The worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 has brought the world to a standstill, and tourism has been the worst affected of all major economic sectors. Many operators and tourism industry players have started and been preparing to redesign their business when the pandemic ends. NOW!JAKARTA

A tourist village or rural tourism is a way to improve the tourism sector as well as to apply a sustainability community-based tourism development. It is also an effort to conserve both the environment and nature as well as the people’s culture and empower the potential of local culture and local wisdom values that tend to be treated with extinction due to the heavily globalized currents that have entered rural areas. By developing a tourist village, it is expected that equal distribution with the concept of sustainable tourism development can occur.

In the development of a tourist village, certain guidelines are needed so that the impact of the development of tourism activities in each rural area can be controlled. The guidelines are expected to encourage the development and management of tourist villages to be more focused, planned, and sustainable.

The pandemic not only affect the closure and cessation of tourism activities but has also altered people's behaviour in traveling. Covid-19 is teaching rural tourism development actors in particular regarding their awareness of the importance of financial security and contingency funds. On the other hand, it gives a chance for nature to improve its ecosystem and achieve new equilibrium.

On the webinar series Ngabuburit Bareng Desa Wisata (a talk show before the time of breaking the fast with tourist village community) with the theme Redesign the Development of Tourist Village After Covid-19 Pandemic presented Ary S. Suhandi, Founder and Director Indonesian Ecotourism Network (Indecon) also Vice Chair Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) revealed that the situation is exploited by tourist village business players as they try really hard to conserve natural resources, which is the main goal of the concept of developing tourist villages.

For Lia Putrinandam who manages a tourist village CMC Tiga Warna in South Malang, East Java, even though her business is affected economically, it doesn’t turn off her enthusiasm to preserve the environment. During stay-at-home time used to plant 3,000 trees on the critical shores and improve other facilities.

Elsewhere, for Timbul Urip who manages a tourist village in Ngadas, Poncokusumo, Malang, East Java, the impact of Covid-19 is not really significant to the people of Ngadas because they have been active in agriculture for a long time, thwarting unemployment.

Ary said that the basis of the concept of a tourist village is those who respect the environment, so before redesigning the development of a tourist village concept, it’s needed to lay the foundation first.

“The development of tourism is beyond a business or economy but a process of value added creation.  Although the pull of the economy is stronger, it must be balanced on the social and ecological or environmental side. Covid-19 awakens us to reflection where the universe is also resting in search of its own balance,” said Ary.

According to Ary, the tourism industry will gradually return to normal. He predicts that local tourists will recover faster than the reception of arrival of foreign tourists. Travel trends will also change where people will tend to choose a trip, such as staycation or virtual tour, choose short trips travel with small groups and not-so-crowded places and prefer do special interest tourism activities, like adventure, ecotourism, agrotourism and wellness, will have great opportunities to develop.

In terms of redesigning the development of rural tourism must emphasize several aspects and must look holistically, especially striving that tourism does not change the character and identity of the village itself, but instead utilizes tourism as an added value for the village. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to changes in the mind set of tourism actors and rural communities so that they do not see tourism in terms of the economy alone but rather increase the responsibility of preserving natural and cultural resources.

“In managing tourist villages, make your village your own village laboratory. It's also about the concept of sharing between money and nature, so learn to be responsible for nature. It's a big homework but a challenge. People's happiness is a measure. Tourism needs the situation, cleanliness and friendliness. The premium appeal of a tourist village is not its facilities but the life of the village community,” Ary added.

As developing tourism is about value chain, networking and very influential with external factors, so it is not encouraged to be a solo player. Instead, take advantage of networks that can help in terms of tourism development.

The village community must also get socialisation and enlightenment about the management plan to minimize the risk so that there is no refusal of the community to accept tourist arrivals, because they are considered to carry disease. It also must support by enhancing health facilities and services.

Ary also said that to strengthen the management by improving the human resources, transparency, data management, using technology for finance administration management, utilizing social media and IT also involving the young generation in the village.

Ary diplomatically also explained that Covid-19 that is happening in a few months doesn’t much change the village community because they are still going to the rice fields and running their simple life. The tourism village creates the value of interaction in traveling depending on the adaptation of the community. In addition to preserving nature, the tourist village strengthens the solidarity among the villagers and enhances the dignity of them.

“And Covid-19 forces people to do physical and social distancing; making a quota so that people have more space in traveling in order nature is not burdened too heavy. Nature is recovering, tourism is a bonus from the nature conservation that they do,” Ary stated.

Sari Widiati

Sari Widiati

Sari has been an arts and culture enthusiast for many years. She has written extensively on the arts, travel, and social issues as Features Writer at NOW! Jakarta.