The Jakarta Post
The Environment and Forestry Ministry will summons representatives from the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) administration to explain its plan to temporarily close Komodo National Park to visitors for one year.
“We will invite the NTT administration [for a discussion on Komodo]. It is not quite wise to decide it unilaterally and everything has procedures,” Minister Siti Nurbaya said on Monday as quoted by Antara. “We need to listen to what the local administration wants. We also need to listen to [input from] the Tourism Ministry, while we are assessing how and when the proposal will be implemented.”
Siti also warned the NTT administration that decisions regarding conservation areas were in fact solely under the jurisdiction of the central government.
Komodo National Park is the only place in the world where people can see the endangered Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. The park is also an official UNESCO World Heritage site.
NTT Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat was quoted by Antara last week as saying: “The NTT administration will make [the necessary] arrangements for Komodo National Park to improve it. We will close down the park for one year “
He did not announce the dates of the temporary closure, but said the move was part of efforts to increase the local population of Komodo dragons and deer, according to Antara.
Viktor planned late last year to raise the park’s entrance fee to at least US$500 as part of efforts to boost the profile of the conservation area.
The plan, however, has been met with opposition from the local community, with the West Manggarai Tourism Rescue Society Forum (Formapp Mabar) saying that a higher entry fee would decrease the number of tourist arrivals and subsequently lower the incomes of tourism operators and tour guides in the area, particularly in Labuan Bajo, which is the main hub for the park. (spl/ipa)