Wednesday, 28 April 2010

World Geothermal Congress: soaked?

Prominent in the news is the World Geothermal Congress (WGC) currently being held in Bali, Indonesia. Though we would expect that soaking and tourism would function in this, it seems to be all about generating power (literally and figuratively?). No less than Indonesia's president has vowed to make the country the world's geothermal power leader by 2025. That's if other countries don't pre-empt him.

But what about making Indonesia the world's number 1 destination for soaking? Currently it are countries as diverse as Japan, Costa Rica, Hungary, New Zealand and Iceland (the Blue Lagoon, Iceland's no. 1 tourist destination?) who make soaking a priority in their intentions to draw foreign tourists. Not so in Southeast Asia.

And by the looks of the WGC programme not much seems to change. Tourism is just a small side session and even the day-programmes on offer for the participants fail to include at least 1 visit to a Balinese hot spring. Maybe the majority of the participants are only interested in wallowing in wealth in the prospect of the $$$ which will arrive once the geo is harnessed.

What is on offer are a number of presentations, three of the ten on Iceland. There is a paper on the Indian Himal by the Arya's:
'Need of the hour is to come up with simple but effective solutions to renovate these geothermal resources and judiciously use it in our day to day life'.
If you have following the Hot springs of the Himalaya blog it seems that management is lacking, especially in the face of a tourism onslaught in the better accessible area's of the Indian Himal.

Chow Weng Sum presents an overview of the hot springs in the Malaya Peninsula (Malaysia) which hardly delves into any soaking aspects. Interesting he and his co-authors mention after sampling mineral water:
'Only two of these hot springs [of a possible 60?] meet all the requirements for drinking and mineral water'.
Furthermore the call to harness the sites for power generation.

In the poster session a poster by Charles Davidson, an Australian with a passion for soaking. The poster focuses on himself and how taking a leaf from the Japanese soaking tradition has tried (and succeeded) to undertake the same on the Mornington Peninsula of the Australian state of Victoria, the undertaking aptly called Peninsula Hot Springs. In this Google Doc an extensive overview of how Charles became Australia's premier soaker (?).

Finally there is a presentation by Patricia Erfurt-Cooper who is becoming the soak guru in the scientific world. With co-authoring 2 books on geothermal tourism in the last 2 years she is certainly the person to lift tapping-the-thermal-waters to a more prominent position, the question is whether her message would intrigue participants. The abstract certainly intrigued and the order to Amazon is underway for 2009's
'Health and Wellness Tourism: Spas and hot springs'.
And then there is this years
'Volcano and Geothermal Tourism'
edited by Ms. Erfurt-Cooper, which draws on world wide experiences, though not exclusively focusing on soaking. Might have to save up some money before ordering this ...

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