As the on-the-ground partner for the Surf Conservation Partnership's Surf Protected Areas concept, we welcomed Phil and Jarret, two students from UCLA Anderson's Business school to carry out empirical research for a marketing and sustainable tourism development strategy for the island. To get a feel for the place and its current reality, we visited and spoke with local communities, toured the island and some of its offshore islands taking in the natural beauty both above and below the ocean, and discussed the current status quo and future plans for Morotai with local government departments of tourism and planning.
Philip and Jarret were stunned by the pristine condition of the forests and coral reefs, the abundance of nature, the colourful history and most of all by the warm, trusting, and welcoming spirit of the locals, something they saw as Morotai's greatest asset.
Poor infrastructure and lack of a cohesive strategy towards sustainable tourism development greatly concerned them. They saw extraordinary potential for Morotai and its people as a model for community-driven sustainable tourism, that could be copied by neighbouring islands and provinces. However, the path towards this is complex, and the need for planned steps urgent if unmitigated, and ultimately destructive- both socially and environmentally, development is to be avoided.
Upon return to California Jarret and Phil continued their research with their team and produced a report which we submitted to local government.
We are working with the local government to incorporate aspects of the findings into the creation of the Surf Protected Area in Morotai.
Click here to watch a video of the trip.