WS: Hi Allois, great to finally catch up with you! Could you tell us a little bit about Pohnpei Surf Club?
P: Hello! At Pohnpei Surf Club, we are passionate about helping guests have a smooth and safe visit to Pohnpei. We know when, where and why to go to different locations based on what guests want to see or do.
WS: So, how did you get into the surf tourism industry?
P: The need to have fun and do what you love. Priorities…you know! It all comes with challenges and rewards.
WS: Covid has been super challenging for the tourism industry, how have you adapted and gotten through this challenge?
P: We cater to all kinds of visitors to the island, especially surfers and divers, plus everyone else. I remember the last guests who left here in March when the lockdown started. We all thought, a few months and all will be back to normal. Our business has been around 99% down since March 2020. We started a new business also related to boating and sea safety. The local Micronesia government has also helped with some assistance and the USA government with unemployment called pandemic assistance, so all workers who lost their jobs got some great financial assistance.
WS: What have you been keeping yourself busy with at the surf club?
P: The hotel has been pretty empty, so the usual up keeping but it's looking good. As for the boats, I'm the main and almost only person using them. All are running good, some with brand new motors I got just before Covid started. By the time they landed here, the boarders were already closed! So all is looking good for guests to arrive in the near future.
WS: What are some of the highlights and challenges of keeping things running day in and day out at a busy surf resort?
P: Highlights, a perfect day, happy guest! Challenges, making sure boats are running good, on time and that everyone is safe out there. I'm glad to say I've never had a boat towed back in almost 20 years of being here.
WS: It’s been a long time since the Caroline Islands have been this empty, can you tell us about some memorable sessions you’ve had over the past 2 years?
P: I've lost track of that already. Too many good days but it’s not always like that. It can be amazing but big surf, and you're alone out there by yourself or with one more person. You can stay for hours out at the Pass and not see another boat go by. Once Covid started, we went into the surf off season, it was the longest summer of my life. Surf was the only thing that made me feel normal in this crazy world and with the lack of business activities on island. My goal was to make every wave and not get hurt. Mission accomplished!
WS: What is your favorite wave in the Pohnpei region?
P: For sure P-Pass (Palikir Pass). There are other hidden jewels around but they don’t break as often as Palikir. When the right swells and winds call for it, we will go to other waves.
WS: We’re all hoping that 2022 will see a broader resumption of international travel, what are you most looking forward to other then welcoming back guests?
P: My guess is that boarders should be completely open for season 2022/23. I think by July boarders will start opening. My advice, book early! There will be a giant influx of people trying to return to Pohnpei. Government workers, business travelers, tourists, diplomats, workers for all the international organizations based in Pohnpei. All these people have been locked out for over 2 years. Space is limited and the demand for rooms will be enormous. Lock in early!
WS: Thanks so much for joining us Allois, we hope to see some good news regarding the boarder reopening very soon!