Indonesia will not be closing its Komodo island to the public next year. Instead, the government will impose a US1,000 membership fee to tourists wanting to visit the site.
Back in July, authorities announced that the “dragon island” will be closing down in January in an effort to protect the species and their natural habitat. The reopening was then scheduled after a year, but now the Indonesian government has decided on a membership scheme.
Tourists who visit the island are currently paying around USD10 as an entrance fee. The BBC reports that 176,000 visitors went to Komodo island in 2018. This marked a significant increase from 2008’s count of 44,000 people.
Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat, the governor of the region said earlier this year that tourism has had adverse effects on the island. Laiskodat said the komodo dragon’s population is affected by the interference of tourists on the species’ mating and hatching process.
“People will have to become members and pay $1,000 [£790] to enter for a year,” the local governor said at the time, as per the news outlet. “I think that’s cheap.”
Indonesia’s environment ministry struck and agreement with governor Laiskodat to impose a membership fee instead of closing down Komodo entirely. The decision was announced on Monday.
Wildlife conservation efforts to protect the species will be ramped up. The 2,000 locals residing in Komodo will also be allowed to stay. Residents were initially planned to be relocated from the area. “The growth of the community on the island will be restricted so that the village does not become too big and threaten conservation efforts,” the government’s spokesman tells the BBC.