Fighting for ecological justice

The Challenge of Developing Ecotourism in Ujung Sapar

After eight months, Hariyono, commonly called Ejhon, opened Ujung Sapar as an ecotourism destination. In its management, Ejhon must address several challenges.

“It’s likes jumping into the water, the water is already as high as my chest, and I cannot get out anymore,” said Ejhon, a member of Kaoem Telapak, with a laugh.

The first challenge that Ejhon shared was the need for more team members in management. “For discussion partners, currently none. I need a team,” said Ejhon. To get around this, Ejhon tried to invite youth and villagers, but he realized that the team he had formed needed to be solid.

He is aware that Ujung Sapar Ecotourism is still in the development stage. Therefore, destinations cannot promise anything, including economic stability. “So if you expect to work today and then get money today, that’s impossible,” he said.

Ejhon, anggota Kaoem Telapak dari Kalimantan Tengah

The lack of human resources has impacted the schedule of the site. “Currently, the site is only open once a week,” said Ejhon. He said Ujung Sapar Ecotourism is only open on Sundays. “When I thought, if we open every day, the problems are, the land needs recovery, the facilities are not complete. Then I decide to clean up the area from Monday to Thursday. On Saturday, we prepare for Sunday,” Ejhon explained.

The next issue is related to permits. Until now, Ejhon has not withdrawn tickets fee to visitors for fear of local officials questioning him about it. “If I launch too soon, I am afraid the officials will question my permits, ‘How dare you withdraw the levy or ticket? Where is the permit?'” Ejhon said.

The absence of a permit makes Ejhon lose one income. During the last eight months of opening Ujung Sapar Ecotourism, he admitted that he had not seen significant profits. Ejhon gets revenue from camping equipment rental services, such as sleeping bags, tents, and hammocks.

The last issue is strategic planning, how to manage the ecotourism issue. Regarding determining the concept of ecotourism. Then the strategy to keep the business running. Ejhon is grateful to hear that Kaoem Telapak’s colleagues support him. The endorsement makes him excited again to manage the Ujung Sapar Ecotourism. “I need help from friends who understand ecotourism,” said Ejhon.