Komodo Island Isn't Closing After All — but Visitors Will Soon Have to Pay a Hefty Fee (Video)
On Thursday, Indonesian officials announced Komodo Island, the popular tourist destination filled with giant lizards, will remain open to visitors. However, the officials did explain that visiting the island will come with a host of new restrictions.
“Komodo Island will not be closed," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said in a statement last week. He noted, "a restriction will be placed on the number of tourists to Komodo Island by rearranging its ticketing system."
Beyond limiting the number of guests who can visit, the biggest new restriction will be the price of entry. As BBC News reported, the current entry price to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a mere $10. However, tourists hoping to access Komodo Island will now have to pay for a $1,000 year-long "membership" to access the area.
Furthermore, the membership will come with two tiers.
CNN reported, there will be a premium membership and non-premium. The premium membership cardholders will be permitted to land on Komodo island, where they can see the famed dragons up close. The other tiers will be allowed to land on neighboring islands. The price for the non-premium membership has yet to be announced.
While this price seems steep it’s still a massive reversal for officials in Indonesia, who announced plans earlier this year to completely close the island to tourists by 2020.
Officials had wanted to close the island to help protect its delicate ecosystem and animals after an estimated 180,000 tourists visited the 150-square-mile island in 2018. Those tourists were all coming to see the small population of dragons left on the island. According to reports, just 2,000 Komodo dragons still live on the island. The lizards, which can reach up to 10-feet in length, are currently listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
However, CNN reported, locals voiced concerns that closing the island would decimate their small businesses and undermine tourism to the region. So now, if you really want to see the dragons you’re going to have to pay the price.