Cultural tourism development in Ngada, Flores, Indonesia

Cole, Stroma (2003) Cultural tourism development in Ngada, Flores, Indonesia. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis is an action ethnography of tourism development in two villages in Ngada, Flores. It examines the inter-relationship between culture and tourism. The thesis explores the villagers' attitudes, experiences values and priorities in tourism, and contrasts these with those of the tourists and mediators in tourism: guides and government, to reveal the 'conflicts of tourism'. The thesis compares two neighbouring villages and explores the micro level detail required to understand tourism development.

Research for this thesis has been carried out over more than ten tears. Early research (1989-1994) was carried out as a tour operator. Numerous short visits and two periods of field research, one of eight months (1998-1999), followed. Credibility as a successful tour operator and long established relations meant a strong bond of trust existed when the researcher carried out fieldwork. Participant observation was used to derive a deep understanding of tourism in the villages. Focus groups were carried out with different sections of the population and local guides. Interviews were carried out with personnel from government departments. Tourists were observed and interviewed.

The thesis contributes to knowledge by providing a detailed ethnography of emergent tourism development. The comparison of two villages reveals just how important local cultural details are in our understanding of cultural processes in tourism. While cultural tourism is developed to bring economic benefits, authenticity is associated with poverty and based on markers relating to the past. Tourism is working to fossilise the villages. However the villagers are not passive and the commodification process can also be regarded as a step on the ladder to empowerment.

As an action ethnography, the explicit intention of the study was to aid the villagers. The focus groups started the process of knowledge sharing, and recommendations have been made on how to further the development of cultural tourism in the villages.

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