[MARMAM] Towards Sustainable Dolphin Watching Tourism in Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

Putu Liza putuliza at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 16 22:14:31 PST 2012

Dear all,

My PhD thesis, titled 'Towards Sustainable Dolphin Watching Tourism in 
Lovina, Bali, Indonesia', is available for those who are interested. 
Please drop me a personal email (preferrably at putu.liza at my.jcu.edu.au 
because I open that email more frequently) for a PDF copy (5 MB). Below 
is the abstract. My sincere gratitude to Distinguished Professor Helene 
Marsh, Dr Alastair Birtles and Dr Mark Hamann for their assistance 
during my PhD years.


Putu Liza Kusuma Mustika ('Icha')
former James Cook University PhD student
Bali - Indonesia

*Towards Sustainable Dolphin Watching Tourism in Lovina, Bali, Indonesia'
by Putu Liza Kusuma Mustika
James Cook University
Townsville - Australia*

This research studied dolphin watching in Lovina, North Bali, Indonesia 
in the theoretical context of quadruple bottomline sustainability and 
the prism of sustainability to investigate the biological, social, 
economic and managerial elements of the sustainability of the industry.

This industry depends on predictable access to coastal dolphins, 
particularly dwarf spinner dolphins (/Stenella longirostris 
roseiventris/). Dolphin watching tourism at Lovina began in the late 
1980s when local artisanal fishers formed self-regulating cooperatives. 
Up to 179 dedicated traditional fishing vessels (/jukungs/) are 
available to take passengers to watch the cetaceans that are predictably 
found 3-4 km from the shore. An average of 34.5 tour boats from four 
dolphin associations operated for up to three hours each morning in 
Lovina during my data collection period (2007 to 2009), with up to about 
100 tour boats per day searching for the animals during the high tourist 
visitation season. A school of dolphins could be surrounded by up to 83 
boats (median 15.35). In an encounter, the number of boats generally 
outnumbered the number of dolphins (median spinner-to-boat ratio = 0.8:1).

The dolphins generally surfaced only briefly (<2 minutes) and were 
almost always travelling when first sighted in the mornings. Most 
dolphin schools were surrounded by boats, making the establishment of 
control units impossible. Many boats were driven erratically, making it 
very difficult to measure the impact of this industry on the local 
dolphin population. However, examination of the boatmen's conduct 
indicated that the operations at Lovina did not conform to accepted 
international norms. Most boatmen attempted to get as close as possible 
to the dolphins (generally much closer than the recommended 50m minimum 
approach distance stipulated in Australian and many other national-level 
regulations).During175 scan sampling efforts over 36 days I identified 
64 individual boats that displayed 'behaviours of concern' at least once.

The industry generally attracts tertiary-educated international 
visitors. In 2007-2009, two-thirds of the dolphin tourists came from 
Western countries; the rest were from Asia. Average tourist satisfaction 
was low to medium (7.1 on a scale of 1-10).While there was no 
significant difference between the average satisfaction of Western and 
Asian tourists, the associated variables differed. The satisfaction of 
Western tourists was associated with encounter management, their 
preferred number of surrounding boats and the number of dolphins seen. 
Encounter management was the only variable associated with the 
satisfaction of Asian tourists. Western respondents disliked the 
mismanagement of the dolphin tour; they considered that too many boats 
exhibited behaviours of concern and that the approach distances were too 
close. Satisfaction was positively associated with the willingness of 
tourists to recommend the tour to others. Western respondents who felt 
neutral to very comfortable with the way their boatmen managed the 
dolphin encounters were more likely to promote the tour. Thus the low to 
medium satisfaction levels of Western dolphin tourists threatened to 
bring negative publicity for Lovina dolphin tourism from word of mouth 
and other sources.

In 2007-2009, the industry attracted at least 37,000 overnight visitors 
per annum (~60% of Lovina's overnight tourists) who contributed up to 
USD 9.5 million p.a. in total direct expenditures (i.e., tickets, 
accommodation, meals, transportation, communication and souvenirs). At 
least 46% of the total direct expenditure was attributable to the 
dolphin watching tourism. The boatmen enjoyed an above average income 
but trip fees constituted only 3% of the total income generated by 
dolphin watching tourism; the remainder was spent on local businesses 
e.g., accommodation, restaurant and transport, which are the most 
substantial beneficiaries. As a consequence of the economic importance 
of this industry to the boatmen and the villages, it is important for 
the boatmen to improve their dolphin encounter management to meet the 
expectations of the highly educated international visitors. Because the 
industry also brings a significant economic contribution to other 
business sectors, the sustainability of the overall industry is very 
important to them. The hoteliers, restaurateurs and travel agents should 
also be included in the future management strategies in Lovina, 
including assisting the boatmen in improving their service.

Interviews with the boatmen confirmed that the industry was essentially 
unregulated. The boatmen were concerned about the industry's long-term 
sustainability, especially their encounter management practices and 
other operational issues such as garbage and safety. The boatmen agreed 
in-principle to improve their encounter management by: 1) turning off 
the engine/lifting the propeller, 2) keeping the boat's distance from 
the dolphins and 3) avoidingcutting across the dolphin'sroute. However, 
they were reluctant to limit the fleet size, very likely due to the 
economic importance of the industry to their livelihoods.

Reduction of the boat crowding in Lovina is important from the 
perspectives of animal welfare and tourist satisfaction. Replacing the 
/jukungs/ with larger boats to reduce the number of boats is considered 
impractical from funding and organisational viewpoints. This idea is 
also undesirable from the cultural viewpoint and because it might reduce 
tourist experience. Establishing an agreed minimum approach distance 
would be an indirect approach to managing the number of boats and 
viewing duration. This strategy could be achieved by establishing an 
agreed maximum number of boats (15 is suggested) in a 50m perimeter for 
an agreed viewing time for safety, comfort and tourist experience.

The in-principle agreements established by the Lovina boatmen have not 
yet been implemented. Training programs should be offered to the 
boatmen, including how to estimate approach distance and speed limit and 
appropriate methods to approach the animals. Once training is completed, 
discussions should be directed to add more management aspects to the 
codes of practice (e.g., speed limitation, encounter fleet size and 
approach behaviours) and to codify the codes of practice e.g., by 
including the guideline in the local Balinese /awig-awig/ (customary 
norms/rules).The guidelines could then be adopted at regency and 
national levels.

Several challenges and opportunities must be considered in managing the 
Lovina dolphin watching industry in a sustainable manner. Working with 
the local community in Bali requires an appreciation of the 
characteristics of the people of Bali, including its patriarchal nature, 
the traditional codification system or /awig-awig/ and the local 
sustainability framework (/'Tri Hita Karana'/). Bali was usually 
conceived as a cultural tourism destination. The inclusion of cultural 
elements (e.g., the daily life of a dolphin boatman and the 
construction, repair and maintenance of the traditional outriggered 
wooden canoe or '/jukung'/) can enhance the tourist experience, increase 
the length of stay and reduce the focus on the dolphins themselves, 
which in turn could benefit the promotion of the dolphin tour and the 
local economy.

The biological sustainability of the dolphin watching industry in Lovina 
is questionable and most tourists are not very satisfied. However, 
because the industry is very valuable to the boatmen and the villages, 
the long term sustainability, viability and health of the dolphins are a 
priority to a socially and economically sustainable industry. 
Consequently, the industry needs to be sustainably managed with the 
consent and involvement of all boatmen and other supporting 
stakeholders. Despite the current concerns over its sustainability, the 
Lovina dolphin watching industry could potentially become an exemplar of 
community-based tourism in a developing country that is successfully 
co-managed from multiple perspectives. The four elements of 
sustainability used in this research provided valuable insights into the 
industry and should be applicable to other studies designed to inform 
sustainable marine wildlife tourism in developing countries.

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