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close this bookEcotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)
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View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: CHINA
View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: INDIA
View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: NEPAL
View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: POHNPEI


Indonesia is comprised of 13,667 islands and extends a distance of 6,000 km from the westernmost tip of Sumatra to the eastern border of Irian Jaya. Though the climate is equatorial, it can be cold in the mountains, with permanent glaciers existing in the highest peaks of Irian Jaya. Two-thirds of the country is classified as forest land, and the country contains tremendous biodiversity, with up to 17% of the earth’s species. The country contains some 1,600 species of birds, including the Bird of Paradise, Cockatoos, Hornbills, and Kingfishers, 500 species of mammals, 10% of the world’s flowering plant species, and 663 of the world’s endemic or rare species (Nababan and Aliadi 1993 and other sources).

According to official statistics from the Directorate General of Tourism, international visitor arrivals in Indonesia have increased by more than 400% over the decade 1985 to 1994, with total arrivals in the latter year being just over 4 million (for historic data, see Nababan and Aliadi 1993). Tourism receipts were US$5.2 billion in 1995, and continued growth in both arrivals and receipts is expected. The government hopes that tourism will be the country’s largest foreign exchange earner by 2005, with a projected 11 million international arrivals spending at least US$15 billion (for further information on economic aspects, see Soemodinoto, Lubis, and Oktaviany 1996).

Tourism remains primarily focused on beach and culture, with Bali by far the most popular destination. The most popular packages combine Bali, Central Java, North Sumatra, and South Sulawesi, though there are government plans to expand visitation on the islands of Lombok, Bintan, and Biak. Singapore is the largest tourism source country, while approximately one-third of international visitors come from the U.S., Canada, and Europe combined. However, visitor surveys indicate that most nature/eco tourists come from Europe, followed by North America and Australia (Nababan and Aliadi 1993).

Tourism policies for the current 5-year plan (Pelita VI, 1994-1999 [MTPT 1993]) call for:

· tourism to support quality of life improvements;
· internationalization;
· enhanced use of technology in the tourism product component:
· encouraging development in remote areas; and
· promoting the preservation of natural resources as well as culture.

National parks and nature reserves in Indonesia fall under the authority of the Directorate General Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA) (see Sekartjakrariri 1993 for additional background on Indonesian parks). As in some other regional countries, the protected area concept in Indonesia is said to differ from that in western countries, with less focus on wildness (Hitchcock, King, and Parwell 1993:319). Indeed, the Indonesian term for national park (Taman Nasional) can be translated as national garden. PHPA goals for nature tourism are (Nababan and Aliadi 1993):

· to encourage conservation efforts at nature-oriented tourist sites and the surrounding environment in order to ensure the sustainability of site attractions;

· to optimally use the typical and unique potential of each site as tourism attractions;

· to promote employment in addition to business opportunities; and

· to advance national cultural values in the international community and to counter current negative impressions about tropical forest management in Indonesia.

The 1990s have seen increased development of national parks for tourism, with almost all parks now providing at least basic tourist facilities, and with substantial investment in some parks, including Gunung Leuser, Way Kambas, Ujung Kulon, Baluran, Meru Betiri, Komodo, and Wasur. At present, tourists pay between Rp. 1,000 and Rp. 2,000 (US$0.45 to US$0.90) to enter national parks. Thirty percent of resulting revenues go to nature conservation in the province as a whole, while none is earmarked directly to the park being visited to support management or facility development. As noted in Section 4.4, there are prospects for increasing this fee and channelling a greater percentage to local conservation and development.

Despite recent development in Indonesian natural areas, attention appears focused on traditional concepts of tourism, rather than ecotourism. As Cochrane (1996) notes, “the potential for an alternative model remains largely unexplored, with insufficient understanding of the requirements of ecotourists and few concrete examples of ways in which this sector can contribute to the preservation and management of Indonesia’s natural heritage.” Nonetheless, some businesses and other groups within the country have embraced ecotourism principles. For example, Kalpataru Adventures allocates 30% to 70% of its tour revenues from foreign tourists to purchase of local community accommodation and transportation (A. Soemodinoto 1996 personal communication).

Attention to ecotourism has been increasing recently. The first national community-based ecotourism workshop, “Community-Based Ecotourism: Opportunity or Illusion?” was held in Bogor in April, 1995. It was organized by PACT Indonesia in collaboration with the Indonesia Environmental Forum (WALHI). The workshop drew 65 participants from different sectors, including NGOs, communities, policy makers, tour operators, and ecotourism specialists, and has laid the foundation for increased communication amongst ecotourism actors in the country. It also led to the second workshop, held in Bali in July, 1996, which resulted in the “Bali Declaration for Ecotourism,” an agreement to form the Indonesian Ecotourism Society in order to:

· increase awareness to conserve the natural tourism resources in Indonesia;
· develop environmental education material for tourists that visit ecotourism destinations; and
· stress the need for local community benefits.

In addition, the non-profit Indonesian Ecotourism Network (INDECON) was initiated by the Institute for Indonesian Tourism Studies, Conservation International-Indonesia Programme, and Bina Swadaya Tours. INDECON was organized to facilitate networking between ecotourism actors interested in promoting effective and appropriate ecotourism in Indonesia. INDECON defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to protected natural areas as well as unprotected natural areas, which conserves the environment (natural and cultural), and improves the welfare of local people.”