Green tourism a growth opportunity for Indonesia, says Minister Uno

Indonesia can position itself as a prominent player in international environmentally sustainable tourism.


The Republic of Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism & Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno has hailed the potential of ‘net zero’ emissions tourism as the world economy seeks to recover from the pandemic.

Minister Uno was sworn into office in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a recent visit to Melbourne, the minister sat down for an interview with the AIC’s Helen Brown and noted significant investments into the new “sustainable” or “green” economy.

The minister said the potential of “net zero tourism” was large, with new opportunities for green-minded travellers.

“We offer people who travel from Australia [the opportunity] to offset their carbon footprint by activities such as planting mangroves or fixing coral reefs,” Mr Uno said.

Tourists who spend time in the regions might be able to help small villages with their waste management procedures, bringing about additional environmental and societal benefits.

“Those sorts of activities are now available within Indonesia so [a traveller] could actually choose those activities when [they] visit,” he said.

Mr Uno said domestic tourism had already begun to recover in 2022 with domestic travel to Bali and with high vaccination rates, Indonesia was ready to accept more international tourists.

The potential for green tourism was acknowledged as early as a decade ago when the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy in cooperation with the International Labour Organization released a report entitled The Strategic Plan Sustainable Tourism and Green Jobs for Indonesia.

That report described moving towards a greener, climate-resilient tourism economy as “increasingly important to ensure a sustainable development path for the country, not only over the long-term but also in the short-term”.

“Actions are already being taken by the government, employers, enterprises, trade unions, and other key stakeholders to move towards more sustainable patterns of tourism development,” the report stated.

Mr Uno said while much had been learned from the pandemic, there had been much pain.

“It’s probably the toughest time since the ‘97-’98 crisis,” he said.

“This pandemic actually completely rendered the [tourism] sector’s collapse, in terms of the number of tourist arrivals. Millions of jobs were lost; the contributions to the GDP [too].”

Perhaps ironically, Minister Uno left Bali around the same time Australian tourists were forced to.

“I moved most of my operations and activities out of Bali because at that time Bali was hit very, very badly. Hotels [were] closing. Restaurants were empty.”

In a wide-ranging conversation, Mr Uno talked about the digital economy, economic recovery post-pandemic and efforts towards “gastro diplomacy” via its “Spice up the World” campaign.

His time in Melbourne was punctuated with a busy schedule of meetings aimed at reinvigorating a key market for Indonesia.

Australia is one of 43 countries able to visit Indonesia on a tourist visa.

Image at top: Wonderful Indonesia

Digital Communications Coordinator
The Australia-Indonesia Centre

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