Welcoming Event in Muntei Tourist Village, Source: Jadesta, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy.
28 Aug 2023
Taking place at the Teater Tanah Airku, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII), East Jakarta, on Sunday (27/8/2023), the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, announced the winners of the 2023 Indonesian Village Tourism Award (ADWI). Out of the 4,573 participating villages, 75 were recognized as the best. This exceeded the initial target of 4,000 villages.
The assessment process was divided into several categories, which included Visitor Attractions, Souvenirs, Homestays and Toilets, Digital and Creative, as well as Village Tourism Institutions and CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety, and Environmental Sustainability).
As reported on the official website of the Mentawai district government, there are several categories for tourist villages besides the Visitor Attraction category, including Advanced Tourist Village, Developing Tourist Village, Pilot Tourist Village, and Best Tourist Village. A total of 10 tourist villages have been awarded the Visitor Attraction category. They are Muntei Tourist Village, Mentawai Islands Regency, West Sumatra; Soinrat Tourist Village, Southeast Maluku Regency, Maluku; Botubarani Tourist Village, Bone Bolango Regency, Gorontalo; Bukit Batu Tourist Village, Bengkalis Regency, Riau; and Ramang-ramang Tourist Village, Maros Regency, South Sulawesi, which is the 5th winner.
A total of 33 governors, mayors, and district heads, as well as 33 heads of provincial tourism departments, attended the ADWI event. Also present were 33 heads of district and city tourism departments, village heads, village chiefs, nagari leaders, and representatives from 75 tourist villages from all over Indonesia. According to the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, the provinces with the most tourist villages in the top 500 are West Sumatra (40 tourist villages), East Java (40 tourist villages), and South Sulawesi (40 tourist villages). In Sumatra, West Sumatra has the highest number of tourist villages with 40, followed by North Sumatra (20 tourist villages) and Lampung (16 tourist villages).
According to information on the Kemenparekraf website, Desa Muntei covers an area of 20,400 hectares. The area consists of 1,200 hectares of paddy fields, 6,000 hectares of farms, 4,000 hectares of livestock areas, and 4,000 hectares of forests. Geographically, the South Siberut sub-district shares borders with Siberut in the north, Southwest Siberut in the south, Mentawai Strait in the east, and West Siberut sub-district in the west. Desa Muntei is located in this area.
In Muntei, there are 8 villages located either along the river or on the land. To reach the upstream area, which includes Magosi, Salappak, and Bekkeiluk villages, visitors need to cross the river in Muntei. On the other hand, the villages of Pariok, Peining Buttet, Muntei, Toktuk, and Puro II can be accessed by road.
Moreover, Muntei village is also home to two cultural centers. The first one is called Sangar Bubuakat, which serves as a gathering place for the community, especially children, to learn about Mentawai culture. It is also where they keep various cultural attributes such as gajeumak (dance drums), the lulak (a food container), tuddukat, and other cultural tools used during ceremonies and rituals.
Next, there is another studio called Sanggar Uma Jaraik Sikerei. This studio has the same goal as Bubuakat, which is to introduce and educate children about Mentawai culture. It is managed by the Department of Tourism, Youth, and Sports. In this studio, there is a blend of traditional and modern music.
The charming Muntei Tourism Village emerged as the champion in the Visitor Attraction Category.
The Muntei Tourism Village in Mentawai Islands Regency, West Sumatra emerged as the winner in the Visitor Attraction category at the Indonesian Tourism Village Award 2023. This achievement is attributed to its unique and authentic features, including its natural, manmade, and cultural attractions.
Adam Rachmatullah, MSc., a lecturer at Trisakti Tourism Institute and a leading expert in ecotourism, mentioned that in 2019, Trisakti collaborated with TFCA Sumatra to receive a grant for eco-tourism development on Siberut Island, Mentawai Islands Regency. The project, titled “Eco-tourism Development in Three Supporting Villages of Siberut,” encompasses three tourism villages in the area, and Muntei happens to be one of them.
“In 2019, Muntei was not yet a tourist village,” he said. The Siberut region has a plethora of tourist potentials, including Muntei village. It offers exquisite culinary delights, unique souvenirs, and even the renowned world’s oldest tattoo (received the MURI award). Moreover, you can explore the fascinating realm of sikerei, the traditional healers who are believed to communicate with the spiritual world. The local community embraces diverse traditions and cultures evident in their traditional musical instruments, ceremonial tools, and other sacred artifacts used in rituals and ceremonies. Additionally, you can witness the captivating Uma traditional houses, which are distinctive to the Sakukuret and Salakkopa tribes.”
Adam then conveyed that the village of Muntei is one of the important gateways for the tourism industry. In addition to its natural beauty, the customs and traditions mentioned above are attractive to tourists. The majority of its inhabitants are farmers and ranchers who live harmoniously with nature. Muntei Village is a unique attraction for tourists who want to explore the uniqueness of the Mentawai Islands.
With a distance of approximately 9 km from Maileppet Port, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach Muntei Village. The village is located between Maileppet Village and Muara Siberut and has 8 hamlets, some located along the river and others on the land. There are also unique attractions here, such as natural tourism activities like searching for sago caterpillars, as well as artificial tourism like arrow poison making and sago processing. Tourists can also enjoy local delicacies such as magok sago nastar, tamra sigajai, and kapurut sago.
“First, we created the organization from scratch. We established a tourism-aware group called ‘Pokdarwis.’ It was a complete beginners’ guide, covering everything from building infrastructure and managing homestays to financial management and handling tourist attractions and activities,” Adam explained.
“We brought in various professional speakers, including those from TFCA,” said Adam. We held the training twice a month for a two-year period, which had its fair share of challenges, especially during the early stages of the pandemic.
In terms of infrastructure, the accommodations were relatively simple. There were no hotels available, so we transformed the locals’ houses into homestays. They were clean, well-organized, and comfortable.
“In terms of road infrastructure, it is relatively good, with only 30 percent still being dirt roads. Seventy percent has already been paved,” added Adam.
“The main constraint we encountered was in communication infrastructure, as the signal was weak,” he continued.
According to Adam, the benefits of a tourist village for the economic prosperity of the residents cannot be quickly measured. Even a year after the project, it is still not possible due to various factors, especially during the recovery period after the pandemic. However, it is important to understand that all post-training attributes have been given and the residents are ready to welcome tourists.
“Interestingly, most of the tourists are foreigners,” Adam said.
The market segmentation is indeed more directed towards foreign tourists. They come to surf and are directed to visit Muntei Tourist Village. At least 10 foreign tourists visit the village every week. According to Adam, this poses a unique challenge.
“So, economically, the benefits of a tourism village are not yet significant. The main economic activity for the community is still in farming,” explains Adam.
In terms of livelihood, this tourism activity is just a side job. Having a few foreign guests visiting each week provides some extra income. On average, in a month, around 5 to 10 foreign tourists stay at the homestays in Muntei village.