The government must prioritize eco-friendly tourism to engage local people in developing the tourism industry and at the same time preserve the nature of the biggest archipelagic country.
Indriani Setiawati, a communication and network development manager of the Indonesian Eco Tourism Network, said conventional tourism usually ended up being a threat to natural conservation, while environmentally-friendly tourism was seeing growing demand worldwide.
“Economic, environmental and social relations will affect each other in a positive way in ecotourism […]. Surveys show that many travelers prefer eco-friendly tourism,” she said in a seminar entitled “Eco-tourism: Globalizing Local Communities without Impacting the Environment” in Jakarta, Wednesday.
Indriani cited a survey of more than 700 American travelers conducted by travel website TripAdvisor in 2012, which found that 71 percent of the travelers plan to make more eco-friendly choices.
Indriani said Indonesia required a massive campaign on the business potential of ecotourism, as it usually took about two years to change the mindset of local people and to make them see the potential in their region to generate income from ecotourism.
She noted that illegal loggers in forest areas of Tangkahan, North Sumatra, had turned to conservation after realizing that chopping down trees would not secure them long-lasting income.
Therefore, they had become tour guides and were taking care of plants and wildlife, supported by the local administration that had given them access to inviting tourists to the Leuser National Park, she added. (wnd)