Plan to cap visitors to islands off KK
Published on: Saturday, June 15, 2019
By: Neil Chan

Kota Kinabalu: Plans are afoot to cap the carrying capacity of islands under Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) to prevent overcrowding as well as upgrading facilities on the islands.

 Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the Ministry viewed the matter with great concern and that Sabah Parks was studying how best to manage visitors to the islands. 

 “Can we accept 1,000 visitors per island? I don’t think it’s a good idea because to allow it will go beyond the carrying capacity. 

 “We want long-term tourism players to be able to bring in visitors, but not to overkill the tourism with too many people.

 “Just like Mount Kinabalu and Pulau Sipadan where there is a quota system. So, we are seriously looking into this,” she said during a visit to Sapi,  Mamutik and  Manukan park islands on Friday. 

 The visit was in response to complaints in the media that unreasonable entrance fees were charged and facilities were in a dilapidated state.

Liew said she was satisfied with the status of the facilities that Sabah Parks has provided.

She said the state government also received many proposals from private investors  to develop the park islands, as well as some islands in Sandakan and Semporna, which will see improved facilities that will spur the tourism industry.

 “These private sector operators are interested to come in with new chalets, jetties and facilities.”  

Liew said the Sabah Parks board of directors will study the proposals, including the backgrounds of the companies, before making any decision and approval.

“What we see on these islands now is the development for the past 10 years. There will be new development and it will involve big established tourism companies. Rest assured that all the islands will get a facelift.”

Liew said If the project proposals were implemented, the ministry would make sure that the companies complied with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements and ensure island entrance as well as conservation fees were affordable for locals.

 “We will still make it affordable for locals to visit. These companies will also have to comply with many things including the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to ensure minimal degradation,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais said they have yet to discuss the exact figure but a study was conducted on the islands’ capacity including its visitors  capacity, facilities and clean water supplies.

He said currently the park islands were at times hosting up to 2,000 visitors  daily but on average 400 to 500 visitors per island was typical .

“We are going to limit the number but that can only be done once we go online to sell entrance tickets.

While acknowledging it was true that parks face a cleanliness challenge due to rubbish washing ashore and overcrowding, Jamili said Sabah Parks had also increased its manpower in carrying out beach clean-ups every morning on the islands before the tourists arrive.

“As for complaints on the toilet facilities, they were referring to temporary structures we put up while awaiting toilet upgrading in stages.

“The toilet renovations have been completed at these three islands, which are frequented by international tourists,” he said. 


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