Marine Ecotourism &
Its Sustainable Development

Plataran L’Harmonie

Discover a world of incredible natural wonders at Plataran L’Harmonie – West Bali National Park, spread across 382 hectares in the Buleleng Regency at the northwest tip of Bali.

The West Bali National Park was established in 1941 to protect the area’s rich flora and fauna, most notably the endangered Bali Starling bird and the last remaining wild banteng.

Its dense biodiversity encompasses many distinct ecosystems – from primary monsoon, mangrove and lowland rain forests, to savanna and seagrass landscapes, as well as shallow and deep-sea waters with sandy beaches and coral reefs. 

With a vision to be the premier nature-oriented destination in Bali and a sustainable tourism benchmark, Plataran L’Harmonie - West Bali National Park offers an unparalleled experience of West Bali’s wild side through its beautiful resorts and retreats, unique dining experiences, Plataran cruises and leisure activities. An experience that will leave you awed.

Kenyan-born Hitesh Mehta, the master planner for Plataran L’Harmonie -West Bali National Park, is one of the world’s leading authorities, researchers and practitioners of sustainable tourism and ecotourism planning and design. He is widely respected for his extensive knowledge accumulated over 22 years of experience that has taken him to almost every corner of the world. 

With the United Nations declaring 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, Plataran L’Harmonie - West Bali National Park is proud to be at the forefront of Indonesia’s commitment to world-class ecotourism, fostering greater awareness of our rich natural and cultural heritage. 


Chang Tune Ecotourism Community

Chang Tune is now one of several settlements in Trat Province that practice Community Based Tourism (CBT), allowing visitors to share in culturally sustainable activities and learn traditional skills. We could travelled with Bangkok-based agency Local Alike – winner of the Thailand Green Awards 2015, who have pioneered this kind of small-scale venture across the area.

The merits of the ecotourism community concept: “Visitors gain an awareness of local lifestyles and ancient traditions through first-hand experiences,” Bow, local guide, enthused. “The projects are owned and managed by the communities. This then generates an income stream that is used to improve quality of life and help to preserve traditions.”

Trat town, the small provincial capital where a growing traveller scene has built up in recent years along its riverfront of old wooden-balconied houses and restaurants. From there, the ‘Ecotourism Community’ of Ban Nam Chiao was just 20 minutes by minibus, lying on a canal cutting through estuarine mangroves. We were welcomed to the village by Di Noi, the lady who fronted the CBT project for Ban Nam Chiao.

“Our people have always made their living from fishing and fruit farming,” she said. “Now the future is very uncertain because the young leave us to find jobs in the big resorts. It is not good for the village and it is not good for the young people because they encounter prostitution, alcohol and drugs.” 

The third Trat village we visited was Huai Raeng, which had styled itself as an ‘Eco-museum’. According to Bow, the villagers ‘curate’ their own cultural identity and environment.

In practice, Huai Raeng was a bustling farming and fishing community. Sold as the ‘Land of Three Waters’ – the legacy of an ecosystem that includes fresh, brackish and salt water – we arrived to a tranquil scattering of rickety wooden homes on stilts, all set in a clearing next to a river. Some locals sifted rice, others demonstrated how they produced the speciality wares on sale. I sat with one woman as she sliced a pile of purple mangosteens and mixed their rind with palm oil to make a silky-textured, chemical-free liquid soap.


Ocean Communities Housing

Life on the sea has been one of mankind’s enduring visions, but the technology hasn’t been up to the task... until now. Are we on the cusp of housing communities permanently on the ocean?

The Seasteading Institute has also been dealing with the challenges faced by communities trying to live permanently on the ocean. It is an audacious but essentially pragmatic endevour. Taking a cue from the Tanka people, the plan is locate in the protected, territorial waters of a nation willing to “host” the structures and their inhabitants. With help from the Dutch aquatic architecture firm DeltaSync, the institute hopes to design something that will meet the needs of residents, and the host nation. From a calm coastal area, the logistical challenges needed allow a community to live on the high seas can be solved one at a time. 

British designer Phil Pauley has developed a concept for a sea habitat comprising interconnected spherical modules that  could submerge during storms and rest at the surface in good weather. The long vertical trusses holding up Pauley’s design use Fuller’s principles for strong, lightweight “tensegrity” structures. They maximize support without using too much expensive material such as steel. To reach much deeper waters, communities will ditch the stilts and float freely or anchor. 

Others are trying investigating this technique on a smaller scale too. Do-it-yourself sea-living enthusiast Vince Cate has been using prototyping simple “ball stead” homes, which achieve buoyancy and stable surface “real estate.” 

Testing models in the Caribbean Sea, near his home in Anguilla, Cate has found that suspending a heavy weight well
below the surface keeps the ball from moving amid the waves. 

And these structures could last for a very long time indeed. Simple cement structures, reinforced with steel, can misplace massive amounts of water, and last for decades - or even centuries. Even after 2,000 years of the sea’s harsh beating, a Roman harbour built with a mixture of standard concrete and volcanic ash is still intact. Electro-accretion – essentially sticking concrete-like minerals on galvanized underwater structures – means electrified steel mesh could eventually be used to reinforce and repair underwater concrete structures.

The first floating city is expected to take to the water around 2020. We are already researching ways to harvest food and energy in deeper, more remote parts of the ocean. Future cities built from scratch will be more dynamic, energy efficient and flexible. These cities of the sea could use algal biofuel production and store energy from wind and the Sun. As designs improve – and get cheaper – the idea of a home on the ocean will become more affordable.


Tambrauw Ecotourism

Vice Regent of Tambrauw District Mesak Yekwam appreciated what was done. It is currently encouraging the emergence of a conservation district based draft regulation on the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in Tambraw District.

As the second person in Tambrauw District, Papua, he strongly agreed that the Abun LMA was revived. Because so far the voice of the institution that voiced the rights of the Abun tribe has not been intense. As a result, the customary land dispute between clans has not been resolved. “I think it needs to focus on mapping custom territory first. The target is the end of the year or early next year mapping has been done,“ said Mesak. 

On the other hand, Thomas Kofiagah, Head of Miyah District reminded the socialization of conservation districts should be clarified. Not only to the community, but also to outsiders such as companies doing road construction work. “The problem is the company’s heavy equipment entered to dismantle the forest to build roads, whereas the location is a sacred territory belonging to the indigenous people,” he said. He mentioned there should be clear rules about this. 

In line with the potential mapping and as a conservation district, the potential of Tambrauw’s ecotourism is actually very large. However, sometimes people’s understanding is not yet open. 

“I always accompany tour operators tour in Tambrauw, but not infrequently we often encounter problems. According to indigenous peoples, when tourists come and photographs will make [nature] broken. Until now there are still indigenous people who reject their territory visited by tourists, “explains Betwel Yekwam, staff of the Department of Tourism. The community clearly, still need to be encouraged to understand the activities related to ecotourism. 

However, some people who have been given understanding began to understand the visit of tourists and begin to feel the benefits. Between cites ecotourism potentials in Tambrauw district, among others, indigenous villages that still maintain their original homes, dive spots in Pulau Dua, spot of leatherback, snorkeling spot, and birdwatching or bird monitoring. 

“For bird monitoring, there is a bird drinking place. This is a location like a lake where birds drink and play. Many species of birds here include paradise, and are suitable for birdwatching.“ 

All the locations according to him is part of the customary territory of each tribe in Tambrauw District. He hopes, if the mapping of custom territory and boundaries of each clan, it is necessary to create a mapping of ecotourism potential that is expected to provide benefits to indigenous peoples.


Myanmar Andaman Resort

Macleod Island is home to Myanmar Andaman Resort, a private island retreat located in Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago. Myanmar Andaman Resort is one of only to operating resorts among 800 mostly uninhabited islands. 

With twenty-two bungalows facing the island’s bay and surrounding pristine white sand beaches, Myanmar Andaman Resort offers every guest an unforgettable private island experience. Myanmar Andaman Resort provides a unique chance for guests to see native tribes, untouched tropical forests and a wealth of wildlife.

Highlights include a variety of outdoor activities including CMAS certified dive center, snorkeling, island hopping tours, sea kayaking, hiking the island’s peak, swimming in the bay and traditional massage to bring an adventurous day to a close. 

With its own PADI Dive Center operated by an experienced team of instructors and dive masters, Myanmar Andaman Resort offers a convenient and comfortable way to dive the Mergui Archipelago. These waters, completely isolated until 1997, have one of the best preserved reef systems in the region. 


Khaosok National Park

Khao Sok National Park was established in 1980 as Thailand’s 22nd National Park. It consists of a thick native rainforest, waterfalls, majestic limestone cliffs and an island stubbed lake. Due to its fascinating history, this National Park still has many secrets hidden in its deep forests yet to uncover. 

According to official statistics, currently around 140,000 visitors explore Khao Sok every year – compared to 82,020 people who visited Khao Sok National Park in 2007! The carrying capacity for the park is not known yet. This means if the number of visitors increases too much, there is a danger that the wildlife will be driven away. Visitors are of course welcome, in fact vital, since park fees go towards the maintenance and protection of the area. 

Protecting and conserving natural areas is not always as easy as it sounds. Establishing national parks is a beginning, but laws must be enforced and the population needs to be educated in order to really help the environment. 

The year 2002 was “The Year of Ecotourism” in Thailand. This directed a much-needed focus on nature tours in Thailand and spread knowledge among people, encouraging them to control and carry out tourism more sustainable.