Green SURF supports government’s focus on tourism

Posted on July 16, 2010. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

-Borneo Post Online-

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah must go for clean sources of electricity if it is to continue banking on tourism which last year alone raked in RM3.8 billion for the state.Pushing for alternatives to a proposed 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant at the shores of the globally significant Coral Triangle, Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) said eco-tourism would potentially suffer if the project is implemented.

The coalition of non-governmental organisations said the need for sustainable development tailored to environmental needs was highlighted by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Green SURF spokesman Wong Tack said Masidi’s statement on Wednesday speaks volumes on why Sabah should not bend to pressure to build a coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu.

“Our own State Minister (Masidi) said that tourism in Sabah is inextricably linked to the environment.

“We commend him for his vision and we want to work alongside the government in solving our power woes without resorting to a coal plant.

“I believe the people of Sabah are behind Datuk Masidi in his vision to advocate development that factors in environmental concerns,” Wong said in a statement.

Wong is also the president of the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA).

Apart from SEPA, other Green SURF members are Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), WWF-Malaysia, Malaysia Nature Society (Sabah branch) and Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos Trust).

“Building a coal plant in Sabah is a clear contradiction to the Sabah Tourism Master Plan that Datuk Masidi spoke about. The Minister also acknowledged that tourism has steadily grown into an industry that has made significant contributions to the state and national economies,” Wong said.

Masidi was quoted as saying that the tourism industry is dynamic and changes such as behaviour among travellers, and factors like climate change and environmental catastrophes need to be considered in formulating the second phase of the master plan.

Wong pointed out that Masidi had at a recent event stated that the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) aims to make the state the most livable place in Asia by 2025 through several steps, including sustainable management of its environmental resources.

Sabah’s contribution to Malaysia’s eco-tourism industry was also highlighted by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Centre for Innovative Planning and Development Director Prof Amran Hamzah.

Amran had told Bernama that Sipadan Island was among the world’s top five destinations for scuba diving, and that tourists come to the state and to Sarawak for a unique range of eco-tourism attractions.

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