Bogor district, located near the capital Jakarta, has cool mountain air, a distinct microclimate and is a weekend retreat for many Jakartans. Bogor is also uniquely supported by distinctive social and cultural conditions, making it ripe for vast tourism development potential. These advantages have inspired many people to pioneer various tourism related businesses around Bogor. Unfortunately, Most of these projects have instead succeeded in creating mass tourism enterprises that tend to be detrimental to the environmental. A number of hotel villas have even been built in areas that should have been marked for preservation. Some of these have created enterprises such as night clubs and bars in sharp contrast to the surrounding serenity and prevailing cultures and religions.
It’s obvious that any tourism site should be attractive and unique. But what if it’s also environmentally friendly and contributes to the livelihood of the community as well as educates the visitors? That’s incredible!
In light of these developments, a number of ecotourism practitioners joined in the Bogor Eco and Sustainable Tourism organization (or BEST) held a meeting in Kampung Cinangneng, owned by Hester Basoeki. This is the third time such a meeting has taken place. The first meeting and other ecotourism Bogor gatherings were held at, while the second meeting was held at the Cico Resort.
According to Teguh Hartono, one of BEST’s administrators, the third meeting aims to contribute thoughts and ideas, and encourage the initiation of tourism’s development in Bogor and other places. With the theme promoting The Bogor Sustainable Tourism Towards the International Market, participants can learn directly from experienced tourism practitioners like Frans Tumiwa, the owner and manager of Lembur Pancawati; Hester Basoeki, the owner and manager of Kampung Cinangneng Guest House, and Wiwik Mahdayani, author of: Natural Guide Bali – Lombok and The Green Traveler.
The meeting, held on Thursday, February 9, 2012, was attended by more than 70 delegates representing more than 35 tourism related communities, ranging from guides, NGOs, and government and tourism departments of Bogor, as well as various ecotourism practitioners and businesses.
This meeting saw the introduction of several important issues by the speakers. Frans Tumiwa argued that the emphasis of sustainable tourism is a joint venture between government, academia, business, and society. Tourism should be able to survive and thrive. “No sustainability means death, so tourism development is an absolute,” he said.
According to Frans, a good ecotourism area must involve the community. This can be achieved when 35-40% of the generated revenues are shared with the community. “Even at the international level, the overall portion serving the community can reach 50% of revenue,” he said.
Another Speaker, Hester Basoeki, shared her experience. To achieve local involvement in tourism activities so that community can reap the economic benefits; she created a Pulang Kampung program [Return to Hometown]. “Tourist village unites rivers and villages. Targeting tourists but also maintaining the balance of nature while keeping the local culture intact,” she said.
Teguh Hartono explained the importance of realizing the significance of the Bogor area, strategically situated between the two nature conservation areas of Mount Gede Pangrango and Mount Halimun Salak, both with diverse flora and fauna, as well as beautiful social and cultural landscapes. “Because it presents the natural beauty and appeal of social culture, it’s very interesting to develop Bogor as a potential tourism destination, as well asother areas that should be preserved for their natural and cultural relevance,” he explained.
The BEST association has now created a legal entity with five founders, Alfred Frans Tumiwa, representing Ecoresort, H. Sunarya representing Bogor’s travel agencies, Teguh Hartono representing the NGOs and eco-tourism practitioners at Gunung Halimun Salak National Park, Aji Hermawan, representing educational institutions and Sudiono representing the Tourism and Culture office.
BEST plays an important role as a vehicle for the tourism business community, facilitating the participation of environmental activists, as well as bringing social, cultural and other communities to play an active role in promoting and realizing the development of eco and sustainable tourism.
BEST is truly a model organization in Bogor, particularly for its contribution of new ideas and its encouragement of initiating models that can be utilized successfully in the development of eco and sustainable tourism in Bogor and elsewhere across Indonesia. [rs]