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Tourism Workers Strike as Indonesia Hikes Fee to See Rare Dragons

Tourism Workers Strike as Indonesia Hikes Fee to See Rare Dragons

Wednesday, 3 August, 2022 - 06:00
Komodo dragon walks at the Komodo National Park in Komodo island, Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province October 4, 2011. REUTERS/Beawiharta/File Photo

Tourism businesses in Indonesia's Komodo National Park began a month-long strike on Monday after the government announced a huge price hike.

Jakarta's 20-fold rise for entry to the park's most popular two islands seek to limit the number of visitors to protect endangered Komodo dragons -- the world's largest lizards -- from overexposure to humans and environmental damage, according to AFP.

The move raised admission fees to Komodo and Padar islands at the World Heritage-listed site in East Nusa Tenggara province from 200,000 rupiah ($13) to 3.75 million rupiah ($252).

The decision, which came into force Monday, sparked uproar among locals who rely on tourism, and industry-related businesses in the national park -- still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic.

They were closed on Monday in protest. At least 700 workers will take part in the strike until the end of August, said an official of the campaign.

Locals said the drastic price hike would deter tourists with a limited budget from visiting the national park, which was almost deserted at the peak of the pandemic.

"We are slowly recovering, if people cancel their reservations, we will fall apart again," Matheus Siagian, a hotel and restaurant owner told AFP.

Komodo dragons are found only in the national park and neighboring Flores Island, and just 3,458 adult and baby Komodo dragons are left in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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