International Tourism Management student Sitta Yan has an Indonesian father. When she was 18, she returned to her father’s roots and fell in love with Indonesia. She now has her own company there: she manages an accommodation and organises jungle tours in collaboration with local residents.
After high school, Sitta spent a year travelling around Indonesia. She visited her father on the Mentawai Islands and felt at home immediately. “When I returned to the Netherlands after a year, it was a real culture shock. I missed the Indonesian food, the people and the conviviality. So I returned to the Mentawai Islands as quickly as possible.”
Started a business in Indonesia
Back on the Mentawai Islands, Sitta and her father established Umata Village, accommodation for guests. “I learned the language of my nieces and nephews, we developed Umata Village and I learned about Excel and accounting.”
Sitta became interested in tourism: “I really enjoyed showing guests around and teaching them about the culture. When I realised I could also earn money that way, I wanted to develop myself further. Management, marketing, I figured it all out myself. But you get to the point where you cannot manage it yourself anymore, so I decided to go and study.”
Combining her own company with Tio
After five years in Indonesia, Sitta returned to the Netherlands to study International Tourism Management at Tio. She is meanwhile in the process of graduating. “Tio gave me a great deal of freedom so that I could focus many projects on Umata Village. I was able to showcase my business from all angles.” Her minor also revolved around her Indonesian adventure: “My minor concerned building the website and the use of social media for Umata Village.”
So you actually used Tio to develop your business? “Yes!” says Sitta laughing, “And I found it really interesting. Fellow students also enjoyed being involved in something tangible when they teamed up with me. They cheered when we received guests at Umata Village!”
For Sitta, it is very important that the local population benefits from tourism in the area. “Not only do I want to establish a business, I really want to look at how I can help the local population and how I can work with them to make it a better place.”
She is already on the right track with sustainable tourism: “We built a traditional house with the locals and we offer tours of the jungle in which we also involve local residents.”
Prizewinner of the Tour Operating project
Students develop a trip themselves as part of the Tio Tour Operating project. The team that conceives the best and most original tour gets to go on the trip themselves. Last year, Sitta developed – obviously – a tour to Indonesia and won the competition!
“I wanted to win so badly, because I very much wanted to return to Indonesia, but could not afford it myself.” What did the trip entail? “We flew to Sumatra and visited lakes, valleys, rice fields, tea plantations and a bay. Naturally, the tour also took us to the Mentawai Islands and Umata Village.”
Another prize that Sitta picked up was the one for her business plan in the business plan finals. “It gave me an energy boost and confidence that I was on the right track. Not just in respect of my concept, but my studies at Tio too.”
Back to Indonesia
When Sitta graduates, she wants to return to Indonesia as soon as possible: “I can’t wait to run jungle tours and to develop Umata Village into a successful resort!”
Follow Sitta on LinkedIn.