‘Centralise monitoring and enforcement once Mersing tourism sector reopens’

The shallow crystal clear water around the islands off Mersing is a major pull for tourists. — Filepic

Mersing Tourism Association (MTA) is calling for a centralised enforcement centre at the Mersing Jetty near Sungai Mersing to control and manage tourists who are expected to arrive when Johor enters Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

MTA chairman Sheikh Zulkifli Sheikh Abdul Rahim said the state government should also close off other jetties in the district to ensure better monitoring of the movement of every tourist boat at the Mersing jetty.

“Our main concern right now is the enforcement.

“The government has given the tourism sector a chance to generate income again, but we have to be very strict in welcoming tourists into Mersing.

“We have to change our way of running things and abide by the standard operating procedure so that we ensure the safety of the tourists, the islanders and the tourism players,” he said when contacted by StarMetro.

Sheikh Zulkifli says there is a need to ensure the safety of the tourists, islanders and tourism players.Sheikh Zulkifli says there is a need to ensure the safety of the tourists, islanders and tourism players.He suggested that the enforcement could be managed by Mersing District Council, Mersing District Office, Malaysia Marine Department, Fisheries Department, the marine police and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

“The most important part is monitoring each individual entering the district and heading for the islands off Mersing.

“We don’t want anyone who isn’t completely vaccinated against Covid-19 to reach the islands, triggering a cluster of infections because treating the patients living on islands will be extremely difficult,” he added.

Sheikh Zulkifli proposed that the government allow members to charge visitors a minimal fee to cover the cost of enforcing the SOP, such as for the hourly disinfection and daily sanitisation of the jetty and boats.

“Those who wish to go to Mersing should understand that tourism players have suffered total loss of income due to the movement restrictions,” he said.

He highlighted that the monsoon season was just around the corner and they had about two months to prepare and then close their doors again until March next year.

“The number of boat passengers will also be limited.

“For example, a 12-seater boat can carry only about eight passengers to ensure safe distance between them.

“And the enforcement team should be at the jetty to confirm this before letting the boat go,” he said, adding that the vaccination process for the islanders in Mersing was proceeding smoothly.

Sheikh Zulkifli said the Tanjung Leman Jetty should be closed to enable the enforcement team to focus on one main jetty.

“We hope to get everyone on board with this idea to revive our local tourism industry,” he said.

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