The provincial administration in Bali, Indonesia will gradually develop 100 villages across its territory as rural tourist sites, locally known as desa wisata, to help eliminate poverty and spread economic benefits across the island.
I Ketut Astra, head of research and development at Bali Tourism Agency, said that the agency had been overseeing the program and some pilot program villages and was now conducting a feasibility study to select the most appropriate villages for a new, more focused approach.
“The program will integrate every rural activity — agricultural or creative industry — into tourism activities,” Astra said.
The study encompassed economic, human resource, natural, social and cultural conditions, he said.
“Every village must have something different from the others, we are trying to explore their best potential to be developed as rural tourist sites,” said Astra.
Officially, there are 166 village tourist sites on the island, but only a few of the villages have been developed.
“Some villages have modest tourist-related facilities, such as home stays, basic roads and generally improved facilities to showcase their rural activities,” said Astra.
In the past, a desa wisata was always viewed as somewhere to visit for lunch or dinner — nothing more, he said.
“Tourists only came to the tourist villages for a few hours, to have lunch or dinner, and then continued their trips to other destinations,” said Astra.
Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu, head of Bali Tourism Agency, said that some villages could incorporate their Simantri, integrated farming programs sponsored by the provincial administration, into tourism.
“Some villages already have excellent Simantri programs combining agriculture and other sectors. We can add tourism elements to the program,” Subhiksu said.
He expected the administration could develop at least 25 villages each year from the start of the new desa wisata program. “Our target is to develop 100 villages by the end of 2017,” Subhiksu said.
To fund the program, the provincial administration is involving regional administrations to finance training, workshops, evaluation and monitoring.
The provincial administration is also financing development of basic infrastructure and human resource development programs.
The central government has provided financial assistance under the National Program for People Empowerment (PNPM).
The funding, Subhiksu said, was being channeled through the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry.
The ministry has allocated Rp 8.7 billion (US$715,345) for 104 villages across Indonesia. In 2013, the ministry disbursed Rp 123.25 billion, while in 2014, it plans to fund around 2,000 villages.
Prior to the current program, several pilot project desa wisata were developed. In Bali, 10 villages received Rp 800 million in 2009, while in 2010, Rp 1.4 billion was received to develop 14 desa wisata.
A year later in 2011, Bali obtained Rp 2.58 billion for 31 villages and, in 2012, Rp 4.49 billion. In 2013, the province received fewer funds, at Rp 3.96 billion, for 45 villages.