2018 was a devastating year of natural disasters in Indonesia. One of those disasters was the Gili Islands being hit by an earthquake that resulted in a tsunami centered on northern Lombok. The earth quake left at least 321 people dead, 1,033 seriously injured and 270,000 people displaced from their homes.
This devastation also left its mark on the diving industry. Diving is the main attraction of the Gili Islands as divers account for the highest number of annual visitors.
To help with the rebuilding effort on the Gili Islands, SSI International pledged 100% of the income from all diver registrations/certifications for three months.
While most of the SSI Training Centers reported a slow December, the good news was the rebuilding effort was completely underway. Gili Trawangan was running at 30% occupancy in January with approximately 600 tourists coming in per day as compared to an average of 2,500 daily arrivals usually experienced during a normal high season.
Gili Trawangan is recovering much faster than Gili Air and Gili Meno largely attributed to the amount of damage on each island. Without the possibility of moving to higher ground for safety, Gili Air experienced the full effect of the tsunami.
We are happy to announce that all Islands are now recovering as tourism numbers are starting to pick up slowly after travel warnings were lifted by most countries. Most dive centers are back and open, but there is still work to be done. Locals estimate that it will be at least another 6-12 months before occupancy returns to normal. However, all signs are positive.
We are incredibly grateful to everyone who trained with SSI, donated to the cause and helped out. The net results allowed SSI International to be able to contribute 50,000 euros in retail value to the SSI Dive Centers and their staff. Obviously, the Gili Islands are precious to us all!