Prima Wira Putra
This profile was prepared when Prima Wira Putra was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
The New Idea
Prima proposes to turn the structure of the tourist industry on its head. The almost invariable pattern now leads to outside interests benefiting from accumulated skills, regulatory contacts, and access to capital taking control. These outsiders gain most of the profit and use local people in only low skilled, marginal ways. This extractive paradigm produces and relies on a superimposed physical infrastructure and a tourist culture that disrupt and marginalize the local economy and lifestyle and offer little benefit to the community in return. It divides and conquers local residents. It also almost completely isolates tourists from meaningful contact with local people and their issues and culture. Prima has set out to take control of tourism in ways that not only reinforce the local lifestyle and return financial benefit to the host communities, but that also improve the quality of the tourist's experience by grounding it in contact with local residents, traditions, and institutions. His alternative tourism, while not for everyone, is a model that appeals to a distinct and growing market niche socially and politically aware tourists from First World countries who are culturally experienced and curious, and who do not want "colonial" tourist experiences that only contribute to a further widening of the gap between rich and poor.