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Wednesday November 14, 2007

Penang’s polluted beaches keeping tourists away


PENANG: Polluted beaches is the main reason why tourists from Europe and Australia are avoiding the state in favour of Bali and Phuket. 

State Tourism Development Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said he was informed of the matter by the management of Malaysia Airlines during a meeting on Monday. 

“The number of tourists from these regions has been steadily declining over the past decade. 

“Tourists come to the state for the surf and sand but they usually return home disappointed.  

“We are even losing out domestically to Pangkor and Langkawi,” he told reporters after a press conference on the Penang Career and Entrepreneur Expo 2007 yesterday. 

He said RM10mil had been allocated for the rehabilitation of Batu Ferringhi. 

“The Finance Ministry has approved RM8mil under the Ninth Malaysia Plan while the Drainage and Irrigation Department is providing RM2mil. 

“Rivers will be cleaned up and illegal outlets draining sewage into the sea will be connected to a treatment plant by 2009.  

“We hope to obtain the Blue Flag status, which is the international verification for a top-notch beach.” 

Teng said the pollution problem was an old issue, adding that tour operators from Europe had highlighted the problem to him during the International Tourism Bourse in Berlin two years ago. 

“Luckily, the state still has its heritage tourism, which is popular with tourists from India, Japan, China and the Middle East, to fall back on.” 

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