The island of Flores in Eastern Indonesia currently experiences a massive development in tourism with numbers of tourists rising rapidly each year. Most tourists visit the western end of the island, which is the gateway to the Komodo National Park with its famous Komodo dragons and world class sites for scuba diving. The rapid development has been causing numerous problems for the town of Labuan Bajo and surrounding area, which only ten years ago was characterized as a small harbour and fishing communities. Pressure on the region has intensified with the declaration of Komodo as one of the 10 new priority tourist destinations (’10 new Bali’) through the Indonesian government.
Nina van Toulon, the lecturer, founded the ECO Flores Foundation in 2012 and has since been working on bringing together people who work on a sustainable development for Flores and Komodo. Concerning the tourism development numerous issues have to be tackled, such as increased requirements regarding supplies and disposal possibilities, land use, the preservation of natural resources and cultural heritage, as well as socio-political issues. Nina van Toulon will report about the current situation of tourism and the negative impacts of mass tourism on Komodo, as well as the efforts of developing a community based tourism and drawing special interest tourists to the region.
Nina van Toulon is the founder and trustee of the ECO Flores network and has been living in Flores since 2010.