Ary Suhandi Dayak north Kalimantan

In this interview, Ary Suhandi, Executive Director of the Indonesian Ecotourism Network (INDECON), shares his insights on tourism development in Indonesia. Mr. Suhandi’s work has involved establishing and supporting ecotourism, community-based tourism, and conservation education programmes. As a nationally and internationally recognized expert in nature and community-based tourism, Ary provides valuable lessons. 

Learn about:

  • Ary Suhandi’s main personal and professional insights;
  • How and why the Indonesian Ecotourism Network formed over 20 years ago;
  • The best way to measure sustainability;
  • The inspiring story about a village that turned from logging to ecotourism;
  • Key “ingredients” for developing courses to educate the community.

Ary, when did you discover your passion for sustainable tourism? Who got you interested?

I was still a student, when I spent years of life in research and conservation of Orang Utan in Sumatra. The forest where I used to live was close to village areas. Often during my stay, together with other researchers, I went to local schools to share my experiences. When I shared my knowledge, it was a shock to me that many of the school children had not learned about the biodiversity that lived in the forest.

I realized that it would take more than just conservation to save the forests. The forest and the people living around it cannot be separated; they are integrated and depend on each other. Thus we need to protect them together. However, I did not know what could strengthen this mutual relationship until I actively guided visitors to the forests for bird watching. They showed me how visiting the forests can become a powerful tool to increase respect for nature and to promote the values of biodiversity to others. That’s when I began to create more education and conservation activities for my guests and local people.

Interview with Ary Suhandi on Ecotourism Development in Indonesia
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