Indonesia’s tourism initiative is helping to reduce poverty


Forgotten areas of Indonesia are getting the recognition they deserve through community-led schemes, attracting tourism and reducing poverty. Source: Joshua Newton/

WHEN a country relies heavily on tourism, it is essential the residents do what they can to make destinations as appealing as possible – and that has been happening in Gunungkidul, Indonesia.

The involvement the locals have had in developing their region to appeal to more tourists has had a hugely positive effect on reducing poverty in the area.

“With more tourist attractions being managed by the locals, it creates a multiple effect for the economy as the locals earn direct income from the tourism sector,” said Gunungkidul Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

According to data from BPS, the poverty rate in Gunungkidul in 2016 was recorded at 19.34 percent which is a decrease from a critical recording of 21.73 percent in 2015.

The cycle of poverty in which many residents from Gunungkidul are stuck is created from the infertile and hilly land on which they farm, meaning they can’t meet the financial needs of a family so fall into a perpetual sequence of debt.

The Indonesian government is exploring different aspects of tourism throughout the country by creating programs based on community empowerment called Kelompok Sadar Wisata, also known as Pokdarwis.

There are 30 Tourism Awareness Communities (Pokdarwis) benefiting from the tourism sector. By focusing on areas that have long been forgotten by the government, new attractions can be created, pulling in tourists and benefiting the local economy.

What to do in Gunungkidul

Gunungkidul’s attractions include a stunning variety of beaches, most of which are quiet and unfrequented, perfect for relaxing.

The stunning Sri Gethuk Waterfall is also a sight for sore eyes. The water cascades into a natural, nutrient-rich emerald pool, so take a swim or a natural shower in this beautiful place.

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Scaling the Ancient Nglanggeran Volcano that watches over Gunungkidul is also a must-do. The site has educational materials telling you about ancient life on the mountain, and you can hike up to the top to find incredible views and tranquillity.

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