Environmental awareness is growing. For people like myself living in developed countries, eco-living is becoming more popular every day. But how is this going to impact the way we travel?
Addressing the question in the context of Indonesia one can see that there are changing attitudes in how to accommodate eco-friendly travellers as these individuals are forever looking for environmentally friendly as well as educational travel options. I conducted an interview with Anna Sutanto who was born and has lived in Indonesia her whole life until 2015. She studied Waste Management in Jakarta and now lives in Canberra studying Environmental Science. Anna believes strongly in sustainable approaches to all facets of her life. She believes that environmental awareness is common around Indonesia as many locals “suffer the consequences”. However, Anna believes that “There is a big gap in Indonesia between knowledge, awareness and practice. Just because people have the knowledge and are aware, doesn’t mean they are able to practice.”
People just like Anna have recognized the growth in the eco-travel industry. As a result eco-resorts have been built to accommodate. It would seem that in doing this the local people are able to achieve their goals of living sustainably, educating the local community and providing tourists with a more informed and educational trip in which they are able to interact with locals and appreciate their way of life. However, how deeply rooted in the local infrastructure are these establishments?
When asking Anna about the future of eco-tourism in Indonesia her response was mixed. She stated that, “one needs to be careful about the label of eco-hotel. Some of the hotels already labelled themselves as eco-hotel or designed sustainable. But there are gaps in the design and practice”.
I provided Anna with the example of Greenhost Hotel. A new development in Yogyakarta that they say is “the first hotel in Indonesia built using recycled materials and following conservation principles.”(Mintarga 2015) Sadly, this is a ruse. The hotel is on the right path to becoming eco-friendly yet it is not what Anna believes is the best way forward. She said that, “eco-friendly living is also growing but not yet understood by many”. As a result of this we came to the agreement that the ideal eco-hotel is one that encompasses both community, government, establishment and guest. Yabbiekayu Guesthouse just outside Yogyakarta is a fantastic example of this as you live with community members and help out in their daily tasks. Allowing both parties to learn off each other as well as benefiting the community by cultivating their gardens.
I believe one should be environmentally aware when planning their holiday. It is easy to be enticed by a hotel that seems to be environmentally conscious. But one should ask. What is this doing for the community? For without community involvement and education these hotels are a short term solution to a long term problem.
Mintarga in Graham, D. 2015, How green is my valet? Jakarta Post, Yogjakarta, viewed April 21 2015, <http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/01/13/how-green-my-valet.html>.