KOMPAS.com – The idyllic island of Belitung in eastern Sumatra transformed itself from a mining area to a picturesque tourist destination in Indonesia.
While its transformation was not easy, it has paid off for residents of the island.
This year, Geopark Belitung on the island of Bangka Belitung was nominated for the UNESCO Global Geopark 2020 spot though it did not obtain the status.
The island is surrounded by 17 geoparks with its own charm and attractive value.
Belitung’s Juru Sebrang geo-site was once the site of a tin mining area while the magnificent Batu Baginda boasts thick, luscious forest surroundings.
Belitung’s many natural attractions have become increasingly sought-after by domestic and international tourists eager to explore other tourist destinations in Indonesia.
This tourism-driven approach on the island has also boosted the local economy even though locals were hesitant at first prior to partaking in the area’s transformation.
“When we started, many of the locals were not able to see that tourism was their path to a new economy. The transformation has been relatively successful. Some residents started as miners or granite collectors, but are now business players in Indonesia’s tourism sector,” said Deputy Regent of Belitung Isyak Meirobie.
Isyak added that Belitung’s residents who were once involved in the mining sector were not aware of tourism activities prior to the government’s plans.
A tourism sector for the environment and local youths
Members of the public who are involved in turning Belitung into a tourist destination in Indonesia are passionate about advancing Indonesia’s tourism sector.
Such passion is felt the most by the newer generations of the island’s youths. Isyak said local youths are aware that sustainable tourism can secure Belitung’s future.