Monday, 18 November 2019

KOMODO DRAGON ISLAND TO REMAIN OPEN BUT ENTRY PRICE SOARS TO $1,000 - via Herp Digest



Tourists previously paid $10 to visit
by Helen Coffey, The Independent

Komodo Island, home to the famed Komodo dragons, will now remain open next year, but with a hugely inflated entry price.

Visitors could previously access the Indonesian island and Unesco World Heritage site for $10, but the cost will now soar to $1,000 for a full-year membership, pricing out many tourists.

Indonesian officials announced the changes on Thursday 3 October, which also include restrictions on visitor numbers to the island.

“Komodo Island will not be closed,“ coordinating maritime affairs minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said in a statement. "A restriction will be placed on the number of tourists to Komodo Island by rearranging its ticketing system.“

This marks a shift in position from the government, which previously announced the intention to shut the island to visitors for the whole of 2020 due to a decline in the population of the world’s largest lizards.

The original announcement followed the theft of 41 Komodo dragons by an alleged smuggling ring in March 2019; they were sold abroad for 500 million rupiah (£26,825) each.

However, officials have now gone back on the decision, opting instead to restrict access via ticketing and the higher entry cost.

Tourists can choose between a premium membership, which permits access to Komodo Island itself for $1,000, or non-premium, which allows them to visit the neighbouring islands, which are part of Komodo National Park. The price for non-premium membership is not yet known.

Komodo National Park, which comprises the larger islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca, plus 26 smaller ones, received 10,250 visitors per month in 2018, 95 per cent of whom were foreign tourists.

Komodo dragons aren’t just found on Komodo Island – they also inhabit Rinca, Gili Montang and Gili Dasami, all part of the national park, plus the island of Flores.

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