Sailing to Komodo: Contradictions of Tourism and Development in Eastern Indonesia
Tourism is often pinpointed as a sector of growth for countries in the developing world, and this perspective has been readily accepted in Indonesia. Government officials in poorer sections of the country, such as Nusa Tenggara Timur province (NTT) in eastern Indonesia, have high hopes for the role that tourism can play in developing these poorer regions. This is not surprising, given the increasing renown of the Komodo National Park, just west of the island of Flores, where the world famous Komodo dragons reside. However, how exactly tourism is supposed to raise the standard of living and aid in development in NTT province is often unclear. In this paper I want to critically look at ideas about tourism and development in NTT, by focusing on the ‘Sail Komodo’ yacht rally, a major tourism event that took place from August to September 2013. Sail Komodo was as a marine tourism event expected to boost tourist numbers, lift the standard of living of people in this province and lower poverty levels. I critically analyze this event within the context of a ‘mega event’, and show how the contradictory ideas about how the event was
meant to lead to prosperity for the poor can indicate the sometimes misguided relationship posited between tourism and development.
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