“Our goal is to make Flores a leading eco-tourism destination in Southeast Asia”

Sustainable tourism
Interview with DMO Flores and IWG Networks, WISATA project partner

The WISATA project, started in 2009, initially covered only the Indonesian island of Flores. Early success meant that three additional destinations were facilitated by WISATA in 2014.

The initial set-up of the project was to support the establishment of a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) in Flores. Under the district Destination Management Forum, three Island Working Groups (IWGs) manage the coordination function among tourism stakeholders in each island level. IWG Networks and DMO Flores were asked about their experiences and advances within the WISATA project.

Interview DMO Flores

Interview with Andreas Dhenameda, Program Operations Director, DMO Flores

DMO Flores was founded in 2011, making it the most mature DMO in operation. Within the WISATA project, the DMO is supported and trained in different components. 

What were the greatest difficulties in building the DMO Flores with all its components and how did you solve this in cooperation with Swiss contact?

Tourism is a new business to the majority of Flores people. A DMO is essentially a management system that directs all development stakeholders on how tourism should be built. The collaborative system involves all elements, synchronising roles in the development of a destination from planning to implementation and utilising each tourism activity. 

Historically, stakeholders were used to working individually, without an understanding of developing the entire region's tourism as a means of developing Flores. A lack of adequate human resources, political differences and budget allocations for tourism development have also hindered the prosperity of this industry. DMO Flores seeks to build public awareness about the benefits of tourism and the importance of accelerating development through tourism. While this awareness is increasing, the political system sometimes ignores sustainability, meaning every new leader often starts from scratch. 

WISATA has laid a solid foundation for DMO Flores to continue the struggle to become a government partner in tourism development in Flores and East Nusa Tenggara. 

DMO Flores is the most advanced in its functions of cooperation, destination marketing & promotion, product development and skill improvement. Other functions, as research & planning, community involvement and partnership, and team building are still in the initial stages. What are the next steps?

Thus far, DMO Flores has achieved the expected results in its tasks and functions in building partnerships and collaboration, encouraging destination marketing and promotion, skills improvement, product development, pursuing tourism development research and planning, encouraging community involvement, and others. 

These achievements are, however, only a starting point as we want Flores to be a leading eco-tourism destination in Southeast Asia. To this end, DMO Flores continues to collaborate and build partnerships with local governments to aid regional development, conduct surveys and research that are used for tourism development planning and decision-making that consider the sustainability of environmental eco-systems, local cultural heritage, and community-economic improvement. In line with these efforts, DMO Flores is concerned with the development of human resources as it plays a central role in the success of destination development. 

Quality service is an important pillar of a successful tourism destination. Through the Hospitality Coaching (HoCo) Program, DMO Flores contributes directly to the development of this function.

Can you give an example of a HoCo and how the local businesses participating benefitted from this coaching?

Quality services can only be provided by people who have adequate resources, which DMO Flores provides through various training programs.

HoCo is a combination of training and direct coaching to small-scale local hotels to change their hospitality behaviour, improving their quality of service. Through this training and coaching, local businesses in Labuan Bajo, Ende, Bajawa, and Maumere have learned practical things and understand the factors that greatly influence the service quality. Participants learn about cooperation and good communication in the workplace, human resources management, and good environmental practices. Better service quality also affects customer’s satisfaction and increases hotel’s occupancy. 

Tourism Skills Training (ToST) upgrades the quality of services in a specific tourism field and has been implemented in Labuan Bajo, Bajawa, Ende, Maumere, and Larantuka. Community Coaching is currently being implementing in Meko, East Adonara, in cooperation with the Tourism and Cultural Office of East Flores district.

Conducted in Maumere in 2017 and Ende in 2018, Destination Management Training focused on information and research, planning, leadership and coordination, visitor management, crisis management, destination marketing, human resources, financial, and community involvement. 

In implementing the training programs, DMO Flores relies on experts and trainers who are members of Flores Resources Network (FReN) and had participated in the Training of Trainers.

Interview IWG Networks

Interview with Mr. La Beloro dan Mursiati, Head of Advisory Board and Mr. Hasanuddin, Head of Training & Coaching Department - Community Coaching (CoCo), IWG NETWORKS and Mrs. Nursiati, Head of Marketing Department & TIC Manager.

In Wakatobi, the function of destination management at the district level is coordinated through FTKP with the strong presence of the local governments. At the island level, this function is actively run by the IWGs. They are proved to be effective in managing the island as a destination.

How were the Tourist Information Centers (TICs) established on Wakatobi Island and how did WISATA help you establish them?

We have included the development of TICs in our IWG work plan on each island as one of our focuses. Through discussions with WISATA, which focuses on assisting tourism development, we finally have TICs on Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, and Tomia Island that are managed by IWG networks on each island. 

For the construction process, we received full support from WISATA in the form of interior renovation, promotional materials installed at the TIC, and capacity building for TIC management. The TIC building in Kaledupa was the result of our discussion with the indigenous group of Sara Barata Kahedupa. The TIC building in Tomia is provided by IWG Tomia. The payment for the TIC contract on Wangi-Wangi Island is a collaboration between IWG Networks and WISATA. 

Community-based tourism aims to involve groups of communities in a destination benefiting from tourism. It requires a sensitive long-term involvement with individual training and coaching sessions.

Can you give an example of a WISATA CoCo and how the community benefitted from this coaching?

CoCo is very useful for the management of a CBT group as it gives guidance to the CBT group about the requirements of an organisation. One of the CoCo themes is organisational development, such as SOPs. It turns out that the decision-making and operation of the organisation can be more focused with SOPs. 

Previously, partnership and collaboration between the CBT and the village government were strained. Through CoCo, however, some of the work plans have finally been financed by the Village Government. 

Another example is homestay. CoCo gives guidance on how the community homestay owner and the CBT management carry out homestay management. Arrangement for guest stay is carried out in rotation. This method provides fair benefit for the homestay owner.

Through WISATA you were strengthened to provide different training programs to the local community and local tourism businesses - what are your follow up plans for replication of these programmes at the destination?

We have approached local governments and currently, some of the program activities have been included in the annual work plan of related agencies. In addition, we have approached the village government to provide a portion of its budget for strengthening the capacity of the community in the village. Pajam Village allocated budget for training/capacity building programmes for guides & artisans. Dete and Patua Villages have also allocated budget to strengthen the capacity of tourism village management.

Sustainable tourism
The Journey of WISATA
WISATA, as a landmark program, was carried out in close cooperation with the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. The main goal of the program was to contribute to economic development through sustainable tourism, which creates employment and income to improve the livelihood of the local population.
The programme was funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and carried out in close cooperation with the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and in line with the national tourism development programme.