The local community went on strike and closed access to Labuan Bajo –

Tourism service providers and tourism businesses in Labuan Bajo, West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara have jointly pledged to halt all types of tourism services for the next month.

The action follows the government’s decision to increase the entrance fee to Loh Liang Komodo Island and Padar Island to Rp 3.75 million, effective August 1, 2022.

The stoppage of tourist services in Labuan Bajo was carried out as an extension of the joint commitment signed by 24 tourist organizations in Labuan Bajo. The action is designed to resist the decision of the Ministry of Environment and Forests with the provincial government of East Nusa Tenggara regarding high fees to enter Komodo National Park.

“We have agreed to stop all types of tourist services in the islands of the national park and in all tourist destinations in West Manggarai from August 1 to 31, 2022,” said the coordinator of tourism actors and individual tourism actors of West Manggarai Regency, Rafael Taher, on Saturday July 30, 2022.

Tourism workers and businesses include tour boat owners, ground transportation service provider owners, restaurant owners, hotel owners, photographers, guides, and culinary business people.

According to Taher, who claims to represent all tourism stakeholders in West Manggarai, he felt that the presence of PT Flobamor, a regional company owned by the government of East Nusa Tenggara, has monopolized the tourism sector in West Manggarai.

They considered this to be causing poverty for all tourism stakeholders and the community of Labuan Bajo, West Manggarai. Therefore, according to him, the joint pledge to stop all tourism service activities in West Manggarai regency in August was made without any coercion from any party.

Regarding tourists who have booked air tickets or hotels in Labuan Bajo, he said, his party will not ban it. However, when they arrived in Labuan Bajo, he warned that there would be no vehicles to pick up at the airport and no hotels would be accepting customers.

We do not prohibit tourists from coming. But we apologize if they arrived in Labuan Bajo because no transport will pick them up,” he added.

Meanwhile, the head of East Nusa Tenggara Tourism Board, Sony Zeth Libing, pointed out that the government will continue to apply an entry ticket to Komodo and Padar islands of IDR 3.75 million, which is central government policy. His team will continue to enforce the new prices despite opposition.

“The East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Government truly appreciates the aspirations of people who reject the Rs 3.75 million entry ticket increase for Komodo Island and Padar Island. We are in the process of reviewing all these aspirations but of course the application of new tariffs to Komodo will still be on August 1 because it has gone through a period of study,” he said.

According to him, the government has a grand vision behind imposing the new tariff, which is to keep Komodo and its ecosystem preserved forever. The government of East Nusa Tenggara does not want the new tariffs to be applied when the ecosystem of Komodo Island is already starting to be damaged.

“We need to anticipate early before a larger problem occurs in Komodo habitat and its ecosystem,” he concluded.