Inhabited by over 250 diverse tribes, West Papua has diverse cultures, indigenous values, as well as nature. With the existing uniqueness and culture, tourism in West Papua has the potency to develop. As long as tourism is well-managed, local people’s income will increase. The economic growth of West Papua will increase, too.
Optimizing tourism in West Papua is not as easy as the government faces the obstacles. These obstacles are such a great challenge to make tourism better in every aspect. Here is the explanation of how the government and tourism stakeholders try to turn the challenge into opportunities in West Papua.
Area of 90 Percent of Forest Cover
West Papua Province has a total area of 9.7 million hectares, where more than 90 percent of forest cover. This province also becomes one of the world’s most biologically diverse marine region. No wonder that West Papua is rich in the natural forest.
One of the obstacles to developing the tourism industry in West Papua is the geographic location that is difficult to reach by public transportation. Despite the challenge, West Papua has such an opportunity and potency to become a renowned tourist destination in the world. To achieve the goal, the central and regional governments, private sectors, tourism stakeholders, and local people need to synergize and make a commitment.
The forests in West Papua are well-preserved so the development of the tourism sector adopts the eco-friendly concept. This concept is called ecotourism. With the area of 90% forest cover, ecotourism becomes the best choice to implement. The aim of developing this tourism in West Papua is to introduce the nature and culture of West Papua to local and international tourists.
Developing ecotourism must pay attention to the sustainability aspect. All parties should aware of green investment. The investment should provide environment-friendly practices and products. Here are some steps to do to face obstacles of implementing ecotourism in West Papua.
1. Synergizing and cooperating with all tourism stakeholders
Developing ecotourism in West Papua requires synergy and cooperation with all parties. Therefore, the involvement of the governments, tourism stakeholders, and local to assist in the community is needed. They will make a collaboration to encourage and maintain the culture, local wisdom, and indigenous values of West Papua. The form of synergy and cooperation can be in the form of establishing communication through online and offline platforms.
2. Increasing the quality of human resources
Having qualified hospitality workers and tourist guides is a must. To increase the quality of human resources, the government, the tourism organization, Indonesian Tourist Guides Association, tourism business operators and owners, and training institutions need to work together to achieve the goal. They need to create continuous training and mentoring in their annual work program.
The proper training, mentoring, guiding, and empowering will fulfill the demands of qualified human resources for the tourism industry in West Papua. Furthermore, the tourist guides who will get involved with the tourists directly need to be certified. By certifying the tourist guides in West Papua will enable them to have better service in delivering and guiding the tourists.
3. Improving facilities and infrastructure
One of the obstacles in developing tourism in West Papua is the limited facilities and infrastructure. Realizing that the importance of facilities and infrastructure to implement the ecotourism in West Papua, building infrastructure and improving facilities is another step to do. The government and tourism stakeholders plan to increase the number of the establishment of the homestays for the tourists, the trekking paths, toilet facilities, climbing equipment, communication tower, as well as transportation routes. The smoothness of infrastructure and transportation routes will affect the tourists’ satisfaction during their visit. As a result, the number of tourist arrivals will be increasing.
4. Implementing the regulations
Managing the ecotourism in West Papua should meet the regulations. The ecotourist management and stakeholders need to carefully manage the implementation of the ecotourism, including tourism licensing, supervision, and the action. The actions conducted should not harm the environment or break the rules of the community in West Papua.
In the end, exposing the ecotourism industry in West Papua will not be complete without promoting it to the domestic and international tourists. The promotion should aim to introduce the ecotourism products, commodities of West Papua, tourism spots, as well as the nature preservation and welfare of the local people. Those are the tourism’s main asset in West Papua.
Turn the obstacles into an opportunity to develop tourism in West Papua requires the synergy and cooperation of all parties. The great synergy between the government and tourism stakeholders will affect tourism advancement as well as the increase of the economic sector in West Papua. The solution for developing the tourism industry in West Papua is through the implementation of ecotourism. This concept is suitable for the condition and situation in West Papua. Besides that, the nature and culture of West Papua will be well-preserved.