Published on : Monday, March 20, 2017
With effect from April 1, Perak has set up an indefinite ban on tourists visiting Pulau Sembilan. Due to public apathy and environment degradation, Pulau Sembilan, a cluster of nine islands off Perak, has been declared inaccessible. According to Malaysian Tourism and culture committee chairman, Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi, the state government decided to impose this ban on tourists flocking to the islands, since overcrowding is causing negative impacts to environment sustainability.
Although Ms. Nolee declined to throw light on what the negative effects were, but industry sources brought shocking revelation of how visitors would wade into the sea and scoop plankton known as Blue Tears to take pictures. The luminescent planktons are seen in abundance along the coastlines of two of the islands — Pulau Lalang and Pulau Rumbia — after dusk. This phenomenon, for the past 10 years has attracted visitors to the uninhabited islands.
To quote Ms. Nolee, “We are closing the islands because we are concerned about conservation. At the moment, there is no control on the number of visitors who can make their way to the island despite the state having imposed a 120-visitor per daily limit. There have been times, we learnt, between 300 and 400 people were on the islands each day.
The presence of such a large crowd also damages the pristine white sand and this was evident with discolouration noted on the beach. The beach surface has changed to a darker shade.” Ms. Nolee voiced concern that if their natural habitat was disturbed, plankton on the island’s coastline could move away. With imposing the travel ban, the state government will monitor movements to the islands with assistance from marine enforcement authorities.
Ms. Nolee added, “We will re-evaluate this decision later with a view on how best tourism can be promoted there. We do not have a specific date on when the islands will be reopened but we will try to open them as soon as possible as we understand they are a major tourist destination.”