UTS student completing a Masters in Advanced Journalism. Areas of interest include style, subculture, education and community action.
A tourism project in Indonesia is helping disadvantaged youths share their history and culture.
Young Indonesians Rizky, Lady and Ari work for Bogor Tours which is a social enterprise designed to give valuable skills to young people.
A two-hour trip by commuter train from Jakarta in Indonesia, Bogor is a popular day trip for both locals and tourists from around the globe. Despite being Indonesia’s 14th largest city, the clean mountain air and cool temperature make it a pleasant respite from Jakarta’s humidity and smog.
Bogor Tours was established in 2014 by Yayasan Cipta Mandiri, a school which provides free education in arts, culture and language to disadvantaged youth in Bogor. Rather than traditional education, the school focuses on building the independence and practical skills of students.
The youth unemployment rate in Indonesia is almost 16% according to World Bank figures, compared to 12% in Australia. And it's even higher in rural areas.
Bogor Tours is one of eight “youth empowerment internship programs” run by Yayasan Cipta Mandiri, others include handicraft, design, event planning and photography social enterprises.
Some of the profits from the businesses are donated back to Yayasan Cipta Mandiri but the rest go to the young people.
Volunteer tutors at Yayasan Cipta Mandiri, including Australian volunteers placed through Australian Volunteers International, teach students the skills they need to be successful in their respective social enterprises.
“We're different because we're run by young people who are passionate about sharing the culture and history of Bogor,” Ari said.
“We have volunteers and tutors who teach us about tourism and English and other world knowledge,” he said.
Aside from being taught by volunteers, Yayasan Cipta Mandiri also encourages peer learning.
“The three of us are all quite experienced. So we can share our skills with others,” Ari said.
Ari is the most experienced of the group, having being involved with Bogor Tours for around four years, since he was a high school senior. Rizky has been a guide for almost a year, and Lady for about two years. Between the three of them they have guided hundreds of tours.
Not only does working for Bogor Tours give them valuable work experience, but it also gives them the opportunity to learn more about their city.
“I can improve my skills in English and my knowledge about Bogor and the history,” Lady said.
In the middle ages, Bogor was the the capital of the Sunda Kingdom, the Hindu kingdom in the West of Java and in the Dutch colonial era it housed the summer residence of the Governor-General of Dutch East Indies. It’s home to a spectacular presidential palace, one of six in Indonesia, and 87 hectares of botanical gardens with over 15,000 species of plants.
The nearby theme parks and hiking trails are also a draw card for tourists.
Bogor Tours has a range of tours that take full advantage of the city’s unique sites and all itineraries are customised to the interests of the guests. Guides will even pick tourists up from the train station on their motorbikes, the most efficient form of transport on busy Indonesian streets.
The customisation of the tours and passionate local guides makes Bogor Tours a great way to see the sites of the city and surrounds.
“Everything they showed me was really great - super interesting and not touristy and fake like you find with some tour companies,” according to Caitlin, a traveller from Canberra, on Tripadvisor.
“If you're someone who doesn't love tours because of the superficial feel, this is not something you have to worry about. This is a genuine group of people doing grassroots tours.”
Lady, Rizky and Ari hope that the skills they learn working for Bogor Tours will open up doors in the world of hospitality in the future.
And with over 14 million international tourists visiting Indonesia in 2017, tourism is certainly a lucrative opportunity for those with the skills to take advantage of it.
“I want to be a business lady,” Lady said. “I want to open up a cafe or tourism agency.”
Ari is working towards completing higher education in hospitality thanks to a scholarship he received. For him, it's meeting new people from around the world he enjoys most about being a tour guide. He hopes one day he'll be able to take his skills internationally.
“I want to travel around the world and become a businessman in tourism and hospitality.”