The Workshop occurred over five days, from 5 November to 9 November, at the Coral Triangle Training Center in Sanur, Bali. With 39 participants, and a mix of presentations and breakout sessions, it covered topics ranging from stories about successful public-private partnerships within and outside Indonesia and models of effectively managed MPAs outside of Indonesia, to accounts of personal, practical experiences by Bali-based ecotourism service providers. Combined, the methodologies were intended to give the participants a chance to put into practice some of the information presented.
In addition, participants had an opportunity to experience ecotourism in the islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, located a 45-minute boat ride from Sanur, where participants not only participated in different ecotourism activities like a mangrove tour and snorkeling, but also had a chance to meet the MPA management body. The participants remarked on the transformation of these islands into a well-established tourism destination and the potential negative impacts that can come with it, such as increased waste, pressure on the fragile marine habitat and species, and changes in the local culture.
Throughout the five days, the participants’ knowledge increase was palpable. Several private sector service providers were already making plans for small, but impactful, changes in their operations. Just to cite two examples: D’Aloha Resort, located adjacent to the planned MPA and the largest hotel in Morotai, placed an order for one hundred bamboo straws in Bali to remove plastic straws from its restaurants and planned to replace individual single use plastic water bottles with 20-gallon bottles and glass bottles in the guest rooms. And W travel, a Ternate-based travel agent, was planning to include an ecotourism itinerary as part of its trip offerings.
Furthermore, the personal connections made between the mix of participants will be essential to ensure that successful partnerships are formed over the next year. The Workshop allowed for candid interactions and an open exchange of ideas between private sector service operators and their respective district-level government tourism offices outside their customary interactions within their district, which can be influenced by other factors. Although intangible, this is a positive outcome of the Workshop that will benefit partnership structuring in the short- to medium-term.
Three recommendations emerged from the Workshop:
- A carrying capacity assessment should be done in each site before implementing any tourism program or activity.
- Close collaboration should be established between the tourism agencies at the provincial and district levels, DKPs, and MPA managers.
- Programs to develop ecotourism should be site-specific, including trainings or workshops to scope and engage stakeholders and ecotourism champions.