Hundreds of workers in Indonesia’s tourism industry have gone on strike, but not primarily to press demands for themselves.
The industrial action was prompted by the government’s decision to raise the price of seeing Komodo dragons, from $13 (200,000 rupiah) to $251 (3,750,000 rupiah) per tourist. The price hike led to a strike by almost 700 workers who earn a living through the tourist attraction of the Komodo dragons.
Why is the price increase so much?
About 220,000 tourists were attracted to the Komodo National Park in 2019 to see the animals. The sharp increase in price, according to the government, is to prevent the animals from being overexposed to humans by reducing the number of visitors who see them. The price hike is expected to discourage a significant number of tourists, raising concern among the industry’s workers.
Why does the government want their exposure to humans reduced?
Komodo dragons are the largest lizard species in the world, and Indonesia is home to about 3,300 of them. Conservationists have, however, raised concerns that the animals are at risk of extinction, which they argue is worsened by too much exposure to humans. Authorities have previously considered alternative ways to limit their exposure, including banning tourists from the park completely or a costly membership scheme.
Servianus Setiawan, one of the industry’s workers, argued that while it’s essential to protect the animals, the livelihood of the industry’s workers must not be jeopardized. “We support Komodo conservation but please come up with a sensible number, so we can protect Komodo dragons and so people whose livelihood depends on tourism can live”, Satiawan said.