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Ecotourism should be for everybody, says Nicholas Saputra

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, September 11, 2020  /  03:18 pm
Ecotourism should be for everybody, says Nicholas Saputra

Nicholas Saputra during press conference of 'Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?' (What's Up with Cinta?) in February 2016 in Jakarta. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Nicholas “Nico” Saputra is among the Indonesian actors who are outspoken about environmental issues and are involved in conservation activities.

His fondness for nature grew after traveling took him to numerous places.

“I have seen nature’s pristine beauty and at the same time, its vulnerability or something that I have to preserve,” Nico said during an Instagram Live session with The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

In 2019, he established Terrario Tangkahan villa near Mount Leuser National Park in North Sumatra. Nestled amid a tranquil, lush jungle, the villa is around three hours away from Kualanamu International Airport and only 100 meters away by foot from an elephant conservation area, according to


Happy to welcome you to Tangkahan . More info, please follow @terrariotangkahan

A post shared by Nicholas Saputra (@nicholassaputra) on

The villa is said to avoid the use of air conditioners, and guests will still feel comfortable during their stay due to its construction that allows adequate air circulation.

Known as a place that supports ecotourism, Tangkahan offers a wide array of activities for travelers, including jungle trekking and elephant riding.

Nico's first encounter with Tangkahan was in 2005. He admired its residents’ commitment to maintaining ecotourism activities.

“I wanted to get involved in helping them, not only in ecotourism but also conservation,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the activities badly, with the area closing for two months, while residents must rely heavily on ecotourism. In April, Nico started an online fundraising on crowdfunding platform Kitabisa for the local community, orphans, mahouts and rangers around the area. It collected Rp 369.75 million (US$24,777.49) out of a target of Rp 750,000,000. The funds were then donated to the International Leuser Foundation, which has collaborated with the community for the area’s conservation activity.

Tangkahan has gradually welcomed visitors from nearby cities or regions under health protocols.

Nico acknowledged that it’s tempting to make unknown destinations popular and to gain financial benefits to maintain ecotourism.

“However, a number of communities, including in Tangkahan, realize that it won’t solve the problem,” Nico said.

He also conceded that it would be impossible to ban tourists from taking photos of lesser-known locations and sharing them on social media. He shared that each party in the destination must take responsibility, including visitors, stakeholders and the local communities. The public can be responsible travelers by maintaining their waste and supporting efforts that are committed to conservation and sustainability.

Nico believes that ecotourism should be available for everyone regardless of their financial status.

“Ecotourism can be enjoyed by anybody as it focuses on the quality of its nature. As long as it is preserved, anyone can enjoy it,” Nico said. “It’s not about facility or accessibility, but it’s more about appreciation and learning among nature. I think it shouldn’t be for particular circles only.”

Along with being one of the most popular actors in the country, Nico is also a producer at Tanakhir Films. His latest documentary, Semes7a (Universe), is available on streaming platform Netflix after it was shown in a limited number of theaters earlier this year.

Semes7a shines a light on seven people from various provinces across Indonesia — Aceh, West Kalimantan, Yogyakarta, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua and Jakarta — as they attempt to reduce the effects of global warming based on their respective religions, faiths and cultures.

“Documentaries aren’t a type of film we often watch in the movie theater. At the time, we thought we needed to work extra hard to promote the film so people could watch these conservation-related stories. We wanted to make it inclusive,” Nico said.

He appreciated moviegoers' feedbacks about the documentary and who believed the story was relevant to the current environmental crisis.

“They feel it’s the right time to reflect upon themselves and see the nature as a unity,” Nico said. (wng)

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