Oé-cusse, hidden gems in Timor Leste

January 30, 2023

Mountain views in Oe-cusse, one of the best camping location

Yuichi Ishida/UNDP Timor-Leste

Based on Decree-law no 5/2015, article 3o Government of Timor-Leste created the Special Administrative Region (SAR) and established the Special Zone of Social Market Economy (ZEESM) in Oé-Cusse district (an enclave nestled within the Western Timor province of Indonesia and with a population of 80,726). UNDP’s support to Oé-Cusse ZEESM is to transform the lives of the people of Oé-Cusse with an integrated approach to sustainable, social, and economic development.

Oé-Cusse is one of the least-explored tourist destinations in South-East Asia and in Timor Leste. It is blessed with diverse unspoiled landscapes, indigenous flora and fauna, abundant marine life, a complex history, traditional cultures, and hospitable communities. While the richness and diversity of Oé-Cusse tourism products offer huge rewards to adventurous, discerning, and nature-conscious travelers, tourism in Oé-Cusse is still in its infancy stage. Oé-Cusse hosts just a handful of international travelers, with most of the visitors being domestic, and the contribution to the economy is still minimal.

The RAEOA Government has identified tourism as one of the potential industries for its efforts for economic diversification and as a part of the rollout process, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting the government to implement the program in terms of sustainable development in Oé-Cusse.

An old building on the beach side

Maria Silvia D.R. Lopes/UNDP Timor-Leste

Based on the RAEOA-ZEESM Regional Strategic Plan for 2019-2023, community-based tourism is considered one of the tourism strategic pillars of ZEESM-TL to achieve development in Oé-Cusse and contribute to the local community by working closely with the local community in the rural area, providing training to increase their knowledge, identifying the tourism potential that is existing in Oé-Cusse to attract the visitors, support the local community to promote their product and exploring the opportunities to create more jobs in the region. In addition to implementing these activities, the project also has developed tourism videos as a part of the activities that help to promote tourism potential in Oé-Cusse. 

Sunrise in Oe-cusse

Yuichi Ishida/UNDP Timor-Leste

In 2020 UNDP in collaboration and coordination with the tourism unit under the President of the Authority produced five (5) tourism videos of various types to show the culture and history that make it a unique tourism destination and promote tourist attractions those videos are:
Video 1: Aosnak snorkeling and kayaking
Video 2: Fatusuba historic site
Video 3: Lakufoan camping and cultural visit
Video 4: Aen-Mat bike and rice paddy tour
Video 5: First tour with the tourist visit Fonte Sagrada waterfall

In this regard, in 2022 the project has been continually working with Tourism Unit to develop seven (11) videos of tourism in the region to promote Oé-Cusse tourism and those videos are: 
Video 1: Oé-Cusse tourism random videos
Video 2: Tour guide hospitality
Video 3: Tais weaving and tais coloring process 
Video 4: Corn harvesting ceremony in Oé-Silo:Part 1 & Part 2
Video 5: Oé-Cusse traditional heritage “women made the pottery”
Video 6: Promote the Oé-Cusse local products and food, and snacks
Video 7: Marine activities (snorkeling, swimming, etc)

These videos could be used for marketing the products available as tourist attractions and publicizing the region’s attractions and tourism opportunities through social media and other mediums.

Thumbnails of the tourism video from Oe-cusse

Maria Silvia D.R. Lopes/UNDP Timor-Leste