I SUPPORT Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi’s call for greater emphasis on safety measures in recreational activities for tourists. This is timely in light of mishaps that have befallen foreign tourists in water-based recreation activities at our island and beach resorts, the most recent being the death of a Yemeni teenager who was reported to have drowned after falling off his jet ski while attempting to take a selfie off Pantai Cenang in Langkawi.
With next year being Visit Malaysia 2020 (VMY 2020), we must not only roll out the carpet to welcome tourists but also have measures in place to ensure their safety and security.
With its long coastline, our country is blessed with many beautiful islands and beach getaways like Langkawi, the Perhentian islands, Redang, Tioman and Rawa (peninsula) and Sapi and Manukan (Sabah) that are magnets for visitors seeking “vitamin sea”.
As a regular visitor to Langkawi, I find both Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah as the must-go-to places for beach-goers. It is at these two popular beaches that fatalities involving foreign tourists have been reported on a regular basis, however.
Who is at fault is irrelevant, but enforcing the safety first rule is of utmost importance to prevent more untoward incidents from happening.
At Pantai Cenang, I have observed that the beach is free for all. There’s no line demarcating the recreation areas between passive beach users (swimmers and sunbathers) and the so-called “adventure” seekers who indulge in jet skis, water skis, banana boats or para-sailing activities. Herein lies the danger.
Apart from drawing a demarcation line for beach activities, the authorities must also tighten the rules for adventure seekers by imposing more conditions like banning the participants from taking mobile phones or cameras along with them. It must be remembered that these adventure seekers are not professionals, hence there must also be safety boats to monitor them.
A couple of times when I was at Pantai Tengah, which is not too far away from Pantai Cenang, I was appalled to see tourists still para-sailing at 8.30pm.
Tourists are guests in our country who, like investors, inject valuable revenue that help in our economic growth, hence we have to ensure their safety and security until they bid us farewell. This would also convey a positive image of our country to the world and attract more tourists to visit us.
Walking the talk to solve our various shortcomings is paramount. It’s time for assertive action and to discard the “Sudah terhantuk baru tengadah” or “Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted” mentality.