Due to its distance from the capital, the relatively low population density (800,000 inhabitants), and the dry climate, Sumba is part of one of the poorest regions in Indonesia.
Just over half of Sumbanese children attend school, and only about half of them will finish their basic education. As soon as a child can contribute to their family’s income, working becomes more important than education, and children are pulled out of school. Because of the rampant poverty, malnutrition is a hindrance to young Sumbanese with regard to their education and workability.
Over the last five years, Sumba has seen slight development.
Some signs of progress are higher quality roads, a new airport with several daily flights to Bali, Kupang, and Ende, and electricity available in more and more areas close to the cities. Foreigners have purchased a lot of land near the beach but as of yet, no plans have been made to build or develop – only mere speculation.
With its unspoiled natural landscape, world-renowned Ikat textiles, and one of the last remaining authentic animist cultures in the world, we believe the island has much to offer and that tourism is making its way to Sumba. The local culture and traditions of the Sumbanese are still very much alive while they also have an innate friendliness towards foreigners.
We consider this a pioneering project because there are not many hotel facilities on the island.
If the Sumbanese people are not educated and prepared to handle this future influx of tourism, investors will choose to import labor from Bali or Java. This way the people of Sumba would not benefit from tourism and the circle of poverty would not be broken. The Sumba Hospitality Foundation fills this void by training young Sumbanese adults the hospitality skills they need to benefit from this influx of tourism.
We do even more: the foundation sets an example of development in an environmentally conscious way. The students are educated to avoid plastic, with weekly trash walks and informing the community we hope that we can stimulate green habits. The solar farm, water recycling system, use of bamboo, and permaculture farm is setting an example for ecotourism.