Photo: Sterling Zumbrunn
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Conserving Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat Tourism Entrance Fee Information For Tourists  
Why do I have to pay a fee to enter Raja Ampat?
Raja Ampat is blessed with some of the highest marine biodiversity and healthiest coral reefs in the world. In order to protect this unique biodiversity, Raja Ampat has 7 nationally mandated and locally managed marine protected areas (MPAs). As with any park or reserve, conservation and tourism management costs money, and the Raja Ampat government is adopting a tool commonly used throughout the world for financing protected areas management – entrance fees.


Moreover, the villagers in Raja Ampat have traditional marine tenure rights over all of the reefs and are entitled to seek compensation from users of their reefs. In an effort to harmonize these various needs and avoid a very complex set of fees for tourism use of individual reefs, the Raja Ampat government and local communities have agreed to a centrally-collected single entrance fee of Rp 500,000/person/calender year (approximately US$55) for international visitors and Rp 250,000/person/calender year for Indonesian visitors.

Where do I purchase my Entrance Tag?
First check with your dive operator to see they have pre-purchased a tag for you. If not, the Secretariat of Raja Ampat Tourism Management Team is located at Hotel JE Meridien, Sorong just opposite of the Sorong Airport. At this time, payment must be in rupiah, though we will endeavor to expand this to at least US$ and Euro in the future. In this case, the guest buys the tag and the receipts are filled in with the following information: guest name, country of origin, tag number, passport number, and email address (optional if the guest would like to receive further information about Raja Ampat conservation efforts). To ensure accountability the guest receives their copy of the 2 receipts, the accompanying dive operator representative (if present) receives their copy, and the management team’s copy is directly entered into the guest database.

How was the fee set?
Raja Ampat is huge, covering nearly 50,000 sq km, with a population of more than 40,000 spread over 125 villages and sub-villages. Managing such a large and diverse area is costly. Providing direct benefits to each of the 125 remote villages is especially costly, particularly given the relatively low number of tourists visiting Raja Ampat. In trying to convince the government and villages to prioritize eco-friendly tourism development over lucrative but environmentally-damaging sectors such as mining and forestry, it is important that they see real benefits from tourism. The result is that the single overall fee is significant (Rp 500,000), but we believe this is a small price to pay to encourage the stewardship and protection of the most biodiverse reefs on earth. Note that the fee system actually only contributes a small part of the overall conservation and management costs of Raja Ampat’s MPA system.

Why do I have to pay for a 1 year tag even if I’m only visiting for a few days?
There is a growing consensus among MPA managers that the annual waterproof tag system is the most efficient, robust and convenient method of collecting entry fees, avoiding the significant hassle and enforcement issues that arise with daily fees – especially in large-scale MPAs where guests do not pass through a central entrance gate on a daily basis.

Why was I given 2 receipts when I purchased my tag?
The fee has two main components: a governmental tourism management fee of Rp 150,000 and a conservation and community development fee of Rp 350,000. In order to ensure transparency and make it very clear where the money goes, each guest will receive two receipts, one for each fund.

Who manages the revenues from the fee system?
The Raja Ampat tourism entrance fee is managed by a multi-stakeholder team that is comprised of local community leaders, Raja Ampat govt. officials (from the departments of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and Culture and Tourism), local and international conservation NGOs (CI, TNC, and the Papua Turtle Conservation Foundation), and a representative of the private marine tourism sector.

Where does my money go?
The Rp 150,000 tourism management fee enters the coffers of the Raja Ampat tourism department and is targeted at improving tourism management in Raja Ampat. The Rp 350,000 conservation and community development fee is split by law into 3 components: 40% for a community development fund for activities that benefit all 125 villages/sub-villages in Raja Ampat; 40% for a conservation and enforcement fund, and 20% for management of the fee system (including paying for the office and staff required to collect, manage, and distribute the entrance fee proceeds). The priority activities under the community development and conservation funds are determined on an annual basis by the entrance fee management team. For more information click here.

What are the initial priorities with the entrance fee funds?
In 2007, the conservation fund will be used to strengthen a patrol program to eliminate destructive fishing practices such as blast and cyanide fishing. In order to reach out to all communities in Raja Ampat and provide them some direct benefit from tourism, the community development fund will be used to re-establish the “Posyandu” system which brings basic health care to mothers and young children in every village. NOTE: as it will take time to accrue funds in the entrance fee accounts, the 2007 activities described above are actually being funded by grants from conservation NGOs; the revenues from the 2007 entrance fee will be used to fund 2008 activities in Raja Ampat, 2008 revenues will fund 2009 activities, and so on.

Why do I still see people fishing in Raja Ampat’s Marine Protected Areas?
Raja Ampat’s MPAs were only declared in mid-2007 and the zonation and management plans for each MPA are still under development. Local communities are still allowed to fish in their traditional areas and may continue to do so with certain agreed gear restrictions. That said, fishing activities including blast and cyanide fishing, trawling, and shark-finning are illegal throughout Raja Ampat. While a joint patrol team comprised of police, fisheries officers and community members has now been launched to confront these environmental crimes directly, the reality is that patrolling this huge area will always be a challenge and a system is being developed so that tourism operators can report violations.

How can I help Raja Ampat further?
As an honored guest to Raja Ampat please respect the rules and especially the reefs of the park. Avoid damaging corals and other marine life by controlling your buoyancy and not standing on or contacting the reef. Photographers should be especially careful and not manipulate marine life. Ensure boats follow the operator code of conduct and anchor in deep water >40m. Anchoring on the reef is the primary cause of tourism-related reef damage! Also insist that your operator does not dispose of solid wastes at sea, which is still a problem!

Secondly, consider donating to either the conservation or community development funds described above. The multistakeholder management team is developing a number of programs which you may like to support such as supplying library books to schools and villages and mosquito nets to reduce the threat of malaria. While we are working on setting up a system where you can donate directly through your operator, for now donations can be made at the entrance fee office at the Sorong airport. Similar to the transparency for the entrance fees collected, all donations are recorded and you will receive an official receipt.

Thank you for visiting Raja Ampat. We hope you enjoy your stay and aim to ensure it is even better the next time you visit.

Photo:Sterling Zumbrunn
Photo: Burt Jones