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Results of FKP Series 2 Activities: "Local Competitiveness: Building the Future of the Lake Toba Region"

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Tourism in the Lake Toba area as a sustainable sector must be supported in order to encourage regional economic growth that utilizes environmental and socio-cultural services. Efforts are needed from all parties to create a double blow in increasing economic growth as well as improving community welfare.

-Conclusion of the Development Studies Forum discussion, 3 October 2023

Jakarta, 3 October 2023 Article 33 Indonesia, a policy research institute that focuses on inclusive development, has held an online Development Study Forum (FKP) activity on Tuesday (3/10/2023), with the theme "Local Competitiveness: Building the Future of the Lake Toba Region". Lake Toba, which is located in North Sumatra Province, has been designated as one Super Priority Tourism Destinations (DPSP), along with Borobudur, Labuan Bajo, Likupang and Mandalika. This determination is expected to further move Lake Toba as the main driver of the economy of the surrounding area. 

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In her speech, Chitra Retna as Deputy Director of Article 33 Indonesia said that the establishment of the DPSP was an important breakthrough for the government to boost regional tourism as a benchmarks or a model of what the tourism sector could become drivers development and improving the welfare of the surrounding community.

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"There are ten elements and elements that can make a region have local superior potential, both adaptive elements (information and publications, networks and alliances, cooperation); creative elements (appreciation and prospect); reliable elements (capacity development, research and testing, marketing strategy); and sustainable elements (dissemination and assistance)," Herbert HO Siagian as, Assistant Deputy for Regional Empowerment and Spatial Mobility of the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture added. Herbert emphasized that Lake Toba already has all these elements, both infrastructure and cultural elements, all that remains is to encourage increased human resource capacity, including hospitality, citizens' sense of ownership and downstream local products.

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This was also found in a study on the development of cooperation in the Lake Toba area based on local economic superior potential presented by Salsabila Kusumawardani, Article 33 Indonesia Researcher, where there were six important findings for optimizing local economic superior potential:

  1. Locally based product quality requires halal and IPR certification;
  2. Encouraging hospitality for tourism activists;
  3. It is important to have sustainable cooperation between regions;
  4. There is a need to increase capacity for the MSME and BUMDes Associations;
  5. Potential in Tourism Villages that require coordination with MSMEs;
  6. OPD still needs to manage data to map better cooperation

To maximize superior potential, a number of recommendations are given, namely creating a platform for profiling superior potential, stakeholder mapping, and training for human resource development.

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With various challenges in optimizing the local economy, Tarsudi, Head of the Economic and Natural Resources Division of Bappelitbang North Sumatra, showed data that Lake Toba has succeeded in improving the economic welfare of its surroundings. This is demonstrated by the high growth rate and low unemployment rate in the Lake Toba area compared to North Sumatra Province in general. In line with UNESCO's granting of a "yellow card" to the Lake Toba Geopark, Tarsudi further emphasized the importance of restructuring the Geopark management body and improving the completeness of destination standards including infrastructure. The hope is that this will have an impact on increasing public interest and access to visiting the Lake Toba area. According to him, Lake Toba as a Geopark site must still maintain its location as a conservation area, but at the same time the community can gain economic benefits. 

In closing, Santoso, Executive Director of Article 33 Indonesia, as the moderator in this webinar, conveyed the importance of measuring the success of the tourism sector using measures such as the number of tourists, the length of time they stay in tourist areas, and the number of tourists who return. Apart from that, it is necessary to pay attention to the impact on community welfare by ensuring that MSMEs around Lake Toba can develop, where all parties, including the central government, regional government, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders need to work together to make this happen. 

[CommsPub Article 33 Indonesia]