What we know about possible plans to close Komodo

Labuan Bajo, one of the 10 New Balis, is the gateway to Komodo National Park (pictured)

The Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) is forming an integrated team to study the possible closure of the Komodo Island.

The decision was made during last week’s meeting of the director general of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), the East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Government and the West Manggarai Regency Government, following widespread concern in the travel industry when the regional government announced its intention to close the park for one year.

Labuan Bajo, one of the 10 New Balis, is the gateway to Komodo National Park (pictured)

The team consisting of local government, KLHK, tourism stakeholders, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, the Ministry of Tourism and civil society organisations will work together until July 2019, and provide recommendations to KLHK and the Directorate General of Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystem in August 2019.

Until the integrated team completes its research, tour operators can still sell packages to Komodo Island. However, tourism activities, such as trekking, snorkelling and diving will come under tightened regulations to ensure the sustainability of the park’s ecosystem.

Wiratno, director general of Natural Resources Conservation and Ecosystems, stated that all parties were in agreement that Komodo National Park is a world heritage site that must be managed with prudence.

“Governance needs to be improved, especially in relation to safeguarding and protecting Komodo animals, including the availability of prey, especially deer,” he explained.

In official press statement, Wiratno said that should the integrated team’s recommendations lead to closure, only the Komodo Island will be affected. The closure would not take place before January 2020.

“The closure plan is only for Komodo Island, not all of Komodo National Park. Snorkelling at almost 43 good dive spots can still be done,” Wiratno said.

In fact, Komodo dragons – one of the biggest sell-points of the destination – are not only found on Komodo Island but also on the surrounding islands.

Travellers can still see the famed creatures on Rinca Island, Padar Island, Gili Motang and Nusa Kode, as well as the mainland of Flores in the Riung Island Nature Park 17 in Ngada Regency.

Meanwhile, the assessment of the entrance tariff will also be immediately coordinated with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Tourism, tour operators and the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies, added Wiratno.

The visitor management system, information centre, and institutional strengthening of communities for conservation and the economy will also be thoroughly regulated.

Opportunities for cooperation in strengthening the function and licensing of natural tourism services and natural tourism facilities can also be explored according to applicable regulations and laws.

“In the coordination meeting it was also decided that the arrangement of the ship’s entrance lane and the entrance ticket sales to the Komodo National Park would be set through one door, namely Labuan Bajo Port,” Wiratno said.

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