The governor of an Indonesian province that is home to the famed Komodo dragon said poor tourists are not welcome there, local media reported on Friday.
East Nusa Tenggara Governor Victor Laiskodat said his province was on the list of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020 and therefore should be a premium destination.
“Tourists who come here must be rich,” Laiskodat was quoted by the Kompas newspaper as saying Thursday. “Those who are poor may not come … we have many people like that, so we don’t want to see more of them.”
East Nusa Tenggara is one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia.
Laiskodat has proposed that people who want access to Komodo island, home to the giant lizard, should be charged a hefty entrance fee. Visitors are currently charged 150,000 rupiah (10 dollars) for access to the park.
The government this year dropped a plan to close the island for a year in 2020 as part of conservation efforts and instead decided to turn it into a premium tourism destination.
Officials said visitors who do not want to pay the entrance fee can visit nearby Rinca island, where smaller Komodo dragons live.
Komodo National Park, home to more than 5,000 Komodo dragons, is listed by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 10 destinations. It receives more than 10,000 visitors per month.