THE East Nusa Tenggara government is upbeat about some 50 thousand foreign tourists visiting Komodo National Park in West Manggarai District this year despite the local administration’s decision to apply a membership-based ticketing system.

According to I Wayan Darmawan, head of the East Nusa Tenggara Tourism and Creative Economic Office, said the new entry fee system would be effective this year. Starting this year, foreign tourists visiting Komodo National Park located on Flores Island should have membership cards issued by the East Nus Tenggara government.

“Several foreign tourists from various countries have, so far, applied for Komodo Island’s membership cards. Komodo Island has been improved, and tourists will receive optimal and appropriate services. The policy of membership-based ticketing will not affect the flow of tourists to the region,” he remarked.

He added, Komodo dragon is one of the world’s rarest animals, so they must be protected and preserved. Their ecosystem must be protected by limiting the number of tourist visits. The new entry fee to Komodo National Park is US$1,000, or some Rp14 million per person per year, and is valid for multiple visits.

“The membership-based ticketing system is imposed based on a technical study by several parties,” he noted. [antaranews/photo special]