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Masrura Ram Idjal is originally from Indonesia. She joined Oxford Brookes as a research student in 2017 and the title of her thesis is ‘The influence of decentralisation of policy on the nexus of power in tourism in rural communities; a case study of the new Village Law (2014) in Indonesia’.
I first heard about Oxford Brookes from the Oxford Brookes University website, before starting my master’s degree here. I completed a Master’s in Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Oxford School of Hospitality Management in 2015.
I have been running our family business in tourism and hospitality since 1996. Our business comprises two travel agencies, one small boutique hotel, and one transportation company. This has led me to work with the Indonesian government through several organisations that I represent such as ASITA (The Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies) and IWAPI (The Association of Indonesian Business Women). As such, I have contributed to the planning and product development programmes, joined focus group discussions, and participated in international training and conferences worldwide. My experience in tourism has also provided many experiences of working with local community programmes, especially those that seek to improve the empowerment of women in tourism. I have also delivered a number of workshops for SMEs in tourism sectors.
I have found I am surrounded by people that have excellent experience in research, as well as great facilities provided by the University. The University provides events related to my research and career development, and I am given numerous opportunities to talk about my research at conferences and seminars.
My research aims to examine the 2014 Indonesian Village Law and its influence on the nexus of power in rural tourism destinations. The focus of the research will be on the planning and decision-making process at the village level. Decentralisation is defined as the transfer of authority and power, responsibility and resources, from central government to a lower level of government. Decentralisation has been suggested by a number of scholars as critical to securing sustainable tourism development. It is a democratic process, requiring bottom-up planning and decision making in less developed countries. Many authors have focused extensively on the dynamics of community based planning when seeking to implement sustainable tourism in communities. For the most part, however, they have not explored the connection and interaction between the local community and local government within a decentralised system. The level of authority provided to the community, the legitimacy of policy decision making within the community, and the resources to deliver tourism policies have also not been studied within decentralised tourism policy mechanisms.
The primary focus of this research is on the ‘mechanic’ of gaining participation from local community members. There are widely differing views about what constitutes effective community participation and many researchers have not explored the connection and interaction between the local community and local government within decentralised systems.
Indonesia started the process of policy decentralisation in 2001. The Indonesian Government chose not to follow the models implemented in other countries, where authority was transferred from a central government institution to regional levels of government. Instead, it chose to use decentralisation as a means to give greater authority, political and financial resources directly to regions and municipalities, thereby bypassing the provincial government structure. To this end, in 2014, the Indonesian Government enacted Law no 6/2014 (Village Law) on village governance and finance. This Law makes provision for the establishment of village governance committees and allocates funding to these committees from central government. As a result of the Law, all of the 74,754 villages in Indonesia have both the authority and resources to govern their own affairs and develop their area based on their individual preferences. Under the provisions of this Law, therefore, those villages which have tourism potential have the opportunity and means to develop tourism facilities using the resources and powers provided to them.
To ensure that increased decentralisation leads to increased democratisation, the Village Law recognises that village governance should be accountable to villagers by providing a framework for citizen participation in the planning and monitoring of local policies. Using a qualitative method, this research will define the factors that enhance citizen participation in the village, particularly in tourism development. The primary data has been gathered in two rural tourism destinations in Indonesia, which have been selected according to their tourism development trajectory stage. This research will analyse the advantages and disadvantages, the implications and the process of policy formulation that can emerge from the implementation of the policy for tourism rural community's engagement in Indonesia, as well as contributing to theory by delimiting the essential pre-requisites to support rural tourism communities in maximising the benefits from policy decentralisation.
I enjoy being a research student as it gives me an opportunity to explore, in detail, a research topic I am passionate about.
Oxford Brookes University provides a wide range of research student training which has helped me to face many different challenges during my research programme.