Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The tourism and culture ministry has decided to withdraw the candidacy of Komodo for inclusion in the New Seven Wonders of Nature (N7WN) list, but an NGO, the P2Komodo (Supporting Committee for Komodo Island) is determined to continue the Komodo campaign for N7WN.

Despite their differences, both the government and P2Komodo have been intensifying promotion activities of the unique island, which is home to the Komodo dragon, the world`s largest lizard, internationally and nationally.

The Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis, is to be found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami, which are part of the Komodo National Park , East Nusa Tenggara Province (NTT).

In 1986, the Komodo National Park was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, both indications of the Park`s biological importance.

A member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae), Komodo dragon is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum of length three metres and weighing up to around 70 kilograms.

Emmy Hafild, a noted environmental activist leading P2Komodo, has stated that P2Komodo remains as a finalist of the N7WN voting, and the campaign to collect supports for the candidacy of Komodo in N7WN through short text message (SMS) voting continues.

Komodo`s supporters just needed to type KOMODO and send it to 9818 via the Telkomsel, Indosat or XL operators to cast their votes. The SMS tariff is Rp1,000.

P2Komodo has named former vice president M Jusuf Kalla as the ambassador of Komodo Island.

When visiting Komodo Island on Tuesday (Sept 4), Kalla called on Indonesian people to send short text messages (SMS) by mobile phones for the inclusion of Komodo Island into the N7WN list.

"The chance is still wide open. Around 100 SMS are still needed," Kalla, who is currently the chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), said.

The text message voting will continue until November 11, 2011.

"Vote Komodo for Indonesia. Text `komodo` and send it to 9818," Kalla said.

He is optimistic that if the Indonesian people give their support, Komodo Island will win.

"There are 150 million mobile phone users in Indonesia. We still have 40 days. So, 25 million people sending text messages will be enough," he said.

It seems the Indonesian people have found that it is convenient to communicate via SMS. During Idul Fitri Muslim Holiday early September 2011, around one billion short text messages of Idul Fitri greeting were sent within a week, he said.

The inclusion of Komodo Island in the New Seven Wonders of Nature list would be beneficial economically to Indonesia and Flores Island in particular, he said.

"If it`s successful, Flores will become the second Bali. This region will be famous, ad people will stay in Flores, not on other islands. The whole world will know, and NTT, which is now the poorest region, will improve in term of its people`s welfare," he said, urging the media to help the island campaign.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik, who had announced the decision on the withdrawal of the Komodo candidacy in N7WN in August 2011 after being in `arguments` with the Switzerland-based New7Wonders Foundation for several months, has also boosted the Komodo campaigns internationally over the past several months.

The ministry last month organized "Komodo Night" in the United States and Australia to introduce the endangered giant lizard as "The Real Wonder of the World".

The Komodo Night events were held respectively in Sydney, Australia, on September 9, 2011, and in Chicago, the United States, on September 22.

"America and Australia have so far become our market targets, so it`s about time to introduce Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara as a very interesting alternative destination (apart from the world famous tourist resort of Bali)," the ministry`s Director of Tourism Promotion Facility Esthy Reko Astuti said in Jakarta, last September.

According to data of the culture and tourism ministry, the number of tourists visiting Komodo Island in 2010 reached around 45,000 people. This year, about 55,000 tourists are expected to visit the island. Komodo Island has a capacity to accommodate some 60,000 tourists annually.

Reporter: by Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2011