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DESMA Center: Partner in Tourism Sustainability

In ecotourism, essentially all elements of society must play an active role and contribute to realizing sustainable tourism in their respective regions. This opportunity should be a spur to create equitable involvement of women at the forefront of ecotourism development. Ecotourism can be a means to prove that women can also do more than just domestic work.


DESMA Center, a sustainable tourism consultancy and assistance agency based in Jakarta and Southwest Sumba, continues to be committed to advancing sustainable tourism. Since its founding in 2010, they have succeeded in involving the government, private sector, community, associations, and other stakeholders in facilitating destination development that considers sustainable economic, socio-cultural and environmental aspects.


DESMA Center implements various programs at the national and site level by establishing partnerships with policy makers, community organizations, civil society groups, experts, business associations, the private sector, research centers and universities. Our collaboration with parties and stakeholders gives us a strong network with all parties directly and indirectly related to tourism.


What does DESMA Center offer?




DESMA Center bridges the gap between implementation/intervention by designing planning documents or scientific studies that are easy to implement, realistic, and can be carried out effectively, but are still in accordance with the vision and mission of the organization and tourism destination in a more sustainable way.


DESMA Center is a partner for implementing Sustainability corporate programs and inclusive business mechanisms related to tourism with a more sustainable approach. Apart from that, by international development institutions and governments, they are trusted as consultants for the preparation of master plans, feasibility studies, tourism destination planning studies, tourism investment profiling, technical documents supporting integrated tourism planning and assessments before assisting tourism destinations.




Increasing the capacity, soft skills, upskills and intrapersonal abilities of individuals towards the needs of the tourism industry, simultaneously aiming to strengthen institutions to achieve the mission and goals of the organization in a more effective and sustainable way.


DESMA Center presents capacity building programs through various creative training and coaching programs, meeting needs from upstream to downstream in the tourism ecosystem for various partners and program beneficiaries. The aim of the capacity building program in the tourism sector that they have designed is to create and/or strengthen a more sustainable, resilient and quality tourism business; as well as the ability to be able to work so that tourism development and development goals can be achieved.




The DESMA Center focuses on implementing educational programs including strengthening Tourism TVET by emphasizing activities related to policy advocacy, strengthening school management capacity, strengthening the capacity of productive teachers at tourism vocational schools, strengthening partnerships between educational institutions and the Business World of Industry (Dunia Usaha Dunia Industri; DUDI) and strengthening student entrepreneurship.


The tourism vocational school strengthening programs implemented by the DESMA Center also focus on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), namely the introduction and application of sustainable tourism principles based on environmental preservation as well as strengthening local culture in the curriculum, extracurricular activities and partnerships with the private sector.




DESMA Center designs and implements sustainability programs and ESG program strategies allocated for the development of community, environmental and social-based tourism destinations; strengthening human resources in the tourism sector for various stakeholders, strengthening tourism investment profiles, tourism market linkage, and integrated tourism marketing through integrated mentoring and management programs based on sustainable tourism principles.


Wiwik Mahdayani: Women in Ecotourism Development in Indonesia


Challenges and opportunities facing Indonesia in efforts to strengthen gender equality in ecotourism. From the previous discussion, it can be concluded that the involvement of women in ecotourism is very important to create a better tourism ecosystem. The involvement of women in ecotourism is not only to show gender representation but furthermore shows that all parts of society are involved in ecotourism development. In fact, women have succeeded in demonstrating their expertise in tourism by occupying various positions in the development system.


On this occasion, we will get to know one of the women who is directly involved in the development of ecotourism in Indonesia. He is Wiwik Mahdayani, founder and director of the DESMA Center, an institution that focuses on developing sustainable tourism and conservation. Before becoming directly involved in the tourism sector, Wiwik had an interest in nature since childhood. Wiwik's interest began when his parents took him on a nature trip.

Looking at Ecotourism from a Practitioner's Point of View


Having been involved in ecotourism development for more than 10 years, Wiwik certainly has broad insight in this field. In Wiwik's perspective, ecotourism can be called part of sustainable tourism. Ecotourism refers to tourism whose activities are carried out in a responsible manner towards the environment and culture in the tourist destinations visited, supporting the local economy, without compromising the experience and purpose of tourism.


Wiwik agreed that up to now there is still a lot of debate regarding the extent of tourists' responsibility for the places they visit, the activities carried out while traveling, what contributions tourists can make to preserving nature and culture, and how tourism can provide economic benefits to local communities. According to him, in ecotourism activities, visitors who come need to be given education, experience and activities regarding the importance of preserving nature. Apart from interacting with nature, visitors are also invited to learn about local wisdom and culture of the people in the area. This symbiosis is what makes ecotourism the optimal tourism choice (for now) in boosting the economy of local communities, while also highlighting the importance of sustainability.

A Glimpse into Ecofeminism


In the development of women's involvement in tourism in recent years, a movement has emerged, namely ecofeminism. The ecofeminism movement emerged as a form of women's protest against patriarchal cultural oppression towards them and the environment. These ecofeminists then applied their ideas to various fields including tourism. Wiwik responded that according to him ecofeminism is an activist and academic movement that sees a crucial relationship between domination of nature and the exploitation of women. This view sees a parallel relationship between women and nature.


According to him, these movements, as long as they are in accordance with the vision and mission, namely eliminating exploitation, are of course acceptable and must be supported. However, sometimes there are a handful of individuals who take advantage of this momentum to voice their personal wishes in the name of women's equality. Then, when balance between women and men was achieved, new goals emerged that were different from the initial vision. However, if this movement really aims to regulate balance and sustainability more effectively according to its portion, this movement needs to be supported.

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