Thursday, 23 March, 2017

Raja Ampat Diving Tags and Conservation Fees

Introduction

Help Conserve Raja Ampat
—Get Your Entrance Tag 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 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.

How to buy your tags

In order to make this system as convenient as possible to dive operators and dive tourists, there are several ways to purchase the tags.

1. Purchase on arrival at the Sorong airport
The Raja Ampat entrance fee management team has established 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 they 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.

2. Pre-purchase of tags for a known guest list at Sorong airport
If an operator knows they will have a group of X number of guests arriving in the near future and wishes to pre-purchase tags for convenience sake, this is also possible. The operator or their agent simply brings (or faxes ahead of time) the guest list with complete data (names, country of origin, passport number) to the Sorong airport office to receive the tags and the completed receipts. Payment can either be in cash or could be previously wire-transferred to the bank account set up by the management team – in this case, the operator or agent need only fax or bring proof of transfer to the airport office to receive the tags. The most hassle-free way of doing this would be to fax ahead the passenger list and proof of wire transfer and an agent can simply pick up the completed receipts and tags at the airport.

3. Pre-purchase of tags for a known guest list at CI Bali office
For those liveaboard operators that would prefer to pick-up tags in Bali, this is also possible during office hours. The only difference between picking up tags at the CI Bali office and picking them up at the Sorong airport office is that the CI Bali office cannot receive cash payment – payment must be previously conducted through wire transfer to the entrance fee bank account in Sorong and the proof of transfer shown when picking up tags at the Bali office.

4. Prepurchase of bulk tags from Sorong airport (guest names not yet specified)
Some operators might prefer to simply pre-purchase tags in bulk (eg, 50 or 100 tags) and then re-sell them to their guests and fill in the receipts themselves. This is also permissible under the system; the added complexity here is the need for the operator to fill out the receipts for the guest and ensure that the guest data is reported in a timely manner back to the management team for inclusion in the database. In this case, the operator can wire-transfer the specified amount to the entrance fee account or bring cash payment to the airport and pick up the bulk tags and their associated pre-numbered receipts (this purchase is recorded in the database to track the numbers of the tags that have been purchased in bulk). The operator then re-sells the tags to their guests and fills out the pre-numbered receipts. At this point, the operator needs to either arrange to physically return the pink copies of the receipts to the management team for recording in the database, or could fax/email the requisite data (tag number, guest name/country of origin/passport number) to the management team.

Prepurchase of bulk tags from CI Bali office (guest names not yet specified).
This option is identical to the one above, except that direct payment in cash is not available at the CI Bali office. Rather, proof of wire transfer to the entrance fee account is required in order to pick up a bulk tag purchase from the CI Bali office.

Please note that the option to purchase tags in Bali at the CI office is an attempt to make things as easy as possible for operators, and CI is doing this as a favor to the entrance fee management team. The CI office will not receive any cash payments but only will act as an outlet for operators to collect tags during office hours that they’ve already paid for by wire transfer to the Sorong entrance fee account.

Why the tags are individually numbered and why we need your help to return associated guest data to the management team
Entrance tags are individually numbered as a means of preventing the re-use of tags by multiple guests. If an authorized patrol does a spot check of a dive boat in Raja Ampat, they may request guest names and their associated tag numbers – they can then radio this information back to the entrance fee office to check against the entries in the database. For this system to run smoothly, it requires that data on guests name and tag numbers is kept up-to-date in the database. When tags are purchased directly by guests or for a known guest list, the receipts are filled out in the entrance fee office and this data immediately entered into the database. However, if operators choose to pre-purchase tags in bulk without associated guest names, the operators must then fill in the guest information into the receipts when providing guests with tags. This data must then be sent to the management team promptly (either by sending pink receipt copies or faxing/emailing the guest name/tag number data). If you choose this option, we ask that you please cooperate to send the data to the management team as soon as possible.

Below is the contact information for purchase of tags in either Sorong or Bali. For the time being, the Sorong contact is via the CI office in Sorong; we hope the entrance fee office in the Sorong airport will soon have telecommunications/internet access and we will provide this contact information to you as soon as it is available. Thank you again for your patience and cooperation with the launch of this new system, which we believe will be a significant improvement over the previous system and provide real benefits to Raja Ampat’s villagers and reefs.

Management Office
JE Meridien Hotel
Sorong 98413
Tel: +62 (0)951-328358
Fax: +62 (0)951-326576
POC: Office Manager
e-mail: info@diverajaampat.org

CI Office in Bali
Jalan Dr. Muwardi No 17
Renon, Denpasar, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 (0)361-237245
Fax: +62 (0)361-235430
POC: Laurencia Citra, Office Manager
e-mail: citra@conservation.or.id

Raja Ampat Tourism Entrance Fee bank account information:
Account Name: KLASINA.D.RUMBEKWAN AND CHIPUTRI W K,
Account Number: 1-042-20892-3
Bank Name: Bank International Indonesia (BII)Bank
Address: JL. Basuki Rahmat No 11 Sorong
Swift Code: IBBKIDJA

Filed in: Raja Ampat Diving, Raja Ampat Diving Tags