Airport Expansion in Indonesia: tourism, land struggles, economic zones and aerotropolis projects

Indonesia cover mA new report Airport Expansion in Indonesia: tourism, land struggles, economic zones and aerotropolis projects has been published by the Third World Network (TWN) in partnership with GAAM. Airport expansion in Indonesia is closely intertwined with a government drive for massive tourism growth, and the 64-page report looks at 58 airports, operational, under construction and still in the planning stage.

New airports, and expansion of existing airports, frequently entails displacement of communities and loss of farmland and the report documents land rights struggles relating to 25 airport projects. Planners often hone in on forested land as an alternative to the use of agricultural land for airport projects.

Aviation expansion in Indonesia is integrated with other megparojects such as multi-lane highways and sea ports, and linked to new Special Economic Zones (SEZs). These areas are designated for industrial and tourism development, provided with surface transportation networks and other supportive infrastructure and lavished with tax breaks and other incentives. Several SEZs have been bestowed with long stretches of coastline boasting white sand beaches, natural assets that are a cornerstone of tourism.

There are many plans for aerotropolis-style development, including around two airports currently under construction in Java – Kulon Progo and Kertajati – in the face of vigorous and long standing resistance from communities being forced to leave their homes and productive agricultural land. A number of aerotropolis plans are integrated with development of tourist resorts that aspire to become aviation dependent destinations in their own right. The report accompanies GAAM’s digital map which features all the airports that are mentioned, integrating spatial information with text and images.

Since the report went to print plans for a new airport in the Seribu Islands (Thousand Islands) off the coast of Jakarta have been announced. This appears to be a scheme for tourism oriented aerotropolis style development as the Jakarta administration has stated that the winner of the tender will be permitted to build resorts near the airport, and will be provided with incentives.

For paper copies of the report, please contact:  Third World Network, 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia, Tel: 60-4-2266728/2266159, Fax: 60-4-2264505, Email: twn@twnetwork.org.

Advertisements

Tourism: Global civil society witnesses joint statement appeals for harm avoidance

A group of CSOs (civil society organizations) have taken action to help raise awareness of and influence the United Nations tourism agenda. The United Nations has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IY2017) to promote tourism’s role in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Civil society groups have long voiced concerns over tourism growth that, through its aviation dependency, is fossil fuel dependent, and is a key driver of land grabs displacing communities and destroying ecosystems. GAAM joined a number of CSOs in issuing a joint statement criticizing the current global tourism and development model. Entitled ‘Tourism, Urgent Appeal for Harm Avoidance’, the statement was issued on 22nd May, the International Day for Biodiversity which was marked this year on the theme of ‘sustainable tourism’. The statement was issued by: International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Investigation and Monitoring Team (Tim-Team), Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM), Third World Network (TWN), Consumers Association of Penang, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth, Malaysia), and Tourism Advocacy and Action Forum (TAAF).

An article by Friends of the Earth International International Day for biological biodiversity: celebrate by protecting biodiversity, not promoting tourism critiques the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) for using the International Day for Biodiversity to promote tourism and mentioning the need to reduce its negative impacts, but failing to recognize that many so-called ‘sustainable tourism’ projects, fail host communities by denying them revenue generation and self-determination. In the worst cases indigenous peoples are evicted to make way for resorts. FOE calls for tourism policies that protect ecosystems and the rights of local communities, calling for celebration of International Biodiversity Day by challenging the dominant tourism business model.

Aviation is one of the most rapidly growing sources of climate damaging greenhouse gas emissions and a press release from the Global Forest Coalition Aviation Emissions Under Scrutiny On Sustainable Tourism Day raises the issue of proposals to offset these emissions, which were discussed at last week’s climate talks in Bonn, Germany.  Instead of reducing its emissions the aviation industry seeks to offset them with monoculture tree plantations which are a threat to biodiversity and local communities. The plantations destroy natural ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities that depend on them.

Challenging tourism growth: the role of aviation and impacts on biodiversity

Tourism was on the agenda at the 13th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Cancun, Mexico in December 2016. The draft Cancun Declaration recognizes that tourism, a major sector in the global economy, is dependent upon biodiverse ecosystems. A Third World Network (TWN) briefing paper, ‘Tourism at the tipping point: Governance for future generations’, prepared by Alison M. Johnston, Director of the International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Canada, urges a precautionary approach to tourism growth, challenging the institutionalization of the industry as a ‘pre-approved enterprise’ which facilitates its expansion into remote areas, often damaging rather than conserving ecosystems and biodiversity. The paper highlights the role of aviation, the tourism industry’s dependence upon the petroleum industry, the impacts on indigenous peoples and considerations for future generations.

The paper was presented and discussed at a COP side-event entitled ‘Tourism and Biodiversity: Benefits and Hazards’ that was co-organized by the TWN, the Global Forest Coalition, the International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism (ISCST) and the Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (tim-team). This input to the UN biodiversity conference, and other critical perspective on tourism, are particularly important in view of the United Nations designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, aiming to support ‘a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector’.

 

Tinkering with ‘sustainable or eco-tourism’ hides the real face of tourism

The United Nations has proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, welcoming projected growth in tourism, already one of the world’s biggest industries, as bringing benefits of economic development and eradicating poverty. Yet tourism has multi-dimensional, serious, impacts on people and the environment. Most importantly, it is a major and growing source of climate damaging greenhouse gas emissions, primarily due to energy intensive transportation such as air travel. Even when proclaimed as ‘green tourism or ‘eco-tourism’, tourism often fails to meet the needs of host communities, resulting in widening inequalities, cultural erosion and damage to ecosystems. These social, economic and environmental downsides are examined in an article: ‘Tinkering with ‘sustainable or eco-tourism’ hides the real face of tourism‘.

 

Written by Anita Pleumarom (Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team) and Chee Yoke Ling (Third World Network), the article was published to coincide with the 2016 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) that took place in New York from 11th to 20th July. The HLPF on Sustainable Development is the United Nations’ central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25th Spetember 2015. The article is based on a chapter entitled Corporate capture subverts production and consumption transformation by Chee Yoke Ling, published in Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2016: Report by the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, (11 July 2016, pp.94-100). The report puts a spotlight on fulfillment of the SDGs, looking at obstacles to achievement of the objectives and evaluating the policy approaches.

Third World Resurgence – tourism issue

3WR coverThe September / October 2015 issue of Third World Resurgence magazine, published by the Third World Network, is a double issue with a special focus on tourism. The digital edition of the magazine is now available as a pdf file.

The tourism section of the magazine is introduced with an in-depth article by Anita Pleumarom, coordinator of the Bangkok based Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (tim-team) and member of the Tourism Advocacy and Action Forum (TAAF) and includes the following articles:
  • Tourism – a driver of inequality and displacement – Anita Pleumarom
  • Tourism and the biosphere crisis: Provisions for inter-generational care – Alison M Johnston
  • Rise of the aerotropolis – Rose Bridger
  • Tourism for women’s rights? – Albertina Almeida
  • Maasai fight eviction from Tanzanian community land by US-based ecotourism company – Susanna Nordlund
  • The puputan struggle against the Benoa Bay reclamation project – Anton Muhajir
  • Tourism, the extractive industry and social conflict in Peru – Rodrigo Ruiz Rubio
  • Tourism and the consumption of Goa – Claude Alvares
  • The occidentalisation of the Everest – Vaishna Roy
  • The getthoisation of Palestine – tourism as a tool of oppression and resistance – Freya Higgins-Desbiolles
  • The bitter irony of ‘1 billion tourists – 1 billion opportunities’

The magazine critiques the assumption that expansion of the tourism industry is an economic panacea for poor countries – a passport to eradicating poverty, providing livelihoods for poor and marginalised communities. Massive expansion of tourism is championed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which also proclaims broader social benefits of preserving cultural heritage and protection of precious ecosystems and biodiversity.

Yet research of the impact of tourism, over many decades, refutes these purported miraculous benefits. Only a minimal proportion of tourists’ expenditure remains in the host community. Most of the profits are siphoned off by transnational firms – tourism operators, airlines and hotel chains. Megatourism projects supported by governments follow neoliberal diktats of privatization, deregulation and financial liberalization, all of which benefit big business.

In spite of the wealth of evidence that tourism has a very poor record of lifting people out of poverty, vast amounts of aid funding – from foreign governments, international and multilateral aid agencies – is spent on luxury tourism facilities such as five star hotels, in the midst of impoverished communities lacking even basic housing and amenities. And, instead of protecting cultural heritage and ecosystems, mega tourism complexes – such as integrated resorts combining hotels and entertainment facilities like casinos, marinas for supersized yachts and islands devoted entirely to tourism that require large scale land reclamation – destroy vast swaths of these precious assets.

A proliferation of tourist developments that are supposedly ‘eco’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘pro-poor’ fails to live up to these self-adopted labels. In the main such projects are still controlled by big business. Crucially,  international tourism’s supposed sustainability and environmental credentials are seriously and fundamentally undermined by heavy dependence on highly carbon intensive aviation. This dependence is deepening with the widespread planning and construction of aerotropolis projects, highlighted as epitomising the ‘mindless, destructive development engendered by tourism’.

Global travel and tourism growth continues. The sector is forecast to grow by more than 3.5% in 2015, a growth rate over 1% higher than global GDP.

Check out the Tourism Critic Facebook page for regular updates about the negative impacts of unsustainable tourism on society and the natural environment, particularly in developing countries. Tourism Critic aims to mobilize people, groups and networks to help reshape debates around tourism in favour of narratives supporting human rights, social, ecological and climate justice, and equitable, sustainable development. For more information on the negative impacts of tourism growth in Southeast Asia and southern China see the Southeast Asia Tourism Monitor (sea-tm) bi-monthly newsletter.