Tourism is taking a heavy toll on Indonesia

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International tourism has helped transform Indonesia’s economy, but the booming industry is leaving a heavy footprint across the archipelago, particularly on the islands of Bali AND Java.

Thanks to tourism, Bali has seen growing environmental problems such as pollution and scarcity of fresh water. Popular tourist destination Kuta Beach is regularly littered with litter.

Landfills on the island are reportedly overflowing, making waste management a pressing issue. Bali’s freshwater resources are drying up due to increased demand and climate change. Traffic congestion pollutes the air on this tropical getaway.

Unfortunately, the environmental footprint caused by the tourism industry will worsen without leadership. Indonesia hopes to attract more than 20 million visitors a year, double the number of international tourists in 2015. These visitors will double consumption and waste generation, which will put even more stress on the islands of Bali and Java. The island and the nation are already buried in plastic waste and poorly managed sewers. In fact, Indonesia is the second largest marine polluter in the world after China, dumping 3.22 million tons of waste into the ocean each year.

In addition to the eyesore, plastic kills oceanic mammals, turtles, and other species. It poisons food and water resources, as harmful chemicals leach from the plastic. After being consumed by marine species, plastic enters the human food chain.

Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and Indonesia’s beaches offer an opportunity to study the socio-economic effects on coastal communities.

Efforts by activists, community groups, and NGOs to clean up beaches play a key role in protecting Indonesia’s environment. But they are only a temporary fix and do not address the root causes of this global problem. Such groups are leading the fight against overdevelopment and pollution through protests, cleanup events and educational programs. Laws, regulations and industry guidelines are needed to save Indonesia’s waterways from waste. In 2017, The Economist kept the fourth summit of the oceans in Bali. During the summit, the Indonesian government pledged $1 billion to reduce ocean litter by 70% by 2025.

Today, many historic places and local tourist destinations are being reclaimed, restored and maintained through nature- and culture-focused tourism. Natural landscapes and biodiversity are becoming more and more appreciated. The tourism industry must be guardian of the environment to sustain the industry.

According to the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC), sustainability in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) takes a holistic view of people, planet and profits, with the main goal being to end poverty everywhere. Today, Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism (MoT) shares the same vision and is stepping up its efforts to challenge tourist destinations in the archipelago to recognize the benefits and opportunities of sustainable tourism.

“The MoT only provides guidelines for tourist destinations. In the future, we will strengthen this sector through regulations that include sustainable standards for industries, such as hotels and travel agencies,” said Valerina Daniel, who leads the acceleration of sustainable tourism development in Indonesia. Indonesia is to become a world-class sustainable tourism destination.”

The minister explained that tourist destinations are being nurtured through the concept of sustainable tourism after tourism has been targeted to become one of the main sectors contributing to the national budget.

Many ancient local cultures have practically lost their identity, with their societies increasingly oriented towards this industry. Both natural and cultural landscapes, rural or urban, have also paid a high price for some forms of tourism, particularly those involving large numbers of visitors. Today’s travelers require cultural, environmental and social considerations.

“The Indonesia Sustainable Tourism Awards (ISTA) is the first step towards obtaining a sustainable tourism certification,” the minister added. “Indonesia has established the Indonesia Sustainable Tourism Council (ISTC) to certify destinations.”

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announced that it has recognized the Sustainable Tourism Destination Standard (STD) for Indonesia, which will build trust and credibility with tourists and travel agents.

“The Sustainable Tourism Destination Standard will promote Indonesia as a hub for sustainable tourism certification in ASEAN and Asia Pacific,” said Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya. “The Ministry of Tourism has already approved 20 regions to be designated as pilot projects for the STD standard, and has also approved the implementation of the STD standard in 10 priority destinations.”

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism around the world. The GSTC works to broaden understanding and access to sustainable tourism practices; helps identify and generate markets for sustainable tourism; and educates and advocates a set of universal principles, as defined by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.

“The economic health of tourist destinations requires the long-term planning that is inherent in sustainable tourism concepts,” said GSTC CEO Randy Durband. “This step in developing actionable standards for sustainable destination development and management, and doing so in a way that includes global principles plus national interests, reflects that vision.”

Indonesia it is the fourth largest nation in the world with over 267 million people. THE Village has more than 17,500 islands, including Bali, Borneo, Java, Lombok, Sumatra AND Sulawesi.

Learn more about Indonesia by speaking Indonesian. Simple courtesies and greetings will make your trip more productive and rewarding. Order yours paper copy. Indonesians will glow with joy when you speak just a few words in Bahasa Indonesia.

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