ASEAN member nations say it is important to draw urban tourists to rural areas to slow down rapid urbanization, which is a major cause of climate change. “Climate change and global warming are among topics we are discussing *in this meeting* because the tourism sector is deemed to have contributed to climate change,” secretary-general of the Culture and Tourism Ministry Wardiyatmo said Thursday evening at Sheraton Senggigi Hotel in West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
He was addressing a press conference held on the sidelines of the 32nd ASEAN National Tourism Organizations (ANTO) meeting, which runs until Saturday. He said rapid urbanization in the region was accelerating climate change. Developing tourism facilities in rural areas, he continued, could help draw tourists away from big cities. Rapid development in large cities, he said, was encouraging people from rural areas to move to cities to seek a better living.
“Tourists may want to come to villages because there are tourist attractions there,” Wardiyatmo said. “If we develop these *well*, they would create jobs and villagers wouldn’t have to think about seeking jobs in cities.” He did not offer details about how such developments could be funded or undertaken. Echoing Wardiyatmo, the head of human resources development at the ministry, Putu Laksaguna, said a good example of a successful rural tourism attraction was Mount Rinjani in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
“*We also* discussed development of the Rinjani trekking area. This was said to be a good example of how the tourism sector could actually limit the threat of global warming,” said Putu, who also chairs the ASEAN Tourism Professional Monitoring Committee. The meeting also discussed how to cooperate in developing interregional tourism in Southeast Asia. ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.
Source: The Jakarta Post – July 3, 2010
By Panca Nugraha