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SUKU MENTAWAI LAUNCH ECOTOURISM

It has been a busy few months for As Worlds Divide, Indigenous Education Foundation (IEF) and the Suku Mentawai team. The implementation of their Cultural & Environmental Education Program (CEEP) is now underway and the Mentawai committee driven to ensuring its success. One important factor and indicator of their program’s success is sustainability – how the Mentawai team will operate and expand their program independently when IEF steps away in years to come.

The team at Yayasan Pendidikan Suku Mentawai discuss strategy in Siberut

Mentawai’s fastest growing industry is tourism, contributing to a very large portion of their economy. Through this, Suku Mentawai see a viable avenue to generate the funding and support they require to sustain their CEEP. In addition, they also see a great opportunity to govern the impact that forest tourism is having on their Indigenous community, culture and the health of their land.

The outcome of this is Mentawai Ecotourism – a system designed and run by the people whom it affects the most. Ecotourism Manager, August Tonggiat, said: “At the forefront of this new model is respect and transparency. We want tourists to know exactly where their money is going and what impact they are having.”

Australian tourist receiving custom face paint from Mentawai Sikerei during ceremony

The Mentawai have put a great deal of thought and consideration into developing a formula that protects their culture and forest, and shares benefit across the community. Tonggiat said, “We feel we have found the right balance for all. We are working together with tourists to ensure they have the best experience, but at the same time they are contributing toward our capacity for cultural and sustainable community development. This is an enormous improvement on the current system.”

Suku Mentawai have launched their own Mentawai Ecotourism system, details at www.mentawaiecotourism.com

If you are planning to visit Mentawai for trekking or to experience the beautiful rainforest and Indigenous Arat Sabulungan culture, please consider using their Mentawai Ecotourism. The website is now live. Please take a moment to browse, share and follow their updates via Facebook and Instagram. We wish them all the best.

In other news, #WAFSAC – Watch a Film, Save a Culture will be launching globally this October – for 30 DAYS ONLY. Plenty of big announcements over the coming weeks. Join our #wafsac community by registering your details at www.iefprograms.org/wafsac This is very exciting.

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