Tourism Short Courses with accelerated learning techniques combined with real engagement involving 18 Australian tourism experts are helping Indonesian tourism operators to develop sustainable business practices for the expected increase in the region.
This education and research by Professor Noel Scott from Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) and colleagues is making a difference in Eastern Indonesia, with over 80 practitioners graduating from recent Short Course programs that were funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and aligned with Australia’s policy supporting Indonesian economic development and sustainability.
The latest Australia Awards in Indonesia (AAI) short term award: ‘Sustainable Tourism for Regional Growth’, was the third AAI program in sustainable tourism development and highlights the expertise and reputation Griffith researchers’ have in the Tourism sector.
Professor Noel Scott from Griffith University and Professor Bill Carter from University of Sunshine Coast have worked on three AAI short courses together since 2015, and they were assisted with project tendering and administration by Ms Sharm Aboosally from Griffith’s International Business Development Unit.
The accelerated learning techniques were developed from insights gained while delivering the first two Short Course programs. These techniques assisted delegates and included detailed business evaluation templates and daily diaries for recording visits, that were used at post event de-briefing sessions when operating procedures and sustainability measures were discussed.
“We have now had 80 people trained in tourism, fascinating individual stories. There was a guy in the first program, he was a tour guide but he was incredibly annoyed by the dumping of garbage in his region that was affecting the view, and he wanted to develop a recycling station,” said Professor Scott.
“We talked him out of it, as it was a big project involving all sorts of issues about treating waste etc. And eventually we got him to look at doing some education and creating a rubbish bin collection system in his village.”
Professor Scott explained that tourism can have positive and negative effects on local communities, and it’s up to local governments, tourism bodies and operators to manage the impacts to ensure services meet the growing demand of tourists.
“The first thing delegates say when they come to Australia is ‘why is it so clean, where is the rubbish?’ That’s because we have a garbage system and we recycle our bottles and cans,” said Professor Scott.
“The problem is everyone wants the money but no one wants to make the investment to make it sustainable. So part of the problem is poor governance and it’s also in part because people don’t know what is coming. We’re saying tourism is great it can be the best thing, it can be the worst thing, which one do you want it to be? So this is the big question and story of the project.”
“How do you control growth? With a zoning plan and plan for cleaning the community and a plan for managing waste. Tourism can pay for it with entry fees to national parks and social issues can be fixed with tourism revenue, but it needs government planning and involvement.”
Both Professors are veterans in tourism sustainability education and are passionate about fixing basic tourism problems associated with water and waste management.
“There is an island near Lombok with a sewerage problem in the water and residents get sick from this and they need assistance from local government and education to stay healthy,” said professor Scott.
“If people started to think of tourism as being more value added, then it becomes a virtual cycle. You get $2.00 from every person who goes to Boracay and you put it into a fund which pays for sewerage and in two year’s time, you have solved your problem with levies.
Professor Bill Carter’s studies in Asia have shown the impacts of water issues on the community and together they are working on improving the education of Indonesian communities, to be able to reduce the impacts of tourism in their regions and accommodate more tourists safely.
The Eastern Indonesian regions of Lombok, Forelit, Sulawesi and Maluku were selected for the Short Course due to their limited tourism infrastructure and potential for attracting tourism to Indonesia from their environmental assets and national parks.
In 2002 there was a North Sulawesi Tourism Promotion Board, but it was short-lived when the budget expired the board ended. It is hoped that delegates from the Sulawesi region will create ongoing linkages and cooperative bodies to promote the region again with sustainable practices learned in Australia.
“Because delegates come from different provinces, when you bring a group of people together who share the same experiences over a 6 month program, then they get to know each other and you get more interaction across provinces,” said Professor Scott.
While tourism numbers can shift in Indonesia due to terrorism and natural disasters, long-term growth is expected and it needs to be managed in a sustainable way according to a United Nations World Tourism Organisation and Griffith University report that found a substantial increase in Asia-Pacific tourism is underway.
“Indonesian tourism was developing, then it slowed down after the Bali bombing and it gets impacted by environmental factors, such as the Mount Agung volcanic eruption in Bali,” said Professor Scott.
“Tourism is a business which has an investment in the natural environment, and therefore it has an incentive to actually clean up and make sure the environment is protected.”
“But you need a reasonably informed tourism industry that is cohesive and collaborative to achieve that or a very strong local government. This is why we get people from Queensland Tourism Industry Council and the Gold Coast City Council to talk to delegates and say this is what you do to protect the environment.”
Griffith’s Short Course training has become well known in the Indonesian tourism sector and it was in high demand from tourism officials, hotel and resort managers, interested in participating. The third program that started in 2017 was heavily over-subscribed with 700 applications for thirty positions.
The delegates were evaluated and selected by DFAT, who were looking for experienced tourism advisers, managers, and heads of tourism, who already had success in the sector. Around 300 potential applicants were cut down for the available positions.
The thirty successful delegates participated in the Short Course program that included; a) pre-course workshop in Makassar, Sulawesi, b) two week program in North Queensland, Gold Coast and Sydney and, c) post course event in Manado, Sulawesi.
The report explains, the aim was for delegates to use the knowledge and skills gained in the program to influence their professional fields and local communities. The course also created professional linkages between the alumni, Australian organisations and Australians, and it developed positive perceptions of Australia.
The course was designed to increase participants’ skills and knowledge in the role of stakeholder groups in tourism development and management, and the importance of collaboration and adopting a visitor perspective. A key aspect was on the importance of social, environmental and financial sustainability, along with tourism destination and business planning process (strategies, operational plans, monitoring), and management practices.
A Pre-course workshop was conducted in Makassar, Sulawesi where delegates watched a presentation on ‘Eco-lodge Experiences’, by Steve Noakes an adjunct professor with Griffith University. And a presentation on ‘Indonesian Hotel Experiences’ by David Shirley an adjunct professor with University of Sunshine Coast. Delegates also visited a number of tourist attractions, listened to talks from Short Course Two Alumni and undertook other tourism planning activities.
During the in-Australia component, the participants visited eight tourism sites and spoke to 18 tourism experts from government and industry. Participants noted the comparative lack of infrastructure in Indonesia. Trainers discussed how to address this through planning in de-briefing sessions, individual communications, and formally in the ‘Daily Diary’ kept by participants.
To focus and extend participants’ learning in site visits, the trainers developed an evaluation template to gather standardised data on various aspects of tourism in different destinations. As the aim of this project was to develop best practice, the trainers sought to develop, test and refine a variety of knowledge ‘templates’ on such topics as tourism destination planning, and tourist resource and attraction evaluation.
The Post-award re-integration workshop took place in Manado, Sulawesi. This allowed participants to make links to tourism operators in a different province and discuss their projects and progress towards their objectives.
The workshop ended with a networking dinner at the Grand Luley Manado Hotel and attendees included Richard Mathews from the Australian Embassy and a representative of Manado City Mayor.
One requirement of the program was for delegates to come up with their own personal project in the local community on tourism and sustainability, from their new knowledge and experiences. Assistance was provided by program leaders to mentor delegates and guide project ideas and strategies.
“So for the individual projects that delegates work on, we help them on this. In our program we try to identify their projects and shape it, so it is something they can do successfully, and we give delegates the information they might need to do it,” said Professor Scott.
“There was a lady with a resort in Bunaken National Marine Park, and her project was to get kids to do recycling of plastic waste that came up on the beach, and at the same time teach the children how to speak English. And her problem at the end of it was what to do with the waste?”
“Another one on waste management in Raja Ampat, which is one of the most beautiful parts of Papua on the western tip of Papua Islands. One of the ladies on the project got funding from a local insurance company for a recycling composting system in a bed and breakfast business. It was going to cost her money, so she found a sponsor.”
“One of the ladies in the last program has a leather-back turtle rookery on her island and she was trying to develop eco-tourism there. So we put her in contact with two turtle experts from Griffith University and they had a chat about turtles,” said Professor Scott.
“To me a university’s purpose is to improve the lives of people, and we try to introduce program delegates to the other parts of the university to assist them.”
A record of the personal projects delegates created were captured in the completion report, and two high achievers included environmental sustainability training in their projects, as shown below.
Harli Patriatno: Development of Benteng Mamulu Tourist Village, as part of a provincial initiative – Objective: Develop new tourism products for a village near Toraja. Activity: (1) Developed training programs for tourist site management; (2) increased tourist amenities (including toilets, observatory deck, walkways, Wifi, parking area), (3) increased land accessibility; (4) increased the number of tourist attractions (traditional dance and music performance), and (5) developed digital promotion and marketing by website and Facebook. Output: Total visitor arrivals in Nov/Dec 2017 were 12.468 and 21.324; and increase of 43% and 65% compared to the same months in 2016.
Ferry Armeinus: Clean Bokori – Bokori Island, Soropia, Konawe – Objective: Reduced garbage in tourist locations through garbage collection, recycling and education to enhance the tourist experience. Activity: Established a group to collect and sell recyclable garbage from their village and surrounding villages. Cleaned Bokori Island, Sama Jaya Village. Designed and located no littering sign. Trained community in making products from waste. Output: Several villages now have garbage banks. People from nine villages near Bokori Island assisted in clean-up activities.
After the program concluded, ongoing communications, collaboration and networking between delegates was encouraged and social media Apps, such as WeChat and WhatsApp were established for delegates to post and message each other.
“We put the group on WeChat to facilitate communication amongst themselves. They post their businesses and ask questions on the newsfeed. Projects one and two are still active, I see a post from AGS & Collaboration Hospitality Coaching and a post from an Eco Lodge in Raja Ampat,” said Professor Scott.
The Australian government is interested in developing export income with Indonesia, and Australian tourism skills and expertise are an asset that can strengthen the region.
“There is another whole stream to the reason why the government of Australian wants these programs, that is because it wants export income. Australia has got lots of skills and experience in tourism that is an intangible export or could be intangible,” said Professor Scott.
“For example the Surf Life Saving Association is doing some work in Sri Lanka training people on how to save people’s lives. And one of the guys from Lombok in the program, we introduced him to the Surf Life Saving people on the Gold Coast.”
“And there is a group called the Savannah Guides who are a group in North Queensland who do tour guiding and training for guides, and we have been trying for some years to link them into Indonesia and Sri Lanka.”
The topic of sustainability in tourism is still relatively new in Indonesia, but it is gaining awareness and importance, as there has been a push from President Joko Widodo to replicate Bali’s success in another 10 Indonesian spots for economic development.
The Ministry of Tourism has listed the destinations earmarked for development under the 10 New Bali’s plan, and some of the destinations can be seen in Wonderful Indonesia.
The success of the Indonesian Short Courses has led to Professor Scott working on a new Australia Awards Short Course Sri Lanka project on Tourism Sustainability, and there is the possibility of a 4th Short Course Indonesia later this year.
“We have done this for 3 years in Indonesia and maybe a 4th one coming up. We are now doing it in Sri Lanka, which is a county that is rapidly developing its tourism industry,” said Professor Scott.
In the future, Professor Scott would like to develop more information and resources for small business tourism operators around plastic recycling to reduce environmental impacts and provide income.
“At the moment I am doing some investigations, there’s a place called Perfect Plastics, an online site which provides the instructions and plans for building plastic recycling at low scale,” said Professor Scott.
“I’m trying to help operators build products. There are two streams, one is for souvenirs which might give them income, and the other for more practical household things, but you have to be careful with food as some plastics have chemicals.”
“In Australia they make signage, decking and railings out of plastics. Some other products are rubbish bins and souvenirs. On the Great Barrier Reef they make wrist bands from plastics.”
The feedback from Short Course delegates was positive and all delegates appreciated the education and training that was provided to them. Many are planning to implement new environmental management systems in their businesses and communities.
“This course provides a different and very interesting method. Professors Bill Carter and Noel Scott, who are very patient to assist and guide us, this is something different from the lecturers in Indonesia. I gained knowledge and experience and my confidence increases,” said one delegate.
“The course provides us with interesting learning experiences. We didn’t only learn about the theories on tourism, but analysed the theories based on the facts,“ said another delegate.
“The highlights in this course are about sustainable tourism. We learned so much from the course, for example they taught me how to use my links and networks to promote the attractions in my city, ” one delegate said.
The success of Australia Awards Indonesia Short Course projects are partly due to the professional tendering, project management and administration services provided by Griffith’s International Business Development Unit, and project officer Sharm Aboosally and colleagues.
“Eastern Indonesia is seen as not as developed as the rest of the tourist hotspots in Indonesia, such as Bali and Yogyakarta, and Jakarta obviously. This is about bringing up the rest of Eastern Indonesia and looking at sustainable tourism,” said Ms Aboosally.
“Many of these programs have a huge element of logistics and pastoral care. We have a lot of duty of care to our participants, and we need to ensure that we are contractually compliant and that financially we are compliant, so that our acquittals are through our finance department.”
“Subsequently we tendered and won the Sustainable Tourism program for Sri Lanka this year, which is similar outcomes and requirements. Essentially a lot of our grant work is funded through DFAT, but we do work with other donors such as Asian Development Bank and UNISEF, UNDB, and all of the funding agencies.”
For more information about the Australia Awards Indonesia project or sustainable tourism practices and methods, please contact Professor Noel Scott.