Quest underseas: responsible and sustainable dive ecotourism

Chris Williams
Operations Manager, Quest Underseas
http://www.questoverseas.com/underseas/

What does your organisation offer?

Offers people a chance to research marine conservation and get diving experience at the same time, in an ethical way because they are giving something back to the community.

Where do you run trips?

We have two destinations, Honduras and Mozambique.

We try to run trips that allow our volunteers to be involved in the research of something that is beneficial to the local communities and relevant to the marine wildlife in the location. In Honduras it’s about using some of the funding to research the impact on the coral reefs.

It’s a very hands-on experience, a lot of the students are writing dissertations on the subject area so for them to get to see turtles hatching on a beach it’s beneficial experience for their learning.

Mozambique is a new destination for us, we’ve only just started the project there. At the location there are already three dive operators but they don’t operate in a responsible way, there are no standards setup so the idea behind our trip is to offer the local community a chance to work with us to make sure that the marine wildlife is not being damaged too heavily by the influx of dive tourists.

We also runs social projects in the destinations, our last group in Mozambique funded a borehole which allows 260 people to be provided with clean drinking water. It gives our volunteers the chance to leave a lasting positive benefit on the area, rather than coming to dive, scaring the marine wildlife, and then leaving.

What are the main conservation projects at each location?

Honduras: Coastal erosion is damaging the coral reefs, this is due to overfishing and moving mangrove plantations that previously protected the reefs.

Mozambique: Badly managed dive tourism is affecting the marine wildlife, 30 people diving and scaring the hell out of a whale shark is not good for the long term sustainability if the reef. There’s no control, no structure and no best practice and the dive operators can make loads of money and not give anything back to the area. We want to change that and make it best practice for dive operators to start reinvesting in the local communities.

How much does it cost?

Honduras: for a month, £1,500
Mozambique: for a month, £1,900

We take teams of between 6-10 with us to the locations, we feel this is about the right number so that the impact is not too great. We also interview everyone before we go to make sure that they understand what we’re about and we also make sure they want to go for the right reasons.

Quest, our parent company, has been shortlisted for a number of responsible travel awards. The worrying thing about the explosion of meaningful travel is that it could just become an option extra that is tacked on the end of normal tourist trips. Eco tourism has usually been associated with a small number of dedicated organisations and volunteers, the danger is that it becomes too commercialised and then the effect that large groups have on an area defeats the whole purpose of eco tourism. It is good though that more people seem to be interested in volunteering overseas and making a difference.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Volunteer organisations

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