Riani Sanusi Putri, Hendartyo Hanggi, Jakarta – The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) chairperson Tulus Abadi on Wednesday responded to the current heated debate on the increased entry fee to one of Indonesia's most exotic tourist sites, Komodo Island National Park.
The government had imposed a regulation that effectively increases the entry fee to Rp3.75 million per person and claims it is for conservation reasons.
Tulus argues that if the actual reason is to preserve and conserve the ecosystem that is the house of protected Komodo dragons, the government could just simply restrict the number of visitations instead of "Increasing the tariff to an irrational level," he said to Tempo on August 3.
He said that conservation needs to be done, but does not don't give the government the right to arbitrarily increase the entry fee of a tourist site that is the main source of livelihood for locals. According to him, the way to limit the number of visitors can be done not only through increasing rates but also by closing certain areas of the tourist attraction.
The YLKI chairperson gave an example of a Mayan heritage site tour in Mexico. When conservation is carried out, the Mexican government closes certain areas so that tourists only see from a certain distance to take photos.
Previously reported, there were demonstrations by local small and individually-run tourism businesses in Labuan Bajo who are against the government's call to increase the entry fee. Minister Sandiaga Uno responded to this by appealing to local tourism owners to exercise restraint and prioritize dialogue. "Let's sit down together to find a solution," said Sandiaga in a virtual press conference on Monday, August 1.
The increase in the price of admission to Komodo National Park only applies to islands designated as conservation areas, namely Komodo Island and Padar Island. Meanwhile, the entrance fee to Rinca Island is not increased, which will remain to charge only Rp 50,000 for local tourists – not including the services of a guide.
Activists and tourists joined in the protest that rejected the application of the new rate. Since the imposition of tariffs, they have taken to the streets and eventually clashed with the authorities. So far, three people have been arrested for further questioning by the police.