Island tour

Komodo Island Tour Guides Furious As Free Entry Rises 2383%

There were 220,000 visitors to the park in 2019, the last year before the pandemic. Indonesia’s tourism industry is slowly recovering, but such a price hike could set it back.

“I think that’s the future here – only certain people can travel to the Komodo Islands and local tourist activity will be marginalized,” Tali said. “Tourism is meant to be enjoyed by all.”

In reaction to the protest, the fee hike has now been pushed back, but only until January.

The decision was made on the instruction of President Joko Widodo, said Sandiaga Uno, minister of tourism and creative economy.

Tour operators on Flores Island are protesting the government’s hike in entry fees to Komodo National Park.

It comes after the backlash of a planned four-fold markup at another top Indonesian tourist attraction. Getting to the top of Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, located in central Java, was a leap for domestic and international tourists.

The provincial and central governments had flagged the rise due to the continued decline of the ninth-century temple’s surface, but protests forced its postponement until next June.

Morning in Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.

Morning in Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.Credit:Brian Johnson

At Komodo National Park, Uno said “these are efforts for conservation and economic recovery.”

Its population of Komodo dragons is stable and last year stood at 3,458 including 1,383 adult lizards, according to government figures. However, in 2021 the species was added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species and the decline in its habitat is a major concern, particularly due to rising sea levels. .

In addition to the price hike waiting to see Komodo Dragons, other changes are on the way.

The pristine landscape of Komodo National Park is another attraction.

The pristine landscape of Komodo National Park is another attraction.Credit:Alamy

Viktor Laiskodat, the governor of East Nusa Tenggara, the province in which Komodo is located and whose state-owned company will impose the new charges, wants to lower the annual cap of tourists in the park from 245,000 to 200,000.

“We want to safeguard the ecosystem and the Komodo dragons,” said Zeth Sony Libing, the head of tourism at East Nusa Tenggara.

But with many residents’ livelihoods at stake, they face a delicate balancing act.

Another tourism industry representative in Labuan Bajo, who did not want to be named, said the fee hike would “kill the business here”.

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“Remember that East Nusa Tenggara is one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia,” he said. “The solution to poverty is to create jobs and the tourism sector in Labuan Bajo has so far been able to provide jobs for local people.

“So the elite must be wise. The difficult situation is getting more and more difficult due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. We were happy that the pandemic seemed to be disappearing, but we were hit again by the Russian-Ukrainian war. This caused an increase in oil prices which affected air ticket prices.

Tali, the travel agent in Labuan Baju, said he had already canceled organized trips. He fears that the large increase will force him to close his business.

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“We agree on a price increase but not on this amount,” he said. “This new policy is a dilemma for us. Personally and with my other friends, we oppose it. We hope the government will reconsider this.

– with Reuters