ROMPIN, Sept 6 — Lots of big smiles and thanks were received from Pulau Tioman’s tourist operators today after receiving food baskets from Tourism Malaysia.
Chalet operator, Abd Hafaz A. Hamid, 58, said he is grateful because it has helped him save money on the family’s daily expenses after losing his main source of income for almost two years.
He had provided accommodation to tourists for over 30 years but now lives off his savings, the land and sea.
“This place, which used to draw tourists from Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang, is now quiet.
“But I am grateful because our plight has caught the attention of the federal and state governments.
“It has brought a little bit of relief,” he told reporters after a handover ceremony by Tourism Malaysia domestic and events senior director, Iskandar Mirza Mohd Yusof and Pahang Tourism general manager, Kamaruddin Ibrahim.
Tourism Pahang donated cash to 187 of the island’s tourist operators under the ‘2021 Bantuan Prihatin Pahang COVID-19’ programme.
Travel guide, Musa Said, 49, who has lived on the island for 18 years, said the aid had come at the right time since he is now a labourer and has to support a family of seven.
“The price of goods on the island is higher than on the mainland and burdens us because we lost our source of income after the tourism sector shut down. The food aid will save us money for a week,” he said.
Boat operator, Mohd Syahadan Zainal Abidin, 36, said he appreciated the gesture from Tourism Malaysia to help ease their burden.
“I am the family breadwinner. Since stopping operations, I’ve been frugal with my savings and living off the sea,” he said.
Iskandar Mirza said the distribution of food baskets to the island’s 300 tourist operators was also a way to gauge the situation on the ground.
He said it was a continuation of aid given to those in Pulau Langkawi, Kedah and Pulau Pangkor, Perak.
“Tioman is one of the islands on the east coast that attracts domestic and international tourists. But this endless pandemic has impacted many who relied on the tourism sector.
“Concerned about their situation, we contributed and hope it provides some relief,” he said. — Bernama