Coral bleaching; 12 Travel Sites Closed To Tourists

732 marine park islands and three islands off Langkawi, Terengganu and Pahang are closed to tourists from July 2 to Oct 31 due to coral bleaching.

Marine Parks Department director-general Abdul Jamal Mydin said the coral degradation, which was caused by global warming, was worse than in 1998.

He said in Langkawi, the authorities decided to close Teluk Wangi, Pantai Damai, and Coral Garden in Pulau Payar while in Terengganu – Pulau Redang, Teluk Bakau, Pulau Tenggol, Teluk Air Tawar, Pulau Perhentian Besar and Teluk Dalam.

There other islands are in Pahang, namely Pulau Rengis, Pulau Tumok and Pulau Soyak, he told a news conference after attending a meeting on the quagmire on Wednesday.

Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab was present.

He said the department had set up a committee comprising the Tourism Malaysia, the Public Works Department, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaya and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to look into the problem.

Abdul Jamal said more than 500,000 local and foreign tourists visited the marine parks every year.

On Pulau Payar, he said visitors to island would be reduced by 50 per cent to 200 as a controlled measure and to reduce stress on the coral reef.

Only three locations on Pulau Payar are closed to visitors, he said, adding that restriction on other islands had yet to be decided.