KOTA KINABALU, Feb 1 — The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) urged the Marine Department to be more proactive in preventing tour boat tragedies and ensuring the safety of the maritime communities.
Matta vice-president (Inbound), Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the association wanted action to be taken to prevent tour boat tragedies such as the regulations and operations to be clearly displayed and monitored, with enforcement carried out round the clock.
“The Marine Department is the main agency supervising boat activities. It is imperative that it exercises its wide powers to prevent boat tragedies, particularly in Sabah where sea excursions to idyllic islands are one of the main tourist attractions.
“Tour boats should only be licensed when fitted with safety, emergency and communications equipment, and tested for stability and structural integrity,” he said in a statement, here, today.
Tan said the department should conduct sweeps on illegal jetties, apart from ensuring all ports and jetties under its supervision were safe and operational at all times.
“There should only be a few main jetties on the mainland where tour boats are allowed to pick up and drop off passengers.
“Apart from monitoring the boats’ condition and facilities, and inspecting the skipper and crew’s licences and competency, the boats should only be permitted to leave when the number of people matches with the passenger manifest,” he added.
Tan said of utmost importance to tour operators should be taking precautions and exercising the highest level of safety and only using licensed tour vehicles as well as dealing with licensed business operators to ensure the sustainability of sea excursions and the tourism industry as a whole.
“Matta is prepared to work with all government agencies and private sector bodies to create an ecosystem to prioritise safety in all areas and get rid of apathy that allows tragedies to strike,” he added. — Bernama