Sustainable local tourism shows bright prospects for ASEAN
Published : Jan 7, 2019 - 21:17
Updated : Jan 7, 2019 - 21:18
Students give a bath to an elephant at a local elephant sanctuary as part of a community-based tourism program in Thailand last year. (AKC)

The ASEAN-Korea Center in Seoul organized a sustainable local tourism course in the tourism village of Nglanggeran, located in the special region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, over the weekend.

The ASEAN Community-Based Tourism Program from Thursday to Monday hosted 25 university students from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc and Korea. Its theme -- youth-based development of sustainable tourism -- aims to empower local communities by eliciting villagers’ participation in the development of travel products, with part of the profits returned to the communities.

The participants had a unique experience combining the homestay experience with education about local traditions and heritage, as well as a tour of key sites. They will produce a travel magazine this year based on their experiences, which will be uploaded on Naver Travel Plus and the ASEAN-Korea Center’s social media platforms.

“Desa Wisata Nglanggeran is located on Mount Api Purba, one of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks. It won the ASEAN Community-based Tourism Award in 2017 and ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Award in 2018 in recognition of the community’s efforts to conserve the natural environment and develop sustainable tourism across the region,” said the center’s Secretary-General Lee Hyuk.

During the five-day itinerary, participants learned about the “karawitan,” a traditional Indonesian musical instrument; the traditional dance forms Reog and Jathilan; and the famous batik dyeing method. They visited Buddhist monuments at Borobudur temple compounds, Hindu monuments at Prambanan temple compounds and an ecofriendly goat farm.

The program is part of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-25 announced by the ASEAN Secretariat in 2015, which targets increasing the number of community-based tourism projects to over 300 by 2025. The ASEAN-Korea Center -- an intergovernmental organization established in 2009 -- has since annually hosted the program to support sustainable and inclusive tourism throughout Southeast Asia. The first-ever course was held in Malaysia’s Banghuris in 2015, followed by Brunei’s Seri Tanjung in 2016 and Thailand’s Ban Mae Kampong in 2017.

By Joel Lee (