Eco-Tourism is one of the most important segments of the tourism industry in Pulau Perhentian. It is nature-based and can be considered as the key economy for the development of the area as well as contribution to the sustainability of the environment.
Crystal Clear water
The total Economic Value of Eco-Tourism in Pulau Perhentian Marine Park in 2011 was RM650 million. In 2011, it received a mere 150 million international tourist and the mean spending was RM3,400 per person amounting to RM510 million, whereas the number of local tourist arrivals was 350 thousand with the mean spending of RM400 per person amounting to RM140 million.
Marine Park is an area of the sea zoned 2 nautical miles from the shore at lowest low tide, except Pulau Kapas in Terengganu; Pulau Kuraman, Pulau Rusukan Besar and Pulau Rusukan Kecil in Labuan which are zoned one (1) nautical mile from the shore at lowest low tide. Marine Park is established to protect and conserve various habitats and marine life.
In the early 1980s, lack of action may have contributed to the decline of fisheries catches. Recognizing the paramount importance to the fishery resources, good long term management and protection of coral reef areas where various commercial fish species live, breed, feed and grow is required.
One of the most critical habitats is coral reef areas and impacts of anthropogenic (human activities) and natural stressors were evaluated to be the main factors.
The then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad directed to establish a Marine Park under the Department of Fisheries under Fisheries Act 1985 Section 41(45) to protect, conserve and manage the marine ecosystem particular coral reef, as well as the flora and fauna associated with coral reefs.
Department of Fisheries, the federal agency that manages the Marine Park, strives to foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecosystem for present and future generation.
Embedded in this mandate is the establishment of Marine Parks Malaysia Order 1994 which entrenched 40 Islands as protected areas, consisting of the Pulau Redang Archipelago and Pulau Perhentian Archipelago off Terengganu waters, Pulau Payar Archipelago, Kedah; Pulau Tioman Archipelago, Pahang; Pulau Tinggi Archipelago, Johor and the Federal Territory of Labuan Archipelago.
Ecotourism is increasing in popularity and it generated a good income, the Department of Marine Park Malaysia has come to play a very important role. The Director General Department of Marine Park Malaysia is Dr. Sukarno Bin Wagiman and the functions of Department of Marine Park Malaysia are as follows:
i. Rehabilitate degraded areas
ii. Manage, conserve and protect marine biodiversity
iii. Conserve and manage threatened marine species
iv. Enforce Acts and Regulations pertaining to Marine Parks
v. Carry out and encourage research on marine biodiversity
vi. Provide technical advice and expertise to stakeholders on marine ecosystem
vii. Increase public awareness on marine ecosystem conservation
viii. Monitoring recreational on marine park islands
The activities in Marine Parks are as follows:
i. marine eco-tourism activities
ii. Diving and snorkeling
iii. Boating (expedition cruising, sea kayaking, canoeing, ocean rafting)
iv. Visiting coastal communities
v. Visiting coastal cultural monuments
vi. Coastal hiking and reef walking
vii. Coastal camping
viii. Underwater photography
Malaysia has come a long way in conserving our invaluable marine resources. Sustainable management of our marine resources is as important as, if not more than, the economic development of our country Proactive and cooperative governance of our marine parks from our Federal Agencies, State Government, NGOs, and the public are crucial in order to fully realize and sustain the benefits of our marine resources loaned to us by our children.