Several recent news reports have reported the closure of Komodo National Park to tourists. Is this true or a case of fake news? And if true, how will it affect divers? Should you book that Komodo trip now before it’s too late?
The short answer is no. In a February statement, Vice President Jusuf Kala and the Director General of Nature Conservation and Ecosystems, Mr. Wiratno, declared that Komodo National Park will not close.
However, there are plans (yet to be approved) for temporary closure. But these plans only apply to Komodo Island, not the whole park.
According to East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Tourism Agency head Marius Ardu Jelamu, a temporary closure aimed at habitat restoration would only apply to Komodo Island.
“We will close it temporarily in January 2020, but not entirely, only Komodo Island,” he said recently.
Marius said that both regional and central governments had been working together on the restoration plans and a team of relevant stakeholders had formed in order to make a joint assessment of the closure. The Ministry expects results by July 2019.
What does a Komodo closure mean for divers?
So, the current information is that Komodo Island may temporarily close from January 2020 (for one year), but only to land tours:
- Komodo Island will close to land visits
- The closure will not affect diving and snorkeling
- Land visits for dragon treks will shift to Rinca Island
- The plan is not yet approved
The national park, located in West Manggarai regency, spans some 847 square miles (219,322 hectares). It comprises three large islands: Komodo, Padar and Rinca, as well as 26 smaller ones. The Environment and Forestry Ministry oversees conservation of the park, home to about 5,700 giant lizards. The national park is the only place in the world where people can see the endangered Komodo dragons in their natural habitat.
Komodo liveaboard operators have all confirmed the current status and their plans in 2020 should Komodo Island close. Visitors
“In the event of the closure of Komodo island, we will shift our Komodo dragon-trekking tour to the ranger station located on Rinca Island,” says a representative of Adelaar Cruises. Located inside the Komodo National Park, Rinca is a smaller island, an even better place to spot animals in the wild. Along with dragons, you may also see water buffalo, monkeys, wild deer and pigs on your way up to the top of the hill, where the view of the archipelago is simply stunning.”
Local operators are, of course, acutely aware of the situation and are actively seeking information from local government and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism. Meanwhile rest assured that your next liveaboard trip to Komodo will be as me