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Sustainable Tourism in Kepulauan Seribu

As some residents of Jakarta will agree, an occasional weekend trip is one of the best ways to escape the ‘macet’ (traffic congestion), ‘pollusi’ (air pollution), and ‘pekerjaan’ (work). These destinations include the Carita & Anyer Beaches in Banten, Gunung Padang in Cianjur, and even go as far as Bandung. However, one of the most well-known getaways outside of Jakarta is ‘Pulau Seribu’.

Kepulauan Seribu (The Thousand Islands) are a group of islands north of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. It consists of a string of 340 islands stretching north into the Java Sea and Banten Province. 36 islands are currently used for recreation and tourism: 13 of these islands are fully developed: 11 islands are homes to resorts and two islands are historic parks. 23 are privately owned and are not open to the public. The rest of the islands are either uninhabited or support a fishing village. Being relatively closer to the coast of Jakarta, the waters around the islands suffer from the pollution coming from the Jakarta Bay. The pollution is the result of agricultural runoff, industrial pollution, wastewater, and living conditions of people living along the bay.

Getting to Kepulauan Seribu is almost always done via boat and can have less of an environmental impact than alternative forms of transportation. Short-distance getaways to destinations like ‘Pulau Seribu’ can be much easier to do over a weekend and are on average cheaper and less polluting than travelling to other cities like Yogyakarta or Surabaya.

While tourism can be a massive boon for the local economy in Kepulauan Seribu and tourists are certain to have a relaxing time, we mustn’t forget to respect the local environment and culture so that future generations are also able to enjoy its beauty. Indeed, as tourists we can make many small actions which can have a substantial positive impact for the health of the environment. For instance, tourists should aim to minimise the amount of plastic that they buy and use reusable water bottles and Tupperware if possible. A lot of single-use plastics cannot be recycled and end up in landfill where it can take 1,000 years for it decompose. If plastic pollution is disposed of properly and not delivered to a landfill, plastic pollution can end up in seas and oceans where it can suffocate, starve, or drown marine wildlife. Tourists must remember that reduction is far more impactful than recycling.

Panjaliran Barat and Panjaliran Timur, are two islands where sea turtles are conserved. This park forms a hatching site for the hawksbill sea turtle and green sea turtle, two endangered species rarely found in other waters. Activities are currently aimed at recovering the turtle population, which had almost reached extinction. Tourists to ‘Pulau Seribu’ should be encouraged to donate money to or even volunteer with NGOs which focus on protecting local species from extinction, maintaining and restoring habitats, and protecting biological diversity.

Most importantly, visitors to ‘Pulau Seribu’ must be mindful of the local culture and its norms; Indonesia is a country which prides itself upon its religious faith. Activities like getting intoxicated and public displays of affection can be looked down upon by the local population and be perceived as a sign of disrespect. Learning about the local beliefs and abiding by what is socially acceptable can go a long way in making that sure that the local people would be happy to welcome tourists back. /Minh Bui - AIYEP delegate2020/

*Travelxism is a SME in tourism sector that supports sustainable tourism through consultant services in tourism destination development, promotional media production, and sustainable tour packages. We also organise virtual tour to several destinations in Indonesia and other countries, deliver both in Indonesian language and English. Follow us on instagram @travelxism

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