Business owners in the northern Bali resort village of Lovina have reported rising demand for dolphin-watching tours. Marine tourism business owners in Lovina were badly affected by the loss of tourism bought about by the pandemic. But as Bali approaches the year anniversary since international borders reopened, dolphins watching tour guides in Lovina finally feel like a sense of normalcy has returned.
Made Rudita, the head of the Marine Tourism Guide Group at Bhakti Segara Lovina, Kalibukbuk Village told reports that next to no tourists visited Lovina to go dolphin watching in the months after the lockdown and travel restrictions were lifted.
He said that tourism remained closed entirely for months on end. He shared that now, demand is rising. He explained, “it has improved a lot compared to during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now there are an average of around 300 tourists every day, maybe more. Previously, during the pandemic there were hardly any, at most 20 and even then only local tourist.”
@saradavies__ Swimming with Dolphins in Lovina, North Bali 🐬🐬 #bali #dayinthelifebali #lovina #lovinabali #lovinadolphins #balitravel #traveltok ♬ Summer day – TimTaj
He shared his delight at the range of tourist demographics heading to Lovina to try and spot dolphins. He said that over 600 people head out on dolphin-watching tours during the weekend nowadays. Rudita said, “for western guests, the peak was in July and August. Domestic guests are usually busy during the Eid holidays”.
When asked about the impact of rising fuel costs to operate tour boats, Rudita said that the situation is largely manageable. He shared that “on average, we spend more than Rp. 100,000 for boat fuel. Because of the increase, before Rp. 75,000 we got 10 liters. That’s enough for one day. On average, we spend more than Rp. 100,000 for boat fuel. Because of the increase, before Rp. 75,000 we got 10 liters. That’s enough for one day”.
@ramanihaj Core memory🏻 #lovina#dolphintour#balitravel#bucketlist#traveldestination #solotravel ♬ original sound – Ramani – travel inspo
Rudita was candid about where Lovina dolphin-watching tour operators could improve business management and tourist experience. He said that the range of prices available from operator to operator and the tariffs offered to different demographics should all be leveled out. “The price should be adjusted, not too low. Because some people set a price of Rp. 20,000” he added.
@felirooo So worth waking up at 3am for this! #bali #dolphin ♬ as it was x cruel summer x deja vu – matty james
Health and safety is a hot topic of discussion for marine tour operators in Bali after a fast boat sank while carrying tourists back to mainland Bali in late December. Rudita said that more focus should be given to risk assessments and developing the language skills of tour guides to help keep visits safe and give them an enjoyable experience.
He said, “For example, foreign language skills and a rescue base. To anticipate if there is an accident, don’t let us as guides be assisted by tourists instead. Because there is no specific training.”
Language proficiency has been noted as the limiting factor for the expansion of tourism villages across Bali. In 2023 tourism officials have committed to improving and expanding tourism villages throughout Bali. This included upskilling staff in business management, marketing, and language.
The dolphin-watching experience in Lovina is an often overlooked adventure, or some consider it simply to be little known. As Bali prepares to promote adventure tourism more this year, marine business owners like Rudita can expect to see demand increase further. Thanks to social media and almost guaranteed dolphin sightings in Lovina, more and more people are making the journey to the north of the island to experience the majestic creatures in the wild.
In September 2022, three Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins were released back into the wild by conservation agencies in Bali. The three dolphins, known as Johnny, Rocky, and Rambo, were rescued from captivity at a hotel in North Bali. Conservation agencies supported the trio through an intensive rehabilitation process over the course of three years before they were released into the open ocean.
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