Naoki Fujimoto Title : The role of tourism social entrepreneurs to reconstruct the social relations towards social justice issues in a destination of Indonesia
The role of tourism social entrepreneurs to reconstruct the social relations towards social justice issues in a destination of Indonesia
By utilizing local resources and the environment in a more sustainable manner and improving the well-being of communities in developing countries, social enterprises could help move the traditional system in the direction of sustainable development (Sheldon et al., 2017, Dahles et al., 2020). Social enterprise-based tourism is a method of tourism that serves as an alternative to the private, government, and non-profit sectors. Although the non-profit sector has the community’s interests at heart, it may lack the relevant business expertise to develop commercially viable tourism products; meanwhile, private sector-led initiatives rarely encourage community participation in business ventures (Burns, 1999; Dahles et al., 2020).
This article analyzes a social enterprise in a rural area of Indonesia where the historical context of a transitional government structure from authoritarianism to liberal democracy that is often being criticized for vertical conflicts between elites and local communities in regional society exerts a substantial influence on the environment (Poratono et al., 2019; Tadjoeddin, 2001). Increasing the role of non-state actors, such as non-governmental organizations, local associations, community groups, and volunteer organizations will play a significant role in transforming social relations or empowering local communities (Scheyvens, 2002). However only a few studies have investigated community empowerment through tourism-related actors in Indonesia and researchers have even implied that tourism-related actors have not yet demonstrated the potential to empower communities in the country (Cole, 2006). Therefore, identifying ways to remove the barriers preventing local communities from achieving sustainable tourism development in Indonesia is critical.
This study investigates how local communities can be empowered through Tourism Social Enterprise (TSE) approaches. In so doing, it makes two contributions to the current body of knowledge. First, it contributes to “tourism social entrepreneurship” research by filling the gap in existing literature pointed out by Sheldon and Daniele’s work (2017, p. 27): the lack of analyses of the ways Tourism Social Enterprises (TSEs) engage with local communities and, by extension, the lack of detailed and nuanced investigations of the social value created by such ventures. Therefore, this article expands the body of knowledge regarding social entrepreneurship in tourism (Aquino, et al, 2018). Second, in exploring the process of community involvement by TSEs in Indonesia, this study develops an in-depth understanding of community empowerment towards sustainable tourism. Its findings highlight the possibility of guiding Indonesian communities’ direct involvement in sustainable development “utilizing” tourism as a catalyst.
Recognizing that few previous studies have examined how TSEs can engage with local communities, this paper explores the case of a small enterprise, Entra Indonesia, which has endeavored to empower the local community by providing them with education, giving them an opportunity to guide tourists, showing them how to treat tourists, disseminating the value of sustainability, and putting aside 20% of its total revenue for local community development and revitalization. Employing a qualitative research methodology in a single in-depth case study, it presents rich insights into the ways a TSE can foster community empowerment. The cultivation of an authentic research relationship with the founder of Entra Indonesia made this study’s observations and in-depth interviews possible.
Examining the case of a TSE in West Sumatra, Indonesia, from the perspective of community empowerment, this study asked how members of local communities can get interested and participate in social enterprise-based tourism, start sustainable businesses, and acquire the power to control tourism development to promote sustainable societal transformation. This study also applied three critical elements of tourism social entrepreneurship— (1) social value creation, (2) social innovation, and (3) sustainable society transformation—as components of a model designed to empower a community and promote comprehensive engagement in sustainable tourism development.
Its findings indicate that TSEs need to develop these elements to foster direct involvement and empower communities to engage in sustainable tourism development. In this case study, Entra Indonesia’s attempt to build the community’s capacity and share knowledge through informal education and training exemplified social value creation. In addition, the fact that social innovation based on creativity and inclusivity was the key characteristic of this case made clear that new ideas from outside can be implemented by localizing them and adapting them to the local capacity and context. Altinay et al., (2016) argued that the value chain creation through TSE approach, requires innovative resource mobilization that includes the local community. In this case, starting the lodge business made this easier by creating a community space. For example, the natural interaction that occurred in this community space raised awareness about and interest in tourists and even fueled tourism development within the local community. As a result, the community was able to make sound decisions together and involve local people in the tourism supply chain while preserving their authentic lifestyle. Demonstrating social innovation by bringing people from outside such as tourists, researchers and students who are interested in environmental and cultural sustainability builds social agreement. Regarding sustainable societal transformation, the TSE tried to foster awareness of sustainability among locals and tourists by creating sustainable tours and programs. It was only able to conduct these activities by gaining acceptance at the local community level and utilizing local resources, the area of study perceives the TSE as its necessary mechanism of community development including social, economic development instead of the government infrastructure.