Rebuilding Bukit Lawang : the role of ICTs for sustainable development in a post-disaster Indonesian village
Date of Issue2009
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This paper examines the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rebuilding the tourism-based economy of Bukit Lawang, a village in North Sumatra, Indonesia. In 2003, a flood killed one-third of the population and destroyed critical infrastructure, resulting in a heavy loss of tourism revenue and livelihoods. Five years later, this paper inspects the role of new ICTs including mobile phones and the internet in reviving the economy. The Value of ICTs for Healthcare model (Chib, Lwin, Santoso, Hsu, & Ang, 2008) is used for tourism in a post-disaster context. To understand the vulnerabilities affecting people in Bukit Lawang and link them to drivers of sustainable ICT implementation, we used the Technology-Community-Management-Vulnerabilities (TCM-V) model (Chib & Komathi, forthcoming). Qualitative research methods with tourism service providers were used to identify the innovative potential of using ICTs for tourism. 30 in-depth interviews and 15 cases of participant observation were conducted with regard to ICTs for information sharing, marketing and sales, community relationships and evolving communication patterns at the grassroots level in tourism. Findings show that ICTs increased income and opportunities, and social well-being in the tourism industry despite limited access. Significant benefits accrued as mobile phones transformed the business model of tourism, and allowed the rural and backward community to capture tourist demand fully. The mode of production in tourism helped organic diffusion of ICTs within the community even with minimal support from government, private enterprise and the social sector. However, psychological, socio-cultural, economic and informational vulnerabilities arising from the disaster adversely affected socioeconomic sustainability. It was discovered that the disaster altered ICT diffusion drastically, making mobile phones more popular than the internet. Even in poverty, people preferred private access to ICTs over cheaper public facilities. New communication networks evolved as ICTs fostered close relationships with foreign tourists and within the community. ICTs also facilitated an anti-traditional sub-culture in the tourism community, in contrast with the rest of the population. The paper analyses why adoption and diffusion of ICTs were contained within the tourism sector and did not penetrate into the lives of other people in Bukit Lawang. Suggestions for future research for ICTs in tourism and recommendations for post-disaster rehabilitation are discussed.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Mass media
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University