Indonesia is promoting eco-tourism in numerous regions as one of the means of protecting its rainforests while helping the communities explore other alternative sources of incomes for sustainable development.
The Heart of Borneo (HoB) is one of important place remaining in Southeast Asia where the tropical rainforests can still be conserved on a very large scale.
In the light of this, the WWF-Indonesia is developing the Melemba forest area of Batang Lupar in Kapuas Hulu district, West Kalimantan, into a community-based eco-tourism destination in a bid to promote tourism in the area.
WWF-Indonesia Manager for West Kalimantan development program Albertus Tjiu stated in Pontianak on Monday that numerous parties including the Kapuas Hulu culture and tourism department, Sentarum Lake National Park (TNDS), Forest Management Unit, and Melemba village administration would be involved in the community-based eco-tourism development program.
According to Tjiu, the parties have signed an agreement to play their role in supporting the development of eco-tourism in Melemba.
Albertus noted that the WWF-Indonesia will continue to encourage the certification for environmental services based on ecotourism development for sustainable forest management.
“In the sphere of conservation of the island, which is connected with the existence of the Heart of Borneo, this collaborative effort can support the implementation of the community-based eco-tourism program at the district level,” he remarked.
Positioned withing the borders of Brunei Indoensia Malaysia Philipine, East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), the Heart of Borneo has already established itself as a new frontier for tourism development, especially eco-tourism.
He noted that working with the communities, WWF-Indonesia and the field teams have gradually built local capacity to manage a community-based eco-tourism enterprise.
According to him, the activities included capacity building, marketing and promotion, developing homestay system, arranging cross-visits, and customer care among others.
He noted that an important aspect of our work has been to create strategic networks with communities and eco-tourism initiatives across the border with Malaysia in the Heart of Borneo area.
Further, Albertus added that the agreement can offer greater benefits and provide an overview of how the management of ecotourism can be carried out jointly and responsibly by the communities living around the forest.
In the meantime, Kapuas Hulu Culture and Tourism Department spokesman Antonius stated that the road map document on the development of ecotourism in the district was completed in 2014.
Antonius pointed out that the management of ecotourism will be carried out by the Melemba village communities who are encouraged through the Village-owned Enterprises (BUMDes).
In the Indonesian island resort of Bali, eco-tourism is also developed in the areas where the “subak traditional irrigation method is being applied by empowering the local farmers.
“Empowering the farmers on the basis of sustainable nature will improve their welfare, manage the wealth of the local economy, and improve the integrity of local ecosystem,” agricultural observer Gede Sedana has stated in Denpasar.
The dean of Dwijendra Universitys Faculty of Agriculture noted that eco-tourism development is based on natural attraction with regard to support rural and cultural tourism.
According to him, eco-tourism includes a number of important aspects concerning sightseeing tour, natural environment, local community involvement, local culture, and sustainability of the environment.
Gede Sedana then explained that subak, the traditional irrigation system in Bali, has various roles and functions to ensure food security, to control flood and erosion, and to maintain biological diversity.
Meanwhile, I Wayan Windia of Udayana University has noted that the destruction of subak will affect all aspects of life on this paradise island.
“The destruction of subak due to the diversion of land for purposes other than agriculture has been discussed since a long time, but it has never been addressed completely,” Windia pointed out here on Saturday.
He noted that if the subak in Bali was destroyed, the culture of Bali that has been passed on from generation to generation will also disappear.
“The destruction of subak will destroy all economic sectors in Bali because they are all interrelated,” he added, explaining that economic sectors, particularly tourism, on the island are based on local culture and tradition.
During Reiselivsmessen, the largest travel and tourism expo in Norway from January 9 to 11, 2015, Indonesia also promoted eco-tourism and showcased its indigenous cultures from Kalimantan and Nusa Tenggara through the display of traditional dance forms and local weaving.
Indonesian Ambassador to Norway Yuwono A. Putranto said the travel exhibition was held for the fourth time at Telenor Arena in Oslo where the visitors were able to find their next dream vacation.
“Visit us for more information about travel and tourism in Indonesia and learn about the diversity that Indonesia has to offer. We will bring back Green Indonesia as our theme and will showcase the various tourism destinations in our country,” the Indonesian envoy noted.
According to him, more than 100 countries participated in Reiselivsmessen, and therefore, Indonesia highlighted its eco-tourism potential by showcasing Subak, the traditional agricultural system in Bali; traditional weaving; Tamrau marine ecosystem in West Papua; and Sawai village at the Manusela National Park in Maluku.