In the past few days, Indah (51) ―a resident of Bulakan Village, Belik Sub-district, Pemalang District, Central Java―came earlier to prepare her stall in the rest area of Batur Temple, Belik Sub-district.
For almost two years, Indah has been relying on her sales revenue to provide for her family. Since the declaration of area-based tourism village concept, her revenue has increased quite significantly.
She is not alone. In the same rest area, there are seven other traders experiencing the increase. According to Indah, she could get Rp500,000 per day on weekends and Rp200,000 per day on weekdays.
"Since the concept of an area-based tourism village called Dewi Nadulang (Desa Wisata Nanas Madu Pemalang) was introduced, many tourists started to visit Belik Sub-district," she explained. The tourists came to satisfy their curiosity and enjoy the activities offered at Dewi Nadulang, Belik Sub-district.
"Previously, there were not many tourists, but now people come to see Dewi Nadulang. We also benefit from the large number of tourist visits to Belik Sub-district," she said. To cater for the increasing number of visitors, there have been several renovation projects, such as repairing trader stalls and other facilities in Batur Temple area.
"Last August, there were some construction activities. The facilities and our stalls were repaired. Previously, our stalls were only covered with tarpaulin, but now they are more permanent and proper, thanks to Dewi Nadulang," she explained.
The establishment of Dewi Nadulang is not coincidental. The concept is the result of a collaboration between the Government of Pemalang District, Tourism Awareness Group (Kelompok Sadar Wisata/Pokdarwis) in Belik and Pulosari Sub-districts, and KOMPAK, an Australia-Indonesia partnership program. This collaboration utilises Market Linkage model to develop area-based tourism villages.
As of now, the Pemalang District Government has established 27 tourism villages in all sub-districts of Pemalang District.
The area-based tourist village is called Dewi Nadulang, it is a work made in collaboration between Pemalang District Government, Pokdarwis Belik and Pulosari Sub-districts, and KOMPAK.
The Pemalang District Government has also issued five District Head Regulations regarding the Rural Area Development Plan (Rencana Pembangunan Kawasan Pedesaan/RPKP), as the legal basis for the sustainability of tourism village development in the district. The RPKP is focused on the development of tourism areas that are integrated with the development of other areas.
In September 2019, KOMPAK, along with Caventer Indonesia—an education and promotion platform on sustainable community and tourism development—conducted a study on the tourism potential of 11 villages in Belik Sub-district for the purpose of supporting the implementation of RPKP Regulation of Pemalang District, especially for the honey pineapple agritourism in Belik Sub-district.
The study found a number of opportunities and challenges, and has proposed several recommendations, such as the implementation of a marketing strategy for Pemalang honey pineapple as a tourism icon in Pemalang District to expand its market access.
Through the Market Linkage model, KOMPAK and Caventer Indonesia provide training in skills and knowledge of tourist destination management to tourism actors in Pemalang District. Hopefully, this partnership will encourage the development of market-oriented tourism in Pemalang District, enabling them to compete at the national level.
The Market Linkage model was piloted in Belik Sub-district (Sikasur and Bulakan Villages) and Pulosari Sub-district (Gunungsari and Cikedung Villages).
Warsito, Head of Pokdarwis in Sikasur Tourism Village, admitted that the implementation of the Market Linkage model and area-based tourism village concept was highly effective, making Dewi Nadulang a tourism magnet in Central Java and even at national level.
According to Warsito, the world of tourism is developing. Sikasur Village is currently developing a number of nature-based tourist destinations such as Bengkawah Waterfall, agriculture educational activities, homestays (which as of now has grown to 25 homes), fisheries (particularly koi fish cultivation), as well as cultural activities such as traditional dances.
"With KOMPAK’s assistance and its Market Linkage model, we learned that tourism development does not rely solely on the development of infrastructure, but also marketing. With KOMPAK’s assistance, tourism managers are also involved in various business forums for travel agencies," he said.
“We learned to utilise technology for tourism activities such as organizing a virtual tour, which received a tremendous response from visitors,” imbuh Warsito, Head of Pokdarwis in Sikasur Tourism Village, Belik Sub-district.
Warsito added that KOMPAK’s assistance has encouraged the emergence of Destination Management Organization (DMO), a structured and synergized tourist destination governance that utilises networks, information, and technology. In addition, it also drove regulatory support through the issuance of village regulations to ensure the sustainability of Sikasur Tourism Village.
"The collaboration between the various parties has contributed to the increase in tourist visits to Dewi Nadulang area. In October 2021, we recorded 16,000 visitors to Sikasur Tourism Village, which is integrated with Dewi Nadulang," Warsito explained.
He said that the Market Linkage model is able to change the mindset of tourist village managers and that market expansion―through the development of area-based tourism villages―is able to increase the number of tourist visits. "In addition, we learned to utilize technology for tourism activities such as organizing a virtual tour, which received a tremendous response from visitors," he added.
The First Virtual Tour of Central Java
The virtual tour of Dewi Nadulang area was first held in February 2021 on the YouTube channel. This innovation was intended as a means to enable tourists to ‘visit’ this area in the midst of mobility restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Thankfully, the virtual tour, along with KOMPAK’s assistance, helped us to remain active in the midst of the pandemic," said Agus Subekti, Head of Pokdarwis in Bulakan Village.
Agus explained that initially, Dewi Nadulang tourism actors could not imagine that a virtual tour was able to attract visitors.
"At first, we didn’t know what a virtual tour was like. We could not imagine that people would be able to visit tourist attractions just by sitting in front of their laptops. However, after the training and education sessions from KOMPAK and Caventer Indonesia, who are experts in promoting tourism, we began to understand that a virtual tour could be a good opportunity for us and that there are people who are willing to pay to enjoy the virtual tour," he explained. This innovation has provided a steady income for the tourism village community and management.
"From the virtual tour, we receive a minimum of Rp50,000 per viewer. So, this area-based tourism village and particularly this virtual tour can become a source of income for several villages," Agus explained. He said that the area-based tourism village concept has benefited more communities. "This concept promotes the tourism potential for one whole area, not only one village," he added.
Area-Based Tourism Village, Promoter of the Local Economy
Meanwhile, Sigit, the Head of Bulakan Village, Belik Sub-district, explained that there is a lot of tourism potential in the southern part of Pemalang District, which is currently not optimally managed, that can be developed.
"KOMPAK’s assistance has made us realize that we have a lot of tourism potential that can boost our local economy. Especially, after the declaration of Dewi Nadulang and its many attractions, we realize that tourism villages should be managed using an area-based concept, the concept that has been introduced by KOMPAK and Caventer Indonesia," Sigit said.
Looking at the result of the current innovation and movement, Sigit openly declared his support. He even allocated a special budget from the Village Fund for the development of Dewi Nadulang tourism area.
"We have a budget of Rp300 million allocated to repair various facilities in tourist destination locations, such as Batur Temple. We have realized that, with the participation of the village and various parties, Dewi Nadulang will be able to boost the local economy," Sigit explained.
The commitment to assist area-based tourism villages has also gained full support from the regional government of Pemalang District.
The Pemalang District government has assisted five tourism villages in the southern part of the district for three months, from March to May 2021.
According to Arzia Rosyada, Head of the Promotional Department of Tourism, Youth, and Sports Office in Pemalang District, this assistance has provided a new insight into the needs of tourism village development for the local government. "However, due to budget limitations, we have not been able to maximally promote our villages. Luckily, KOMPAK and Caventer Indonesia helped us to promote the area-based tourism villages in Pemalang District," he explained.
Arzia said that the local government and KOMPAK shared the expenses for the promotional activities, enabling them to organize business meetings with national-level tourist agencies.
"The result of the meeting was a fun trip, in the form of tourism packages, to the five villages that were part of Dewi Nadulang. At the same time, Dewi Nadulang participated in the BCA Award and won third place. It piqued people’s curiosity and visitors started coming to Pemalang," he said.
At the BCA Award event, the only tourism village implementing the area-based concept is Dewi Nadulang.
"The implementation of the area-based tourism concept was an advantage for Dewi Nadulang and became a reference for other areas to replicate this concept," Arzia said.
Titik Widiastuti, Head of the Economy and Natural Resources Department of the Regional Development Planning Agency (Bappeda) of Pemalang District, also admitted that the collaboration between KOMPAK and local government has a positive impact on the management of the tourism area.
"KOMPAK helped us in restructuring the system, changing people’s behaviour, bureaucracy, and the development of the necessary software. The result is Dewi Nadulang. In the future, we will apply the area-based tourism village concept to other areas," she added.
Titik explained that thanks to the area-based tourism village, the wheels of the economy in Pemalang District are still moving despite the challenging times.
"The 2019–2020 economic growth of Pemalang District was 5.8%. During the difficult times in 2020 due to the pandemic, Pemalang District was among the top three in Central Java, although the economic growth was below zero," she said. "KOMPAK’s concept of Market Linkage has really helped us to develop our tourism villages and has proven to contribute to our economic growth," she said.