Rinjani Geotourism Festival 2020, the First Virtual Geotourism in Indonesia
The first virtual Geotourism Festival 2020 organized by the Rinjani-Lombok Geopark, Government of West Nusa Tenggara Province, supported by Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia was held on 15 and 16 July 2020. The event aimed at promoting West Nusa Tenggara’s geotourism and showcasing local cultural performances and a wide array of local products and tour packages, including virtual tours around Rinjani-Lombok UNESCO Global Geoparks, and an international webinar on Geotourism in Asia Pacific.
The two-day virtual festival kicked off online on 15 July 2020 by the Vice Governor of West Nusa Tenggara, Dr Sitti Rohmi Djalilah. In her opening remarks, Dr Djalilah stated that the virtual Geotourism Festival 2020 is one innovative solutions to promote West Nusa Tenggara by using technology. The representative from Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Ms Rizki Handayani Mustofa, reiterated that the Rinjani-Lombok Geopark is one of the geoturism assets in the West Nusa Tenggara province that has to be preserved in collaboration with local community as their pride. The representative from Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Mr Odo Manuhutu, appreciated the initiative by West Nusa Tenggara in organizing the event as part of recovery efforts in tourism industry during the pandemic. The Director of UNESCO Jakarta, Prof Shahbaz Khan, stated that the initiative gave a possibility to the world to visit Rinjani-Lombok virtually and to contribute to the discussions in managing the current crisis and preparing for an even better experience when travel and tourism recovers from the impacts of the pandemic. He emphasized that the event could be a standard-setting example of innovation that will be observed by other UNESCO Global Geoparks, Biosphere Reserves, and World Heritage sites around the world.
The webinar, featuring speakers from Asia Pacific Geopark Network, Japan Geopark Netwok, and University of Sunshine Coast, Australia, shared the lesson learned in managing geotourism. The virtual tours started on 16 July 2020 with various options of routes including trail to the eruption history of Rinjani, Ancient Caldera of Sembalun, Rinjani Cultural Landscape, Exotic Tambora, Wildlife Bird Watching, Poso Lake and Trekking to the Rinjani Mountain. During the virtual Geotourism Festival 2020, participants could visit the exhibitions page for local products and purchase it online.
West Nusa Tenggara Province, home to Rinjani-Lombok Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO Global Geopark, and Saleh-Moyo-Tambora (SAMOTA) Biosphere Reserve, is actively engaging with various stakeholder to increase the visibility of the sites, their local culture, and promoting the sites as tourism destinations. Virtual tours have become popular amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as a teaser and an informative platform for people to plan their future travel itineraries.