A Visit With the Bajo People of Indonesia: Is This Sustainable Tourism?

Abstract

This case study focuses on issues related to ecotourism and cultural tourism, as aspects of sustainable tourism. It describes a situation in eastern Indonesia where the manager of a sustainable tourism company visits a Bajo village that is located over the ocean. He and a colleague go to dive on a shipwreck to supposedly recover some treasure, but it ends up being an opportunity for the Bajo to salvage brass off the boat, do some fish bombing, and have the fuel for their trip paid for by a guest. The trip was taken in part to determine the suitability of the village as a place to guide tourists that were interested in the Bajo people, as well as possibly do some scuba dives. Some of the ways the Bajo earn an income are controversial, and they are often marginalized by the rest of Indonesian society and have some economic challenges as a result. The case raises the issue of to what extent tourism professionals should try to alter people’s current cultural practices that may be destructive to their future and the environment, while socio-economic influences are driving them in that direction. In the case, a specific situation is described; background information is provided; brief definitions of ecotourism, cultural tourism, and sustainable tourism, and stakeholder theory are presented; and the analysis and implications of the dilemma involved are offered.

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