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Category Archive: Raja Ampat Conservation

Where the Money Goes from The Entrance Fees of Raja Ampat National Park

Where the money goes
The money collected from the tags is divided into two major components; the Retribusi fee which goes directly to the Dept of Tourism towards tourism development projects and the Non- Retribusi fee which is managed by a multi-stakeholder team, Tim Pengelola, and divided between conservation/MPA management projects and community projects.

Tim Pengelola, JE Meridien Hotel Sorong
Tel +62 951 328358 | Fax +62 951 326576





Information On The Tags System For Tour Operator, Lodges & Liveaboards

Background information on the tag system for tour operators
The following information is provided in order to acquaint dive operators with the detailed justification and workings of the Raja Ampat Tourism Entrance Fee System. We have tried to design this system in a manner which is as flexible and convenient to dive operators working in Raja Ampat as possible; however, the very different operating environments of liveaboards and locally-based resorts means there are some complexities here which require some explanation as well as patience and consideration on behalf of everyone involved.

Why was the user fee created?
As most operators are aware, ownership and authority over reefs in Raja Ampat (and Papua in general) is more complex than in other parts of Indonesia. In Raja Ampat individual families or villages actually exert traditional marine tenurial rights over the reefs (ie, reefs are not an open-access resource as in most of Indonesia). At the same time, the Raja Ampat Regency government also has management authority over the reefs. Both of these important stakeholders have a variety of legal and moral rights to seek payment from users of the reefs – be those fisheries or tourism interests. Unfortunately, these overlapping authorities have resulted in a fair bit of angst and multiple demands for payments from dive operators – something which many of you most certainly have experienced in Raja Ampat.

Given this situation, Conservation International (CI), the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), and their conservation partners were requested by both villagers and the Raja Ampat government to facilitate the development of an entrance fee system which can accommodate the rights of the government and villagers to seek compensation for tourism use of the reefs while also not unnecessarily inconveniencing dive operators or diving guests to the region. Our interest in facilitating this system is straightforward; our institutions are focused on conservation and sustainable use of the globally-significant marine biodiversity in Raja Ampat, and we firmly believe that marine tourism is one of the economic development sectors most compatible with this mission. Hence, we are keen to facilitate sustainable tourism development in Raja Ampat and encourage both villagers and the government to prioritize this sector.

We have spent a considerable amount of energy, time and money to engage villagers and the Raja Ampat government in forging an agreement for a single fee system which is collected centrally with the benefits distributed to all of the villages in Raja Ampat – rather than having a potentially overwhelming number of separate fees for each reef in Raja Ampat. 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. We ask your support and patience in getting this fee system up and running and providing benefits to all of the involved stakeholders.

How does the tag system work?
After considering a variety of options, we have settled on the annual waterproof plastic entrance tag system (first developed in Bonaire and now widely used from Bunaken to Fiji to the Caribbean) as the most robust and convenient marine entrance fee system. The system is simple: guests purchase an individually-numbered annual waterproof tag which is affixed to their gear as proof of payment. The design and color of the tag changes on a yearly basis, and tags are valid for the calendar year in which they are purchased (eg, a 2008 tag will be valid from 1 January 2008 through 31 January 2009).

Tags are individually numbered and this information recorded directly on receipts and in a centralized database in order to prevent re-use of tags between guests. That is to say, tag #00001 is registered to Mr. John Smith from the UK, and cannot be transferred to other guests. This annual tag system is widely considered to be the most convenient marine entrance fee system yet developed and avoids a number of the hassles associated with systems that use daily fees. Tags can be purchased “on the spot” or pre-purchased in bulk by dive operators and re-sold to guests; the main “hassle” associated with this system is the requirement for operators to provide data back to the entrance fee management team on how the individually-numbered tags are assigned to specific guests (explained in detail below).

Why are there two receipts?
The purchase of a tag will result in two separate receipts which reflects the bipartite nature of the entrance fee: one receipt of Rp 150,000 for the tourism management fee (known locally as the “retribusi” to the Raja Ampat tourism department) and one receipt of Rp 350,000 for the conservation and community development fee (known locally as the “non-retribusi” fee which is used directly for programs in the 88 villages of Raja Ampat). Each receipt is in triplicate – one (white) for the visitor, one (pink) for the management team to enter visitor data into its database, and one (yellow) for the dive operator (provides an extra measure of “control” for dive operators to be able to compare back to the management team’s database in case of any suspicion of corruption). For more information purchase of tags and use of receipts click here.

Thank you for visiting Raja Ampat!

Tim Pengelola, JE Meridien Hotel Sorong
Tel +62 951 328358 | Fax +62 951 326576

Raja Ampat Tourism Entrance Fees Information for Tourists

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/year (approximately US$55) for international visitors and Rp 250,000/person/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 Raja Ampat entrance fee management team has established a booth at the Sorong Airport where arriving guests can directly purchase their tags. 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 32,000 spread over 92 villages and sub-villages. Managing such a large and diverse area is costly. Providing direct benefits to each of the 88 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, Tourism, and Health) local and international conservation NGOs (CI, TNC, and the Papuan Turtle Conservation Foundation), and a rep. 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 92 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.

Tim Pengelola, JE Meridien Hotel Sorong
Tel +62 951 328358 | Fax +62 951 326576

Raja Ampat Entrance Tags Today

The Raja Ampat Regency Government is proud to announce the introduction of a tourism entrance fee system to help support conservation and community projects within Raja Ampat. All tourists entering Raja Ampat are required to purchase an entrance tag.

The entrance fee for foreign visitors is Rp 500,000/person/calender year (approximately US$55) for which they will receive a waterproof plastic entrance tag featuring a photo from Raja Ampat. All Indonesian visitors from outside Raja Ampat are required to pay Rp 250,000 and will receive an entry card. The annual tags and cards will be valid from January 1st until January 31st of the following year.

The tag system has been adapted from the very successful Bonaire and Bunaken Marine Park systems. The 2008 tag features an endemic pygmy seahorse, one of over 1200 fish species found in Raja Ampat—the most biodiverse marine region in the world recorded to date. Visitors are required to carry their tags or cards at all times—tags can be easily fixed to guests’ snorkeling or diving gear or to their dive bag. The entrance fee system will be enforced through spot checks conducted by official patrols. The money collected is managed by a multistakeholder management team (Tim Pengelola) and is divided between tourism development, conservation, and community health projecs.

We greatly appreciate your support and cooperation with this fee system. Conservation of Raja Ampat’s spectacular marine habitats and biodiversity requires long term funding. In addition, the local communities who own these reefs need to see direct benefits of tourism through community programs that will improve their quality of life.

Tim Pengelola, JE Meridien Hotel Sorong
Tel +62 951 328358 | Fax +62 951 326576

Raja Ampat Diving Tag System

The new fee system will be signed into law and all the materials required for the new tag system (tags/receipts) will be ready for the launch on the 15th July 2007.

The annual tag will normally be valid from the 1st January until the 31st January of the following year. This year the tags will be valid from 15th July 2007 until 31st January 2008.

The tag will cost Rp 500,000 per person for all foreigners.
Indonesian citizens can opt to pay Rp 250,000. All Indonesian visitors from outside Sorong/Raja Ampat (ie who fly in) are supposed to pay this fee. This year they will get a tag, but in future they will only get an entry card (like a credit card). This was the Bupati’s decision.

How to buy your tags.
At the airport – Representatives of the Fund Management Team will be at the airport to collect tag fees. You will get 2 receipts for each tag. One for Rp 150,000 Retribusi Fee(For local government for infrastructure development) and Rp 350,000 for MPA Management and Community Development Fee.
Advance purchase – From CI office in Bali or Sorong during office hours – details below.
Provide a passenger list with name and passport number and a column for their individual tag number. You can provide this before you sail if you have pre-purchased tag.

What else you need to do.
In order that you do not have to check into every village during your trip you are required to;

E-mail or fax – A picture (~300Kb jpeg) of your boat so the villagers recognize friend from foe. (one time only – a poster will be made and sent to all – villages)

Your sailing schedule for Raja Ampat (one time only for the year or your season)
A general itinerary of where you plan to go a week before you leave. This will be announced over the community radio prior to your sailing.
Indonesian Crew members do not have to have a tag – but you could get them if you like…
Note – there will be a Rp10 million fine for not having a tag

This will be updated when 2 fulltime staff are employed by the Fund Management Team to collect the fees, do financial reporting, provide up dates for the new web site and provide logistical support for the fund distribution. CI has offered to handle this temporarily until they are set up.

CI Office in Sorong

Jalan Arfak No. 45 Sorong 98413
Tel +62 951 331428 Fax +62 951331786
e-mail amarlessy@ conservation.org
cc adohar@ conservation.org

Inne Marlessy is the office manager of CI in Sorong, Anita Dohar is in charge of tourism matters for CI in Raja Ampat.

CI Office in Bali
Jalan Dr. Muwardi No 17
Renon, Denpasar, Bali 80361
Tel +62 361 237245 Fax +62 361 235430

Citra is the office manager in CI Bali
I would ask you to be a bit patient while the various kinks in the system are worked out. A special bank account will be set up so you will in future be able to transfer funds for the tags. CI/CORAL will ensure a transparent system is set up for the collection and disbursement of fees. This will be reported monthly on the web site. (see below).

Fund Management

The Non-Retribusi fund will be managed by a team comprising representatives from the Bupatis office, Tourism Dept, Fisheries Dept, Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, Kompers (local turtle conservation NGO), a representative of the dive operators and Dewan Adat. An initial meeting will be held next week with a few key members to agree to hire staff and set up the bank account. The main meeting will be held in November every year to determine the disbursement of funds. More about that later.

The fund money will be disbursed as follows;
# 40% Community Development
# 40% Conservation Management and Patrol
# 20% Administration

There will be an audit team including Kompers to independently check the finances.
What else is going on..

New Logo
A logo has been designed that will clearly define the Conservation Fund to all beneficiaries.

Community Programme
It will take some time for the fund to grow and show benefits to the community. In order try and minimize community disenchantment with the system, Conservation International will provide an initial start up grant for the Posiandu System (mothers and babies clinic) which will benefit every village. Cadres(village nurses)

will be provided with T-shirts with the Fund logo and all the materials provided will be similarly identifiable. We are hoping to get the programme up and running in the next couple of months but have been delayed as the ma

jor leader in CI for community programmes is recovering from Malaria. Jacinta – we hope you get better soon!

New CORAL representative
And last but not least, my contract with CORAL comes to an end this month (June) and I will be replaced by Rick Wright. Much as I have enjoyed working with CORAL and all of you, I have some other projects to work on and know that Rick will do a great job. Rick is based in Bali, has a Masters in Marine Affairs specializing in MPA management in Indonesia. A retired US Navy submarine commander and Navel attaché in Indonesia, Rick has great experience in the country and speaks the language. I am sure you will enjoy working with him.