MAR 16, 2016 6:21 AM PDT

Tourism with a twist: a novel idea for reef restoration

Humans have had a fascination for the deep sea for as long as curiosity has plagued our minds.To this day, the many unknown workings of the oceans still inspire the inquisitors and innovators in us. Through submarines and scuba diving, or snorkeling for the more claustrophobic of us, our species has been able to experience the thrills of being engulfed in a completely new environment which many of us pass most days without thinking about.

Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel plans to play on those thrills for a new sort of tourism- combining our curiosity with our wallets to create a conversation opportunity.
An illustration of the design of Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel

Tony Webb, director of the hotel, confirms that the hotel’s development began after it received a U.S. patent for innovative design last year. The hotel will hover thirty feet under water and give visitors the opportunity to observe the surrounding reefs, as well as participate in scuba activities. Compared to previous plans in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which hover between $10 - 11 million, Webb’s goal for the twelve-room luxury hotel is relatively economic - he claims the hotel can be constructed for only $3,000,000. The price for a stay in one of the rooms, which come fully equipped with a king size bed, room service, and internet, will range between $3,000 - $6,000 per night, and unlike the popular Jules’ Undersea Lodge, guests are not required to be scuba certified.

Another difference with Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel’s design involves its ability to move. With this capability, the aquapods may avoid certain safety concerns, such as rough seas from hurricanes. It also allows tourists a more tailored experience - one may choose to spend a night at the hotel depending on the location he or she desires. Target locations include reef hotspots all over Southeast Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf.

Yet by far the most innovative idea put forth by Webb and his team is that of conservation. With plans to donate 10% of profits to restoring coral reefs, Planet Ocean has enlisted the help of marine biologists to make sure that this tourism scheme presents itself as part of the solution to degrading reefs globally. Dr. Thomas Goreau, of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, plans to cultivate a natural coral reef habitat in every location where the hotel moves. This is possible utilizing biorock, a method which uses low-voltage currents to encourage reef growth on limestone surfaces. "One point of this [entrepreneurship] is to try to link the tourism to improving the environment," Goreau, states in an article from the Huffington Post. "We help people restore reefs and having hotels do something and be part of the solution would be great. So far, they've been part of the problem."

Sources: The Huffington Post, Fox News 
About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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