- Title: Small Indonesian town eyes economic takeoff on the back of Komodo dragons
- Date: 28th August 2019
- Summary: (BLUE SHIRT) KOMODO TRAVEL AGENCY OWNER, LEONARD, SEATED IN OFFICE LEONARD WRITING (SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) KOMODO TRAVEL AGENCY OWNER, LEONARD, SAYING: "If the closure (of Komodo National Park) is to bring improvement to the tourism service and bring balance (back to the ecology system) from what's happening now, I agree. But, you don't have to evict villagers on Komodo island. But if the closure is only for business, for money, I don't agree. Why I don't agree? Because if big business, big investors go there (Komodo National Park), I don't think we will get anything."
- Embargoed: 11th September 2019 01:27
- Keywords: Labuan Bajo Local travel agencies Economy Komodo National Park Closure Plan
- Location: LABUAN BAJO, EAST NUSA TENGGARA PROVINCE, INDONESIA / ANIMATION
- City: LABUAN BAJO, EAST NUSA TENGGARA PROVINCE, INDONESIA / ANIMATION
- Country: Indonesia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA003AU4RM13
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Once a sleepy fishing town seated in the far east of Indonesia, Labuan Bajo, popularly known as the gateway to the Komodo National Park, has seen an economic boom in recent years following plans to make it one of the ten 'new Balis' by President Joko Widodo.
But the hustle and bustle of the small town of over 1,800 was disrupted recently by the government's plan to close island of Komodo to the public next year in a bid to conserve rare Komodo dragons, the largest living species of lizard.
As well as the beautiful beaches and scenery, hundreds of thousands of visitors came every year to see the dragons, only found in the wild in eastern Indonesia.
Even after the closure of the island, where about 1,700 of the animals are estimated to live, others in the national park that are home to Komodo dragons, such as the islands of Rinca and Padar, will stay open. But a potential plan by local authorities to reopen the island and make it a premium tourist destination after a year, has sent jitters among locals.
"If the closure is to bring improvement to the tourism service I agree, but if the closure is only for business, for money, I don't agree. Because if big business, big investors enter I don't think we will get anything," said Leonard, the owner of Komodo Travel Agency which organises day trips to the national park.
Just a stone's throw away from Leonard's travel agency is the construction site of a multifunctional complex known as the Marina Bay Hotel Development, a 400 billion Indonesian rupiah ($281 million) project developed by state-owned companies comprising of hotels, commercial facilities and a port.
Other luxury hotel brands like the Accor Group and Marriott International have also announced plans for new hotels in the area in 2020 and 2021.
"In terms of the potential of Labuan Bajo tourism, we will continue to focus on human resources, which means all people of West Manggarai regency will be able to adjust themselves to play a role as the host in the tourism industry. If Komodo becomes an exclusive destination, we better be prepared," said West Manggarai Regent Agustinus Dula.
Both Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park fall under the jurisdiction of the West Manggarai Regency.
(Production: Tommy Ardiansyah, Heru Asprihanto, Sekar Nasly, Angie Teo)
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