Famous as the producer of high-quality mutiara Laut Selatan (South Sea pearl) in Indonesia, Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) has been called on to develop educational tourism on pearls.
“Dubbed Lombok Pearl, educational tourism can help boost Lombok as a destination and rebrand pearls as a tourism icon,” the head of public relations and socialisation at Indonesia Tourism Players (IPI) in NTB, Gede Gunanta, recently told The Jakarta Post.
Under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, pearls were designated as the icons of Lombok tourism, marked by International Pearls Auction Pearl Queen Contest events that were held between 2009 and 2012.
However, due to a lack of promotion, innovation and creativity in marketing, the pearl business in the region is slowly grinding to a halt.
“In the old days, tourists who came to Lombok would always shop for pearls. However, it seems that this icon is no longer popular,” added Gede.
The proposed concept of a Lombok Pearl educational tourist destination includes an area that will combine Mandalika Beach with the South Sea pearl cultivation process — from seeding to displaying them in a gallery.
The province is said to have already brought in experts on pearl cultivation. It has also formed partnerships with Japanese and Australian companies.
“We have sent our proposal [to the related parties],” said Gede.
Indonesia Ecotourism | Overview
Tourism Minister praised the support from the Environment and Forestry Ministry to draw 1.5Million international visitors to Indonesia’s ecotourism spots as part of the “Indonesia Incorporated” initiative.
The number will shore up the Tourism Ministry’s target of 15 million international visitors in 2017. Currently, ecotourism contributes 35% of Indonesia’s entire income from the tourism sector.
Indonesia has many potential world-class#ecotourism sites, including the Bromo Tengger Natural Park, Komodo National Park, Kawah Ijen Banyuwangi Natural Park and Tanjung Puting National Park.
The Environment Ministry’s director of natural resources and conservation Ismugiono confirmed his office would start contributing more to the tourism sector.
“We will develop Indonesia ecotourism in our conservation areas. This year, we’re targeting 1.5 million foreign and 20 million domestic tourists.”
“The inscription of Rinjani volcano in the list issued by the UNESCO Global Geopark would be an effective way to promote the tourism in the province further.
The official recognition, he added, would be announced in April, while the certificate would be handed over in September in Italy during the Eighth International Conference on Unesco Global Geoparks.
Rinjani Geopark was scheduled to host Asia Pacific Geopark meeting in 2019, he added.
Known for its breathtaking peak and a crescent-shaped crater lake named Segara Anak, Rinjani is one of the main tourist destinations in the province. Standing at 3,726 meters above sea level, the Rinjani volcano is one of the favourite places for mountain climbers for its beautiful sceneries.
The volcano is part of 41,330 hectares of Rinjani Geopark conservancy area developed by the province. It is expected to be expanded up to 76,000 hectares.
The inclusion of one of the country’s highest volcanic mountains will bring to three the number of Indonesian natural sites listed as UNESCO global Geoparks, which are defined by the Unesco as “geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.”
Indonesia currently has six geoparks, but only two have been listed as Unesco Global Geoparks: Batur Geopark in northeast Bali, which includes Mt. Batur, its lake and two calderas; and the Mt. Sewu Geopark, tropical karst landscape in the southern mountains of East Java.
Worldwide, there are 127 Unesco Global Geoparks in 35 countries.
The government proposed Rinjani being named as a global geopark to Unesco in 2016, said Rinjani Geopark Council’s chairman Misbahib Haraha.
After securing the new status as a global geopark, the management of Rinjani will focus on three main pillars to develop Rinjani, namely conservation, education and people’s economic empowerment, Misbahib said.
“The geopark’s management will encourage more participation by locals so that both investors and the people can enjoy the benefits from tourism,” he said.
Mt. Rinjani and its surroundings, which are rich in flora and fauna and where Lombok people still conduct traditional activities, are protected as part of the Mount Rinjani National Park (TNGR).
TNGR head Raden Agus Budi Santosa said the inclusion of Rinjani in the Unesco list would have a positive impact on both the conservation and tourism development of the area.
To get prepared for the new status, Agus said, his office had designed an online registration system for visitors or climbers.
Last year, Rinjani saw increases in foreign and domestic visitors of 39,659 and 43,120, respectively. By comparison, the mountain welcomed only 30,847 foreign and 62,171 domestic tourists in 2016.