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Celebrating Rural Ecotourism
Cilff Jumping Area, Nusa Ceningan, Bali. Tempo/Ratih Purnama
Wednesday, 13 September, 2017 | 15:00 WIB
Celebrating Rural Ecotourism

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta,

Offering A Glimpse Into Island Life

Villagers in Nusa Ceningan, Bali, are locally managing tourism on the island. They keep a low number of visitors in order to protect the environment and their traditions.

I Wayan Alit Sugitra, who lives on Nusa Ceningan Island, approximately a 60-minute boat ride away from the coast of Sanur, is always busy during peak holiday seasons. Alit, a tour guide, transports tourists to the island and takes them sightseeing around his birthplace. "During peak seasons I may have guests every day, but during low seasons, maybe only three or four times a week," he said.

The 30-year-old has no formal training in tourism and instead studied education at university because he wanted to become a teacher. But because of how tourism was developing on Nusa Ceningan, he saw the potential of tour-guiding on the island. Plus, he wanted to earn extra income like his friends. "More and more tourists were coming, so three years ago I decided to become a tour guide," said Alit.

As a guide, he can earn Rp2-4 million per month, depending on the time of the year. July, August, December and January are usually busy. According to the-self-taught guide, he also earns additional income from renting out snorkeling gear and motorcycles. 

Alit often collaborates with the Village Ecotourism Network (JED), an organization that supports community-based ecotourism on six sites in Bali, including Nusa Ceningan. JED arranges tours for people who wish to visit the island of Bali. 

"I take them around the island. They can go snorkeling or participate in several village activities such as seaweed farming," said Alit. 

Because the island’s ecotourism initiative is aimed at protecting Nusa Ceningan’s environment with the help of the community, Alit is diligent in reminding tourists to avoid littering on the beach and elsewhere. "I always tell people not to litter. We provide many waste bins around the island," said Alit.

Most of the businesses on the island are owned by locals who have opened homestays, small restaurants and shops. "It’s nothing luxurious, but we try our best to make our guests comfortable here."

JED was established in 2002. I Gede Made Astana Jaya, the manager, said the organization was established by the Wisnu Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on community resource management. 

The organization saw that Bali’s massively developing tourism industry rarely benefited local communities. "Bali was changing rapidly, but (the change) was causing an over consumption of water. Trash was becoming a problem, as were many other issues," said Gede. 

In early 2000, the Wisnu Foundation facilitated communities in four villages and explained how these communities would be able to sustainably manage their resources to improve the economy in their villages. The foundation mapped the villages and assessed the potential of their specific areas. 

"The idea came up when we saw the promising potential for tourism in these villages. We also understood that Bali could not be separated from tourism."

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