The tourism industry may be harmful to an important environment like West Papua.
However, the rise of sustainable tourism in this area ensures that this region will not be negatively affected by the tourism industry.
What’s Special about West Papua
Compared to other regions in Indonesia, West Papua has unique geography, culture, and history.
It is home to diverse indigenous communities who have maintained their cultural traditions for centuries.
More than 300 distinct ethnic groups live in this province with its language and culture, making it the most diverse region in the world
West Papua also features stunning natural beauty that you will not easily find anywhere else. It has pristine beaches, dense rainforests, and towering mountains.
It is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world with an extraordinary array of plant and animal species living in the region.
Fascinatingly, many of these species are not find anywhere else in the world.
As part of the Coral Triangle, West Papua has the highest marine biodiversity in the world. Making it the perfect diving destination.
Due to its vast rainforest and diverse wildlife, the Lorentz National Park is built and it becomes the largest protected area in South-East Asia.
The region has rugged terrain and transportation to the other region is scarce. This makes West Papua isolated geographically.
While it is beneficial to protect and preserve the culture and nature of the region, the region may be also vulnerable to exploitation and neglect.
The Importance of Sustainable Tourism
West Papua has great tourism potential. However, opening the region to the tourism industry can negatively impact its unique culture and environment.
Therefore, sustainable tourism is an important step to take to facilitate the tourism industry while at the same time minimizing its negative impact.
These are the importance of sustainable tourism for unique regions such as West Papua:
1. Protects the Environment
Sustainable tourism focuses on protecting the environment. Therefore, tourist hotels and accommodations will be build using eco-friendly materials.
Additionally, their daily operations also limit the waste produced. They may provide bicycle rental instead of a car, or serve food that only uses local sources.
2. Protects the Wildlife
Protecting wildlife is part of an important component of sustainable tourism.
Decisions regarding tourism must be made with the wildlife in mind to prevent their natural habitats from being destroyed.
This will allow wildlife to thrive and they can live freely in their natural habitats instead of held in captivity for tourist attraction.
3. Supports Local People
Sustainable tourism can also ensure the well-being of local people. It provides jobs for local people, funds local projects, and stimulates the local economy.
These efforts will help prevent the exploitation of local culture and indigenous people.
Sustainable Tourism in West Papua
As a region that has more than half of the biodiversity in the country, West Papua has great ecotourism potential.
This is the reason why sustainable tourism has continued to rise in the past few years.
Sustainable tourism is a joint effort that involves the government, communities, tour providers, and hotel owners.
While it may sound like a lot to manage, all parties involved have been continuously taking consistent action to realize sustainable tourism in West Papua.
Raja Ampat is one of the examples of ecotourism in Papua that implement sustainable tourism.
This famous location is already quite remote so not many people are willing to trek a long time to visit.
Additionally, there is a limitation on the number of tourists allowed to visit and they need to pay a quite expensive price to enter the Raja Ampat Marine Park.
Tour providers are also committ to teaching and guiding the divers to make sure they don’t harm marine lives.
This includes assessing divers’ capability in the water, ensuring their equipment is secure and properly worn, also ensuring that divers do not touch or take anything during the dive.
With this sustainable tourism strictly implemented in West Papua, we don’t need to worry about the sustainability of West Papua’s nature, wildlife, and culture.