Indonesia & Borneo

Sustainable Travel in Indonesia & Borneo

Situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans, Indonesia is the world's largest island nation, composed of nearly 14,000 islands. Boasting a population of some 261 million people across 34 provinces, it is also the world’s fourth most populous country. An historically important trading region since the 7th century, spice traders, adventurers and others brought Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity to Indonesia, and all of these major religions, plus indigenous religions, co-exist here. While China, India, and others have exerted their influence through the centuries, the Dutch directly ruled Indonesia as a colonial power for more than 350 years, until Indonesia gained independence after World War II. With hundreds of distinct ethnic and linguistic groups, the country has maintained a collective identity that allows for cultural diversity and religious pluralism within its majority Muslim population. Bali, which is part of Indonesia and a major travel destination in its own right, is known for vibrant Hindu cultural heritage, from dance to music to textiles and art, as well as beautiful beaches, terraced rice paddies and lush mountains. Indonesia's vast wilderness areas make the country a globally important biodiversity hotspot, including the famed Coral Triangle - the single most biodiverse place on Earth. Indonesia is also the only place on Earth where rhinos, orangutans, elephants, bears, and tigers can be found living in the same jungles. Its single most celebrated species today is the highly endangered orangutan, currently found only in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Borneo is the third largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. Divided among three countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei), Indonesia has the largest area of Borneo, whose rainforests are estimated to be 140 million years old. In addition to the orangutan, endemic forest species such as the Borneo elephant, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, and the dayak fruit bat are also found here. Indonesia beckons the adventurous traveler to dive in its crystal clear waters, to explore its spectacular natural beauty through activities such as whitewater rafting or caving, to discover the magic of its lush jungles, and to savor its long cultural history and vibrant culinary traditions.

What are they doing right?

Tourism to Indonesia continues to grow rapidly, with both domestic and international tourist numbers continuing to go up each year. The government of Indonesia increasingly recognizes that along with the economic benefits of tourism must come stronger efforts to manage development sustainably. While a twenty-year National Plan for Tourism Development was implemented in 2005, recognition that tourism has been highly concentrated in only a few areas of the country has led to efforts to broaden the focus of tourism to other locations, with an evolving plan aimed at creating an additional ten tourism hubs. A sustainable tourism master plan is currently in development, with intentions to launch it in 2019. With that plan officially launched, it will also increase Indonesia's Sustainable Tourism Ranking on this site, from 2 to 3. Meanwhile, it is also encouraging that Indonesia launched its first sustainable tourism awards in 2017, with the idea to help further efforts to manage its tourism growth, with protection of natural and cultural heritage, and benefits more widely distributed among local peoples.

The Tiger Ranking

Alligator StarAlligator Star

The Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development (IBCSD), the Indonesia Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KADIN Indonesia) are organizing the Indonesia Vision 2050 project to develop a business view of a sustainable civilization by 2050. It plans to tackle the challenges of laying out actions that must be taken now to make that vision a reality. The members are launching the project amid dramatic evidence that “business as usual” is no longer an option in the face of a climate that is changing faster than predicted. Issues include declining key ecosystem services, food and energy insecurity for many, and a financial crisis sparked mainly by short-term thinking and poor governance. Energy conservation is a part of a series from Indonesia Vision 2050 agenda that acts as a platform towards better livelihood of humanity with enough natural resources. The importance of understanding and sustainably managing Indonesia’s natural resources is the basis of this program. In general, the program consists of: Energy efficiency in buildings. energy audits and energy manager, training and certification.

Why the Tiger Ranking?