Organizers Hope Komodo Concert Music to the Dragons’ Ears
Made Arya Kencana
Kuta, Bali. Thousands of revelers flocked to Bali’s world-famous Kuta Beach on Saturday night for the Concert for Komodo, an event to raise the profile of the East Nusa Tenggara national park and its iconic dragons.
The four-hour event featured performances by Bandung-born jazz musician Dwiki Dharmawan as well as East Nusa Tenggara musicians such as Ivan Nestorman. It also included traditional acts from the region.
Dwiki, who for the last year has been on a world tour to promote Komodo National Park, said the campaign was proving to be a success.
“In Italy, people came up and told me that Komodo was one of the places they planned to visit before they died,” he said.
Sustiyo Iriyono, head of the park management, said the campaign was translating into higher visitor numbers. He said the park welcomed 50,000 visitors last year, and they were on pace to double that this year.
“We’ve responded to the increase with a plan to build a fourth star-rated hotel in the area,” he said.
He also said park authorities were building permanent docks to replace the temporary piers that currently serve as the main entry points to the park.
Sapta Nirwandar, director general of promotions at the Culture and Tourism Ministry, said Saturday’s concert was part of the ministry’s “Komodo: Real Wonder of the World” campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the park and encourage both visitors and investors seeking to assist conservation efforts there.
Sapta said while it was important to draw more foreign tourists to the park, visitor numbers should be limited to avoid any negative impacts on either the ecosystem or the giant lizards living there.
He said the Komodo campaign was not aimed at bringing over as many tourists as possible, but intended to draw more affluent visitors. Fewer, but higher-spending tourists, he said, would translate better into greater conservation and sustainability.
Sapta said Komodo-themed parties were planned in Chicago and Sydney as part of the campaign. They are also planning the Komodo Apps Challenge, where software developers would submit smartphone apps to promote the park.
The Tourism Ministry has set aside Rp 8 billion ($944,000) for the contest, Sapta said.
Sustiyo gave those attending Saturday’s concert an enticing reason to visit the park soon: “From now throughout August, it’s mating season for the Komodo dragons.”
Komodo National Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores.