By 2030, the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates there will be 535 million international tourists travelling to Asia and the Pacific, a 90 percent increase on 2015. This rapid growth in tourism, coupled with the region’s large population, calls for effective management of tourism development in order to protect communities and tourism resources. 2017 has been declared by the United Nations as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” and it is therefore opportune to consider how tourism may contribute to sustainable development of destinations in Asia and the Pacific.
Indonesia is one of the countries expecting rapid growth in tourism, especially in its Eastern Provinces. This region includes destinations such as Lombok, Flores, Maluku (Moluccas), Papua, Sulawesi, Sumbawa, West Papua, and West Timor. These destinations have a variety of tourism resources including the local cultures and traditional villages, coral reefs and marine species (Whale Sharks), national parks, rainforest jungles, birds and animals (Komodo dragon, Bird of Paradise), historical locations and artifacts, volcanos and more. However, these resources need to be sustainably managed and protected.
The Australian Government, through its Australia Awards Indonesia Short Course Training program, is helping to prepare for this growth by training key industry stakeholders from Eastern Indonesia on management for sustainable tourism. Two short-courses on Sustainable Tourism for Regional Growth, one in 2015 and another in 2016, have together trained 50 participants.
Participants use the knowledge and skills gained in this program to influence their professional fields and communities. The course also creates professional linkages between the alumni, Australian organisations and Australians. Each participant is required to identify, plan for and implement an individual project during the course. Each project is targeted at tourism sector development in the participant’s Province.
Examples of projects undertaken in 2016 include:
- Rote Tourism Agency website development.
- I Love Rote beach clean-up day.
- Increased government funding for marine park protection near Labuan Bajo.
- Sponsorship for building toilets for homestays in West Papua.
Another Australia Awards Sustainable Tourism for Regional Growth Short-course will begin in Makassar, Sulawesi on 26th September, 2017. There are 30 participants in the 2017 program, including government and business leaders. Each participant will identify and implement a personal project to improve sustainable tourism in their province. The map below shows the names of participants and their project topic.
The Australia Awards Indonesia study program is led by Professor Noel Scott from the Griffith Institute for Tourism at Griffith University and Professor Bill Carter from University of Sunshine Coast.