Reviving Indonesia’s local tourism industry with community ecotourism

The tourism sector is a significant driver of Indonesia’s economic growth. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption. Many vulnerable people who rely on tourism for their livelihoods are affected most by the ongoing, uncertain situation caused by the pandemic, including Resi Budiana from North Lombok Regency of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and Muhammad Buharto from West Manggarai Regency of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

Resi and Muhammad have heavily relied on their livelihoods and main sources of incomes from the tourism sector. Resi, 32 years old, have been managing a mountain trekking business since 2017. She is one of 53 women joining Rinjani Women Adventure (RWA) established in 1995. Meanwhile Muhammad has been working a tour guide for three years at Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the Komodo National Park—one of Indonesia’s main tourism destinations.

Both of them have also suffered lack of international and domestic tourists, loss of incomes and deterioration of businesses. Resi, who had been relied on her tourism business to support her family for years, have to deal with difficulties managing her decreased income.

“Before the pandemic, a tour guide was a promising job. I could earn up to Rp 500,000 (US$36) per day, excluding tips,” Muhammad said, adding that during the pandemic he tried to create virtual tours but with no avail.

The pandemic gives me time to improve our skills and to gather innovative ideas.

Resi Budiana, an owner of trekking business in North Lombok Regency

Therefore, when they learned about the Tourism Development Training held in their villages last August, they immediately grabbed the opportunities. The training was part of the Employment and Livelihood programme  in collaboration with Indonesian Ecotourism Foundation (Indecon). Organized by ILO and three United Nations (UN) agencies in Indonesia, the joint programme is funded by UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN MPTF) and targeted to young and vulnerable groups.

During the five-day training, they learned how to improve the quality of their tourism products and to better adapt to changing market situations due to the pandemic. Resi learned about making a wide variety of tourism products, including creating virtual tour packages. “I learned how to develop ecotourism products,” said Resi.

After the training, Resi and her colleagues at RWA collaborate with the customary community to improve a village tour package by introducing the daily life of the indigenous Sasak people who live in her hometown, Senaru village—known as one of the entrances to Mount Rinjani. She and her colleagues also attempt to improve the implementation of health protocols, sanitation, and waste management.

Meanwhile, Muhammad learned how to develop tourism products, manage tourist attractions and marketing chain. “This training has helped to improve my self-confidence and provided more comprehensive knowledge about cross-regional tourism assistance,” he said.

As one of the five selected local champions, Muhammad was also trained to be a facilitator who is assigned to conduct similar trainings to support local tourisms in various locations of NTB and NTT. “I do have a huge aspiration to be involved in efforts to further develop the tourism sector. I’m very happy to be given an opportunity to be a training facilitator at the local level,” he added.

Tourism is one of the sectors that has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. We hoped that this ecotourism training can help tourism industry players to recover and develop better, attractive and environmentally friendly tourism packages and programmes.

Navitri Putri Guillaume, the ILO’s Officer of the Employment and Livelihood Project

“Tourism is one of the sectors that has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. We hoped that this ecotourism training can help tourism industry players to recover and develop better, attractive and environmentally friendly tourism packages and programmes,” said Navitri Putri Guillaume, the ILO’s Officer of the Employment and Livelihood Project.

Both Resi and Muhammad remain optimistic that the tourism sector would be improving in near future. “The pandemic gives me time to improve our skills and to gather innovative ideas,” told Resi, while Muhammad added,”Knowledge is a valuable asset to help me realizing my plan assisting local tourism to grow, including to develop tourist villages in my home town in West Manggarai.”

 

Source: ILO Website