Ask people to find East Timor on a map and be and you might be sitting around for a while, and when it comes to travel this small island nation probably doesn’t pop up on a top ten list of the places you consider going. However, years after East Timor emerged from a chaotic, decade-long independence struggle from Indonesia, the country is finally seeing a boost in their economy, mainly as a result of an increase in tourism. The Pacific Scoop recently reported that this rise in tourism is helping heal the national psyche, infusing life into the country.
Pacific Scoop reports that last year East Timor saw 30,000 visitors to the country. This may sound small, but not when you consider that this was three times the number of visitors that came in 2006. And now that the country is starting to see and experience the benefits of tourism, local officials want to continue to build on this momentum.
In the article, East Timor officials report that the tourism boom has greatly boosted the economy and morale of a country that has been riddled by poverty and slow growth since independence. While tourism is a means of economic development for East Timor, they also see it as a bridge to peace. One way officials are promoting tourism is by developing eco-tourism efforts, which are community-based and tap into the power and resources of locals, while also promoting East Timor as a great, untapped travel destination.
[Photo courtesy of yeowatzup]