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Orangutans, Ecotourism and Sustainable in Tanjung Puting National Park

Orangutans, Ecotourism and Sustainable in Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park is the largest rehabilitation centre for orangutans and is promoted as one of the ecotourism destinations in Indonesia.
The term ‘ecotourism’ emerged in the late 1980s as a direct result of the world’s acknowledgment and reaction to sustainable practices and global ecological practices. Ecotourism refers to responsible travel to some natural conservation areas and which improves the welfare of local people. It is currently considered to be a growing niche market within a larger travel industry and is potentially being turned into an important sustainable development tool. Tourists visiting ecotourism destinations are known as ecotourists. They are particularly interested in wilderness settings and pristine areas , are highly committed to the environment, support enhanced sustainability, are eager for physical activity and challenging experiences, travel in small groups, take longer trips, demand fewer services, make their own travel arrangements, and more actively seek information than general tourists. Ecotourists’ decisions to visit an ecotourism destination (i.e., a Tanjung Puting National Park) is allegedly related to place attachment .

Ecotourism destination image Image is a key construct in destination positioning . Destination image itself is a mental representation of knowledge, feeling, and the overall perception of an individual toward a certain destination and has an important influence on tourist’s consumption behavior.

Tanjung Puting National Park itself is one of 50 (fifty) National Parks in Indonesia offered as an ecotourism destination, deemed as the first and the largest orangutan rehabilitation center in the world, and decreed by UNESCO as a Biosphere Conservation area in 1977. Ecotourism activities offered by Tanjung Puting National Park include the ‘safari river’, a trip to enjoy the scenery along the Sekonyer river, appreciate the vegetation and wildlife diversity, directly observe orangutans in their natural habitat (including Tanjung Harapan, Pondok Tanggui, and Camp Leakey as orangutans’ feeding locations), and visit local villages to directly participate in their activities, experience their culture, and enjoy local food. The ecotourism activity in Tanjung Puting National Park involves local people who accompany the tourists to paddle along the Sekonyer river with a ‘Klotok’, a wooden ship that serves as the main transportation, accommodation, and restaurant for tourists during their stay in Tanjung Puting National Park.

Managerial implications Tanjung Puting National Park visitors are tourists with a high level of place attachment, satisfaction, and intention loyalty. They perceive Tanjung Puting National Park as a suitable and profitable ecotourism destination. Taking this into consideration, Tanjung Puting National Park’s management should maintain its current condition and uniqueness as the habitat for numerous types of vegetation and wildlife with orangutans as its flagship attraction. Furthermore, it should also withhold the natural condition along the Sekonyer river, maintain the ‘Klotok’ which are looked after and owned by local people, and distribute economic profit to local people through tour packages involving them. However, the use of ‘Klotok’ is not connected with a professional marketing network and tends not to fulfill the minimum operational standard. Increasing numbers of visits would prompt an additional number of ‘Klotok’ and possibly overwhelm the existing support system and disturb the wildlife surrounding Tanjung Puting National Park. Therefore, Tanjung Puting National Park needs to be managed by integrating all ecotourism services provided by Tanjung Puting National Park, at least by implementing the two policies detailed as follows. Firstly, to avoid overcrowding in the orangutans’ feeding locations, there should be a policy to divert tourist routes and limit ‘Klotok’ entry per day by adding new ‘spots’. Secondly, the management should provide regular training and certification for all ‘Klotok’ owners and operators in order to improve the minimum standard of ecotourism services in Tanjung Puting National Park.

 

source: The Antecedents and Consequences of Ecotourist Place

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