marinetourism01Arm yourself with the right information and knowledge before diving in!

There are over 17,500 islands in Indonesia, so one can imagine the infinite number of business opportunities that present themselves when toying with the idea of setting up a dive operation in this part of the world. But what do you really know about doing just that? Have you considered all options and thought about the process thoroughly? There’s no better way to find out than to ask business owners and representatives who’ve “been there, done that” for their tips and advice. You can thank them later.

Owner of Lutwala Dive, Gili Islands
“I think it’s important not to go crazy and open a massive operation before you have the market for it. Start small and build the business up slowly. I started with only USD5,000 – enough to buy a small compressor and three sets of equipment. With each successful course, I would spend the money on a little more equipment. Over the years I was able to build Lutwala Dive up to the size that it is now – with three boats, 70 sets of equipment, two compressors and a full tech diving section, as well as recreational. But the business always grew naturally and I grew it to the demand.” 
Founder & Director of AquaMarine Diving, Bali
Employ Indonesian rather than Western dive staff. To state the obvious: Indonesians speak Indonesian – they know the culture because it is their own. You’ll have better inter-team and internal communication, and it is much easier for everyone to find and maintain the status quo. Also, a combination of local staff (from the island/region where you are opening your new company) and from other islands works better; that way you get a mixture of religions (not everyone will want to take holidays at the same time) and everyone learns from everyone else.”
Marine Ecotourism Assessment, Development, and Marketing Consultant, Bali
Secure a land for your business – you can either rent or buy the land. Foreigners are not allowed to have full ownership of property in Indonesia. Make sure you go through proper legal procedures to ensure the security of your property.”
General Manager of 7SEAS Dive Gili, Gili Islands
“Keep your overheads small. To run a dive operation you’re going to need lots of equipment, which gets broken and damaged quite easily and quickly since it’s constantly in use. Therefore, planning and managing expenses to service your gear is very important. Be sure not to jeopardise safety by trying to minimise expenses related to gear servicing though. Dive trips for certified divers are the real profit of your dive business. Although having lots of courses to offer to your customers might bring more credibility to your dive operation, dive courses generally do not generate much profit due to high running costs.That being said, I think it helps to think about selling more fun dives than courses.
Owner of Bali Queen Dive, Bali 
There are so many dive centres in Indonesia and it’s a very competitive market. The pricing strategy doesn’t seem to work very well here, so what can you do to stand out from the crowd? One word: service. Good service is key in making a diver’s experience a memorable one. Aside from getting them to feel like they want to return to dive with you again, you obviously want a good name for yourself, and this is where good service plays a huge role in word-of-mouth marketing. Focus on providing value-added services, make it easy for customers to connect with you, and always put your best face forward, i.e., smile!” 
Co-founder & Managing Director of Cocotinos Manado/Odyssea Divers, Manado
Firstly, spend some time living life as a local in the location you’re looking at before finalising any decisions. You never know: it may be paradise to you as a tourist, but a complete nightmare when you become a business owner. Secondly, make an effort to take courses on technical and mechanical skills. They will come in handy, and for easy repairs and maintenance, you can rely less on vendors and staff. Finally, have an exit strategy in place and never fail to update it annually.