Establishing the Ecotourism Potentials in the Krayan Highlands
Clean, mild and cozy. It is the first impression for the visitors who stepped their foot for the first time in the Pa’ Padi village. A village located in a mountain valley, 16 km to the east of Long Bawan, capital of Krayan Sub-District, Nunukan District, North Kalimantan which lies on the Heart of Borneo area.
With the village area of 335 km2 and a population of about 348 inhabitants, the majority of Pa’ Padi villagers are farmers who rely heavily on rice crops as their main source of income. In addition, the villagers of Pa’ Padi also make rattan handicrafts as activities on the sidelines of their leisure time as farmers.
The friendliness of the local communities and the natural environment making this village is frequently visited by tourists from abroad. “In one year there are about 5 to 7 times tourists from abroad – either individuals or groups – visiting our village. There are also tourists who return 2-3 times in the next year”, said Alex Mathius, secretary of Pa’ Padi village.
The tourists mostly came from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and Australia. "Most of them will go to our village to enjoy the natural beauty of our village. They are happy to see the rice fields, forests, waterfalls and the activities of the villagers here," said Jhones Yakub, a tourist guide in Pa’ Padi village.
In recent years the Pa’ Padi village has become one of the tourist destinations for foreign tourists. Because of frequent tourist destinations, the village administrators of Pa 'padi are planning to make a stewardship for Ecotourism in the village. Because so far, there is only one person who became a tourist guide and only one house is used as a lodge or home stay.
"We are planning to set up an ecotourism committee in the village and we are also planning to conduct an English course for the youths in our village, so that when tourists come they can be tourist guides, at least communicate with tourists," added Alex Mathius.
Another case is expressed by Jhones Yakub. "We also need a training on tourist guides, not only tourists driving, but also understanding the guiding duties and responsibilities. We also have to know how to manage an ecotourism committee in the village, since that's our weakness so far ", he said.
The Pa 'Padi village has the potential for ecotourism development, in addition to its natural beauty and the hospitality of its inhabitants, there are much local wisdom in it. With the pattern of community-based ecotourism, it does not mean that people will run their own ecotourism business. The implementation of ecotourism needs to be viewed as part of the integrated development planning undertaken at an area. Therefore, the involvement of stakeholders from community, societies, government, business and non-government organizations are expected to build a network and run a good partnership, in accordance with their respective roles and expertise.