Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vote for Sipadan Island

Published on: Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Kota Kinabalu: The State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, through the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), is embarking on an all-out "Vote for Sipadan" campaign to promote the island as one of the world's New Seven Wonders of Nature. The island, also known as a dive haven among divers worldwide, is currently on 17th place under the island category in the on-going search for the new wonders of nature, which is being carried out via an Internet online voting system.

Sipadan still needs more votes to make it to the top 77 by group categories in the second stage period from January to July 7 this year. It must be in 11th place under the island category within these three months to go to the next round.

Sipadan is one of the 261 national and multinational nominees from 222 countries which participated in the New Seven Wonders of Nature search.

It went through the first stage - the National Qualification - on Dec. 31 last year.

"We will work together with Tourism Malaysia, dive operators, hotels and travel agents, the press and government agencies in disseminating information to the public and tourists to vote Sipadan," said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun in a press conference to announce the campaign, Tuesday.

They will also go to schools and colleges to conduct talks on this as well as write to all the elected representatives in the country on top of a cyber campaign.

Malaysians in Sabah can vote for Sipadan under the island category via website address: http://www.sabahtourism.com/ or directly at www.new7wonders.com/nature.

"Let's show the world that Sipadan too has what it takes to become one of the seven Wonders of Nature," said Masidi, adding that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had himself already agreed to provide a special allocation for effort.

He said Sabah is currently also getting help from Professional Association of Diving Instructor (PADI), an international organisation which comprises 80 per cent of the certified divers in the world, in fishing for votes for Sipadan.

Meanwhile, Masidi said Sipadan island which is still under the Federal Government's jurisdiction is expected to be returned to the State Government's administration soon.

Sipadan had been under the Federal Government's jurisdiction pending the outcome of the dispute on the sovereignty of the island between Malaysia and Indonesia, he said, adding the Federal Government is now finalising a move to transfer the jurisdiction back to the State Government now that the matter had been resolved.

"Only then (after the jurisdiction returns to the State Government) we can sit down and discuss how to manage it better. The Attorney-General is looking into it. The process is on track and hopefully it would be immediate," he said.

Currently only a limited number of divers at a time are allowed to dive at more than 10 dive spots around the island as part of conservation efforts, he said, confident that Sipadan island will greatly boost the State's tourism industry by being one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature.
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