Looking forward to the ‘New Normal’ in Raja Ampat

  • July 23, 2020

Around the world, the travel and tourism industry is preparing for the time after COVID-19. With the international travel interrupted, Raja Ampat suddenly became very quiet, like so many other destinations in the world.  At Papua Explorers Eco Resort and aboard Coralia Liveaboard we have been making the best of it with conservation work, community support and maintenance. However, our hearts are also with YOU, our guests, and we cannot wait to welcome you again in our beautiful paradise!  You might wonder how things will work when borders re-open. What will the ‘new normal’ look like in Raja Ampat and at Papua Explorers?

Hygiene and Safety are our Highest Priority

Papua Explorers is taking standards for hygiene and cleanliness very seriously. We are implementing the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our guests and staff members. On the way we follow the guidelines of local health authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), Divers Alert Network (DAN) as well as PADI. To ensure we are always up-to-date for you, we keep monitoring for changes in the official guidelines and will keep adjusting our procedures accordingly.

As a dive resort in a remote location like Raja Ampat, Papua Explorers has certain features that help prevent the spread of the virus. For example, we have an infrequent changeover of guests and staff and our water bungalows have ample space in between. We arrange our own diving and activities, transfers and supplies with our own boat fleet. Further, most of our facilities are open air and we do not have a centralized air-conditioning system.

But even though the above makes things a bit easier, we take great care to ensure the safety and hygiene in every department of our resort. Naturally we will perform regular cleaning and disinfection of the resort premises, as we have been doing even before COVID-19. We will provide ample hand sanitizer for guests and staff and regularly check body temperatures. Signs and infographics will help everyone to remember social distancing, maintaining hand hygiene and the use of a face mask.

Hand Sanitizer being readily available in our Raja Ampat dive resort Papua Explorers is one of the many important measures in the new normal protocol after COVID-19

Stay clean and healthy: hand sanitizer is readily available everywhere at Papua Explorers

What to look out for Before and During Traveling

At the point of writing, the official government requirements for international travelers are yet to be published in detail. Currently, in July 2020, we are still waiting for the borders to re-open for tourists and the exact reopening date is to be announced. However, we anticipate that travelers will be required to show recent negative COVID-19 test results. Naturally every individual who travels should follow the usual health protocols. These simple but effective steps like keeping a distance, washing hands and wearing a mask are especially important while traveling.

Before traveling, please remember to double-check the requirements for your home country, transit countries and the latest regulations from the Indonesian government. Also let us know in case there is anything we can help you with.

For extra protection Papua Explorers will send each guest a short health declaration form to be completed before travelling. This way we can minimize risk from the start, by ensuring that our guests are healthy before coming to Raja Ampat.

Safe, Healthy Transfers and Check-in

As usual we look forward to greeting you on arrival at the exit of Sorong airport. Our friendly Sorong staff will be wearing facemasks and will be providing you with hand sanitizer. Although it had been a nice gesture, we have asked them to avoid handshakes for the time being.

It is important that we transfer you to the resort in the safest way, so we avoid public places as much as possible. We transport our guests in private vehicles within Sorong, as we have always been doing. The easiest and safest way to get to our resort is using our scheduled boat transfer from Sorong to the resort and back. It is with our own speedboat with only resort guests and staff joining. Our days with scheduled transfers are Wednesday and Sunday. To learn more, please have a look at our info & rates document.

Later, after a quick body temperature check, you will be boarding our transfer boat. First you will receive a little gift: your own personal refillable water bottle that is also a nice take-home souvenir. On the transfer boat, which is open air, we will ensure adequate spacing between passengers, and of course hand sanitizer is available too. In case a passenger does not have a facemask, we are happy to provide one.

Following the scenic boat ride, our resort team will give you a warm welcome, at a respectful distance of course. For further safety our staff will disinfect incoming luggage from the outside before taking it to your bungalow. To help you settle in, we will make a quick welcome briefing and of course this will include anything you need to know regarding our Covid-19 procedures. Our resort team will of course always be available in case any questions come up.

Regularly checking the body temperature of guests and staff in our Raja Ampat dive resort Papua Explorers is one of the many important measures in the new normal protocol after COVID-19

Making sure everyone is well: regular body temperature checks for guests and staff will be carried out Papua Explorers Resort.

Our Dedicated Staff

All our staff members will adhere to the latest guidance and hygiene protocols. We are training them well to handle situations that may occur, and we have confidence in their abilities. Accordingly, we will appoint a trained officer to monitor all procedures. We will ensure that all workers understand about preventing COVID transmission.

Staff coming from Sorong must do a rapid test before coming on the private boat. Generally, we ensure staff are in good health before coming to the workplace and also check their temperature. Further we will ensure they adhere to the same hygiene standards as guests – at work and also afterwards. They will frequently wash their hands with soap and use hand sanitizer, use a mask and keep a distance from others.

Every Department will be Involved

Apart from the general regulations for staff as mentioned above, we have set up rules for each resort department specifically. From housekeeping, kitchen and restaurant, bar, lobby, spa, all the way to the laundry, each department will follow the procedures for a hygienic and safe resort operation.

Below we discuss the restaurant as well as diving/snorkeling in a bit more detail, but you can rest assured the other departments are covered as well.

Our Spacious Open Air Restaurant

Luckily our Papua Explorers restaurant is very spacious, so we can make social distancing easy by providing seating with ample space in between. Our delicious meals will be served in a safe and hygienic manner. I.e. we installed a glass screen around the buffet to avoid food contamination. You choose what you like and our staff equipped with gloves and facemasks will be happy to add the desired dishes onto the your plate.

Obviously, everyone who enters the dining area washes their hands with soap with running water. We will keep cleaning and sanitizing all equipment, surfaces and furniture after use. We will make sure to include all you need to know in our welcome briefing for you.

Staying Safe and Healthy while Diving and Snorkeling

scuba diver behind a group of yellow sweetlips underwater in Raja Ampat

We know you miss it as much as we do: scuba diving with colorful reef fish, such as the lovely sweetlips.

Diving and snorkeling are activities that require our special attention and care these days. It involves the use of various equipment items (some of which are essential for our breathing) and boat rides. Therefore we are optimizing our dive operation to minimize the infection risk. We do so with guidance of PADI, DAN and other relevant organizations.

Some examples of precautions are:

  • Smaller briefing groups and physical distance at the briefing location.
  • We will remind both staff and guests to wash or sanitize their hands after touching dive or snorkel equipment. We will disinfect rental equipment thoroughly after each use, as well as at the end of the rental period. If you can, we encourage you to bring your own diving or snorkeling equipment.
  • All divers should preferably use defogging products to defog their mask, instead of saliva. We will also ask divers and snorkelers to look after their own masks, snorkels and regulators, rinsing them separately and placing them in their own individual gear box that we provide.
  • Boat trips will be carried out in lower numbers. That will mean plenty of space on the dive boats.
  • We will make sure all of us can respect distancing rules when entering and exiting the water. In a  current we can use tag lines with spacing indicated to maintain the appropriate distances.

The above are some examples, but of course there are further aspects to pay attention to. We will make sure to include all the necessary details for you in our dive center briefing upon arrival. Our dive centre staff is always happy to help in case any questions come up.

Raja Ampat Dive Resort Association

Papua Explorers and other resorts in Raja Ampat currently collaborate with the local authorities to establish common guidelines and procedures. These will help all resort operations in Raja Ampat to provide safe and healthy travel conditions for their valued guests and staff.

Together with other reputable dive resorts in Raja Ampat we had established the RADRA (Raja Ampat Dive Resort Association) in 2018. The main objective of the organization is to work together towards conservation and sustainable tourism. But especially in these challenging pandemic days, it is also a great platform. Together we can offer guidance for operators and together set common standards.

Good to Know

The guidelines being established also cover the conduct at tourism destinations you might visit during your stay in Raja Ampat. This involves for example the Fam/Penemu Island view point and also bird watching activities. The locals who take care of these activities will equally make sure to follow the Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

Looking Forward to Your Next Visit

Secluded beach at Surface Interval in between Dives with Papua Explorers in Raja Ampat

Secluded beach at surface interval with Papua Explorers in Raja Ampat. On the branch you can see one of the handy personal water bottles we provide for each guest. Photo by tangfish.

We hope that this article gives you an idea of what we are doing to prepare at Papua Explorers and in Raja Ampat in general. It is very important for us to ensure the safety and health of our guests and staff, so we are taking this very seriously.

A certain risk always remains when travelling, but we are doing our best to minimize it for you. It will certainly be rewarding to travel to a remote region. You can enjoy the magnificent nature of Raja Ampat, support its lovely communities and have an amazing adventure all at the same time!

Hopefully you have confidence in our efforts and visit us soon. If you are ready to plan your next trip, please contact our friendly reservations department for assistance.

We already look forward to welcoming you!