While the Indonesian government has reversed a decision to completely close Komodo Island to tourists, visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of wild Komodo dragons will now be charged an annual $1,000 USD membership fee.
The BBC reported that the measure was enacted in an effort to prevent over-tourism and to protect the habitat of the island’s most famous inhabitants – the approximately 1,700 giant reptiles which make their home on Komodo.
Currently, visitors are only charged $10 to enter the island, part of a larger national park in Indonesia which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, tourism to the island is on the rise: the BBC reported that in 2018, more than 176,000 people visited Komodo, up from 44,000 people in 2008.
The government had originally planned to close the park for one year, to prevent visitors from interfering in the animals’ mating and hatching processes.
The program will consist of two membership levels, according to the report: premium members will be allowed to visit Komodo island, while non-premium members will be able to visit other islands in the Komodo national park, where the dragons also live.
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