In July 2021, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee asked the Government of Indonesia to temporarily suspend tourism infrastructure development projects in the Komodo National Park area (Geopark Project). The request is contained in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee document numbered WHC/21/44.COM/7B published after the online convention on 16-31 July 2021.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee urges the Indonesian government to temporarily suspend tourism projects located in and around the Komodo National Park area because they have the potential to have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) in the area. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee received information from third parties indicating that tourism projects in the Komodo National Park area are targeted to attract up to 500,000 visitors annually. This figure is twice as high as the number of visitors to the area before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The Indonesian government then suspended the project temporarily and submitted a revised Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) for review by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). If the current project does not meet the AMDAL, then the project cannot be continued because it can damage the environment and the Komodo ecosystem in the area. This is also a concern for several other parties because it can threaten the sustainability of the ecosystem and the conservation of endangered Komodo dragons in the area.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee then questioned the vision of the Indonesian Government which previously stated that the tourism model built in Komodo National Park would use a sustainable approach and not mass tourism. However, after checking again it turned out to be done en masse.
In addition, the AMDAL for tourism infrastructure projects on Rinca Island is feared to be inadequate in assessing the potential impact on the OUV in the area. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is also concerned about the repercussions of passing a new law (Job Creation Act) that would allow infrastructure development without an AMDAL (Source: www.kompas.com). This can lead to conflicts and big questions regarding the safety of the project carried out in front of the community around the project. Not that it will increase the tourism sector, but will damage the Komodo ecosystem which will have an impact on the selling value of the area in the international tourism sector. There is no tourism place of value, then there is no income.
GEOPARK PROJECT REJECTION FROM THE COMMUNITY
The rejection of the project development also came from the West Manggarai Tourism Care and Rescue Community Forum (Formapp). This forum rejects the construction of geopark facilities and infrastructure in the Loh Buaya area, Rinca Island, Komodo National Park because it is contrary to the nature of the existence of Komodo National Park as a conservation area. In addition, the model of developing geopark facilities and infrastructure by means of concretization can destroy the landscape of the Loh Buaya area and has the potential to destroy the big design of the tourism industry and harm tourism actors and the West Manggarai community, which until now uses a nature-based tourism system as the main selling point of tourism in Labuan Bajo-Flores.
Based on Kompas.com, West Manggarai Formapp of said that it had expressed its rejection of the geopark development. This rejection has been conveyed many times, including through demonstrations involving more than 1,000 community members at the Komodo National Park Hall and the Tourism Authority of Labuan Bajo, Flores, on February 12, 2020.