29 Jun 2006

Warning to Land Dive organisers in Vanuatu not to put money before safety

8:48 pm on 29 June 2006

The Vanuatu cultural centre has warned organisers of the Nagol or Pentecost Land Dive not to over-exploit the annual event after three accidents this year in which one jumper was left paralysed.

The deputy director of the cultural centre, Marcellin Ambong, issued the warning after learning that the organisers had extended the annual period for the Land Diving.

The Nagol jump is a traditional ceremony, akin to bungy jumping, which originated from the southern part of the island of Pentecost.

For years it has been performed only during April and May, but some tour operators have convinced organisers to add the month of June to the jump period.

Mr Ambong says not only does this distort the traditional ceremony due to growing commercialisation but it also over-exploits the environment as there are only a limited number of suitable vines.

"If you get a vine in a specific time, it should be very good for the jumper. But if you use the vine for one of two nagols that can cause problems to the jumper because the vine becomes strong and not springy."

The deputy director of the cultural centre, Marcellin Ambong has the backing of the National Tourism Office and the National Council of Chiefs.