Updated: Mar 23
What is sustainable tourism? And why is it important for Gili and its people?
You might have heard the term sustainable tourism somewhere. But what does it actually mean?
Tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries worth trillions of dollars and is a major income for many countries. However, it also brings problems such as social issues, loss of cultural heritage, and ecological degradation.
Therefore, sustainable tourism or responsible tourism came as a solution that aims to take care of the environment, society and economy. Sustainable tourism principles intend to minimise the negative impacts of tourism, whilst maximising the positive impacts. And this tourism concept has been practised by none other than Gili Trawangan since a few years back.
How is tourism affecting Gili Trawangan?
The first thing you need to understand is that Gili Islands heavily relies on tourism to sustain their livelihood and is on the edge of a system breakdown caused by the pandemic.
Started out as a haven for backpackers and divers, for some time, Gili Trawangan has already turned into one of the most checked bucket list items for partygoers. The high consumption of alcohol and volume of tourists have led Gili Trawangan to be over touristed in 2019 by producing a great amount of waste.
Since Gili Trawangan is considerably a small island, this issue has more significant impacts on the island and community. And of course, for the future generation.
1. Waste management
As a solution, sustainable waste management has come into great importance for this island’s sustainability. Through this system, the overwhelming amount of waste would be collected by the FMPL (Forum Masyarakat Peduli Lingkungan) and Eco Rangers to be brought to the Gili Trawangan Recycling station called Bank Sampah Gili Indah to be processed.
Gili Eco Trust and FMPL aim to sort the rubbish of the entire island and maximise the amount that can be recycled whilst limiting trash that gets sent to the dump. In the future, Gili Eco Trust and FMPL intend to organise a more centralised recycling station for a more efficient outcome and generating more employment opportunities for the locals to support the economy.
2. Biorock: coral reef conservation
Anchors damage, poor tourist behaviours and damaging currents from the storms are threatening the lives of the coral reefs.
About 10% of all coral reefs have been destroyed worldwide, while 75% is threatened by human interaction. With help from coral restoration and Biorock technology in the Gili Islands, more corals will survive these threats, sustaining life underwater and providing oxygen and protecting beaches from coastal erosion.
To put it simply, this novel technology will improve the coral reef’s survival rates by prolonging their life expectancy and speed up their recovery. More wonderful coral for the nautical!
3. The local economy
Gili Islands have many to offer. From the land to the sea. There is a wide range of activities without damaging the natural environment. To give you the best experience possible Gili needs tour operators, accommodations such as hotels and restaurants, and waste management activities to cooperate smoothly. So we can say that Gili 100% heavily depends on tourism to grow and prosper.
Businesses such as accommodations, food stalls (locally known as warung), souvenir shops, bars and restaurants, cafes, even the waste management centre have always been the backbone of Gili’s economy.
Moreover, some of these businesses, especially the food and beverage sectors, have shifted their daily operations to be more mindful and eco-friendly to contribute to reducing the carbon emissions generated by food waste. They basically encourage their customers to portion their food wisely so they can actually eat all the food without leaving any waste behind.
4. Pandemic fallout
As travel restrictions keep being extended by the government, the decline in tourism is not an exception for Gili islands.
As mentioned, these fantastic tropical paradises massively depend on tourism. And when there are no tourism activities taking place because of the pandemic, the ongoing system which keeps the islands afloat is threatened to break down. Businesses are struggling to operate and are on the edge of closing. That will lead to so much unemployment and the economy will decline.
If this situation continues any longer, that means years of Gili Eco Trust’s hard work in preserving the nature of Gili will be in vain. Because of that, tourism and everything included in it is urgently needed.
Bumi Journey envisions climate positive ecotourism by providing carbon-conscious ecotourism experiences focusing on conservation, education, and community empowerment so travelers can contribute positively to the earth’s climate. Learn more about our story here.
Writer: Virda Risyad
Editor: Faiz Karim
Instagram: Bumi Journey