Last Thursday (September the 19th, 2019), I Want to Smell The Perfume had a wonderful chance to be present at an Ecotourism seminar, arranged by MVB (Most Valuable Businesses) Indonesia. We got to meet and listen to the experts from sustainable tourism industry. The seminar was opened with a thought provoking key note speaker presentation by MVB’s Chairman, Mr. Alistair G. Speirs, after a speech from Switzerland Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Kurt Kunz.
Mr. Speirs presented general overview on how tourism industry, or over-tourism to be specific, has damaged the area instead of sustaining it and supporting the locals. Either over gentrification and commercialisation (which wipes out the original culture and personality of the places to cater tourists’ preference), or lack of respect from the aforementioned tourists in absence of implemented and law binding regulations.
The seminar was divided into two sessions. In the first session, two initial panelists were representatives of Indonesian government: Ms. Valerina Daniel from The Ministry of Tourism and Mr Harry Wibowo from Department of Tourism and Culture of DKI Jakarta.
Ms. Valerina presented a video of two ISTA (Indonesia Sustainable Tourism Award) winners: Desa Penglipuran in Bali and Desa Wisata Nglanggeran in Yogyakarta, and brief explanation about the award. Mr. Harry also showed us a video of Jakarta as a metropolitan tourism object, with its shopping malls, restaurants, spas, golf courses and music concerts. Jakarta is a well diversified city and commercial entertainment is part of its appeals, that’s true. It’s also great to see the positive face of our tourism, but none of these panelists really addressed the overgrown problematic side. It seemed like the audiences got the same thought, they were restless with questions but alas, unfortunately they had to leave before the first Q&A forum got started (oops).
The next panelists were Mr. Ruedi Nuetzi from Swisscontact (a Switzerland NGO), Mr. AB Sadewa from Panorama Group (a company focuses on tourism and hospitality which, through Panorama Foundation, is involved in ongoing CSR program in Sembalun Lombok after it was struck by a massive earthquake back in 2018), Mr. Sean Nino from Eco Mantra (an environmental consulting company specialising in tourism industry), and Ms. Kertawidyawati from Hatten Wines (a Balinese winery with 100% locally grown vineyards).
Eco Mantra was emphasising more into waste management this time, as proper recycling system is still a strange concept in Indonesia.
Second session was opened by Mr. Didier Perez from PT PIPA (a water sustainability consulting company), Mr. Budi Santosa from The Nature Conservancy (an NGO in preserving nature conservancy), Mr. Agung and Mr. Yoga Iswara from Suksma Bali, Mr. Piet van Zyl from Positive Impact Forever, Ms. Vanessa Letizia from Greeneration Foundation (with its Eco Ranger program) and closed by Mr. Khairul Anwar from Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel, Yogyakarta.
Suksma Bali is an independent movement, ignited by one of the stakeholders of Bali tourism and hospitality industry: Mr. Yoga Iswara, President Director of Global Hospitality expert (GHE). This movement lit up a poetic spirit among Balinese concerned citizens, to heal Bali from over-tourism impact and recover her original beauty through their several programs.
Mr. Yoga and his partner Mr. Agung began their presentation with an interesting quip. Mostly, he said, we heard “sustainability” or “eco friendly” word from big businesses as a mere lip-service to gain more profit, as people are starting to be more conscious about their consumption. Suksma Bali highlighted the importance to give back to the land and the locals, to engage in culture preservation, to yank ourselves out of our little bubble and start doing the right things instead of daydreaming about the future possibility. We need a proper reinforcement, because regulations are virtually purposeless without it.
Now, Bali is being one of the most consistent Indonesian tourism area in eliminating single use plastic from its tourism and hospitality businesses. According to Mr. Yoga, around 90% of hotels in Bali already switched plastic bottled drinking water to reusable glass ones.
Q&A forum was a bit shy and reserved at first, probably because the government representatives didn’t stay long enough to sit on the hot seats (kidding). Questions circulated around how the experts’ experience and how they ensure people would follow the created system/regulation. A lady asked a controversial question on why should she bother to separate her waste and clean her plastic waste if it would get mixed up again in the landfills.
All questions reflected altogether in a general answer: it’s about mentality. If we don’t mind stagnant or deteriorating situation, we won’t move forward. Bigger scaled system might make it difficult for us to keep going but it doesn’t mean we have to stop. Your waste keep getting mixed up again? Talk to the area management (building management, RT, RW, waste picker trucks, you name it) and propose the system. Next step, reinforce the system by giving no other options to people. Separate your waste or they’ll be left at your door. At this time, being lenient shouldn’t be our first priority.
You’ve already separated your trash and feel frustrated when they somehow get mixed up again? Bring them to the waste banks. Indonesia has thousands of waste bank, some of them already launched some mobile apps. Your effort shouldn’t be thrown out just like that.
MVB Sustainable Tourism Seminar was a great and thought provoking event. We surely learnt something out of the experience.
-Written by Nurul Putri