Island tour

“Tour operators must also keep the Semporna Islands clean”

SEMPORNA: Keeping the Semporna Islands clean should also be the responsibility of tour operators and not just the local council, says Reef Check Malaysia (Sabah).

Its operations manager, Adzmin Matta, said that since the islands have no waste management system, tour operators should also take responsibility for keeping the islands clean.

“People come to Semporna because of the beauty of the islands and the crystal clear water, so if we want this to continue tour operators have to play their part.

“Since they are the ones bringing the tourists, they should also make sure the islands are free of litter,” he said when contacted.

Adzmin said some of the common waste produced by island-hopping activities includes single-use plastics and food waste.

“Food waste could also have an impact on the population of marine life, so to be safe, it is better that they dispose of this waste properly when they return to the mainland.

“This should be done by all tour operators as part of responsible tourism,” he said.

Ohh Semporna Ku Travel founder Abdul Hafez Majid said the travel company launched its beach clean-up initiative since tourist traffic peaked in Semporna in early April.

“We carried out beach cleaning activities before the pandemic, but not on a regular basis.

“However, since the government lifted the travel ban in April, we have had an influx of local tourists.

“So now beach cleaning has become a requirement for every island tour we run,” he said, adding that his company could run 10 boat tours a day carrying more than 100 tourists.

He added that cleaning is handled by the tour guides themselves.

“We want to set a good example and share with tourists the importance of caring for the environment as we depend on its beauty to make ends meet,” he said.

Some of the most visited islands in Semporna are Mabul, Sipadan, Kapalai, Bohey Dulang, Matake, Timba-Timba, Mantabuan, Sibuan and Pom-Pom.