BUSI­NESSES HIT HARD

The foul smell is driv­ing away tourists, say chalet and home­s­tay op­er­a­tors

New Straits Times - - News -

KELLY KOH

ALOR GA­JAH kelly.koh@nst.com.my

CHALET op­er­a­tors in Pengkalan Balak here are fum­ing over their lost earn­ings as po­ten­tial cus­tomers can­cel their room book­ings due to pol­lu­tion from the nearby pig farms here.

D’ Ne­layan Beach Re­sort Pengkalan Balak gen­eral man­ager Ab Rahman Yu­sof said be­tween 30 and 40 per cent of his cus­tomers had can­celled their book­ings af­ter learn­ing about the pol­lu­tion.

He said pig farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties had pol­luted Sun­gai Tuang which flowed into the sea.

“My clients are from Kuala Lumpur and have read the news on the pol­lu­tion.

“Un­til when must we hide the is­sue? Each time a po­ten­tial guest learns of the prob­lem, he will can­cel his book­ing and de­mand his de­posit back,” he said.

Rahman, who is also the Bu­mi­put­era Chalet Re­sort Home­s­tay ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary, yes­ter­day showed proof of a cus­tomer can­celling his room reser­va­tion.

He said the client had planned for a fam­ily hol­i­day on Dec 15 and Dec 17, with ac­com­mo­da­tion cost­ing RM13,892.

“We are try­ing to con­vince him to keep his book­ing as our beach re­sort is 1km from the farms in Sun­gai Mengkuang.

“We have in­formed him that we won’t re­fund his de­posit of RM1,500,” he said.

He said there were cus­tomers who did not pay de­posits but had also can­celled their book­ings.

Rahman, who spoke on be­half of 110 chalet and 35 home­s­tay op­er­a­tors, said they could gen­er­ate a com­bined rev­enue of RM450,900 a day if all 1,503 rooms along the Pengkalan Balak beach were fully booked on week­ends.

“That works out to RM3.6 mil­lion in rev­enue a month,” he said.

Rahman said the au­thor­i­ties should clear up the pol­lu­tion, in­stead of call­ing for meet­ings or giv­ing li­cences to pig farm­ers.

“Peo­ple come to Pengkalan Balak as it is a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion,” he said.

Food trader Mar­diana Mat Saaud, 39, said: “It is em­bar­rass­ing to tell visi­tors that the stench was due to effluents from the pig farms.

“Visi­tors are dis­turbed to learn this and would quickly fin­ish their meal and leave the stall.”

Mar­diana’s stall is close to Sun­gai Tuang, where an­i­mal waste flows into the sea.

“If I had known, I would not have set up busi­ness here,” she said, lament­ing her poor sale of laksa and rice.

Fish­er­man Sudirman Ka­mal, 38, said the sea pol­lu­tion had badly af­fected his in­come.

“Be­fore the pol­lu­tion, I could earn be­tween RM100 and RM200 daily. Now, it is only RM50.

“You look at the sea wa­ter. It is black in colour. We have to go four nau­ti­cal miles away to en­joy bet­ter catch,” said Sudirman, who is from Telok Gong.

RASUL AZLI SA­MAD PIX BY

The con­tam­i­nated beach in Pengkalan Balak in Alor Ga­jah. (In­set, clock­wise) Ab Rahman Yu­sof and a sea­side chalet.

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