Kalimantan Tour Destinations aims to bring Responsible Tourism to Central Kalimantan as a way of conserving the environment and supplementing income for the local people. As a part of our Responsible Tourism Policy, for 5 years we have been working together with the locals to map the tourism potential of the villages along our cruise route. We also work with them to develop their own small tourist businesses, for example as guides, traditional music and dancing performance groups, canoe hires, fishing trips, collecting traditional medicines in the jungle, and making handicrafts.
Through our work we are campaigning to raise the awareness of local people and our guests on different environmental issues. We also collaborate with local NGO’s conservation programs, such as one operated by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). Besides raising awareness, to show our support of the work done by BOSF to protect orangutans, the native Indonesian flag ship species, under threat due to shrinking habitat, we adopted an infant orangutan that we helped to rescue from the river bank in March 2011. This infant from the distance looked like a proboscis monkey that our guests had been hoping to see during the trip. When we were closer, we found that it was a weak, hungry and frightened female infant orangutan who had been separated from its mother for days. Rescuing the baby orangutan was not the work of us alone. Understanding and supporting BOSF regulations to not approach or touch orangutans, we reported the infant orangutan to BOS technicians. They have been working over 10 years in the area rescuing and rehabilitating orangutans.
We have a policy to go local. We buy all our food ingredients at traditional markets for the food served on board. We also commit to employ local people, to train and prepare them for the different working fields. For example our cook Redi, who is from a village called Tangkiling, helped his father on a motorised canoe as driver and engine man before working with us. He joined us firstly as a cook assistant for our former cook, who had been a gardener, and gradually learnt how to prepare the special food designed for our cruises. He has been working with us for 3 years now and his food has been praised by our guests as a gourmet experience in Indonesia.
We believe in starting small and growing, and putting words into real action. As a part of our community development work to raise awareness on health and environmental understanding in the villages, together with the villagers we have a social project to improve waste management in Katimpun. This village stretches 1km along the banks of the Rungan River, and is one of the villages where we stop for our guests to meet the villagers.
The villagers play a very crucial role in this project by learning how to treat and recycle garbage.
In our program, the villagers are encouraged to understand why it is important to manage waste and not to pollute the river. This project will involve collaboration with the local government in the village, village elders, the project volunteers and guests who forwarded feedback, ideas and funds. The village leader and elders help to organize meetings and training schedules with the people. Meetings are held to socialize why such an effort is important. The villagers play a very crucial role in this project by learning how to treat and recycle garbage. KTD helps at the outset by buying appropriate garbage bins to bring a positive supporting impact.
Another project initiated by KTD related to health improvement and sustainable environment, is to build a toilet and mandi (bathing Indonesian style) for the longhouse in a village in the north Rungan River region. Traditionally people who live on the banks of the river have always used the river as toilet and mandi. The human waste goes straight to the river, causing pollution. As many local people still use the river to bathe, brush their teeth, wash dishes and for swimming, the possibility to be affected by the polluted water is high.
Nowadays longhouses are still considered as the centre of village activities related to village meetings, cultural rituals, etc. Longhouses are the places where people in the village gather. This place provides a good opportunity for us to socialize the plan to set up an example of healthier lifestyle. Many people do not understand why good sanitation is so important. There are some public toilets in the villages but nobody uses them very much. One reason why they are not very popular is that the locals were often not being involved in planning or building the toilets. They are built by outsiders who have their own ideas about what the people would want to do and assume they understand why it is important to use these. As a result most of the toilets are build in the places where access to it is not efficient for villagers and it is much more convinient to go to the floating toilets behind their houses.
KTD approach is to involve the locals, not only to improve their understanding but also to encourage sense of belonging. We believe this kind of facility will only be sustainable if the locals think that it belongs to them and they will take care of it. As a sample in the longhouse, the toilet can be adapted to other houses. Our cruises and tours are designed for guests to communicate directly with the local villagers. We provide English speaking guides who will be the “bridge” between our guests and the locals to communicate and this hopefully will promote cross cultural understanding.
KTD believes that as our business grows, our contribution to the villages we visit and to the local environment where we operate, should also increase. To conserve the unique environment here and improve services and opportunities for local villagers is part of our commitment as a responsible business to work to improve our performance and the experience of our guests.