Results of the 1.Open Space Conference from the 28th March – 1st April 2018 Dapdap

First of all thanks to the wonderful host Samsir Simanjuntak and his place in Dapdap Tarabunga. He gave all for free, so that the conference could take place there.

The conference activities and outputs were organized around the method of mind-mapping. Mainly noting down ideas for solutions to the topics that were collected before. During the workshop brainstorming, ideas were collected without judgement and early selection, because the focus was to encourage people to come up with ideas, so that we collect as many ideas as possible. There was not a discussion about what is better or not. It was a collection of ideas. This opened the mind for solutions beyond the borders of individual mindsets.

At the beginning all the members of the conference where shocked that the court in Jakarta concluded that the fish farm of PT. Aquafarm Nusantara is not polluting the lake. This was unbelievable for all them members, because they knew from the scientists of Deltares that only this Aquafarm pollutes the water like 1 million people.

For all the participants of the Conference it was clear, that all activities for developing Tourism will fail, when the Aquafarms can continue their dirty business and the lake will turn around. Lake Toba never will get a UN Geopark Certification and never will get the money from the World Bank, when this companies continue with the phosphate enriched fishfood!


At the beginning the following topics has been collected:

  • Marketing for Lake Toba
  • Online Marketing
  • Improve the water quality of Lake Toba
  • How to empower the local people?
  • How to get the Batak people feeling rich and not poor?
  • How to improve the access to Lake Toba?
  • How the inhabitants can be educated, to take care of the environment?
  • How the farmers can get access to the market for their products to achieve fair prices
  • How to sell a coffee for a real price?
  • How it make young people stay here and don´t move anymore to the big cities?
  • How to create a network of the Batak people to increase the income?
  • How to create and to sell activities for tourists?
  • Education for tour guides
  • Create a source of Information for Tourists

Open discussion after the brainstorming – Result: Development Centers

It was clear for everybody at the first evening that it needs a structure for:

  • all Batak people
  • for all customers
  • for all kind of information
  • for all products and tourist services

where the resources can be collected and where there is an access for all the customers.

to create this it needs:

  • places where the people can meet and where is a moderation to work on the products and services
  • a place, where products can be collected and can be traded central to the final consumer
  • a central Internet platform and mobile application for all information, products, and tourist services from Lake Toba.
  • A knowledge base where everybody has access and can help to fill it. Like a Wikipedia but with integrated services and more structured.

In any case it was clear for everybody that it needs facilities where the locals can develop tourism and agriculture products and where tourists also can go for any kind of Information.

Workshop Marketing

The central marketing of Indonesia and the government organisations can be only one part of the marketing. It needs much more. The tourists are looking into the internet for attractions and then they want to go to direct bookings. It needs much more:

  • Presence in the social media
  • Truly informative websites
  • Detailed information on google and google maps
  • Information on the following platforms:
    • Tripadvisor
    • Airbnb
    • Traveloka
    • Wikitravel
    • Facebook
  • The people need packages where they easily can go around from the airport until the airport. For this the mobile application was made. The Inventor Dedy Mykison explained what his service all includes:
    • It is an application made by Indonesian for Indonesian tourist vendors
    • For a full service package for the vendors and for the tourists
    • Everybody who wants to sell activities for tourism can get a vendor at the application.
    • Everybody who wants to offer an activity, just can download the app and the team of Tripdixi help them.
    • The app helps to make the hidden spots and vendors accessable for the world
    • Also at Lake Toba can be spots where the people are helped to get the activities online, with support of making videos and photos.

Workshop Improve the Lake Toba water quality

The clean lake is the most important potential of the area. It has to be protected. Here are the ideas of the workshop:

  • The operation of all the commercial Aquafarms has to be stopped at once.
  • The Aquafarms can be transformed to floating hotels by the employees of the Aquafarms and can be run as zero emission bungalows, which brings more money to the employees than a minimum salary.
  • Make a photo competition of the worsts things done to Lake Toba.
  • The houses infront of Lake Toba need aquaponic systems to clean their waste water and produce fish
  • Make a shitstorm in Amerika against Ragalsprings,so that they cannot sell the fish anymore
  • Give a dossier about the activities of the PT.Aquafarm Nusantara to the KPK, so that they start their investigation
  • Stop the activities of the Toba Pulp Lestari, which destroys the watershed.
  • Urge Allgrindo not to pollute the Lake anymore. The company can sell the pig excrements as fertilizer to the farmers around Berastagi.
  • Register all fuel-driven boats now. Forbid new ones starting with the January 2019. Promote zero emission boats. Make workshops for this.

Workshop Access to Lake Toba

Customers need an easy access to the area and also need environment-friendly transportation that does not destroy the nice landscape for which the tourists come in the first place. (Don´t destroy the branch where you are sitting on!) As ideas came the following:

  • Install a cable car from the airport of Silangit directly to Meat, a distance of only 5 km. From there solar powered boats go around Lake Toba. Like the cable car in Singapore to Sentosa. The company can build it in 6 months. It is a viable business model and not require investments by the Government.
  • Make cable cars around Samosir. At first from Tuktuk to Pangururan, then from Tomok to Onan Runggu.
  • From Silimalombu to Onan Runggu a street is nearly impossible to build. It is really steep, the earth is only 30.000 years old and nothing is stable. A road and even a tunnel will not work there and it would be extremely expensive to build, much more expensive than a cable car. Even the Government is not able to built the road on top of Samosir. Actually there are around 50 spots at Samosir where maintenance would be important because of landslides. Even the one spot where a lot of steel and concrete inside has already been used, and which was very expensive to build (the way up from Tomok), has started already to deteriorate.
  • Forbid cars from outside to come to Samosir. Operate with local buses and give the tourists electric scooters to go around. And, again, build cable cars.
  • Make a joint venture with an electric scooter producer to produce scooters in the area, train the people to maintenance them and make a selling program on credit. Forbid to rent carburetor motorcycles starting from 2020.
  • Make a high-speed electric boat from Meat to Tomok, Tuktuk and Parapat to have an access for the tourist in one hour from the airport.
  • Offer International destinations from Silangit to:
    • Kuala Lumpur
    • Penang
    • Singapore
    • China Mainland
    • Taipei
    • Chennai (Indian tourists and this is already the Stop over for tourists from the Arabs, European and American tourists. They don´t have to go first to KL and than fly back. Chennai is the hub for theses tourists.
    • Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar

Workshop Empower the Batak People

This topic was present in all the open discussions the theme. Here the ideas that came out:

  • It needs places where the people can meet and get encouraged to speak about things they want to develop
  • It needs success stories of people
  • It could be generated an award for people who come back from the towns and make successful projects in their villages to support the local development
  • Marketing this event all around Indonesia, so that more and more young powerful people come back to the Batak land.
  • Make the old Batak culture proud
  • Invest in a strong Internet, the business, the tourists and the people want to have it. It needs fiber optics.
  • Create education programs with a certificate of the BODT in the tourism and agriculture field
  • Learn from Bavaria and use the network of Bayern International, whose delegation will come from the 19th to 21st of April to lake Toba.

Workshop to develop Batak Products

In the discussion it was getting clear that farming products around the mountains of lake Toba cannot be developed in an industrial fashion. It make sense, though, to develop the products in a small and sustainable way to sell the products directly to tourists, which would generate a reasonable income for farmers. When the guests see and even maybe help to produce the coffee, then they will pay also 500.000 Rp. for a kilo of high end coffee. Products that can be developed are:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee Cherry wine and Vinegar and tea
  • High quality chocolate, produced and processed to a final product
  • All the herbs that are growing here or easily can be planted like, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, basil, rosemary, oregano, lavender etc. There are a lot which all can grow and directly can be sold
  • Make creams and body lotions based on candlenut oil and mix them with local herbs.
  • Wooden handicrafts
  • Local music
  • Photographs with high quality prints
  • High quality postcards
  • Ulos and products out of it
  • Mango wine, vinegar, chutney, jam

For all of the products it needs clusters where people can learn how to process them and where they also can bring it, so that their products are getting distributed to all the other places around lake Toba. There they can be sold directly to the consumer; also an online shop can be created where the goods can be sold directly to the consumer.

  • It needs a Label like Made on Samosir or made at Lake Toba. This label the BODT has to give for all local producers for free for those farmers or producers who meet certain quality standards
  • The development of the quality should be organized in the clusters. A cluster can be created around already existing specialists. For example, for organic coffee a cluster can be organized by Gani Silaban in Lintongnihuta, at the organic farmstay by Ratnauli Gultom in Silimalombu, for photo products by Sebastian Hutabarat, Ulos by Sandra Nielsen, and so on.

Workshop with the BODT

Rommy Fauzi, director of the BODT (Badan Otoritas Danau Toba) explained the organisation of the BODT. The Authority has 30 employees and should set the development standards for the destination. They are installed directly under the president, with a steering committee with 11 ministers that meets once a month, and in which the ministries have to work together to develop the Lake Toba area in an efficient way. For the BODT, the empowering of the local structures is the catalytic way to achieve a sustainable development of the area. The goal is to create the Geopark Danau Toba and to get the support of the World Bank for this.

In the discussion it became clear that we need:

  • Support from all stakeholders to the success of the BODT and their work
  • Concepts of the community based Tourism (CBT) to develop the area
  • A place in each village where people can meet to install a community based learning and to develop clusters
  • Churches which already agree to provide their facilities to create these places
  • A train-the-trainer system for the skills to moderate the process
  • An intelligent kind of software, which can be filled from everybody with information and which is the source of information for others. (Here the hope came up that Bayern International with the initiative of the Silicon Vils Valley in Lower Bavaria of Mr. Ramsauer has something like this or the Academica DEL can help with this. This should be a topic at the conference at the 19th in the Academica DEL)
  • A Wiki for lake Toba should be installed. Thomas Heinle said he can do this and can give this to Rommy Fauzi.
  • A first pilot of the Sustainable Tourism Development Center should be installed in Tomok and this should be done as soon as possible.


Workshop Sustainable Tourism Development Center

It was one of the conclusions of all the individual workshops that we need this kind of development centers. In order to support the idea of Rommy Fauzi and establish a first center in a church of the Pastor of Tomok, it would be good to develop the train-for-trainer tools in time.

The centers could show what is possible when the people really work together, to go beyond attitudes of jealousy and to overcome the old times of feeling poor and inferior.

It is easy to start where the there is already a market. In Tomok is a basic structure of tourism and a lot of local products and services that can be sold to the tourists. Already before the open space conference, there have been discussions to develop a Sustainable Tourism Development Center. This everybody can read here .

It is a good idea to use the churches for this and to make these places also as an information point for all the tourists that come to lake Toba. So for example everybody knows that from Monday to Sunday at the time from 1 to 5 pm one can get information at the church about everything of Lake Toba. This will be the new Tourist Information Centers run by people who want to offer something for tourism.

Another idea was that also rooms of the tourism departments can be used for those centers.


This was the first conference in the format of an Open Space Conference. The next one should follow soon. It can be a small conference about a specific topic or it can be a huge one about the whole range of issues.

The concept of doing brainstorming in workshops without early judgment and evaluation was a huge success. This can collect a maximum number of ideas. And each idea can turn out to be a new solution to an old problem. The discussions are staying wide and can look beyond our current horizons, finding new and unexpected solutions — for example to provide local churches with a practical role in tourist information and tourism development.

This shows what is possible when the people sit together in an open frame and and a free to give ideas without being judged or receive judgement. Workshop sessions are often followed by open discussions around the open kitchen, when the people cook and eat together, start singing and laughing and of course, also discuss hard…..

……until the next workshop session, when ideas for a new topic are getting collected, to get the idea, to make – for example – floating hotels out of the Aquafarms.