December 13, 2010
By MANJIT KAUR
A PROPER association needs to be set up in Penang so that beach activities can be licensed and regulated just like what has been done in Pulau Langkawi and Pangkor.
Beach operators task force committee chairman Ahmad Sharom Mustaffa said he had suggested this proposal to the state government several times during their meetings.
He said with an association monitored by the local councils, and the state Tourism Development and Culture Committee, there would not be any hanky-panky and tourists would not be short-changed.
“By having such an association, the pricing on the beach activities can be fixed, maybe by using a coupon system.
“The staff too can wear uniform and have name tags in order to identify which operator they belong to,” he added.
“Currently, it is very difficult to control the pricing, as several operators charge differently with some charging RM100 for parasailing, while others charge up to RM600,” he said.
He was asked to comment on a proposal by the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) for a blanket ban on all forms of commercial water sports.
CAP president S.M. Mohd Idris had said that confining water scooter rides and parasailing to a small beach zone, would make the situation worse.
Mohd Idris had reportedly said that lives had been lost in the past through such activities and confining them to a smaller zone, would cause the area to be crowded.
State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow had said that the state government would not impose a blanket ban on commercial water sports activities in the Batu Ferringhi tourism belt as there was still demand for them among some tourists.
Ahmad Sharom added that currently the operators had to fork out between RM30,000 and RM55,000 to purchase a water scooter as banks were not willing to provide loans to them.
He said if there was an association, then it might be even easier to get coverage from insurance companies if something should go wrong.
“With individual operators running such businesses, no banks are willing to give loans,” he said.
Ahmad Sharom also said that the rescue teams should also be efficient just like how it was done in Pantai Chenang in Langkawi.
“By 7pm the rescue teams are at the beach telling the visitors ‘time’s up’, but in Batu Ferringhi I hardly see that,” he added.
Chow said he was okay with the idea of setting up an association.
“In fact I have been supportive of the idea as it will play a great role between the opera-tors and the state government to discuss issues as well as manage and enhance the tourism belt,” he said.