Sabah Parks upgrading tourist management system

KOTA KINABALU (May 10): The Sabah Parks management (TTS) is upgrading its tourist management system in the Park area and allowing water sports activities to be carried out beyond Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman (TTAR) borders.

According to a press release by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew on Friday, the water sports activities include parasailing and banana boat.

“There is the selling of water sports packages by freelancers or companies known as ‘ulat’ (maggot), in TTAR islands. The ‘ulat’ usually enter the island area to find customers and offer packages to get a commission. This activity (soliciting) is an offense under the Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman regulations.

“In addition, the waiting room for boats at the Taman jetty, for example the Manukan island jetty, is overcrowded when the ‘ulat’ gather with their customers in an unsystematic manner. This is compounded by the operator companies which are trying to get their customers.

“We are also facing difficulties monitoring boat operators, especially involving the safety of tourists. Boats used to carry tourists for these water sports activities cannot be fully monitored whether they have a valid landing permit or not.

“When an injury occurs among tourists, they are sent to the Park’s lifeguard for treatment. This responsibility is then handed over to the Park to manage.

“When the weather is bad, there is no control by the Park to stop the operating company’s boat, and the safety of the tourists is unguarded,” said Liew.

According to her, the Board of Trustees of Sabah Parks has approved two companies as agents to help TTS to operate centralised counters in TTAR which are on Manukan Island, Mamutik Island, Sapi Island and Padang Point (Gaya Island).

Among the functions and responsibilities of these centralised counters are to receive and register existing or new water sports operator companies.

“The counters must ensure that each registered water sports operator company has a valid landing permit issued by TTS, provides and sells tickets for water sports activities to interested customers or tourists, gives safety briefings and coordinates the boat rotation system of the water sports operating company with customers at the TTS jetty.

“The Park management has issued a notification notice for the implementation of centralized counters on May 1, 2024 as an early warning to water sports operators.

“This implementation allows the water sports operator company to make registration and then further explanation and discussion on the purpose of the counter can be made in an orderly manner such as the implementation of the ticket system, queue system and safety SOP,” added Liew.

At this point, the implementation of this counter is still in the process of company registration and further explanation and discussion with water sports operators will be carried out in the near future, including consultations and decisions on payment collection.

According to Liew, there has been no ruling or instructions for payment collection and it is still in the discussion stage.