Sipadan recovers during MCO period
0 month ago, 05-Apr-2021
SEMPORNA: Sipadan Islands long vacation from tourists hits the refresh button of nature – improving its coral quality – as its corals and marine life were left undisturbed for a much needed restoration after years of tourist activities that saw a boom in the districts tourism industry.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin said he came to Sipadan Island to survey and see the readiness to receive visitors, especially local divers at this time.
“Today I was informed that there are 28 local divers coming and since it opened in mid-March there are about 15 to 25 divers every day,” he said when visiting the island on Sunday.
Security is also under control, he said, adding this is necessary to give confidence to tourists, especially since Sipadan Island is one of the three places in the world that is a paradise for divers.
“On conservation, we cannot tolerate because we need to take care of it for us to inherit to future generations and in terms of caring capacity, it is very important and we get cooperation from University Malaysia Sabah to make a study to have a balance to see it in detail before we decided for a divers quota increase,” he said.
“I expect the islands here will be the focus of the whole world and will automatically be the focus of tourists,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sabah Parks director Dr Marklarin Lakim said throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) since last year, the park had gone through a long challenge in terms of socio-economic tourism industry in Sipadan Island but in terms of conservation, it is a boon to the island in nature conservation, coral reef restoration, uninterrupted restoration in a long time which is very positive in terms of the conservation of marine animals that exist on Sipadan Island.
“Although it is affected in terms of tourism and tourist arrivals, but in terms of conservation it is a positive one,” he said.
He said restricting the number of tourist arrivals to the island aims to curb the damage to coral reefs due to tourism activities that are carried out here for sustainability.
“So with a long period of say 12 months with a reduction in tourist arrivals to the island, it gives marine life a chance to recover at its best and we make the assumption that by the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the quality of coral reefs on Sipadan Island has improved so much. The status quo of rules will be maintained and SOPs by controlling the number of tourists who are now online,” he said.
He said before the pandemic many tourists entered from abroad but the park maintained the number of 176 divers maximum per day and before the pandemic, the island received only 70-75 percent quota fulfillment.
“At the moment we are open on a limited basis, meaning to local tourists only whose percentage before the pandemic was around 20 percent and when open to local tourists, it was about the same percentage,” he said.