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Only licensed boats will do in future: Masidi
Published on: Saturday, October 18, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: Boat operators ferrying visitors from the city to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park will need a special licence from Sabah Parks to do so in the future. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun on Friday said the ministry is now looking into allowing only licensed operators to the marine park, which is already troubled by overcrowding and rubbish.

"This is to ensure only bona fide boat operators can ferry tourists to the islands. We no longer need to close one eye over the issue even though they (the boat operators) may be our friends or if they claimed that they were only out there to fish," he said after officiating at the Asia Pacific Ecotourism Conference 2014, here.

According to Masidi, officers from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture had recently reprimanded several boat operators ferrying visitors to the island illegally.

While several city tourist guides claimed such operators had been behind the massive numbers of visitors on the island, some of them were also found not abiding by any safety ruling.

He said this is one of the reasons why the ministry had been mulling a carrying capacity on Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, which was becoming more like a "night market."

"I have seen the crowd and rubbish and we take this matter seriously.

"Perhaps there are two reasons for this, either Sabah Parks is not doing its job or the islands have reached their limit," he said.

Masidi said there is a need to take account into the needs of the future before imposing new policies and although it may be "unpopular", the public should not frown over them, but study them carefully.

He went on explaining the State Government's 55 per cent protected forests policy, saying that although timber companies detest the move, timber reserves can benefit Sabah's future generation.

Nonetheless, Masidi said conservation policies had also been rewarding for the State, adding that tourism had generated RM6.3 billion, compared to just over RM2 billion from timber in the past.

"It does not make sense to introduce eco-tourism in Malaysia if the country's policies are against conservation and sustainable approaches in earning profit," he said.



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