idGuides ConnectidGuides non-profit development initiative, idGuides Connect, offers new career opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the expeditions field, and supports communities by training trail guides, developing trails and accessing markets.
We look to trekking and trail event‐based development models such as Nepal, East Africa & East Timor, which have transformed communities and economies, for inspiration, and to UK RGS /US NOLS protocols for best practice. We work in the interests of Indonesia‐wide idGuides networked trek, trail and mountain guides of all levels, and for an expanding network of idGuides partnership communities developing eco & trail‐based tourism.
Through the revenue-sharing arrangement introduced by idGuides, trail tourism is increasingly recognised by community members as a new source of village revenue. Efforts are underway to support the establishment of a community trail tourism association, with rules, roles and sanctions agreed to support decision-making by communities themselves on tourism operations and revenue spending. Until this is in place, idGuides holds the funds in trust for the communities, and disburses twice annually to 4 RW sub-village units for projects communities propose to fall within 4 “grant windows” look in the figure for a full explaination revenue distribution:
- Access infrastructure (to date – small-scale bridges, village road maintenance for motorbike access);
- Agriculture (to date – padi field irrigation);
- Women and children (to date – pesantren, womens’ cooking group); and
- Conservation and eco-tourism (to date – tree planting, waste management & infrastructure, trail maintenance).
idGuides launched the Easy Escape Jakarta half day treks and Acacia Camp in 2009 as a pioneering collaboration with Karang Tengah village in the highlands east of Sentul City, near Jakarta. The intention was a) to provide a service for a Jakarta market increasingly in need of quick, traffic-free access to fresh air, wide spaces, exercise and rural heritage, and b) to develop a local community tourism model building on well-known East Africa and Nepal pro-poor eco and trail tourism initiatives.
At the outset, local Sentul communities did not recognise the value of their landscape, trails, proximity to Jakarta, knowledge or way of life, and were embarrassed by the poverty they felt it conveyed. Now into its 4th year, the cadre of community expedition service providers trained by idGuides as trail guides, camp managers & staff, cooks, drivers, porters & runners, are well-known and respected in Jakarta and beyond for their service, local knowledge, safety and for their iconic idGuides blue guides shirts. “Saya pakai Biru” (“I wear Blue”) is now an expression of pride having earned the right to wear the iconic blue idGuides uniform, and is a new aspiration for others to become a community trail guide.
Lessons so far from the Sentul pilot indicate that there is high potential for trail tourism to take off for communities in similar trail-rich locations across Indonesia. Growing demand in Asia for trail and adventure tourism and trail sport is a great opportunity, but also poses threats to communities and tourists alike if not responsibly developed.
idGuides will continue to work across Indonesia to build more trail tourism partnerships, such as Sentul. To make this possible on the scale that is required, additional funding from development grants and corporate partnerships is needed to respond to demand.
Demand is coming from;
- Communities themselves;
- NGOs working with natural resource-dependent communities to improve conservation-based livelihoods;
- District and national government seeking ways to spread tourism benefits and jobs to highland and coastal communities, and;
- Private companies and organisations (hotels, operators, corporate retreats, international schools, etc) for safe and new trail-based offerings to an increasingly active, safety-conscious and socially- and environmentally-discerning clientele.
Perhaps you know of a community, guide or fantastic location which could benefit from joining the idGuides Network for support?
Perhaps you are interested to get involved, to engage in a development partnership to support a region or community you know? We’d love to hear from you.