The Indonesian island of Komodo, home to the Komodo dragon, will not be closed to tourists next year but interested visitors will have to fetch a $1,000 membership scheme according to local authorities.
After announcing last July that Komodo Island would be close at least for a year or even two in an effort to protect the dragons, Indonesian authorities are now reversing their previous announcement. The government just announced to introduce a membership fee to be able to visit the island. It would cost US$ 1,000 to be able to see the animals instead of the current US$10. Some 176,000 tourists came to the island last year compared to some 44,000 tourists a decade ago.
Last July, the local governor said the island needed to be closed to stop tourism from interfering in the mating and hatching processes of the komodo dragon population. Many incidents had occurred over the last five years, some tourists being even attacked by scared animals.
The Governor indicated that they wanted to turn Komodo Island into a more exclusive destination by requiring people to become members of a sort of Komodo Island Club. “People will have to become members and pay $1,000 to enter for a year,” said the region’s governor, Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat, at the time. “I think that is cheap” it was reported by local media.
On Monday, the ministry of environment and local governor agreed that that the island would not close, and that a membership system will now be introduced, at a cost of $1,000.
Conservation efforts to protect the dragons will be increased and the 2,000 residents of Komodo – who would have been relocated for a year – will also be allowed to stay,
State news agency Antara said there would be two membership levels. Premium members will be allowed to visit Komodo island, while non-premium members will be able to visit other islands in the Komodo national park, where dragons also live. Cruise ships
BBC news spoke to Marius Jelamu, spokesman for the governor, who indicated to the British media that details of the new scheme would be worked out. “The growth of the community on the island will be restricted so that the village does not become too big and threaten conservation efforts,” he said.
“There will also be more education programs in the village to make sure the community are fully part of the conservation effort.”
Komodo dragons are the world’s largest lizards, most of them -around 1,700 – living on Komodo Island itself. Another 1,000 more live on Rinca, another island in the national park. The island is a Unesco World Heritage site.