In response to various concerns about the threat of natural sustainability, including the possible narrowing of the habitat of the iconic Komodo dragon, in the Komodo National Park (TNK) area where tourism development is taking place as a super priority destination, the Secretary of the Culture and Tourism Office of West Manggarai Regency, where KNP is located, emphasized that the environment is one of the pillars of tourism development. Therefore he guarantees that the ongoing development is based on a careful development scheme, which refers to the long-term preservation of the environment.
Regarding tourism development in the Komodo National Park (TNK) area in the West Manggarai Regency, Chris Misema, who has served for two years as Secretary of the Culture and Tourism Office of West Manggarai Regency, admitted that the district was actually lucky to be designated as one of the five super tourism destination in Indonesia.
“We are lucky because with this determination a lot of development has been carried out in Labuan Bajo. Take, for example, the development that is being carried out in Labuan Bajo, there are approximately 9 activity packages with billions of rupiah and these cannot be obtained haphazardly in other parts of Indonesia if they are not set as a priority. We are fortunate that the government pays great attention to Labuan Bajo and we want to use all of that potential to bring economic benefits while maintaining cultural preservation and ensuring environmental sustainability or what is called sustainable tourism. We focus on that,” he said.
Edy Sudrajat, a youth leader who was born and grew up on Rinca Island, and the founder of the Rinca tourism care community or known as the Rinca tourism awareness group (pokdarwis) said, “We initiated that we have to be actors in the tourism industry, not just for this is a spectator in the communities in Rinca.”
Edy said he and his group designed and built several tourism potentials in Rinca with the aim of introducing the potentials that exist in Komodo National Park, in addition to Padar Island and Komodo Island, that “Komodo National Park itself has residents and is unique in its community. ”
Regarding the government’s goal to bring economic benefits to the community, Edy responded positively. However, he said that the positive impact on the local economy had not been felt significantly.
“I myself regarding the first development, maybe I really agree with the development in Labuan Bajo because with this everything regarding accessibility to tourists, amenities for guests visiting Labuan Bajo are easy and easier for visitors. But for Rinca itself, we see that only a few people are involved in the tourism industry, so the impact is not too significant, only a few people get the impact from tourism development, “said Edy.
Edy said that most of the benefits of tourism in the KNP area are generally only enjoyed by tourism actors in Labuan Bajo, such as tour boat owners, tour guides, travel agents, and hotels in Labuhan Bajo.
“All the impacts of tourism are felt by the people who live in Labuhan Bajo, while for Rinca only a few people. Even then, a few people who have worked in the tourism industry for a long time, such as tour guides in Loh Buaya or in other tourist attractions. I myself, my background is tourism, so I am directly involved in the tourism industry, but my friends who are not involved do not feel the impact of the development nor the impact of the number of visits mentioned by the secretary of the service.”
Responding to these concerns, Chris Misema said that the local government, which is still relatively young, continues to do its best, but he also admits that all these efforts take time, “not like turning the palm of the hand.”
“Right now, we are trying so that the community can receive great benefits. So the current mission of tourism development in West Manggarai, which has been set out in the long-term development plan of West Manggarai Regency, is to develop tourism in a sustainable and inclusive manner. This inclusion is actually beneficial for all. Well, the scheme is how it can be useful, among others, we do with tourism development outside the Komodo National Park area because the main attraction to Labuan Bajo so far is Komodo National Park. So the marine tourism activity is 80 to 90 percent,” he said.
Chris added that the government has a responsibility how to attract tourists with land-based tourism objects (“land-based tourism“), and not only “sea-based tourism.” This effort is carried out by developing space for community involvement through the development of tourist villages. Interventions carried out for Rinca village, he said, included development interventions carried out by the Komodo National Park, which is under the Ministry of the Environment.
“We also specifically, not many, also carried out development on Rinca Island through the participation of friends on Rinca Island, not many, one or two groups, for training activities for human resource capacity building. So, so far it must be admitted that we can’t like turning the palm of the hand, but gradually it is done and our attention is not only on Rinca. We have 94 tourist villages that we have to develop together,” added Chris.
Responding to concerns among some regarding nature conservation and conservation in the KNP area, the possibility of the Komodo dragon’s habitat being narrowed with ongoing development, Chris said that KNP has the authority. But in general he stated that “of course everything has been based on a carefully worked out development scheme.”
“Indeed, the three pillars of sustainable tourism development are one of them the environment and the current effort or concern in the world is about the environment. So I think that if there are concerns from various parties related to efforts to develop a destination such as Labuan Bajo for example regarding the environment, it is very reasonable because everyone is also thinking about long-term environmental preservation. Regarding the development that we are observing in Komodo National Park at this time, I think that development is of course based on the development scheme that they are working on carefully. I think it is related to what Mr. Edy also said earlier, regarding conservation and tourism utilization. So the two considerations, on the one hand conservation, I think we are the main focus or pressure from the presence of national parks and on the other hand there is utilization for tourism activities.”
Meanwhile, Edy emphasized that the people on Rinca Island, who generally make a living as fishermen, do not want to leave the profession inherited from their ancestors.
“I want that tourism is a bonus for the people who are there. It’s a bonus, actually (because) I believe that 99% of the people in Rinca are basically, we go to sea, we get fish, we can eat. But, I offer that there is a bonus for you guys. Our goal is never to change the work or activities of the community, but we only offer that it turns out that in the village we can get bonuses from tourism.”
Chris emphasized that “regulations in the Republic of Indonesia are very strong to ensure careful use and utilization that will ensure the sustainability of a national park. For example, the existence of use zones, protection zones, conservation zones that exist within the national park itself is actually an effort for development.”
“What is being done in Labuan Bajo at the same time can be known by the world. I think that through VOA finally people can get to know Labuhan Bajo and of course this moves all stakeholders to be careful in their development efforts, taking into account the long-term interests. I think that is the substance or spirit of tourism development that is being promoted by the government.” [lt/ka]