There’s no doubt that travelling allows us to expand our horizons and learn from different cultures.
It brings us closer as a global community and provides countless experiences that stay with us in our memories. One aspect of tourism that might be overlooked is how we interact with the places we visit and how this may have negative or positive impacts on the local environment, culture, or economy.
Indonesia has become a tourist destination with its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and diversity. With temples, historic architecture, and incredible street food to try, Indonesia is the go-to place for an adventurous yet relaxing holiday.
In many ways, travelling is a beautiful thing, but as travellers, we should be mindful of the culture, beliefs, and way of life of local people or places. If you’ve travelled or visited a tourist attraction, you’ve most probably cringed at the way a tourist may have acted. Who knows, you may have even been cringed at! Being understanding and patient with cultures and beliefs is just a small part of being a good tourist and this may save you some embarrassment at public attractions.
A way to approach being a good tourist is by doing your research. Whether it be looking into the culture and history of Indonesia, or even learning a few words in Bahasa Indonesia. Of course, you don’t have to be an expert, but having some background knowledge of Indonesian beliefs and way of life could make a huge difference in how you enjoy your holiday. Knowing a few words in the local lingo is a great way to make some local friends too!
Something to be considered when doing research is different people’s beliefs and values. Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, making prayer times and celebrations something to keep in mind when visiting the country. Communicating with drivers and giving them time for prayer or respecting people fasting during Ramadan is an easy way to show deference to Indonesian people’s beliefs.
This idea of being considerate goes hand in hand with travel etiquette such as respecting historic attractions. Dressing appropriately, greeting locals politely, and being spatially aware are just small actions to take when visiting a sacred place. No one wants to be the loud tourist disrupting everyone’s trips.
As important as it is to be culturally sensitive, being environmentally conscious matters too. Travelling means that you’re visiting someone’s home and it’s important to treat it like you would treat your own. When selecting items to carry with you on your trip, taking products with environmental packaging is an easy way to respect others’ space while contributing to a better planet overall is vital. Putting waste in rubbish bins, taking it to local recycling centres, and picking up litter is a simple way to do your bit to respect the local environment.
With cultural sensitivity and social responsibility in mind, another important element to remember is your purpose for travelling. Travelling allows us to learn about different cultures, make memories, engage in diverse experiences that you may never experience in your home country, and taking risks. As tempting as it may be to stay at a five-star hotel, visit Starbucks every morning, and shop at high-end malls, supporting the local economy is a way to assimilate with the culture of the local community and gain experiences. You may take Bluebird taxis, visit the countless local markets, purchase some souvenirs to take home, or try some delicious street food – sate ayam and bakso are some honourable mentions. There are countless opportunities to enjoy Indonesian culture and support the local community together.
A little effort can go a long way when travelling, and small actions of consideration benefit the local community you’re visiting while enriching your travel plans. Be well-researched, gracious, and listen to the people around you. It’s a privilege to be able to travel and be welcomed with open arms! In being respectful, Indonesia will be more than happy to welcome you and give you an enjoyable holiday.