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Hundreds of Indonesian tourism workers launched a strike this week over the government’s decision to raise ticket prices to visit the country’s famous Komodo dragons, saying the move would impact their livelihood, the Independent reported.
The demonstrations, which began on Tuesday, came a day after officials said they would increase fees to access two of the main islands that are part of the Komodo national park to $250.
The government said the move is aimed at preserving the large lizard species, which is currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
But many locals and tourist workers countered that the move could hurt their communities, which are reliant on the sector, and which have already been deeply impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Local media said that protesters clashed with police at the Komodo National Park, with dozens of protesters being arrested. Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno called on protesters to negotiate with the government.
The price hike follows government efforts in recent years to limit visitor numbers to the park.
Indonesia is home to around 3,300 rare Komodo dragons, one of the world’s largest reptiles – it can grow to 10 feet long, and can easily kill enormous prey with a single venomous bite.