46,000 divers visit Sabah annually


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin said there are about 46,000 divers from across the globe visiting Sabah annually as the state has an astounding array of islands off its coastlines on both its eastern and western boards.

“An income of about RM200 million has been derived by the State from diving activities every year and this serves as a positive indicator respecting tourist arrivals in Sabah,” he said.

According to Tengku Zainal Adlin, the Miss Scuba international pageant which is held in the State will contribute to more divers visiting the islands in Sabah.

“We hope this pageant will send a clear message to the world and create an awareness that Sabah has the most amazing diving destinations,” he said at a press conference after launching the mini dive exhibition in conjunction with the pageant at 1Borneo Hypermall yesterday.

Tengku Zainal Adlin said there are many certified agencies in the State like Padi and Naui which provide diving lessons and promote safe diving practices.

According to Robert Lo, the chairman and founder of Miss Scuba International, the pageant’s contestants underwent a scuba diving course at Mabul Island from Nov 24 to Dec 6.

The 15 contestants representing China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand also attended a catwalk choreography course and marine conservation workshops organised by the Marine Research Foundation and WWF.

“They also participated in two underwater and beach clean-ups, one at Mabul and the other at the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park here,” Lo said at a press conference.

The contestant who is crowned Miss Scuba International 2011, will proceed to become the marine ambassador to promote diving worldwide at diving events, exhibitions and shows.

Through a spokesperson who is both beautiful and passionate about the ocean, Miss Scuba International will hope to garner more people to be interested in scuba diving.

Lo added through video and underwater imageries, the marine ambassador-elect will be able to share the wonders and joys of the underwater world.

“It is a special feeling that one gets while listening to only your own breathing and seeing colours and shapes that you have never ever imagined before.

“The basis of our entire existence depends on water. Our hope is to create an awareness and the desire to protect our marine environment. We believe that by combining the beauty of women with the beauty of the underwater world, we can pass on this message,” he added.

Lo also disclosed that the next pageant will be held in China in November next year but the training of contestants will still be held at Mabul island.

It will be one of the efforts to spread marine conservation programmes as China is one of the countries with the highest number of people consuming turtle eggs.

Present at the press conference yesterday were executive director of the Marine Research Foundation, Nicholas J. Pilcher, Padi Asia Pacific regional manager Johnny Chew, WWF Malaysia executive director Datuk Dionysius and Naui Worldwide president Micheal Tong.