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The Wagging Tongues of Komodo

Beyond Bali: Mishandled Communication on Future Plans for Komodo National Park Predicted to Decrease Future Visitor Total

Depending on your news sources -The Komodo National Park – home to the world’s rare and endangered largest monitor “Komodo Dragon” is either going to be closed for at least a year to visits by the public or remain open as a major tourist draw in Eastern Indonesia.

With major media worldwide, including CNN, announcing plans are to close the park for at least one year to allow the recovery of the natural environment there appears to be no official decision yet from the Indonesian government on whether or not the Park will be temporarily closed.

The Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (KLHK) in Indonesia has announced no decision has been taken on the closure of the Komodo National Park while research is underway to evaluate future conservation measures. Steps are also underway to continually improve conditions at the Park.

Quoted by TTG Asia, the Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, said: “At the moment, an integrated team is still conducting research until August, and we will stick to (the earlier decision) to wait for the results (before making any new announcements).”

Adding to the current confusion, the East Nusa Tenggara Government have released a statement saying the park would soon be closed.

The director general of Natural Resources Conservation and Ecosystems at KLHK, Wiranto, said via an official announcement that any closure of the Park would be based on scientific considerations. Adding: “We understand that we need to give certainty to tourism stakeholders, both local and international, as this could potentially affect the Country’s foreign exchange income, tourism business, and local economy.”

A team comprised of the West Manggarai Government, KLHK, tourism-related companies, the Ministry of Tourism, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and community associations are reported to be jointly considering the situation of the Park and are expected to issue their recommendations to KLHK in August.

At the base of the current confusion may be overreaching by regional officials who made premature public announcements on the park’s closure without first consulting with the National Government who control the Komodo National Park.

Pending the completion of current reviews and a formal decision from KLHK, the Park remains open for business and visits by both domestic and foreign tourist.

Premature unilateral announcement are likely to make a heavy dent in arrivals as major tourism operators and cruise ships will shy away from selling packages including Komodo until such a time as continued access is officially assured. Cruise ships tend to book their itineraries two year in advance.

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