Bali CoBTA, Indonesia – Community Engagement & Development

finalist[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Bali CoBTA for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Finalist. This award recognizes exceptional commitment to supporting the local community and economy in which your business operates.

Bali Community Based Tourism Association (Bali CoBTA) is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that promotes sustainable tourism. By facilitating the development of community based tourism villages, tourists are given a unique opportunity to experience local culture and community life, while communities are empowered to earn an additional income by preserving and showcasing their culture and heritage.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Strong capacity building.
  • Supports larger community.
  • The advisory committee and organisational structure of the association (including the governor of Bali!) is really a great achievement.
  • The organisation is coordinating support for the communities, so in this sense it is highly involved in community development.

Inspiring Management

  • Working with tour operators to sell packages showcasing local agriculture, nature, home industries, historical sites etc.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Working with seven villages with approx minimum 10 homestays per village.
  • Association operates as non-profit NGO with multi-stakeholder engagement.
  • Willingness to participate in association must come from community itself with support from community leader.
  • Work with NGOs/private sector to tackle issues e.g. water shortages and drinkable water.
  • Community encouraged to source local food produce and local crafts from village craftsmen.
  • Their mission is Tourism, Trade and Investment – using tourism as a way to open up investment to support local SMEs to grow.
  • Work with potential communities for CBT and provide training (housekeeping,  guiding) in collaboration with other institutes or tourism businesses, to empower them to join.
  • Office staff receive minimum wage; communities receive alternative income through tourism packages.
  • Regular meetings with community leaders to progress, improvements required and local needs.

Cultural Preservation

  • During traditional gatherings or ceremonies, the host invites guests and lends traditional dress to participate in. The host provides insightful information about what the event is about.

2013 Awards – Why should I apply?

IMG 1391 2_1Why should I apply? 

The difference our Awards have made...


Marc Van Loo, founder of 2012 Winner of Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator, LooLa Adventure in Indonesia shares with us just how they have benefited from receiving international recognition through our Awards.

Pictured: Marc Van Loo

1.       What partnerships have you made through our Awards?

We’ve been exploring the idea of creating a Wiki portal for tourism operators to share best practice. Through the awards, we got in touch with Geoffrey Lipman (Secretary General of UNWTO and past President of the WTTC) and together have been in touch with Wikipedia. Their CEO got personally involved and we received assurances of dedicated support.

Most recently we are busy designing three new Eco villas that support local employment and are resource efficient. As well as a team of fantastic experts we’ve engaged with this work, past Award winners Sarinbuana (Bali) are also helping to support this project (Norm is designing villas as we speak!).

The award gave our international credibility an enormous boost and was instrumental in opening all these doors for us.

Significantly, the Wild Asia award led to an invitation from WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow awards (2013) to apply, and we’re now one of three finalists in the Community Benefits category, further enhancing our credibility.

2.       How has the Award made a difference to your destination?

The local government has always liked what we do and is very proud of our achievements. They are very happy to see that what they liked about us, is also recognised independently and internationally.

Most of all, the Award has done miracles for empowering our staff.

It has hit them: we are no longer a bunch of villagers in a remote place in Indonesia, we compete at the world stage, and we’re going to show that we can retain and enhance that position. Motivation has never been this high. The Wild Asia checklists have done wonders for pushing certain not-so-popular items like waste (water) management to the front.

3.      Has the Award provided a platform to improve your responsible tourism communications?

The award enabled us to get an appointment with some of the highest officers in Singapore within STB (Singapore Tourism Board), which is very nice.

For internal purposes, it has been great. Now we can always refer back to the application forms, and all our staff now accepts that this stuff is very important.

4.       Has the Award application improved your systems/identified areas to improve?

Absolutely. The process allowed us to identify the management of waste water and water supply were some of our areas that could be improved.

We’re currently working with an architect who has just completed an initial design for (waste and rain) water, and is working together with experts for waste water integration.

We also wanted to improve our energy efficiency. Electricity is now being completely overhauled. At first I thought that this was not possible – but now it turns out that we are able to have air-con in our new villas in a eco-sensitive way, not using ANY batteries and only using solar power! It’s all very exciting!

5.       In what way has Wild Asia as an organisation supported your business?

Wild Asia has always been ready to answer any question if they were in a position to do so, by generously and sharing relevant contacts in their network without any clear benefits for themselves except creating goodwill.

Really, absolutely tops.

LooLa: Local Local Local

Top 3 Winner of the 2011 ‘Inspiring Stories from Destinations’ Competition

LooLa staffA Dutch/French educator couple wanted to start an educational/adventure resort in Bintan which —will benefit all stakeholders. Their vision to create a dynamic  100% locally staffed business, —leveraged on the natural Indonesian hospitality —catered to Singapore’s (expat) expectations. Radiah shares the journey of LooLa Adventure Resort with us.

—”We finished building the resort in the year 2000 and have worked exclusively with local staff only (in our Singapore office, the staff is all local Singaporean). —It’s been a challenging but always fun and interesting venture, but the happy and overall conclusion is this: our fully local staff were able to keep up with the increasing expectations of our guests, and we succeeded in becoming market leader for overseas educational trips from Singapore.

We created a win-win partnership in which we charge our clients a modest sum (typically US$ 10-20) to participate in a stimulating and worthwhile community involvement project. Challenge: to create realistic expectations with all parties on what can be achieved!

We have worked with local government; fantastic partners in Indonesia once they are assured you really seek to empower local people & staff: they have helped us all the way, teaching our staff how to obtain cheap licenses, and engaging us with every public/private partnership we proposed!

LooLa developmentWe had to slowly replace existing village and family hierarchies with horizontal democratic decision-making, and replace traditional short-term thinking with long-term thinking. Staff had to start feeling like co-owners and embrace the somewhat novel notion of pride in work. On the next and last slide, we share some of the tips and pitfalls in this journey!”

—Some top tips and pitfalls in creating a community led tourism business:

  • Pull women into management and all departments!
  • —Generate “owner understanding”, and allow staff to open their own business (shop, massage, …) on site
  • —Private system of health and pension benefits
  • —Institute a very transparent system of department and task descriptions which encourages everyone to take more ownership and enjoy transparent rewards. This system should include a transparent work calendar.
  • —Instill democracy & a sense of partnership between owners & staff
  • —Use the power of the internet (Facebook, Tripadvisor, Dropbox) to drive home the notion of ownership
  • —Institute transparent result-driven bonus systems.

Watch video of Radiah’s story