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The Bali government has given out awards to 29 villages during the Desa Wisata Awards 2017 held last Friday (26/05) at Taman Nusa, Gianyar. The award show is an extension of the government’s program to further nurture and develop these “tourist villages” that can also function as homestays. In fact, the Ministry of Tourism aims to have 20 thousand homestays available in 2017.

Made Mendra Astawa, head of the award show committee, remarked that the awards were given based on the creativity of the residents who played a crucial role in advancing the potential of their villages. The selection stage had 36 villages contending for the award, but ultimately only 29 were chosen.

As reported by Viva, out of 29 villages, the judge’s panel picked 17 winners in the silver category and 12 for the bronze, which includes two villages from Gianyar District: Batubulan and Mas Village in Ubud; and four from Buleleng District: Kalibukbuk, Pemuteran, Munduk, and Sambangan. Unfortunately, there weren’t any champs in the gold category which was attributed to the lack of incomplete legal documents.

Astawa said that the panel consisted of 14 judges from different fields, and the evaluation process started from April 20 up to May 18. The winners were picked based on ASEAN standards which cover management system, adherence to Sapta Pesona (local principles that range from safety, cleanliness to order) and the implementation of the 12 programs set up by the Tourist Village Communication Forum.

According to A.A Yuniartha, Head of Bali’s Tourism Agency, there are 104 tourist villages in Bali, and he hopes that the award show can entice them to further develop their potential. “We are confident that these villages can be a major attraction for tourists because many people from Europe really love them,” said Yuniartha.

He also added that the program can play a role in reducing poverty in certain areas, especially since the government has set aside a substantial budget to develop these villages, as well as to minimize urbanization. But Yuniartha adds one cautious note: before building more tourist villages, they must know what makes them unique in the first place. “The program must highlight the unique potential of each village,” he said.

The Ministry of Tourism is currently going all out in terms of developing tourist villages across Indonesia, with the target of building 100,000 homestays by 2019. “Once they are ready, we will promote them through their selling platform, which is the DMP or Digital Market Place,” said Tourism Minister, Arief Yahya. “These tourist villages can have a dual function: first as homestays where visitors can stay in a house run by the locals who are already aware of what the tourism industry can contribute to their lives; then second as attractions, because visitors can experience the lives of the residents, along with the culture that they live in, which you cannot find in any other country.”