Scuba Diving In Kota Kinabalu Reopen After Quarantine – We are back on track! Scuba diving in Kota Kinabalu is now allowed by local government, with one condition – partipants and professional scuba divers must follow standard operationg procedure (SOP) tightly.
It is a way to boost local tourism sector that has been highly affected by Covid-19 pendemic.
Due to the spread of Covid-19 thousands of tourists unable to got out from their country for holiday and to enter Kota Kinabalu making lots of tour operators closed for business since February-March 2020.
Seafood restaurants, accommodations, hotels, backpackers and souvenir shops stop their activities and closed their business for several months because foreiegn tourists not allowed to enter Kota Kinbalu.
For us in Go Aquatic, we already open up our PADI Scuba Diving Course class to new participants from local Malaysians since early June 2020.
We already receive several online bookings from new participants from Peninsular Malaysia, from local Sabah and from South Korea asking if scuba diving already start.
All participants will meet Go Aquatic team in Jesselton Point jetty.
August is the month of holiday for South Koreans and they love to spend their vacation in Kota Kinabalu.
From our experience we receive huge number of online bookings in August every year. Year 2020 will be different because South Koreans and other tourists from outside Malaysia still now allowed to enter Malaysia for safety reason.
Effect Of Temporary South Korean Tourist Ban In Kota Kinbalu Because Of Covid-19 Virus – Malaysian goverments Banned South Korean Tourists From Entering The Country Temporarily – Its official. Starting from 1st March 2020, South Korean tourists are not allowed to enter any part of Malaysia for holiday, for vacation, for social visit also for business.
South Korea nationals have been temporarily barred from visiting Malaysia following a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases.
The temporary ban also involves those transiting through Malaysia, for example from one state to another, or from one city in Malaysia to another city in Malaysia, such as from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu.
The impact on us is huge. All our incoming bookings made earlier by our South Korean customers have been cancelled, since so many flights schedules from South Korea to Kota Kinabalu has been cancelled too, due to Covid-19 virus that spreaded widely without control in major cities in South Korea.
South Korean tourists gave so many contribution to Kota Kinabalu economy.
From our own experience, most South Korean tourists come to Kota Kinabalu for holiday during the whole month of August, then from November to January on next year.
We started to receive so many incoming bookings from South Korea during that time period.
During month of January 2020 alone, we receive about 20-40 incoming bookings from South Korean tourists who interested in doing Discover Scuba Diving In Kota Kinabalu, Leisure Dive In Kota Kinabalu, also Advanced Open Water Course In Kota Kinabalu.
On August 2019, we receive so many booking for Discover Scuba Diving from South Korean tourists, as they love doing scuba diving without license for fun and for leisure with their family.
Since the ban started, we havent see any South Korean tourists in Jesselton Point jetty. The jetty used to be highly crowded by South Korean tourists.
Most South Koreans love sandby beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, taking pictures in the beach and good massage. Massage is their preferred activity on final day of their holiday before going to the airport for return flight back to South Korea.
Previously, we used to see massages centers in Warisan Square and Oceanus Shopping Mall highly crowded by South Korean tourists. But now, all are nearly empty since they are not allowed to enter Kota Kinabalu becuase of the ban.
Most South Korean tourists love to walk around Sinsuran Night Market (buying manggo drinks and coconut drinks), enjoying food servings and beautful sunset view in KK Waterfront and then doing several hours shopping in Center Point Sabah.
Some South Korean entreupreneurs already established scuba diving centers catered for Koreans, Korean restaurants, Korean massage shops and Korean groceries shop in Kota Kinabalu city.
Now, most shops run by Koreans for Korean tourist are seen nearly empty without no customers at all, since they are highly focused on South Korean tourists who come to Kota Kinabalu for holiday.
We really hope things are getting better soon. Chinese toursts and South Korean tourists contributes so much to Kota Kinabalu city’s economy, especially for tourism companies and scuba diving centers.
Where Do We Keep All Of Our Scuba Equipments – People always ask us, “I didnt see you diving equipment in your office in Wisma Sabah. Where do you keep all your diving equipments?
The answer – we keep all our scuba diving equipment in our separate storage room located in Jesselton Point jetty, Kota Kinabalu. This location is only about 2-3 minutes walk from our dive center office in Wisma Sabah.
Currently we own 2 storage room.
First room is our air tanks room. This is the dedicated room where we put all our scuba air tanks for refilling process after each dive and for standby for our next dive on next day.
We also keep all our bottled drinking water in this room, ready for each daily dive trips.
Our 2nd srorage room is for us to keep all our BCD, wetsuits, regulators, fins, dive masks, snorkels, dive computers, maintenance tools and paperworks. Our 2nd storage room located in same block with our 1st storage room.
Our professional PADI scuba instructors clean up each of dive equipments every day, after every dive. We have regular scheduled maintenance – all done by our PADI instructors.
Regular maintenance is a MUST to make sure each of our dive equipment works properly during every dive. It is just like taking care for a car. If you take care of that car properly, the car will take care of you and keep you safe.
We inspect every equipment before we pack every morning in the process of getting ready for the dive of the day. Our dive team gathered at 7:30 every day in our equipment room.
After that, we will pack dive equipment for our PADI course participants and leisure dive customers, together with scuba tanks we need to the dive of the day. We put them all in a trolley.
When done, we will bring the trolley near the pier where our boat will be docking. After that, we will put all scuba tanks and all equipments we will use for the day into our dive boat.
Effect Of Chinese Tourist Ban To Kota Kinabalu Local Scuba Diving Industry – Recently on early February of year 2020, Sabah State Government imposed a no-entry band to all Chinese tourists.
This means any people from mainland China that holds China mainland passport are banned from entering Kota Kinabalu. Foreigners and Malaysians who are non-residents of Sabah with recent travel history to mainland China for the past two weeks will not be allowed to enter the state starting from 8 February 2020.
Lack of Chinese tourists in Kota Kinabalu gave very huge impact to scuba diving centers and other business outside scuba diving that caters for Chinese tourists since 2016. We used to see group of Chinese tourits walking around the city everyday. Now, city of Kota Kinabalu turns quiet without Chinese tourists.
Chinese restaurants in Gaya Street are empty or lack of diners. Welcome Seafood, the most popular seafood restaurant in Kota Kinabalu also left with no customers at all, or only small number of customers that are local Malaysian Chinese.
Some souvenir shops are empty without customers, especially souvenir shops run by local Chinese owners. Because of the ban, most hotels in Kota Kinabalu also has low number of incoming customers.
We heard news that several other small dive centers in Semporna also has been closed due to no incoming customers. Some business outlets laid off their workers or gave long holidays to their permament staff due to lack of customers since the ban started.
As for Chinese nationals who are still in Sabah, they have been advised to depart or return before expiry of their visa. How are doing after these circumstances?
We still go out scuba diving in Kota Kinabalu as usual. Our PADI scuba instructors still go out teaching PADI scuba courses as usual. The main difference is that we dont have so many dive guests just like before.
We still receive incoming dive guests among local Malaysians, from Singapore, tourists from Europe and several tourists from Australia. Go Aquatic used to cater so many Chinese tourist for their scuba diving in Kota Kinabalu.
Some of them joined us in our daily leisure dive trip in Kota Kinabalu to improve their scuba diving skills before going for holiday to anoter diving destinations such as Mabul island or Sipadan island in Semporna.
But now, we think because of the travel ban, we will not receive any other incoming customers from mainland China, if coronavirus threat still active. Sabah Tourism Board statistics show Chinese tourists were the largest number of foreigners to visit the state on 2019, totalling 558,903 people.
On 2019, state of Sabah received 3.76 million visitors, comprising 2.44 million domestic tourists and 1.32 million foreign tourists. That is a huge number. The biggest is East Malaysia.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels reported that Sabah suffered from up to 29,874 room cancellations from January 22 onwards, with some RM10 million in loss of revenue. Chinese tourists contribute hugely to the tourism industry in Sabah.
We really hope situation will get better, soon. Lets pray!
Kota Kinabalu diving – basic background of Go Aquatic diving team – In this post we will introduce you to Go Aquatic team member. We all are local Sabahan and has been working in scuba diving Kota Kinabalu for more than 7 years, some has been working in 10 years.
Our team member introduction starts with…
Matt – He is a PADI MSDT also PADI Scuba Instructor. His job focuses more on management. He oversee our daily operation, schedule and bookings. During normal working hours, usually Matt will start working in our office then will go to Jesselton Point at evening time to help diving team.
Lily – focus on guiding leisure dive trip or fun dive trip around Kota Kinabalu marine park. Lily has been diving in this area for more than 5 years. She really knew the diving area very well and she dive there regularly with the team and with her customers. When not diving, Lily will help with administration and other things as required.
Zarul – professional PADI scuba instructor. Zarul focuses more on teaching. When not teaching he will guide leisure dive trip or doing equipment maintenance and cleaning in our equipment room. Zarul teach scuba diving courses in English and Malay.
Jeson – professional PADI scuba instructor. Previously, Jeson worked in Layang-Layang Resort as a PADI Divemaster before moving to Kota Kinabalu city to work as a PADI Scuba Instructor. He teaches scuba diving courses in English, Chinese also Malay.
Alwee – professional PADI scuba instructor. Alwee teaches PADI scuba diving courses in Chinese Mandarin, English and Malay. Known among his course students as funny, easy to get along and patient instructor.
Onn Onn – professional PADI scuba instructor. Onn Onn teaches PADI scuba diving courses in Chinese Mandari, Chinese Cantonese, English, Malay.
Shukree – also a professional PADI Scuba Instructor. Like Alwee, Shukree also teach scuba diving courses in Chinese Mandarin, English and Malay. Before joining the team, Shukree is our regular freelance scuba instructor, ready to give helping hand during our busy season.
Deen – First Boat Captain. He takes care of the “Aquaman” our catamaran boat. Deen certified in Emergency First Response including CPR and First Aid. He is also a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver. Our catamaran boat can bring maximum 22 passengers in a dive trip, including dive team and boat captain.
Garcia – Our second boat captain. He takes care of the “Princess Mera”, our longboat. Garcia also full trained in Emergency First Response including CPR and First Aid, as a requirement to become boat captain. He is also a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver just like Deen.
Shukry – our Webmaster, office guy and digital brain behind GoAquatic brand. He is in charge of our digital contents, social media updates, graphic designs and website contents. He specialized in search engine optimization and blog writing.
7 of our team members (Matt, Lily, Jeson, Alwee, Garcia, Deen, Shukry) started to know each other while working for Diverse Borneo during 2013-2016 tenure. Working with Diverse Borneo gave them valueable experience, teaching skill and good communication skill. Some said dont every forget where you came from. That is what we do!
When their job contract tenure with Diverse Borneo has ended, they joined Go Aquatic to form new diving team under new dive center. The rest, is history.