Development of Toraja Tourism

  • Development of Toraja Tourism first step..

Development of Toraja Tourism are start around Before the 1970s, Western tourism was almost unknown in the Toraja highland area. In 1971, about 50 Europeans visited Tana Toraja. In 1972, at least 400 visitors attended the funeral ritual of Puang of Sangalla, the highest-ranking nobleman in Tana Toraja and the so-called “last pure-blooded Toraja noble.” The event was documented by National Geographic and broadcast in several European countries. In 1976, about 12,000 tourists visited the regency and in 1981, Torajan sculpture was exhibited in major North American museums. “The land of the heavenly kings of Tana Toraja”, as written in the exhibition brochure, embraced the outside world.

  • Blooming days…

In 1984, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism declared Tana Toraja Regency the prima donna of South Sulawesi. Tana Toraja was heralded as “the second stop after Bali“. Tourism was increasing dramatically: by 1985, a total number of 150,000 foreigners had visited the Regency (in addition to 80,000 domestic tourists), and the annual number of foreign visitors was recorded at 40,000 in 1989. Souvenir stands appeared in Rantepao, the cultural center of Toraja, roads were sealed at the most-visited tourist sites, new hotels and tourist-oriented restaurants were opened, and an airstrip was opened in the Regency in 1981.

Pros and Cons

Tourism developers marketed Tana Toraja as an exotic adventure—an area rich in culture and off-the-beaten-track. Toraja was marketed for tourists who had gone as far as Bali and were interested in seeing more of the wild, “untouched” islands. Western tourists expected to see stone-age villages and pagan funerals.<ref name=”Adams1984″>Adams, Kathleen M. (1984). “”Come to Tana Toraja, LAnd of the Heavenly Kings: Travel Agents as Brokers in Ethnicity”. Annals of Tourism Research.  However, they were more likely to see Christian Torajans wearing NBA sports caps and denim. Tourists felt that the tongkonan and other Torajan rituals had been preconceived to make profits, and complained that the destination was too commercialised. This resulted in several clashes between Torajans and tourism developers, whom Torajans see as outside.


A clash between local Torajan leaders and the South Sulawesi provincial government (as a tourist developer) broke out in 1985. The government designated 18 Toraja villages and burial sites as traditional tourist attractions. Consequently, zoning restrictions were applied to these areas, such that Torajans themselves were barred from changing their tongkonans and burial sites. The plan was opposed by some Torajan leaders, as they felt that their rituals and traditions were being determined by outsiders. As a result, in 1987, the Torajan village of Kété Kesú and several other designated tourist attractions closed their doors to tourists. This closure lasted only a few days, as the villagers found it too difficult to survive without the income from selling souvenirs.

Tourism has also transformed Toraja society. Originally, there was a ritual which allowed commoners to marry nobles (puang) and thereby gain nobility for their children. However, the image of Torajan society created for the tourists, often by non-aristocratic guides, has eroded its traditional strict hierarchy. High status is not as esteemed in Tana Toraja as it once was. Many low-ranking men can declare themselves and their children nobles by gaining enough wealth through work outside the region and then marrying a noble woman.

Toraja Tourism nowdays..

In Modern Days, tourism are develop so rapidly. The government keep updated the tourism object so it hope attracted the Domestic and International tourist. Such as :

  • Buntu Burake – Tana Toraja. The religious site has a Jesus Christ Blessing Statue as main attraction. Placed at the top of Burake mountain. The Concept Similar like ” Christ the redemption ” in Rio de Jainero in Brazil.
  • The Land in the Clouds known as Negeri Di Atas Awan. Located in Lolai District – North Toraja Administration. Earlier in the Morning , around 5-6 AM. this region will surrounded by clouds. So we can see the clouds above us. Fun Fact, while looking for touring route, a group of Trail Motorbike accidentally discover this area. later on, government and local families growing the development so it can be enjoyed until now.
  • Sa’dan To’Barana’ River Rafting and camping site. Before this region develop this new tourism object, they already known as Weaving center in toraja . The unique of this place are, there is a 100 years old Lady still spinning a cotton yarn until now.

Long lasting Tourism Object…

  • Londa – Toraja Utara. A must visit place while in toraja. Known as ” Cemetary inside the cave”.
  • Ke’te’ Kesu’- Toraja Utara. An Unesco site that has an old traditional Tongkonan and Alang. Completed with the Cave cemetary at the back of the tongkonan house.
  • Ma’nene’ Ritual. Held in around Batutumonga until pangala’ region. A ritual that rechange the Clothes and accessory of family member who has been passed away many years ago. There’s no specific time for this ceremony, it depends of your luck when you visit toraja.
  • etc.,

For Most of torajan people now days, they looking for opportunity in All around Indonesia, most of them in Papua and Borneo island. They seek for better life and future, most importantly for Funeral ceremony cost to make family proud and maintain their nobility.

if you have some plan to toraja, don’t hesitate to contact us. we can connect with our tourism team in toraja. Thank You

(source from Wikipedia )

by | Feb 11, 2021


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