East Nusa Tenggara governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat has proposed an annual membership fee to access Komodo National Park on Komodo Island as the administration seeks to restore the popular tourist destination’s prestige.
“I recommended that access to Komodo Island be restricted to members only. The membership will be offered at US$1,000 per year,” Viktor said after a meeting with fellow administration officials on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He said tourists who signed up for the membership plan would be issued special cards verifying their member status.
The membership plan, however, is only a proposal by the East Nusa Tenggara administration. There is no agreement yet on the matter, he added.
“It’s an offer we made to the government. We’ll discuss it further. I do think it’s a good offer,” said the NasDem politician.
If implemented, the membership plan would bolster the protection of Komodo Island as it would limit the number of visitors, Viktor said. He also expected the membership plan to generate more revenue than the traditional single-entry admission fee.
“If we issue 50,000 membership cards, that means we’ve already made $50 million. Compared to the Rp 33 billion [$2.3 million] per year that the Komodo National Park has made over the years, it’s an extraordinary leap,” he said.
Earlier this year, rumors circulated that Komodo National Park would be closed down for conservation reasons. However, the government later came up with a plan to make Komodo Island an “exclusive” destination instead, with premium pricing for access, the proceeds of which would be used for conservation and community development programs.
“Komodo Island will not be closed. We will manage it with the central government, the regional administration and other stakeholders, so there will be regulations to limit the number of tourists visiting Komodo Island through ticketing,” said Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan in October. (rfa)