Domestic and foreign tourists alike will have to fork out US$260 to visit two of the area’s three largest islands.
Officials at Komodo National Park, the biggest tourism draw in the eastern Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), have agreed to postpone a major increase in ticket prices that will put large sections of the UNESCO-listed wildlife reserve out of reach for ordinary Indonesians. Hotels and other tourism-reliant businesses in the nearby port town of Labuan Bajo have been hit by a stream of cancellations in recent days since the new charges first took effect on August 1. Critics say the fee hike was imposed without consulting local tourism players.
Zeth Sony Libing, the head of the provincial tourism office, told local reporters this week, “The NTT provincial government is giving a dispensation of five months, [and] the old admission fees to enter Komodo Island and Padar Island are still in effect. The enforcement of the new admission fees of 3.75 million [rupiah] will take effect on January 1, 2023.”
Zeth said the new pricing scheme was deferred on the advice of local community leaders and President Joko Widodo himself, and added that travelers planning to visit Komodo National Park from January onward can now register via Inisa, a new government-supported mobile app.
Starting next year, travelers wanting to explore some of the park’s most scenic areas will have to fork out Rp 3,750,000 or US$260 per person, regardless of nationality. That’s 25 times the current rate charged to overseas visitors — Rp 150,000 (about US$10) or Rp 225,000 (US$15), depending on the day — and 750 times the ticket price for domestic tourists. The average wage in Indonesia is a paltry Rp 2,890,000 (US$200) per month in comparison.
Those who pay up will get an annual pass allowing unlimited repeat visits during that timeframe. The controversial fee hike does not apply to the island of Rinca, where Komodo dragons are easily sighted at the ranger station and sightseers typically go on short hikes to see the reptiles’ natural habitat.