A tourism conference was held in Gunung Sitoli from on 17-18 june 2014. It was attended by senior officials and stake holders from national, province and district tourism offices as well as representatives from the private sector and the community. All five district chiefs (Bupatis and Walikota) of Nias Island signed a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines increased cooperation across district borders in tourism matters. The aim is to facilitate development and promotion of sustainable tourism on all of Nias Island.
The conference was facilitated by senior officials from Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism, such as Mr Sapta Nirwandar, vice minister of tourism and Mr Tazbir Abdullah, director of national tourism promotion (previously head of tourism in the city of Yogjakarta). These very experienced tourism experts shared some of their experiences and offered advice on how to improve tourism on Nias. One speakers brought up the importance of diversification of tourism products on offer. At the moment tourism on Nias is 99% surfing, which is very unusual. Other island tourism destinations in Indonesia also offers cruise, adventure, ecotourism, diving and cultural tourism. There is no reason why this could not work on Nias as well. Another topic was job creation from tourism, and the example of Nusa Dua in Bali was examined. The Nusa Dua area, which covers a few square kilometers, today employs 8000 people in the tourism industry. The second day featured more focused workshops and break away group session. Is was a very productive conference and many useful ideas were discussed. The main theme was that the districts should cooperate more in order for tourism development and promotion to be effective.