Monday, 23 June 2008

Indonesia's Hidden Treasures

I wrote "Creativity in Tourism" because I really think that tourism is the going to be the future of Indonesia. Of course that will only happens if we could manage a lot of aspects. First, we do need the national stability and safety. Then, good management of our tourism objects and destinations. And of course a good marketing actions!

It is important to learn how other countries manage their tourism destination, and lured people to come to their place to enjoy the place as a dream destination.

Indonesia has so many hidden treasures. We have our rich cultures, our beautiful environments, and the most important aspect that was usually impressed foreigners are the smile, sincere smiles to greet guests...We do need to keep it that way!

Economic greediness made us explore our forests or our seas without thinking of the future. Building man-made environment without a longterm vision will have negative impact on the natural environment, and perhaps also the social norms of the society.

With the global access to the television or the internet, youngsters tended to imitate the Hollywood way of living.

Hidden treasures in the forest.

Last May I joined the seminar "Human and Forest", there was a presenter who said that the local people who lived in the forest preferred to live in the forest but with facilities like in the city. I thought in some cities where mining was the only reason that keep the workers over there, they do have facilities that is even more luxurious than in the other Indonesian cities.

The interesting aspect of the seminar is the question; "What are we going to do with Indonesian forests?" Some participants were thinking about the productive forests for the industry, some others were thinking about the natural rain forests.

Whatever function would be chosen for the Indonesian forests, the government should really be looking through a lot of perspectives. There is the need to supply our woodworking industry, to supply our paper industry, to supply our CPO production, etc. There is also another aspect to be taken into consideration which is the need of carbon for the earth, the home for various flora and fauna, the home for the local people of the forest.

I've read in the Reader's Digest Indonesia an advertisement of an expedition into the heart of Borneo. It will be an expedition with WWF. We would hope that the expedition will really help people to look into one of the hidden treasure in Indonesian forest.

WWF was starting to think about eco-tourism long time ago, I think it was around the 90s. As people grew more concern about the global warming and the climate change, we would hope that the expedition will help laymen to understand the meaning of the forest as an aspect of greater life. We surely hope that the expedition was not merely an out-bond track in the real forest. I hope from this expedition people who join it could raise their awareness and pay more attention to the forest. My journey to TNKS with WWF made me more aware about different aspects and function of the forests to people.

Rafting and canoing in the big rivers are other interesting activities that could also be performed here. There are so many interesting places either in the forests, or in the villages that would need a "little" marketing effort to sell it.

Hidden treasures in the ocean.

The treasures could be hidden in the forest, but it could also be hidden in the ocean and deep seas. Indonesia has so many beautiful place for diving, and the content of the sea are so varied. It shows the richness of varieties of our treasures as well as the beauty of it.

A blogger who is also a free-lance diving instructor said in her blog that people who visit Indonesia must try diving. (Of course that would only work for those who can swim...).

Bali is perhaps one of the destination, as the island is already very popular as a tourism site. But there are more places to go. If you do have more money than you can also go to Raja Ampat, the "Four Kings" in Papua. It is said to possibly hold the richest variety of species in the world.

I found one website which could be useful for tourists who need more information about scuba diving in Indonesia. It is Dive the World.

Next year there will be the 3rd International Diving, Adventure Travel & Water Sports Exhibiton (see Deep Indonesia 2009 for more details). It is obvious that the future of Indonesian tourism is also the marine tourism.

Hidden treasures in the cities.

Cities can always be jewels of tourism if they can manage to sell the cultural attraction, the culinary tourism, as well as improving their function as cities who can serve the need for MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention, and Exhibition).

From what I've seen in Europe and the UK when I visited their tourism sites more than ten years ago, it is very important to owner of the tourism site to be able to manage the financial management to keep the place as an interesting place to visit. Museums, castles, other historical buildings are well kept and in some places they also offer special events to attracts visitors. Dining in an old castle and served by Paul Bocuse's students was certainly a creative way of selling a tourism site. A theatrical casting in the palace of Versailles was an attraction to me.

The most important aspect in gaining visitors is the creativity to attract them to come. And Indonesian can learn the need from the prospective countries of visitors from those foreign counterparts who knew the need of their market, and who can help to show us the unique treasures of Indonesia that would attract people to come here. Things that were probably taken for granted by Indonesian as we are not aware of our own jewels.


There is always the negative side of one positive heritage, which is the possibility of over exploiting it. Basically we know that people who manage tourism places will try their best to keep it comfortable and nice for more visits. Yet, the perspective of comfort is sometimes differ between individuals. It would be dangerous if the comfort zone used is in the perspective of people from the city. That could ruin the natural environment into piles of garbage, or just because the need to have some small token from the tourism sites.

Other important aspect is the social effect on local peoples. Teaching them to adapt to the tourism industry without loosing the fundamental values that linked them to the place. Values that were probably attract the visitors to come too.

I once wrote for a reflection about Butet Manurung, the founder of Sokola which provide education for the people from the forest. I thought she was very lucky to follow her passion. The people from the forest do need help to build their basic knowledge in taming the changing climate together with the intrusion from the global business. It is important to help them to adapt to the new future without loosing their right as the real owner of the forest.

The creativity that we do need is not only to lured people to visit this country, but also to help us to keep the balance between using it to over exploiting it. This is the real challenge!

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