Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA) - The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Tourism Office has confirmed that Komodo Island, within the area of the Komodo National Park, will be closed to the public for a year, starting from early 2020.
"It is certain that we will close Komodo island to the public. We have decided to close Komodo Island to tourism next year," Head of the East Nusa Tenggara Tourism Office Wayan Darmawa remarked here on Thursday.
Darmawa divulged details of the outcome of a meeting between the NTT administration and the Environment and Forestry Ministry in Jakarta on Wednesday (July 17) to discuss preparations, evaluation, and management of the island.
President Joko Widodo had agreed to the plan to close Komodo Island to the public, Darmawa asserted. During his visit to Labuan Bajo on July 10-11, the president had highlighted the need to limit the number of visitors to Komodo Island that has been declared as a conservation area.
Tourists can still visit Rinca Island, also located in the Komodo National Park, to catch a glimpse of the Komodo dragon.
East Nusa Tenggara Governor Viktor B. Laiskodat has pledged to apportion Rp100 billion for rehabilitating the Komodo Island ecosystem.
"We will rehabilitate Komodo Island. We will prepare the food (for Komodo), such as deer, goat, and other requirements, as their prey, else it will lead to them becoming extinct," Laiskodat remarked.
The national park, comprising the three larger islands of Komodo, Padar, and Rinca, as well as 26 smaller ones, was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon, the world's only surviving giant lizard.
In 1977, Komodo National Park was named a biosphere reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and in 1991, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2012, it was listed among the New7Wonders of Nature sites.
Tourism industry, with the Komodo National Park and Labuan Bajo as its major tourist destinations, is the backbone of NTT's income.
The Komodo National Park recorded revenue reaching Rp32 billion from tourist visits to the park in 2018, an increase from Rp29 billion in the previous year.
A total of 176,830 tourists had visited the Komodo National Park last year, rising from 119,599 visitors in 2017.
Of last year's total tourists, 121,409 were foreigners and 55,421 constituted Indonesians.
Source: ANTARA News