088, email [email protected] or visit the website. www.fairmont.com/mayakoba-riviera-maya.

Right in the heart of the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – the largest marine protected area in the world and a World Heritage Area.  With ecological sustainability high on the agenda, Hamilton Island has a number of initiatives in place to ensure the protection of the island and its waterways including state of the art sewerage treatment facilities and a self-managed recycling program.

In addition, whilst staying on Hamilton Island, guests are encouraged to support the Marine Park research by logging the marine life they see whilst out snorkelling and diving.  The Eye on the Reef programme is a collaboration of 40 Marine Tourism operators who report and collect data on the health and status of the Great Barrier Reef.  It is then fed back to a special team of marine biologists at Hamilton Island’s eco-certified Fantasea Reefworld centre, who assist with the collection and comprehension of the data.

Hamilton Island offers a wide range of Great Barrier Reef experiences and accommodation options.  The Reef Comber Tour takes in the sites from the skies, with a seaplane journey offering a bird’s eye view of the sheer size and scale of the reef’s coral garden.  There is also the chance to explore the reef with a snorkel.   The 3-hour tour costs AU$599 (approx. £303) per person.  Rates on Hamilton Island start from £145 per night, rising to rates from £515 per night at the world-renowned hotel, qualia.  For more information, visit the website. www.hamiltonisland.com.au.