Indonesian gov’t mulls possibility of charging foreign tourists US$1,000 to visit Komodo Island

In the wild, Komodo dragons can live up to 30 years. Photo: Pixabay
In the wild, Komodo dragons can live up to 30 years. Photo: Pixabay

After deciding to scrap plans on closing the Komodo Island to tourism next year, the Indonesian government is now reportedly discussing the possibility of charging tourists US$1,000 to visit the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) island. 

“That was [one of the] suggestions. It was suggested during a meeting with ministers, but the whole concept will only be fully discussed beginning January 2020,” Shana Fatina, who is president director of Labuan Bajo Flores tourism authority at the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, told reporters today.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan previously said that there will be a limit to the number of tourists who can visit Komodo Island, and that visitors would be able to purchase an annual premium membership to see the larger-sized Komodo dragons there.

Shana explained that the concept will likely make Komodo Island an exclusive area, for which a membership will be required to enter. 

She added that the US$1,000 fee will be charged to foreign tourists who purchase memberships, while there will be a different cost for entrance to non-members, who will be directed to other islands in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, home to smaller-sized Komodo dragons. 

Domestic tourists, on the other hand, will be subject to different fees. 

Komodo Island is part of Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, which comprises of other islands including Rinca Island, Padar Island, and more than 20 smaller islands in the area. The Park itself is home to nearly 2,900 Komodo dragons, according to government data, with the largest population of 1,727 dragons living on Komodo Island alone. 

A view of Labuan Bajo. Photo: Pixabay
A view of Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara. Photo: Pixabay

Considering how foreign tourists are almost always visiting for a short amount of time, Coconuts Bali is struggling to understand how purchasing a membership would be an attractive option worth choosing over other possibilities. We haven’t been to Komodo Island ourselves, but are the dragons big enough to make up for the gap in entrance fee? 

Shana explained that plans of the high fees are aimed at increasing income for the national park, as part of an effort to elevate the attraction to an international standard. She said that the Komodo National Park received about IDR33 billion (US$2.3 million) last year, when it actually required about IDR129 billion for park management. 

“There’s a deficit, you see. How much do we need to properly manage this national park to match international standard, we will see the numbers later. This is something we’re still discussing, and we hope to see it conclude by next year,” Shana said.

The Park, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, currently charges a fee of IDR150,000 (US$10.68) for foreign tourists and IDR5,000 (US$0.36) for domestic tourists on weekdays, though there are notably additional fees tourists may incur during their trip, including for trekking or snorkeling.

Would you pay US$1,000 to visit Komodo Island?

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