Indonesian authorities have reversed a decision to close the island of Komodo – home to the Komodo dragon – in favour of a $1,000 membership fee for tourists.

In July, it was announced that the island would close throughout 2020 to protect the lizards and their habitat.

An estimated 176,000 people visited Komodo in 2018, up from 44,000 in 2008.

Jacinta Lim, co-founder of adventure travel specialist Seek Sophie, welcomed the policy U-turn.

She said: “We heard from a number of local businesses we work with in Komodo that the uncertainty surrounding the potential closure had resulted in an almost 50% drop in bookings.

“In one of the poorest regions of Indonesia, tourism from Komodo island provides a major source of income for many.

“We would encourage all travellers to see this incredible part of the world for themselves.

“Their travel spending will not only help with the conservation of the endangered Komodo dragons, but would also go a long way toward helping local businesses recover.”

The Komodo dragon is the largest species of lizard and more than 1,700 live on the island, which is a Unesco world heritage site.