ATKOMA – Ataúro Island

Timor Leste

Asosiasaun Turizmu Koleku Mahanak Ataúro (ATKOMA) is the Destination Management Organization for the island of Ataúro, Timor Leste. The region has been working towards building sustainable tourism and promoting the island of Ataúro in the eco-friendly travel itineraries of Southeast Asia.

The island’s success story is rooted in reviving an ancient practice called Tara Bandu to protect marine biodiversity. Through working with cultural traditions instead of against them, the DMO helped to translate marine management into a language that can be easily grasped by all islanders and create a more participative method of conservation. The determined Tara Bandu areas are formally recognized as a Marine Managed Area (MMA) that comprises a core “no-take” zone where it is strictly prohibited to fish or transit, surrounded by a buffer zone where regulations are less strict. So far, these zones have translated into revenue for the locals as tourists who would like to swim in the Tara Bandu areas are invited to pay a small fee.

The Destination Management Organization is working closely with the local community in Ataúro (Timor Leste) to revive Tara Bandu, an ancient law in order to protect marine biodiversity.

By applying a Tara Bandu the Organisation managed to protect marine biodiversity. Imposing a Tara Bandu means earning the community’s respect and collaboration to put forward a “contract” that should be respected by all. A small fee to be paid by tourists that want to swim in the Tara Bandu protected area has been estabilished. The monetary gains of this fee are used to improve life in the community.

Marine protection is extremely important for the whole area as the waters surrounding the island were recognized by scientists as the most biodiverse in the world. Being islanders, the locals, relationship with the ocean deserves special attention since the sea gives the community what they need to sustain their livelihoods.

ATKOMA is working towards the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:


ATKOMA is a sustainable area designated by the Government of Timor Leste.

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