Tourists undeterred from visiting Mabul, Mataking, Sipadan Islands
Despite the tense atmosphere due to the intrusion of Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu and Semporna, tourists are undeterred from visiting Mabul, Sipadan Mataking islands off Semporna. Business is as usual for several tour and travel agencies which conduct dive trips to the islands and tourism activities are not much affected.
Scuba Junkie manager Tino Volker Herrmann said not many tourists cancelled their bookings with his travel agency and reports that many had cancelled theirs amid escalation of the intrusion were not accurate. Hailing from Germany and fluent in Malay, he said his agency was in constant contact with the authorities, including the police to get the latest news and so far it had not been prevented from taking tourists to the islands.
Herrmann, who runs the travel agency for the past nine years, advised tourists to check on tour plans with travel agencies in Semporna rather than rely on foreign media. “If it is not safe I will ask white men not to come. But its okay here, I am also a white man who is here. A few days ago, many shops and restaurants were, closed causing the tourists to wonder why. So, we hope the authorities can come to the shops and restaurants and inform them that the situation is under control and there is nothing to be afraid of,” he added.
Herrmann, who handles about 15,000 foreign visitors per year and an average of 190 people a day, asked the authorities to convince the world that the situation in Semporna was under control for foreign embassies website posted reports on the escalation on their portals.
Swedish tourist Marten Bokedal, 32, who had just returned from Mabul and Sipadan islands, said he was not worried over the intrusion in Lahad Datu and quipped, crimes in big cities were more worrying. His companion, Cecilia Markov, 38, said security forces were patrolling around the two islands. “We were very happy when were in Mabul island, but the garbage problem should be solved,” he said.
Source: New Sabah Times – http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/66483