KUANTAN: Tourism players of Pulau Tioman are eager to welcome tourists back to the resort island after months of disruption.
Kampung Juara village chief Ab Razib Ali Awang, 55, said news of the travel bubble being proposed for Pulau Tioman was welcomed.
However, he said there must be strict precautions at the entry points to ensure that no Covid-19 cases were imported into the island.
“We hope there will be cooperation from the authorities to conduct inspections at the entry points to make sure the tourists are fully vaccinated and do not show any symptoms,” he said.
He said 89% of the residents in Pulau Tioman had been vaccinated.
Ab Razib, who runs the Tioman Santai Resort, said the residents’ economic situation had been severely affected by the pandemic.
“About 95% of them rely on the tourism industry. I have had to furlough most of my staff. Many diving centres and shops have closed down.“We hope interstate travel will soon follow as Pulau Tioman usually receives tourists from other states like Selangor and Johor,” he said.
Considering there were only about two months left before the monsoon season, Ab Razib urged the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to reclassify it as “wet season” and allow tourism activities to run for the whole year on the island.
“Even during the wet season, other activities can be conducted such as surfing. Tourists can still enjoy the beaches since it does not rain all the time,” said Ab Razib.
Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said on Tuesday that domestic tourism would soon be allowed again, tentatively on Oct 1, at three destinations – Melaka, Pulau Tioman and Genting Highlands.
B&J Diving Centre operator Zainal Rahman Abd Karim, 53, said it was time to reopen Pulau Tioman as many tourism players on the island were in danger of going bust.
Zainal, who is Tioman Dive Operator Association president, said they had come up with stringent SOP such as disinfecting rooms and all points of contact as well as providing self-test kits.
Meanwhile, state tourism, culture, environment, plantations and commodities committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin thanked the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and the Health Ministry for choosing Pulau Tioman and Genting Highlands as the next destinations for the travel bubble.
He also proposed that all islands on the east coast be reopened before the monsoon season.