Ecotourism, conservation and sustainability : a case study of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Indonesia.
The relationship between tourism and conservation was investigated in the Indonesian national park of Bromo Tengger Semeru, in East Java. Beforehand, the salient features and contradictions of sustainability, tourism and protected areas management were examined. It was found that some development strategies failed to achieve the desired outcomes through incompatibility with the socio-cultural circumstances where they were applied, particularly in the case of biodiversity conservation through protected areas establishment. More recent strategies were seen to take the realities of context into account. Aspects of the Indonesian socio-political context relevant to natural resource management and tourism were researched, and local aspects of resource utilisation at Bromo Tengger Semeru were investigated. The tripartite relationship between the local people (the Tenggerese), the tourists, and the national park was studied. The Tenggerese are farmers who relied on the national park for fuelwood and were heavily involved in providing tourism services in certain places. They maintained a strong position in tourism by retaining ownership of basic elements of the product and by demonstrating a high degree of reflexivity in reacting to available opportunities. The quality of local leadership was significant in whether social and economic initiatives were taken. Tourism-induced prosperity seemed to be reducing reliance on fuelwood by fostering a switch to convenience fuels, but only where tourism levels were substantial. A majority of tourists (70%) were domestic visitors, while the remainder were mainly East Asians and Northerners. There was little awareness amongst park administrators of the needs of different groups, and the regulatory framework designed to protect the park was not enforced. Revenues earned from the park had not resulted in improved park protection. Underlying the weak protection measures was a low level of conservation consciousness amongst the Indonesian population. Although tourism was currently successful in terms of attracting large numbers of people, and it was fostering some social and economic development amongst the Tenggerese, the conservation benefits for the national park were very limited, and it seemed unlikely that tourism here could be judged to be truly sustainable