This year, Indonesia made a strong showing in the list of winners of the UNWTO's Best Tourism Village program. Two villages received international recognition in this award: Penglipuran Village and Taro Village of Gianyar in Bali, and Bilebante Village in West Nusa Tenggara and Pela Village in East Kalimantan.
The UNWTO Best Tourism Village program aims to reward villages that maintain cultural sustainability, celebrate diversity, provide opportunities, and protect natural ecosystems.
In announcing the winners of the UNWTO Awards 2023, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili highlighted the important role of tourism in creating inclusivity, empowering local communities, and ensuring equitable benefits across regions.
Bali, with its two villages, showed its dominance in this award. Penglipuran Village, a well-known tourist destination in Bali, has become one of the winners of the UNWTO Awards 2023, marking a remarkable achievement that they have achieved several times before. Penglipuran Village has successfully implemented this concept over the past decade, with a commitment to preserving culture and tradition and minimizing the negative impacts of modernization.
One of the most striking things about this village is that it is car-free, which has been discussed previously in this article. The village also invites visitors to learn about its unique approach to development, rooted in Balinese Hindu beliefs.
The other village to receive this award is Taro Village in Gianyar Regency, near Ubud. This village is a hidden gem. Here you will experience an "eco-spiritual" journey where the area is still preserved according to highly respected traditional values.
Another interesting thing about this village is that more than 90% of the waste generated in this village is recycled, composted, or reused responsibly. In addition, you will also see the traditional water management system, Subak. This traditional water system is used to manage water for rice fields based on the principle of supporting natural ecosystems.
This system is the legacy of Maya Rai Markayenda, who was from India and came to this region in the 7th century. He taught the local tribes how to live together as a community and studied agriculture so that they could live a sustainable life while staying in the same place.
On the other hand, the village also has interesting cultural wonders to explore, such as the majestic Gunung Ruang temple, the sacred Alas Jaka forest that surrounds the village, and the sacred white cow that roams the village pastures. You can also enjoy jungle trekking, waterfall hiking, cycling, and farm tours where guests can learn about traditional farming techniques.