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Mt Rinjani park cancels plan to separate male, female tents

Panca Nugraha

The Jakarta Post

Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara  /  Fri, June 21, 2019  /  01:10 pm
Mt Rinjani park cancels plan to separate male, female tents

Rinjani was reopened on June 14 after a long closure owing to extreme weather and damage after an earthquake in 2018. (Tourism Indonesia/-)

Head of the Mount Rinjani National Park Agency (TNGR), Sudiyono, says TNGR has canceled a plan to separate male and female tents along its hiking trail amid public outcry following its announcement.

“Regarding the idea to separate male and female tents in the Rinjani hiking area, which might have sparked controversy, we underline that the program will not be implemented because it is not TNGR’s priority,” he said in a statement.

Read also: Mt Rinjani park to separate male, female hikers in support of halal tourism

Previously, Sudiyono said TNGR planned to introduce the plan to Rinjani stakeholders, stating that the idea to separate male and female tents had come from the people living around Rinjani who believed that last year’s earthquakes were caused by the disrespectful activities of hikers. The plan was also part of TNGR’s effort to support halal tourism endorsed by the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) administration, Sudiyono said in a previous interview.

“With all due respect, we wish for everyone to stop the debate over [the plan] because if continued it would only bring damage to Indonesia’s tourist industry,” Sudiyono, said.

He also said TNGR’s main priority was to improve hiking management, especially eTicketing, garbage management and the preservation of the hiking trail.

Separately, NTB tourism observer and initiator of NTB Halal Tourism, Taufan Rahmadi, told The Jakarta Post that such a program involving the separation of male and female tents should be reevaluated.

"I support it if the goal is positive. However [such plans] should be reevaluated by considering various aspects. The implementation should also be conducted over a long-term period," he said, adding that the basic concept of halal tourism in NTB is a form of appreciation of and aims to provide accessible tourism facilities for Muslim travelers to Lombok, including Mt Rinjani, hence the priorities should be providing halal restaurants and facilities for praying in hotels and tourist destinations. 

"A comprehensive understanding is very much required in discussing halal tourism so that the public will understand what it truly means," said Taufan. "Even non-Muslim countries like Thailand promote halal tourism as it can provide huge foreign exchange earnings."

Meanwhile, NTB Tourism Agency head Lalu Moh Faozal asserted that the tent separation policy had not yet been implemented. "[Such a program] is not relevant since [Mt. Rinjani] is for special interest tourism."

Lalu said the TNGR should simply encourage hikers to maintain cleanliness while visiting the mountain, "Such as carrying their trash and acting reasonably."

He expressed hope that the issue wouldn't hurt NTB tourism, especially since Lombok had just bounced back from the effects of last year's earthquake.

A member of a hiking community, Apink Al-Kaff, said the tent separation plan would only be laughed at by Rinjani climbers.

"Hiking a mountain is tough; we're exhausted and have no more strength. We no longer have the energy to do something so negative."

Apink said that the TNGR should focus on repairing hiking facilities instead of such unimportant issues. 

Rinjani was reopened on June 14 after a long closure owing to extreme weather and damage after an earthquake in 2018.

According to TNGR, 381 people have hiked Rinjani since the reopening. The number is expected to increase during the peak months of July-September. (gis/kes)

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Editor's note:

New paragraphs have been added to this article.