Would you pay US$1,000 to see big Komodo dragons? While nothing seems set in stone just yet, a recent statement from the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial government has us thinking that they may actually go forward with this plan.
Marius Ardu Jelamu, a spokesman for the NTT provincial government, yesterday said that his office is developing an online ticketing system for the Komodo National Park targeted to start running next year, as reported by state news agency Antara.
According to Marius, tourists can visit the Komodo Island by purchasing an annual membership, which will cost US$1,000 each.
“The US$1,000 entry pass is very cheap for a foreign visitor to come see the Komodo Island, which is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature,” Marius was quoted as saying.
“How can we put a low price for a rare animal such as the Komodo? That is extremely impossible.”
He added that travelers can come visit as many times as they’d like in a year, as long as their membership is still valid.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the possibility of charging tourists US$1,000 to visit Komodo Island was still described as a plan.
Shana Fatina, who heads the Labuan Bajo Flores tourism authority at the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, said in November that the concept was due for a full discussion at the beginning of next year, whereby Komodo Island might be designated as an exclusive area that requires a membership to enter.
Komodo Island is part of Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, comprising of other islands including Rinca Island and Padar Island. The Park as a whole is home to nearly 2,900 Komodo dragons, according to official data, though the largest population of 1,727 dragons live on Komodo Island alone.
The Park is a UNESCO world heritage site, and 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.
Though us here at Coconuts Bali can’t help but wonder if the dragons are big enough to make up for the gap in entrance fee, the NTT government remains optimistic that more foreign visitors will visit the island, even with the drastic changes.
In fact, they are targeting 50,000 foreign visitors next year and an annual revenue of at least IDR600 billion (US$42.5 million).