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KUALA TERENGGANU: Pulau Perhentian Besar and Kecil, the havens for marine life, are under threat environmentally due to poorly planned tourism development, ineffective sewage treatment and solid waste disposal.

The state government is worried that this could lead to severe damage to coral reefs found in abundance surrounding both islands.

State Commercial, Industry and Environment Committee chairman Toh Chin Yaw said the new chalets have compounded the problem as many of them did not have proper sewage and rubbish disposal systems.

“Some of these operators are taking the easy way out by diverting all types of wastes from their chalets direct into the sea,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Toh said during the peak season, mounds of garbage bags could also be seen around the islands, believed to have been left by these operators.

“They are blaming us for not centralising the sewage system and garbage collection without realising that it is too costly for the state government to do that.

“We have commissioned a contractor to regularly collect the garbage from the islands to be disposed of on the mainland, but many of the operators are refusing to pay the maintenance fees and continued to indiscriminately throw their garbage into the sea,” he added.

Toh said the state government would build a sewage treatment plant on the islands if the operators were willing to pay the monthly maintenance fees.

However, he doubted that they would do so as at present, they were also unwilling to share part of their revenues to be utilised for the pollution control efforts as advocated by the state government.

“We are intensifying our environmental awareness programme, besides encouraging operators to improve their waste facilities.

“We will also rope in the relevant authorities to educate these operators on the importance of protecting the eco-system at these islands,” he added.

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SALAH satu sudut pemandangan indah di Pulau Perhentian yang mampu menarik pelancong asi

BESUT 27 Mei (Utusan Malaysia) – Rakyat Terengganu masih tidak mempunyai kesedaran tinggi dalam menjaga dan memulihara alam sekitar.

Pengarah Jabatan Taman Laut Negeri Terengganu, Bahrinah Bahrim berkata, keadaan itu boleh dilihat berdasarkan sambutan terhadap beberapa kempen kesedaran yang dilakukan oleh beberapa agensi kerajaan termasuk jabatan tersebut.

”Saya dimaklumkan beberapa kempen kesedaran tidak mendapat sambutan meluas daripada penduduk.

”Kempen-kempen tersebut hanya mendapat sambutan daripada orang yang sama sahaja,” katanya ketika ditemui di sini baru-baru ini.

Beliau memberitahu, pihaknya juga mengeluarkan notis amaran kepada nelayan supaya tidak menggunakan bubu untuk menangkap ikan.

”Ini kerana penggunaan bubu mengancam hidupan laut kerana ia bukan sahaja menangkap ikan tetapi menyebabkan beberapa hidupan terancam seperti penyu terperangkap,” ujarnya.

Beliau berkata, pihaknya akan menjalankan operasi untuk membanteras penggunaan bubu dalam tempoh terdekat ini.

”Kita akan mengenakan tindakan undang-undang terhadap mereka yang masih menggunakan bubu kerana jabatan sebelum ini telah pun memaklumkan mengenai pengharaman alat menangkap ikan itu,” katanya.

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Berita berhubung Pulau Perhentian sebelum ini:

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LONGGOKAN sampah yang dikumpulkan di atas pelantar sebelum dikutip oleh kontraktor yang dilantik oleh pihak berkuasa tempatan di Pulau Perhentian, Besut, Terengganu. – utusan / Irman Hashim

BESUT 27 Mei (Utusan Malaysia)- Pulau Perhentian merupakan salah satu ‘syurga’ pelancongan buat para penyelam menikmati keindahan alam di dasar laut negara ini.

Bagaimanapun, keindahan dasar laut semakin tercemar ekoran sistem pembuangan sampah yang dilaksanakan di pulau berkenaan.

Ini kerana proses pembuangan sampah tersebut melibatkan pengumpulan sampah di atas beberapa pelantar yang ditempatkan di laut sebelum dikutip oleh kontraktor yang dilantik oleh pihak berkuasa tempatan (PBT).

Pengurus Projek Kesedaran Pemuliharaan Pulau (PIPA), Steven Lim berkata, kutipan yang dilakukan adakalanya tidak tepat pada waktunya sehingga sampah bertimbun di atas pelantar tersebut.

”Apabila hujan atau laut bergelora, sampah tersebut akan jatuh ke dalam laut dan mencemari dasarnya.

”Bayangkan betapa banyak sampah akan masuk ke dalam laut jika ia tidak dikutip lebih daripada dua atau tiga hari,” katanya ketika ditemui di sini baru-baru ini.

Beliau berkata, keadaan itu bukan sahaja mencemarkan keindahan alam semulajadi di Pulau Perhentian malah boleh menjadi ancaman pada hidupan laut.

Jelasnya, setiap kali beliau mengendalikan beberapa program membersihkan dasar laut anjuran pelbagai agensi dan syarikat swasta, kesan pencemaran sampah itu boleh dilihat.

”Selepas dianjurkan satu aktiviti pembersihan dasar laut, kita akan lihat sampah yang sama apabila aktiviti berkenaan diadakan sekali lagi.

”Sampah-sampah itu merupakan sampah yang ditempatkan di atas pelantar tersebut,” ujarnya.

Justeru, Steven meminta PBT berkaitan mencari pendekatan baru untuk memastikan keadaan itu tidak berlarutan.

Seorang penyelam, Haris Awang, 40, ketika ditemui berkata, sampah sarap di dasar laut mencemar persekitaran yang indah di pulau berkenaan.

”Lebih buruk pelantar tersebut ditempatkan kira-kira 20 meter dari tempat orang ramai melakukan aktiviti snorkeling.

”Ini akan memberi gambaran buruk kepada pengunjung terutama pelancong asing,” katanya.

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Berita berhubung Pulau Perhentian sebelum ini:

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What is happening to our beautiful serene place?

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KUALA TERENGGANU (The Star): Revellers at a recent wild party on Pulau Perhentian are believed to have had a sex orgy before Besut District Council (MDB) enforcement officers moved in on them.

It is learnt that this was the second time a wild party was held on the island.

The first, themed “Buffalo Bars Pink Lady”, was organised on May 3 where it is learnt that there was sexual intercourse between revellers.

On the “Come bare under the moonlight’’ party on May 10, council officer Razman Ahmad, who led the team, said he was startled to find condoms strewn on the secluded beachfront where the party was held.

“I can’t disclose more facts as the council has lodged a police report on the matter, but I can tell you that there were activities associated with sexual intercourse on that night and this was substantiated by the discovery of sex paraphernalia,” Razman said yesterday.

He declined to elaborate whether he witnessed the revellers having sex when council officials arrived at the scene.

Investigations showed the organiser was a 31-year-old man from Kedah who arranged the party with his girlfriend from Ireland.

It is learnt that police were investigating her for organising similar parties, including in Langkawi and Port Dickson, and that she was responsible for posting the invitation on her Facebook.

Razman added that the scantily-clad teenagers, some of them foreigners, were intoxicated when his team arrived at 1am in two speedboats.

He said he decided to call his superior to brief him on the situation, following which, the police were informed and 15 officers arrived at the scene.

The officers seized alcoholic drinks worth about RM90,000, loudspeakers, audio equipment, psychotropic pills, drug and sex paraphernalia during the raid.

The party was attended by 200 teenagers, who were invited via Facebook.

Of the first party, council president Wan Mustafa Wan Hassan said the officers were unable to reach the site on time as they received the tip-off late.

Wan Mustafa said the council has slapped the couple involved in the second party with a RM25,000 fine under the Entertainment Act 2002 for organising a party without permit.

A police report has also been lodged.

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Related article:

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updated report: Pulau Perhentian: Welcome to ‘sex orgy’ islandhttps://alamakademik.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/pulau-perhentian-welcome-to-%E2%80%98sex-orgy%E2%80%99-island/

KUALA TERENGGANU (The Star): A wild party on Pulau Perhentian attended by about 200 teenagers – invited via Facebook – was cut short by council officers who were tipped off that the gathering was getting brazen.

Themed “Come bare under the moonlight”, the booze-and-drug party was held at a secluded beach on the island and had scantily-clad teenagers, some of them foreigners, dancing and drinking the night away.pulau perhentian

Officers from the Besut District Council, who got wind of the party from the locals, went to the scene on speedboats. On seeing them, the teenagers ran helter-skelter.

The officers confiscated crates of alcoholic drinks worth about RM90,000, loudspeakers, audio equipment, psychotropic pills and drug paraphernalia.

A police report was lodged and the authorities believe the organiser had arranged similar parties in Langkawi, Port Dickson and other popular holiday resorts.

Outraged over the incident, state Health, Unity and Consumer Affair Committee chairman Dr Abdul Rahman Mokthar said the state government was forming snoop squads to tip off the authorities of such parties on the island.

“We are getting the villagers and hotel workers to alert us immediately if they come across such immoral parties in the future,” he said.

Dr Abdul Rahman, who is also Kuala Besut assemblyman, said there had been numerous complaints of such parties on the island previously.

“We have yet to catch anyone red-handed but with the cooperation of the islanders, we are sure we can put a stop to them,” he told The Star yesterday.

Dr Abdul Rahman said the state government had directed the authorities to arrest those who gather at public places to indulge in illicit activities.

“There will be no leniency for those caught, regardless of whether they are domestic or foreign tourists.

“There are many entertainment outlets on the island and revellers should not go naked in public places,” he said.

On the statement by Terengganu PAS Youth secretary Wan Mohd Faizul Wan Abas that holiday islands in the state had been used for wild parties, Dr Abdul Rahman said the state government was doing its best to curb the menace.

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Related article:

Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands: Trouble in paradisehttps://alamakademik.wordpress.com/2008/12/27/perhentian-islands-trouble-in-paradise/

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SEORANG penyelam yang menyertai kategori fotografi dasar laut pada Perhentian Underwater Challenge di Pulau Perhentian, Besut, baru-baru ini. – IHSAN CORAL MALAYSIA


BESUT 30 April (Utusan Malaysia) – Ekologi dasar laut di Pulau Perhentian sudah lama menjadi tarikan kepada pencinta alam untuk menerokai dan menikmati keindahannya.

Kepelbagaian spesies unik terumbu karang yang menampung kehidupan di dasar laut menjadikannya antara keindahan dunia yang perlu dilihat sendiri oleh golongan tersebut.

Keindahan itu bukan sahaja boleh dinikmati oleh para penyelam, namun boleh disaksikan melalui aktiviti snorkeling.

Bagaimanapun, kawasan lain di serata dunia turut menawarkan keindahan dan keunikan yang tersendiri dalam menarik pengunjung.

Malah, Pulau Redang dan Pulau Tenggol di Terengganu sendiri menjadi saingan dalam menarik tumpuan para penyelam untuk melihat keindahan dunia dasar laut.

Justeru, Majlis Tindakan Pelancongan Negeri Terengganu (MTPNT) mahu mencipta kelainan dengan mengambil pendekatan menjenamakan semula aktiviti menyelam di Pulau Perhentian dengan mempelbagaikan lagi programnya.

Pengurus Besar MTPNT, Ahmad Fathil Abd. Ghani berkata, pihaknya ingin menjadikan menyelam sebagai satu jenama di pulau itu dengan membuat penambahbaikan dalam aktiviti itu.

‘‘Sebelum ini, sememangnya Pulau Perhentian menjadi syurga menyelam kepada mereka yang berminat aktiviti tersebut.

‘‘Namun, dengan usaha penjenamaan semula aktiviti ini, para penyelam bukan sahaja akan datang menyaksikan keindahan dasar laut tetapi juga membuat aktiviti lain sambil menyelam,” katanya ketika ditemui di sini.

Beliau berkata, melalui penjenamaan semula, antara penambahbaikan yang dilakukan ialah membolehkan pengunjung melakukan aktiviti fotografi dasar laut, mencari harta karun di dasar laut dan melukis sambil menyelam.

‘‘Ini merupakan sebahagian daripada aktiviti yang dipelbagaikan dalam meningkatkan tarikan yang ditawarkan oleh Pulau Perhentian,” ujarnya.

Ahmad Fathil berkata, usaha itu juga akan meningkatkan aktiviti pelancongan di pulau berkenaan.

Beliau berharap aktiviti itu akan meningkatkan kesedaran orang ramai untuk memulihara alam sekitar.

Jelasnya, buat permulaan, MTPNT mengadakan pertandingan selama tiga hari bermula 24 April lalu dalam memperkenalkan kepelbagaian aktiviti tersebut.

Katanya, pertandingan dinamakan Perhentian Underwater Challenge itu diadakan merangkumi pertandingan fotografi dasar laut, fotografi pemandangan, pencarian harta karun dasar laut dan melukis di dasar laut.

Pertandingan itu dirasmikan oleh Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Pelancongan, Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Warisan negeri, Datuk Za‘abar Mohd. Adib.

Kira-kira 50 peserta termasuk dari luar negara menyertai pertandingan tersebut yang memberi peluang kepada mereka menyelam sambil melakukan aktiviti yang menyeronokkan di dasar laut

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Menyelam sambil menikmati keindahan

BESUT 30 April (Utusan Malaysia) – Berbekalkan sebuah peta navigasi, pasukan penyelam dari Kuala Lumpur, James Ong dan Damian Lim muncul juara Perhentian Underwater Challenge kategori Mencari Harta Karun Dasar Laut.

Kedua-dua peserta itu berjaya menemui empat risalah Pulau Perhentian yang ditandakan dengan reben pelbagai warna yang disorokkan di pelbagai sudut kawasan pertandingan di sekitar Pulau Perhentian dalam tempoh 21 minit.

Kemenangan tersebut membolehkan mereka berdua membawa pulang wang tunai berjumlah RM1,000 dan sijil penyertaan.

Dalam pada itu, lukisan penyu oleh ahli Coral Malaysia, Sham Hosni muncul juara bagi kategori Lukisan Dasar Laut.

Berbekalkan sejumlah krayon, Sham yang terserempak dengan seekor penyu ketika berenang di dasar laut, menjadikan haiwan itu sebagai inspirasi untuk menghasilkan lukisan berkenaan.

Lukisan dihasilkan di atas sehelai kain kanvas yang dibawa bersama ketika menyelam. Penyelam bebas memilih subjek di dasar laut untuk lukisan masing-masing.

Kemenangan itu membolehkan Sham membawa pulang hadiah wang tunai RM500 dan sijil penyertaan.

Hadiah-hadiah berkenaan disampaikan oleh Ketua Penolong Setiausaha Bahagian Perkhidmatan Pelancongan, Kementerian Pelancongan, Nasiah Patah dan Pengurus Besar MTPNT, Ahmad Fathil Abd. Ghani.

Kedua-dua aktiviti mencari harta karun dan melukis di dasar laut merupakan antara aktiviti tambahan yang menyeronokkan disediakan di Pulau Perhentian dalam usaha mencipta kelainan dalam aktiviti menyelam di pulau itu kepada pengunjung.

Keputusan untuk kategori pertandingan Fotografi Dasar Laut dan Fotografi Pemandangan akan diumumkan pada 30 April ini.

Menurut Nasiah, beratus-ratus gambar daripada peserta dan para juri diterima oleh pihak penganjur yang memerlukan masa untuk menilai dan mencari yang terbaik sebagai pemenang.

Katanya, kesemua gambar terpilih akan digunakan untuk menghasilkan risalah untuk menarik lebih ramai pelancong ke Terengganu dan pulau itu.

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PULAU PERHENTIAN (Berita Harian): Pengalaman meneroka keindahan dasar laut menjadi kenangan manis bagi sembilan peserta apabila menang dalam dua daripada empat acara yang dipertandingkan dalam Cabaran Dasar Laut Pulau Perhentian yang berlangsung selama tiga hari bermula, Jumaat lalu.

Dua acara yang dipertandingkan ialah Pertandingan Melukis Pemandangan Dasar Laut Dalam Air dan Mencari Harta Karun di Dasar Laut yang menawarkan wang tunai sebanyak RM3,300 serta sijil penyertaan.

Tempat pertama bagi Pertandingan Melukis Pemandangan Dasar Laut dimenangi oleh Sham Hosni dari Coral Malaysia, kedua, Mohd Rashid Rahim dari Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) dan ketiga, Mohd Syaidi Hafiz Zulkifli dari UMT. Masing-masing menerima wang tunai sebanyak RM500, RM300 dan RM100 serta sijil penyertaan.

Pertandingan Mencari Harta Karun di Dasar Laut yang disertai secara berpasangan pula dimenangi oleh pasangan penyelam James Ong dan Derrick Lim, kedua, Baharim Mustaffa dan Kamaruzzaman Mohd Ariffin dari UMT, manakala ketiga oleh Ismadi Ismail dan Syed Ahmad Rizal Tn Nek juga dari UMT.

Masing-masing menerima wang tunai sebanyak RM1000, RM800 dan RM600 serta sijil penyertaan.

Hadiah disampaikan oleh Ketua Penolong Setiausaha Bahagian Perkhidmatan Pelancongan, Kementerian Pelancongan, Norsiah Patah pada Majlis Penyampaian Hadiah yang berlangsung di Perhentian Island Resort, malam kelmarin.

Turut hadir, Pengurus Besar Majlis Tindakan Pelancongan Negeri Terengganu (MTPTN), Ahmad Fathil Ghani.

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Rethink Travel – stories by Leong Siok Hui

Terengganu’s Perhentian Islands are “arguably the most beautiful islands in Malaysia,” so says the Lonely Planet guide. Though the islands have dodged major developments so far, they are starting to creak under the strain of burgeoning tourist arrivals.

For the past 16 years, expatriates Bill and Sally Addington have been soaking up the sun and exploring the glorious underwater world in the Perhentian Islands with their family.

Based in Kuala Lumpur, the Addingtons have holidayed in most islands in Peninsular Malaysia, but find Perhentian irresistible.

We used to like Tioman and went there quite a bit. Then a friend recommended Perhentian and we haven’t gone anywhere else since,” says Bill, 52. “Our kids are keen divers, the diving here is superb, and we like the laid-back, peaceful lifestyle.”

Sandy beaches, clear waters and great diving aside, the islands also boast forests that harbours a rich diversity of flora and fauna. This year, herpetologist Dr Lee Grismer from La Sierra University in California discovered a few new gecko species that are endemic to Perhentian.

“We have had tourists who have visited Taman Negara, come here and tell us they wished they hadn’t bothered because they see more wildlife here,” says Peter Caron who manages the Watercolours Resorts and Dive Centre in Perhentian Besar.

Caron, who joined Grismer and a couple of other researches on their expedition this year, says, “You can spot monkeys, monitor lizards, and various insects in a 30-minute stroll just behind our resort.”

Issues cropping up

Though repeat visitors to Perhentian like the Addingtons think the islands haven’t changed dramatically compared to destinations like Redang and Tioman, they are starting to notice the effects from the increasing tourist arrivals and new resorts.

A 2007 Reef Survey done by Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) found the reefs in Perhentian have the poorest health as its live coral cover is only 34% compared to Tioman, Redang and Tenggol which have 50% or more. Also the islands have a high number of algae-coated reef, indicating nutrient pollution, probably from poor sewage treatment.

At low tide, visitors can see the algae-smothered corals in front of the chalets. The algae could be a result of overflowing septic tanks from the chalets/resorts in Pulau Perhentian.

Poorly planned tourism development, ineffective sewage treatment and solid waste disposal, and illegal fishing are some of the factors affecting the health of Perhentian’s reef.

During peak season, in July and August, visitors are likely to spot a mound of overflowing black plastic bags on rickety pontoons scattered around the islands. These are waste left on the pontoons by resort operators. A rubbish barge, sub-contracted by Besut District Council, is supposed to collect the bags daily and dispose the waste on the mainland.

“After an evening storm, you’ll see black bags bobbing in the sea because they fall from the overflowing rubbish platform,” says Caron. “The amount of plastic is phenomenal, and the leachate from the rubbish pollutes the sea.”

The thing is, every resort operator already has to fork out a monthly fee for the rubbish collection.

“Sometimes when there is too much rubbish, the contractor just dumps the rubbish somewhere without bringing them back to the mainland,” claims Azman Sulaiman who runs the Flora Bay Divers. “No one is monitoring. And with the number of tourists here, we need a twice-a-day collection, and not once every couple of days.”

Stinky smells in ‘algaeland’

Originally from Kuala Lumpur, Azman has been running a dive shop in Perhentian for 14 years.

“Thank God, there are no major developments like golf courses and mega resorts here,” says Azman, 35, who also trains dive instructors. “But if you put the number of small chalet resorts together and each has 10 to 15 rooms on average, you end up having a lot of sewage.”

The proliferation of alga-coated reef on the beaches in front of the resorts hint at a problem.

Azman Sulaiman of Flora Bay Divers

“The resort next to ours is so crowded, and when you walk by, you smell the overflowing sewage,” says Sally. “Six years ago, when it’s low tide there was no smell and you don’t see the algae.”

Septic tanks overflow due to the increasing number of tourists and the limited capacity of these tanks. Some resorts apparently release their untreated sewage directly into the sea.

“There was a state initiative last year to try to get resorts together to share the cost of treating their sewage effectively. However, some resorts have 100 rooms while others have five rooms. Not all are owned; some like ourselves are on short leases,” says Caron, a former environmental consultant.

“If we don’t know whether our lease will be renewed next year, why would we invest all this money on tertiary treatment? What we need is the state government’s intervention to hook up the resorts.

“The cost can’t go to the resort operator in one go but it needs a system (like instalments or subsidies) so we can afford it.”

Where is ‘Nemo’?

To some of Perhentian’s regular divers’ chagrin, the fish stock in some of the dive sites are declining.

Peter Caron of Watercolours Resorts and Dive Centre in Pulau Perhentian: ‘After an evening storm, you’ll see black bags bobbing in the sea.’

“No longer can you dive at Tokong Laut, the best site on the island, and see big schools of trevally this year. We heard a local fisherman made an illegal RM15,000-catch on trevally last year,” Caron says.

“Every year, we are seeing less of the big fish,” chips in Sally, 52, an avid diver. “We used to be able to see humphead wrasse and swim along with them but now they’re harder to see.”

Most divers come for the charismatic species like turtles, black-tip sharks and whale sharks, Azman explains. But with the degradation of the reef and rampant illegal fishing, divers may eventually shy away.

“I think the snorkelers are the biggest culprits — they trample on the corals, the smokers will flick cigarette stubs into the water or throw empty plastic water bottles,” says Azman.

“To please their clients, some boatmen gets into the water, grab the turtle by its carapace, pull it up to the surface to show the snorkelers,” adds Caron. “Some snorkelers actually hitch rides on the turtles and hold their fins, distressing the turtles.”

Frequently, kids will scoop up clownfish (popularly known as Nemo because of the Hollywood movie), keep them in small bottles and release them at a different spot later. But the fish, which forms a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones, will die if it’s placed in an environment with no anemones, Caron says.

“It’s all 90% education, but is anyone educating the boatmen on the do’s and don’ts?” Caron asks.

“Can the marine park introduce training schemes for boatmen to be ‘eco’ operators. They can learn how to brief the snorkelers – don’t stand on the corals, touch the turtles, and stop feeding the fish. Resorts can cooperate by using only responsible operators.”

Each visitor to Perhentian has to pay a RM5 conservation fee when they enter the marine park.

“A lot of tourists are annoyed, and I know some who refuse to pay or ask for their money back because they can’t find much information at the marine park centre,” says Caron, who signed up for the volunteer warden programme set up by the Marine Park.

However, there has since been no follow-up activities by the park.

“Where are the patrol boats? Why are some local villagers or operators fishing within the marine park?”

Chalet staff dumping garbage bags on an overflowing pontoon. There are 10 floating pontoons for garbage, scattered around the islands. A contractor picks up the rubbish on a barge and sends them to the mainland. After a rainstorm some of these bags will fall into the sea and leachate from the rubbish will pollute the water.

The Perhentian ‘loyalists’

The lure of Perhentian keep tourists like the Addingtons and Giampaolo Gepesio of Rome, Italy, coming back over and over again. Gepesio, 33, first came to the islands in 1999.

“Of course, there’s a big difference in the number of corals now, and I meet many Italian tourists in other resorts,” says Gepesio.

“Ten years ago, I was probably the only Italian here. Italians are not usually independent backpackers so their presence here means the tour companies are selling Perhentian packages in Italy. I’m a little worried for the islands in the next 10 years. This place is in my heart — the sea, the nature and the people,” Gepesio says.

If you develop the place responsibly, bring in income for the locals and take care of the environment, the islands will remain a sustainable destination, Bill says.

Expatriate Bill Addington of England and his family have been holidaying in Perhentian for the last 16 years.

“A couple of years ago, a friend of ours came here to dive and then he went on to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. And he sends us an e-mail saying ‘I don’t know why I bother coming to the Barrier Reef, Perhentian is so much nicer,’ “ adds Bill.

The Addingtons usually stay for a week each time they are in Perhentian. Two days before they went to Perhentian on the most recent trip, they asked their four kids, ages ranging from15 to 21, where they preferred to go for their holiday.

“It was a choice between going to JW Marriot in Phuket with the Playstation, videos, soft hotel sheets and five-star restaurant, or coming to the basic chalets here and eating local food,” says Sally smiling. “And they go, ‘Oh, Perhentian of course.”

For now, I guess the Perhentian folks are — as Sally concludes — “doing something okay here”.

But if the authorities don’t nip the emerging problems in the bud, this sandy paradise may become yet another casualty of irresponsible tourism.

Rethink Travel is a series of monthly articles on responsible tourism in collaboration with Wild Asia, a Kuala Lumpur-based conservation group. Hopefully we can help promote sustainable practices in Asian travel destinations and challenge common perceptions and ideas on travel. Click on http://www.wildasia.net for resources on responsible travel. For more information, check www.wildasia.net.

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