HUMAN RESOURCES EMPOWERMENT IN TOURISM
Why Human Resources are the Major Key in Tourism Industry?
Tourism industry provided potential advantage not only in economic sector but also the development of community’s pride. However, tourism is a particular industry. The successful in tourism industry must be supported by sufficient human resources. The availability of human resources is a major key in running this business. A certain community acquires benefit from tourism industry if they understand tourism management system, strong commitment from all members of the community, strong leadership, local government involvement, and other stakeholders. Without those components, the successful tourism project is unlikely to happen.
How is The Tourism Industry Development?
Whether it is recognized or not, the development of information and communication technology has increased the capital flows, investment, goods and services from one country to another, especially in developing countries as Indonesia. This period of borderless world is then called as the era of globalization (Giddens, 2001). In this case, globalization leaves its impact to almost all aspects of society including the economic sector.
Tourism industry is an essential component in economy driver. By developing tourism industry, the stakeholders involved could enrich their tourism impact insight. By having good tourism insight, the visitors (domestic and foreigners) will win customers’ satisfaction. This concept is in line with the basic concept of tourism itself that tourism is a travel to benefit from a particular service or tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon related to the movement of people to places outside their usual place of residence pleasure (Encarta Dictionary, 2009).
In supporting tourism industry as economy driver, economic experts believe that tourism industry is a part of economy, which is greatly tied up with culture, because on one hand it provides desirably the introduction of culture, civilization, races, lands, tribes and different dialects with each other and on the other hand it can also be sources of income for the local population at the places visited. As tourism industry is the best stimulus for the stakeholders involved that have a decreasing industry due to possessing a single product or limited sources of income, it is becoming one of the larger economic realities for developing their civilization. Realizing the importance of tourism industry as the best stimulus for the economic impact, private and public tourist sectors must establish the fundamental systems of tourism mindset, creating tourist attractions, purposeful promotions, economic development, investing in standard tourist product, earning exchange currency incomes, and planned dynamic regional and worldwide marketing. To accomplish all these brilliant concepts, human resources either public nor private sectors must be empowered, (Padash and Esfahani, 2008 in Nabilou, 2012: 33).
Furthermore, (Nabilou, 2012: 34) affirms that creative empowered human resources are the central pillars. By utilizing these pillars, the main doers of tourism industry are highly assumed having responsibility, problem solving talents, leading the change and variety, innovation and creative thinking and making proper decisions which are the most important characteristics of noble empowered human resources that are prerequisite of any business to remain consistently successful in the present era.
However, empowerment on human resources in tourism is not an easy task for stakeholders involved. This notion has been referenced to the community development program from St. Paul College of Education Ruteng, Flores, Indonesia at Lingko Cara spider-net rice field terrace, West Flores. Lingko Cara is now become a popular tourist destination in Flores. People are amazed with the concept of its fieldrice that presenting the structure of spider-web. The circle that spreads from the center outward is very central to the beliefs of the local people. This unique rice field structure is actually the potential asset that can be developed to support the community development. In fact, the community around the site do not aware of their own potential thus, the benefit from this site is only pleasant for certain people and not for the whole community. Besides, the lack of knowledge about foreign language, the main problem occur in this community is the lack of understanding about how tourism works. The community does not have solid vision, strong leadership, effective partnerships and financing. They are also lack of the ability to provide what visitors want. Another problem that occurs in this community is the lack of support from residents, local government and business. In the practical needs such as communicative competence, the local community is not ready for real communication and cannot cope with all of tourism activity. A few of them might want to express their ideas spontaneously in English but they do not know how to, so they use their body language and speak with lot of pauses.
Whereas, Lingko Cara spider-net rice field terrace has been regional and worldwide outstanding, countless the beautiful scenery to show off, and it is most amazing view over a number of huge spider-net rice field terraces offered in Manggarai, West Flores, Indonesia. There is no tourism without first generating the world’s interest and awareness. What better way to do just that than through empowerment? Tourism is a business of selling dreams. Make sure that those dreams are easily accessible. By regarding the insight described above, it is obvious that tourism industry could be valuable asset through sufficient human resources.
The Importance of Human Empowerment
The word empowerment is used in many different contexts and by many different organizations. Literature about empowerment is found in the fields of education, social work, or psychology. There are varieties of understandings of the term empowerment due to its widespread usage.
Increasingly, empowerment is being understood as a process of change (Cornell Empowerment Group, 1989). McClelland as stated in Lord and Hutchirson (1993) has suggested that in order for people to take power, they need to gain information about themselves and their environment and be willing to identify and work with others for change. In a similar vein, Whitmor as stated in Lord and Hutchirson (1993) defines empowerment as an interactive process through which people experience personal and social change, enabling them to take action to achieve influence over the organizations and institutions which affect their lives and the communities in which they live.
According to Pinderhughes (1993), empowerment is a social-action process that promotes participation of people, organizations, and communities towards the goals of increased individual and community control, political efficacy, improved quality of community life, and social justice. While Whitmore (1988) feels the concept of empowerment needs to be more clearly defined, she states that there are some common underlying assumptions:
- Individuals are assumed to understand their own needs better than anyone else and therefore should have the power both to define and act upon them.
- All people possess strengths upon which they can build.
- Empowerment is a lifelong endeavor.
- Personal knowledge and experience are valid and useful in coping effectively.
In accordance with this study, empowerment is defined as processes whereby individuals achieve increasing control of various aspects of their lives and participate in the community with dignity.
Unlike many other industries, tourism demands the strict corporation among the different parts of a community. The ideal practice of tourism relies on the cooperation of local government, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations and private citizens alike. Working together to offer a positive experience to visitors usually includes steps to beautify a community and often leads to increased community pride. Without the empowerment of human resources, the successful tourism project is unlikely to happen.
Significance of Human Resources in Tourism Industry
According to Murphy (1985), more and more communities are looking at tourism because of the many economic, environmental, and social benefits it can offer. For example, tourism offers important, satisfying employment opportunities for a wide range of people. In addition, the tourism industry relies heavily on entrepreneurs. A wide variety of small businesses benefit from tourism, from bed and breakfasts, cafes and restaurants, adventure tourism companies , grocery stores and marine supply stores. All of these businesses support the needs of visitors and, therefore, benefit from tourism revenue. Growth in tourism businesses is largely driven by new investment from existing operators within the region and/or attracting entrepreneurs from outside the community who create and market new tourism attractions and experiences.
Richard (2006) assumes that those who admire to be success in this industry are also expected to possess the skills and competences such as computer skills, business and strategic planning, strategic alliances, management skills, management through visions and values, yield management, accounting, product development, innovation, human resource management, destination management, project management, management skills to cope with globalization influences, change management, marketing and sales skills, etc.
By this complex necessity, the community must be prepared to be actively involved in the tourism practices. The fact is that, not all community realize this complex tasks. In Lingko Cara, for example, the community around the tourism site do not aware of their excess. Many tourists from around the world come to visit and enjoy the wonderful of their nature. In high sessions, there can be more than 10 (ten) visitors who come and enjoy the site in a day. But because this place is not particularly managed as the formal tourism destination, the community do not obtain any benefits from the tourism practices there.
It is also obviously measles that this potential destination is not seriously managed by the community. Furthermore, the local government also seems to ignore the potential of this tourism destination. It can be seen from the lack of facilities which suitable with the optimum standard of tourism object. Moreover, the community in Lingko Cara do not equipped with the knowledge about tourism.
Another challenge faced by the community of Lingko Cara is the unsolid vision, weak leadership, and ineffective partnerships and financing. These crucial points are greatly related to the quality of human resources available in the community. There is an internal intrigue among the people in the society that highly impacted in the unsolid vision in the community. This internal intrigue cannot even be intervened by the local government, thus all the efforts of managing this tourism destination cannot run well. In this case, it can be seen how the lack of human resources can block the improvement of the strategic tourism destination.
One alternative strategy to cope with this problem is initiating the practice of Community Based Tourism. Community-based tourism is increasingly being developed and promoted as a means of reducing poverty in developing countries, assisting local communities to meet their needs through the offering of a tourism product. The impact of Community-Based is seen by many as a ‘win-win’ situation with reference to natural resources conservation and the improvement of local communities’ livelihoods. Lea (1998) clarifies that in many developing countries, Thailand for example, the CBT process has facilitated the development of diverse new skills and self-confidence among community members. Gradually as tourism gets underway, local people are empowered as hosts and guides. They develop improved communication and presentation skills by showing guests the proud elements of their lives that define who they are. Training, seminars and study tours strengthen the communities’ efficiency in planning and organization, management and administration. Furthermore, Arntzen, et.al (2007) describe that community based tourism is a participatory process. This means that everyone has a change to work together and share his or her skills and hopes. By assisting each other to plan and manage community based tourism, the members of the community forge closer, stronger relationship, and strengthening the foundation of community trust and unity.
Communities must go through a process of empowerment and development before tourism becomes the focal point. The first area of focus is to build a sustainable wealth creating community with organized productive activities. These activities would create economic and social benefits for its members through employment and financial stability. After this has taken root, tourism can be introduced to communities, to create even greater profit. The strategy of human resources empowerment can be started by initiating the practice of Community Based Tourism. However, this strategy will acquire the strong commitment from all members of the community including the local government, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), and the commitment from the community itself. (Editor by Adrian Floresfuntrips)
This article has been published by STKIP St. Paulus Publisher page: 433-443 under the title: Culture Exploration & Society in Education.
Author: Sebastianus Menggo; A lecturer at English Study Program of St. Paul College, Jl. Jend. Ahmad Yani, No. 10, Ruteng-Flores, Indonesia 86508
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