Admission prices to Indonesia’s fabled Komodo National Park are under the exclusive control of a regional government-owned company (BUMD)- PT Flobamor.
PT Flobamor is the object of continuing criticism from local and national tourism operators for imposing substantial increases in admission fees that many argue will deter tourism visits to the area. The BUMD is also criticized for establishing a modern Komodo Visitor’s Center on Rinca Island, accused of being built and operated in disregard of widely accepted “best practice” regarding the care and conservation of the critically endangered Komodo Dragon (Varanus Komodoensis) .
Responding to accusations of tourist price gouging, the President’s Executive Office staff have called on PT Flobamor to cancel admission and park-use current rate hikes. That directive from the Presidential office has been flatly rejected by the manager of the BUMD, an incalcitrant posture presumed to enjoy the support of NTT provincial and regional leaders.
The request to cancel rate increases resulted from a meeting held on 04 May 2023 between Presidential office envoys, the management of PT Flobamor, local tourism stakeholders in West Flores, and representatives of several cabinet ministries.
As reported by Detik.com, the operations director of PT Flobamor, Abner Runpah, insists that admission prices can only be reduced if directed to do so in a formal letter from the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (KLHK).
“We cannot act on directions from the Presidential Staff requesting the postponement of new tariff rates for National Park Guides on Komodo Island and Padar Island without first receiving an official letter from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry,” said Abner Runpah in a written announcement issued on Friday, 05 May 2023.
Abner said no decision was discussed in recent meetings regarding suspending the cooperative agreement between PT Flobamor and the Komodo National Park. Adding: “What took place is (only) a request from the Presidential Staff members to postpone any rise in service fees temporarily.”
Abner underlined that PT Flobamor must wait for a letter from the Ministry ordering the postponement of entrance and use fees before taking further action. He continued that the new, higher tariff would remain in place without a Ministerial letter ordering the postponement of the fee increase.
Earlier, the Manggarai, West Flores Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) chairperson, Evodius Gonsomer, confirmed that the Presidential staff had asked to revoke higher admission tariffs for the Komodo National Park. “Evo” said the Presidential Chief of Staff, Moeldoko, had not asked for a postponement of the new tariff but had requested its revocation.
PT Flobamor had been requested to suspend the higher tariff during the ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo from 09-11 May 2023.
PT Flobamor introduced higher admission tariffs effective 15 April 2023. The higher tariff precipitated a loud outcry from tourism operators and community elements, including the Catholic Diocese of Ruteng, headquartered in Ruteng, West Manggarai. Under the new tariff, the cost of a naturalist guide increased by 1,000% for domestic visitors and 1,666% for international tourists.
Before the 15 April increase, the cost of a naturalist guide’s services for a group of up to five domestic or international tourists was set at Rp. 120,000. After the increase, the price increased to Rp. 250,000 per person for domestic tourist visitors and Rp. 400,000 per person for international tourist visitors. As a result, a group of five domestic visitors now pay a guide fee of Rp. 1,250,000, while five international visitors would pay Rp. 2 million).
A letter issued by PT Flobamor’s directors announcing the new tariff on 24 March 2023 set the following new rates:
- Rp. 250,000 per person for Indonesian tourists taking a “short trek.”
- Rp. 275,000 per person for Indonesian tourists taking a “medium trek.”
- Rp. 300,000 per person for Indonesian tourists taking a “long trek.”
- Indonesians participating in “Adventure activities” on Loh Liang Island vary between Rp. 350,000 to Rp. 500,000 – with night scouting guided tours cost Rp. 350,000.
- Trekking fees on Padar Selatan are set at Rp. 400,000, Rp. 750,000 for bird watching treks, Rp. 800,000 for sports fishing expeditions, Rp. 750,000 for film shooting, and Rp. 550,000 for still photography.
Before the increase, The Komodo National Park only charged Rp. 5,000 for campers and trekkers visiting the Park. Those wishing to explore local caves paid Rp. 10,000 per person.
In the past, divers were required to pay a Rp. 25,000 per person fee, Rp. 15,000 for snorkelers, and Rp. 25,000 for using a canoe, sampan or float board, Rp. 15,000 for using a raft, and Rp. 25,000 to fish at Komodo.
Local stakeholders see the much higher rates introduced by PT Flobamor as exorbitant, opportunistic, and ruinous to developing local tourism.
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