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The Story of Our Airstrip

For the first time ever, a dive resort operator, Wakatobi Resorts, has privately financed and constructed an airstrip to provide access to a previously undeveloped part of South East Sulawesi.

The concept of this project is to facilitate the development of responsible eco-tourism that generates international awareness of the unique marine resources in the area as well as employment and education for the local community.

Without this eco-tourism project, the locals are largely dependant on working with foreign, illegal fishing boats to make a living.

The resort on the contrary brings employment, educational material, environment awareness and international aid. The only way for the resort to stay alive and thriving is by keeping a sustainable number of guets per year. The airstrip is a necessary stepping stone, supported by the locals.

You've been commended for your conservation efforts, why then build an airstrip? 85% of the world's coral reefs have already been damaged or are under severe stress. This destruction is caused mainly by human activities, especially by destructive and non-sustainable fishing methods. (such as cyanide, dynamite fishing.)

In the area around Wakatobi, this kind of fishing still occurs (however limited by our patrols) by boats from other areas of Indonesia or other countries. These boats are owned and crewed by people who don't consider the pressure they are putting on the marine-life. The owners don't pay local taxes, the crew doesn't care where they throw anchor or deplete marine resources. In the end, locals get very little gain from this kind of activity.

There is no way that anyone with a eco-conscious can now march in and simply tell the locals to not walk on the reefs and stop supporting the foreign fishermen, as this makes up for part of their living. Instead, what is needed is an alternative source of income whereby people can choose whether they wish to preserve or destroy.

We believe that the best and most sustainable alternative is to create employment and education opportunities through responsible, conservation-linked tourism.

Although it is clear that this kind of tourism needs to be small-scale, it has proven to not be feasible in such a remote location without proper infrastructure.

This is the reason this small airstrip was built.

Guests can now travel a lot safer by air than boat and enough funds (brought in by the tourists) can be used to finance schools, reef protection programs and other activities.

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