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May 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Bye Bye Palau? Too Many Divers in this Island Paradise?

from the May, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Following a similar vein in Undercurrent's January 2016 issue, Richard Brook wrote a blog in pacificnote.com this February suggesting that while divers want to see a lot of wildlife, they don't want to see a lot of divers. Because Palau is now experiencing mass tourism (especially from Taiwan and China), the number of divers at any one site has reached the threshold where the number of people detracts from the expected experience.

He suggests that a solution would be to limit the number of visitors to the islands, limit the number of hotel rooms, and raise the hotel room rates.

Undercurrent subscriber Doug Swalen (Los Gatos, CA) suggests this price hike might not be a solution. He wrote:

"Palau's President also talked about restricting new hotels to the super high end, which would have the effect of forcing out divers who couldn't afford the higher cost. But while the President is mostly interested in making money, this blog is more frustrating because the author is basically advocating cutting down the number of divers who come to Palau. While there may be an argument to be had about the number of divers affecting the quality of the dives, assuming that reducing the number of divers will automatically improve the quality of the dives is flawed. It won't produce better dives.

"However, improving the quality of the divers who visit Palau will... but that's not something that you are guaranteed to achieve just by raising the cost of staying there. All that does is restrict the divers to those who can afford to do it... regardless of their experience level."

Brook notes that the wealthiest visitor to Palau can just as easily fall victim to DCS as someone who pays a lot less, and there are no suitable facilities for such an emergency, no matter how much you pay.

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