Atma Jaya University’s Hospitality Study Program Helps to Support the Development of the Mangrove Tourism Village, Brebes

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While carrying out the three mission of the university (tri dharma perguruan tinggi) in Community service for the good of society, the Hospitality Study Program of Atma Jaya Catholic University bears a vision to support the development of the Sari Kaliwlingi Mangrove Tourism Village, Brebes. On April 4 to 7, 2019, twenty of their students and a lecturer under the Tourism Planning class visited the village to outline the problems: observing the area, tourism lecturing, resource management, building social interactions, and training.

Though the strategic location of the village, which is near the sea, and the mangrove forest, promote it’s characteristic, these resources need to be well managed to catch tourist attention.

“In broad outline, we identify what the tourism potential is. Then, we also need to recognize what are the concerning problems. By understanding the potentials and problems, then we proceed to make a deemed program that can develop the area,” says Vieri, one of the participated students who also responsible for the Restaurant Management Program.

Vieri added that they are also collecting information about the restaurants in the area (cleanliness and services), popular local handicrafts such as garam rebus and bandeng duri, and the readiness of the homestay facility.

Coaching on Restaurant Management for Tourists

One of the programs developt by the students is to recreate a few cuisines such as abon udang (shrimp floss), bandeng (milkfish) salted egg, and jeruju leafs tea. The program, which meant to be producing cuisines for tourists, later introduced to the local housewives.

“We tried to run a program to create a recipe for the salted egg, shrimp floss, and jeruju tea. We gave these recipes and methods so the community may produce their own,” says Vieri.

Vieri, and other students, gain an opportunity to join Kelompok Sadar Wisata (POKDARWIS) to harvest milkfish in the residents’ ponds. POKDARWIS itself is a local organization responsible for managing tourism activity in the region. To be granted a license as a Tourism Village, one must have such an organization.

Vieri also asked to practice hygiene in restaurants and revamp the POKDARWIS website as a digital promotion tool for the mangrove village, “We understand that in the village have not fully practice hygiene. For instance, some meals are being kept for days or not in the best condition. So, we give coaching on storing meals properly. Other than that, we helped to revamp website as their marketing tool,”

Certainly, during the program, the team encounters a few obstacles, but then they can work things out, “For instance, we switch the curry leaves to kaffir lime leaves as an alternative when making the bandeng salted egg. When making jeruju tea, we utilize the jeruju leaves from an estuary and immediately conducted trials and find the tea benefits,” explain Vieri.

They also made a timeline to be run in stages. These stages include coaching related to hygiene and losses for the destination. Then, they socialize the correct way of packaging (of course, plastic is not recommended). Then, how to store food properly. After the socialization is complete, they will monitor the restaurant entrepreneurs to run the program well.

Developing Homestay

Gerry, one of the participants, says the most important thing is to understand needs related to sanitation and facilities,

“We can understand by observing the sanitation facilities. Is it disable friendly? Also, how many diners and its locations,” says Gerry

Responsible for managing the homestay program, Gerry explains that along with other students, they tried to map out the locations of the available homestays facility, “We visited every facility to check its accordance with the ASEAN standard. We observe the condition to look for air ventilation, desk, and bed at the least. If it does not match the standard, we give feedback to the manager,”

Though some houses fit for tourist, travelers need to be aware. Therefore, the Hospitality students attach a regulation to follow by the tourist on the visible side of the room. It is also a way to preserve the mangrove village.

The student understands the importance of building good social relations with the locals. According to Gerry, this is a challenge to cope with the existing culture. “We need to behave ourselves. In the homestay, I am part of the family. I need to keep the house tidy. I tried to interact with the householder to avoid any gap,”

In line with Gerry, Vieri also said, in the field of tourism, relationships are essential. This activity is enough to expand the communication skill to communicate with people from different backgrounds and customs and to be quick in solving problems.

“This village taught me, if there is a will to change, there is away. We must keep moving forward along this thriving era,” said Gerry.

Vieri added that “This proves that learning is not only in the classrooms but wherever we are. We also need to lose to gain valuable knowledge and experience. Any knowledge we own should be utilized for society!”