Dr. Siti Rahmi & Marham Jupri Hadi, M.Ed.
(Presented on National Seminar Which Theme: Empowering Da’wa and Community Development for Sustainability-Improvement of UIN Mataram on May 20th 2017 @Jayakarta Hotel-Senggigi)
This article presents another perspective about Islamic boarding scools (Pesantren). It starts with reviewing the existing paradigm of Pesantren particularly in Indonesia. It further discusses the potential of Pesantren has as one of the world Halal Tourism destination especially in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara Province. It also proposes recommendations concerning with what Pesantren and local authorities are to do to prepare pesantren as tourist attraction.
Keywords: Pesantren, halal tourism, destination, tourism industry
Tourism Attraction: A Current World View on Lombok
Lombok has been growing as one of world halal tourism particularly after earning an international award as one of World Best Halal Tourism in 2016. It won three categories namely:World’s Best Halal Beach Resort, World’s Best Halal Honeymoon Destinationand World’s Best Halal Tourism.This status has made Lombok become another player of international tourism industry. However, there are a few questions which we should bear in mind: 1) who actually gets the benefits from this status?; Are we prepared to face the wave of dometic and international visitors?; and how to prepare all sectors to including education to capture this opportunity. This article would shed some lights on issues concerning the preparation of Islamic boarding schools or Pesantren to be one the players in tourism Industry.
Pesantren Status quo in Lombok
The existing status of Pesantren is well known for its role in transforming Islamic education to Indonesian generation. Historically, Pesantren played such vital role to raise the spirit of freedom from all sorts of cololonialization. As history recorded, a large number of freedom fighters were born from Pesantren. This fact obviously indicates that Pesantren has successfully prepared leaders who are able to thrive in dillematic situation. Pesantren has participated in in forming social, cultural, political, and economic lives of Javanese villagers (Fauzi, 2012).
What about in Lombok? What Pesantren has been able to do?. As a matter of fact, Pesantren in Lombok are recognized as one of the icons of this Island since the birth of world charismatic ‘ulama, Almagfurullah Maulana Syaikh Tuan Guru Kyai Haji Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Majid. This status has attracted a large number of domestic visitors from all over Indonesia not only to study from this ‘ulama but also to experience the excitement and panorama which Lombok has to offer.
Pesantren in Lombok is now more contextual which means that it is more adaptable to any sort of change including politic, sciences and tourism. It also participates in a large number of policy-making in West Nusa Tenggara province. Further, the success of some National programs, for instance familly planning program (Keluarga Berencana) was mainly influenced by Pesantren leaders. Besides, a security issue in Lombok is a major concern of Pesantren. Security is another vital component to ensure the growth of tourism industry.
Pesantren Potential as Tourism Destination and Tourism Industry Player
The expansion of pesantren as one of tourism destination has been carried out in West Java by Daarut Tauhid. This Pesantren is led by Kyai Abdullah Gymnastiar (AA Gym). Its main focus was in religious tourism. Not only being tourist destination, this Pesantren also plays as tour operator. As a result this Pesantren becomes one of the icons of tourist destinations in western Indonesia. If you have the opportunity being in Bandung, you would found that this Pesantren is flooded by visitors almost every day.
Learning from this living example, Pesantren in Lombok could transfrom themselves into one of Halal tourism destination. They can further play as tourism industry players. These goals are possible due to some reasons. First, Pesantren in Lombok have a broad access to all natural resorts in Lombok such as beaches, mountains, forests. This would enable the Pesantren to organize tour and travel bussiness. Second, Pesantren in Lombok has area (land) on which they can build home stays, restaurants, and educational parks. This area can also be planted with fruits which in turn can be transformed in agrotourism. Third, Pesantren can make a joint program with tourism office to provide training for Pesantren students and graduates (alumni) to work and to manage tourism bussiness. Forth, pesantren could offer spiritual experiences for the visitors as the objectives of travelling are not simply for photo taking sightseeing (Riyadi, 2009). Pesantren could offer spiritual healing as well. In this regard, it is worth considering Brown and Stange’ views (n.d)
“People travel for a variety of reasons: to escape, explore, understand, and participate. But at the core of the experience lies the destination — the place that hands something to the traveler to keep forever and share with others.
Preparing Pesantren as Educatonal Tourism Destination and Player
How to prepare a pesantren to do reach such purposes? It is worth considering a successful practice of expanding Pesantren role into tourism sector, for instance that of Darut Tauhid or other Pesantren. Such an expantion would change the feature of Pesantren from being traditional to modern, from being home of terrorist to home of tourists. It also has big potential to influence the value of tourism and not to be affected by the tourism values. More importantly, developing Pesantren as tourism destination and as player would allow them tio gain financial benefit by which pesantren can fund their educational program. This also would enable the pesantren to be financially independent and not relying too much on government supports and donations. However, there should be deep analysis of how this mission can be implemented.
One of existing studies about Pesantren related to this issue was carried out by Febrianty (2009). Her study in Pesantren Darut Tauhid revealed that “tourism development in this area has potential to distract culture values”. Stange and Brown (n.d) also argue that tourism can be a double edge sword. In one side it can create an economic incentive to protect destination assets; however, when conservation is overpowered by greed, tourism becomes destructive. For this reason, the author recommended that the development of Pesantren as spiritual tourism should be carried out not only through considering infrastructure and institution but also cultural tourism approach implementation. Doing this would enable the Pesantren to preserve the existing values in the institution.
What Pesantren Has to do?
As tourism industry is relatively new domain which Pesantren would deal with, they should be open to learn and even adopt insights concerning with tourism development management. Pesaantren should learn not only to do this potential bussiness; they also have to think of its sustainability which could benefit them longer. Stange and Brown (n.d) has a number of recommendationsin order to ensure a stustainable form of tourism development which can be adopted by Pesantren. These include (1) Promoting sustainable development; (2) Creatingproducts for specific visitor market segments; (3) Gaining and maintaining competitiveness; (4)Enhancing visitor experience; (5) Preserving local resources; and (6) Improving residents’ quality of life.When these are followed it is believed that a tourist destination, particularly pesantren, is on the right path to a better future of sustainable tourism that will last through many future generations (ibid).
Pesantren also need to prepare a good plan which includes: (1) preparing the committee who will be in charge with this program; (2) Conducting situation analysis; and (3) establish a Vision and develop goals and objectives. This recommendation is adopted from “A Guide To Community Tourism Planning in Nova Scotia” developed by The Economic Planning Group of Canada (2013).
At the first place, Pesantren should prepare a committee who will be in charge with development of Pesantren as a tourist destination. The members may consist of Yayasan (Foundation), Teachers, Alumni, Local Authority staff, and Practitioner as well as academia from University. More importantly the members should also come from a group that has some involvement with tourism such as the local tourism association, Chamber of Commerce, economic development agency or municipal government (The Economic Planning Group of Canada, 2013). This committee is in charge in conducting analysis.
The second step is conducting situation analysis. Assesing situation analysis aims at understanding the existing and potential travellers markets to Pesantren. It also identifies what Pesantren has to offer now and in the future. Further, analysis means reviewing current market and doing SWOT analysis. The result of this analysis can be used as the basis to establish vision and develop goals and objectives of developing Pesantren as tourist attraction and player.
The next step to carry out is establishing a vision. Establishing a vision means stating what future desisred situation that a pesantren want to achieve. In other words, a vision in tourism sector should reflect “what unique appeals and advantages a pesantren will have and what types of experiences it will offer visitors. It is also worth bearing in mind that establishing a realistic and attainable vision is pivotal as it will be the foundation for pesantren tourism strategy development. On the other hand, “the goals and objectives and the action plans will outline what needs to be done to get there” (The Economic Planning Group of Canada, 2013) or how to attain this vision.
After having clear vision and goals, the next step would be preparing the actions planes. Action plans means what experiences visitors to have and what products to offer to them. Action plans also deals with the marketing plan which include cost and profit sharing. It also about team works or who does what and how things are done. More specifically preparing the actions plans include the following aspects as suggested by the Economic Planning Group of Canada (2013):
- Which organization/stakeholder will take the lead?;
- Who the partners will be in the effort?;
- The resources needed – human and financial, and where they will come from?;
- A timeframe for completing the action;
- Key issues or constraints that need to be addressed; and
- How progress will be monitored and measured?
The last thing to be done after all the steps above is to implement the program. A brilliant plan not more valuable than a non planned action as an action, regardless planning, would result in something. In other words, if Pesantren is really into gaining benefit from tourism industry, it has to stick on the planning which has been made. Doing this would ensure that the development of Pesantren as one of tourist destinations and players is on the right path. Hence, tourism industry could benefit the growth of Pesantren.
What local government has to do?
Local authorities in Lombok starting from Provincial level to the village level should be aware of this potential. They have to provide supports to pesantren to be able to do this planning. One of the ways is by providing financial supports, facilities and training to pesantren. With this support government is in the right path of promoting Pesantren financial self reliance.
The role of Pesantren can be expanded from focusing on education to tourism industry sector. By so doing, they would be able to gain potential benefits that tourism industry has to offer to Pesantren. Earning these benefits would enable them to pay for the education operational cost. However, as they are beginners to this industry, Pesantren has to learn or adopt the recommendations from those participating in this industry such as tourism assosiation. Learning from others’ expertise would enable them to make a better plan to sustain and gain profit in this field.
Ferbianty, D. (2009) Value Displacement in the Transformation of Daarut Tauhid Islamic Boarding School into Spiritual Tourism (An Observation of Social Construction). A Master Theses of Bandung institute of Technology.Accessed 18 May 2017 from https://digilib.itb.ac.id/gdl.php?mod=browse&op=read&id=jbptitbpp-gdl-dienyferbi-33287
Fauzi, M.L (2012) Traditional Islam in Javanese Society; The Roles of Kyai and Pesantren in Preserving Islamic Tradition and Negotiating Modernity. Journal of Indonesian Islam, Volume 06, Number 01, June 2012.
Riyadi, A.K (2009) Religious Tourism Should be on our Agenda. Online article. Accessed on 19 May 2017, available on http://pesantren-iainsa.blogspot.co.id/2009/02/religious-tourism-should-be-on-our.html
Stange, J; Brown, D. (n.d) Tourism Destination Management Achieving Sustainable and Competitive Results.United States Agency for International Development to the Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance cooperative agreement-USAID.
The Economic Planning Group of Canada(2013) A Guide to Community Tourism Planning in Nova Scotia.