Local economic development

Mangrove trails sprout new tourist attractions in Indonesia

ILO training brings new skill sets, higher incomes to North Sulawesi.

Feature | 15 July 2021
A mangrove trail in Tiwoho village is seen against a backdrop of Mount Tumpa in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. ©ILO
For years, the elevated boardwalk meandering through tunnels of mangroves and a tidal stream in Budo—a coastal farming and fishing village in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi Province—was popular with locals as a scenic and tranquil spot for recreation. During the past three months, something has changed—the trail has become a getaway for tourists.

After receiving training on economic development provided by local trainers and facilitated by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the villagers have transformed the trails into a tourist attraction—a village-owned enterprise financed by the village fund allocated by the government.

They started by building necessary facilities on the existing mangrove trail, such as ticketing gates and toilets. Some locals also set up souvenir and coffee shops. Since then, the trail has drawn many tourists from other places, especially during weekends.

This business has become a new source of income for the village. On the busiest day, the community earned 5 million Indonesian rupiah (IDR)—approximately 380 US dollars—from entrance fees, charged at IDR 5,000 each, and parking tickets, charged at IDR 4,000 per car and IDR 1,000 per motorbike.

“The training has helped local people to come up with business plans and then initiate and run these businesses,” said Odi Randi Lintogareng, the secretary of the village administration office.
North Sulawesi Province is a well-known marine tourism destination. Its Bunaken Island is famous for underwater activities such as diving and snorkelling.

Since late last year, the ILO Skills for Prosperity programme in Indonesia (SfP-Indonesia), funded by the United Kingdom government, has trained 80 local trainers and lecturers from Manado State Polytechnic (Polimanado), Klabat University and Tonsea Union Foundation on topics including financial education, village enterprises and green businesses, enabling these new trainers to further deliver the same knowledge and skills to local people in seven target coastal villages. The goal is to improve livelihoods of local people through the development of green businesses such as homestays and local products.

The trainers from Polimanado, with support from Klabat University, have trained 120 villagers from Budo village and Tiwoho village. With knowledge and skills concerning financial management and entrepreneurship, the Budo villagers now apply manual bookkeeping to record the number of visitors and the income generated from the trail business.

Tiwoho villagers are following suit.

“The training has inspired local people in Tiwoho village to start their own business,” said village head Sonly Fredy Woy. The villagers have begun constructing a 200-metre-long mangrove trail in a strategic location with stunning views looking towards Bunaken Island and Mount Tumpa—the paragliding sports destinations in North Sulawesi. The construction is fully funded using village funds and labour-based resources.

Rinny Rantung, who teaches entrepreneurship at Klabat University, said there is plenty of business potential for North Sulawesi, a coastal area rich in coconut plantations and offshore fish farms. For instance, local people can develop green products such as coconut oil and coconut-based handicrafts, she said.

There are also seaweed plantations in the area.

“I don’t think we have products made of seaweed (yet). This may be ideal for product development for green businesses”, she said.

Irfan Afandi, ILO SfP-Indonesia Project Officer based in Manado, North Sulawesi, said the programme has provided both online and in-person training methods in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With business coaching provided to local people, this will be a sustainable income for these and other villagers”, he said.

In addition to the local economic development initiative, the programme also provides capacity-building to Polimanado, enabling it to upgrade its tourism management curricula and skills-building process.

SfP-Indonesia has also established similar partnerships with three other Indonesian polytechnics—Polibatam in Kepulauan Riau, Polimarin in Central Java and PPNS in East Java—each focusing on a different subsector of the maritime industry.

The programme aims to improve the equity, quality, relevance and cost-effectiveness of technical and vocational training and education (TVET) and skills systems in Indonesia in response to the increasing skills needs, especially in the maritime sector.