COMMUNICATION STRATEGY OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM BUSINESS OF THE LODGE MARIBAYA BANDUNG
Tourism is one of the most escalating sectors in the world for the past few years, particularly in developing countries. In recent years, data shows large numbers of tourist going in and out of developing countries even more than the countries’ targeted tourist numbers in a year. The tourism industry, indeed, has been one of the significant contributors to the world’s GDP total amount.
The rapid escalation of the tourism industry not only affects positively, for instance, increase the region and country’s income but also affects negatively. The negative impacts that have been concerned prominently by most parties, especially UNWTO, including environmental impact, social impact, and cultural impact. Tourism destination that attracts thousands of tourists might damage the environment. Large numbers of visitors interact with the locals most likely might danger the local culture. On the other hand, tourism destination developments without involving the locals might affect regional economic development negatively.
Facing the problems above new concept of tourism development has been generated, which is known as sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism emphasizes three key points, which is planet, people, and profit. This tourism development concept underlines sustained environmental conservation, locals empowerment, and economic growth while addressing the needs of tourists, the industry, environment and also host communities.
Established in 2015, The Lodge Maribaya located in Bandung Barat Regency commenced its business with the environmental conservation and local people empowerment concept. Initially, the owner of The Lodge Maribaya merely intended to provide a small area which environmentally friendly for a family camping site. It turned out the business became well-known and growing over the past few years and required the owner to hire more staffs in which she recruited from the locals.
Being well-known has attracted more tourists, year by year. This tourism business has grown larger each year indicated by the increasing amount of income. Aware of its potential and also the damage may occur because of the overwhelming number of visitors, the owner then focused on business development based on the sustainable tourism concept. In the development process, The Lodge Maribaya put more efforts on conservation, empowering as many local people in the business, preserving local culture through cultural performance in the tourism package, while increasing income by creating more creative tourism attraction. However, it could only embark the creative development in 2016, after settled varying social and cultural issues with the locals.
The Lodge Maribaya has been dealing with varied issues with the locals for approximately two years. The issues included the locals disliking traffic and huge crowd caused by the increasing numbers of tourists in their neighbourhood; the neighborhood atmosphere changes drastically annoyed the locals; dispute amongst the locals initiated by those who refused to work for The Lodge and provoke the locals-employee to quit from their job; the locals-employee got provoked and demanded for raised salary; and other locals demanded to be involved in the development of the tourism destination area.
The major objective of this study was to investigate the communication strategy of sustainable tourism business of The Lodge Maribaya Bandung in facing the social and cultural issues with the locals. This study employed case study methods where the data collection was done by observing, interviewing, and studying some relevant literature. The interviews conducted with the General Manager and staffs of The Lodge Maribaya also with the locals in the neighborhood.
The results reveal that the management of The Lodge Maribaya employed interpersonal communication approach step by step to deal with varying issues brought up by the locals in the area. Step one, the owner invited local people to her house to have a friendly and warm dinner while discussing daily issues and activities of the locals. Step two, the General Manager initiated interpersonal communication approach with the locals, built rapport and engaged interpersonal communication with the locals concerned. Step three, socialized and educated the locals regarding the issue at hand. Step four established a memorandum of agreement with the locals both personally and in groups.
These findings suggest that interpersonal communication still plays the key role in diffusing innovation into the society, particularly the ones who refuse to change and develop. Employing the interpersonal communication approach to the locals and host communities have influenced their decision to accept the new idea or innovation proposed by The Lodge. In order to be able to maintain and develop a tourism business located around the locals’ neighborhood, it is required to build a mutual understanding relationship which beneficial for both parties. Employing an interpersonal communication approach to build rapport and engagement with the locals need a strategy, stages, and great communication skills. Establishing communicator’s credibility also required in the process.