Leave Nothing But Footprints ...

The Jakarta Post -- WEEKENDER | Sun, 11/23/2008 3:31 PM | Greenlifestyle

You’ve gone over the list countless times. Will it be a shamelessly self-indulgent R&R weekend in Legian? Or a slightly more adventurous journey into the highlands of Tana Toraja? There’s also that Mt. Bromo trip your spouse keeps pestering you about. Hmmm ... Settle for Orchard Road? Ubaidillah Syohih trains his green binoculars on your next holiday destination.

Holidays are a time to bond and spend some leisurely time with your loved ones or friends. At the planning stage, when half a dozen ideas on where to head off to are floating around, holidays also do a very good job of fraying nerves. So before the Lonely Planet guides and maps start flying across the room, here are some things to keep in mind.

In a country such as Indonesia, with its seemingly endless range of awesome destinations, you will always be spoiled for choice. Hundreds of volcanoes to climb, rainforests to trek, waves to surf, reefs to explore, beaches to roast on, more than 250 ethnic groups with 350 local languages to discover ... There’s something for everyone. But regardless of the destination, with every additional dive down the reef wall or every new bungalow, the destination loses a little something.

It’s not just a piece of coral that is inadvertently broken during a dive, or a small food wrapper that gets caught in the wind and ends up decorating the forest. The aggregate impact of our holiday, from transportation (emissions, traffic) to the hotel we’re staying at (energy and water use), can damage the prospects of a holiday destination to sustain tourists over the long term. Indonesia may need visitors, but it also needs them to tread lightly and respectfully. With people from all over the world traveling to the archipelago to witness nature at its creative best, there’s only one way to safeguard these destinations: responsible tourism.

Now you may have heard about ecotourism, also known as ecological tourism, a catchall term that has been eagerly appended to many a hotel and resort name. At best, this is a form of responsible tourism that appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. At worst, it is a hotel called “Bunga Ecotourism Resort” whose claim to sustainability is limited to a glossy brochure flaunting the natural merits of the area.

How can we select a rewarding holiday destination without leaving a trail of destruction in our wake?


1. Decide on what kind of holiday you are after – will it be backpacking or operator-tour style?
2. If you go for the tour operator, ask where your money is going or find out by yourself – staying in locally owned accommodation benefits local families.
3. In choosing your activities at the destination, go for environmentally friendly activities that contribute to the local economy and protect nature and culture.
4. Small gifts from home can be a great way to say thank you to your hosts – think about what might be of most use to the local community.

Review your options: www.eco-tropicalresorts.com/indian/indonesia.htm

Before you bounce out the door, there are a few things that need to be taken care of.
1. Make sure that all electric appliances are switched off, and that there are no leaks.
2. If you are going on vacation with your own vehicle, make sure that it is well maintained so you don’t pollute the places you visit. It would be better if you used public transportation, such as a bus or train, to reach your destination.


Only a few hotels in Indonesia are managed in an environmentally friendly way, so it’s up to you to do your bit.
1. In many remote places around Indonesia, fresh water is scarce. Keep this in mind when you wash, and keep those showers short.
2. Towels can be used for at least two days without being washed, to reduce energy and water used to clean them.
3. Remember to switch off lights and air conditioning when you leave the room to reduce energy use.
4. Of course, never buy products made from marine turtles and insist on eating locally caught fish.
5. You can also encourage the hotel by presenting the manager with a list of environmental tips for green hotels. If your hotel or homestay prides itself as an ecotourism facility, make sure you ask them why and how.

More tips at http://www.charityguide.org/volunteer/fifteen/green-hotels.htm


You have probably heard this well-known phrase. By killing nothing but time and by taking nothing but pictures, you protect the environment and wildlife. And by leaving nothing but footprints, you make a positive impact on local communities, such as preventing the loss of culture.


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