Websites show Malaysian resort still popular with tourists

Websites show Malaysian resort still popular with tourists

PETALING JAYA - Checks on travel websites show most foreign tourists praising Singamata as a beautiful destination with a user on TripAdvisor citing "blue waters, big fishes and perfect sunset".

There are no security concerns such as kidnappings on the websites.

However, this was shared and discussed in forums among travellers, with several threads by those heading to Sabah asking about the situation after the Lahad Datu intrusion and the abduction of a Taiwanese couple at Pom Pom island that resulted in the death of the husband last year.

Despite these concerns, 30-year-old chemical engineer Shukri Sharkawi said tourists still flocked to the islands.

Shukri, who backpacked and worked in Semporna in July and August 2010, claimed there was a kidnapping case before his arrival there.

"It was believed that the kidnapping resulted from personal reasons involving Filipinos. However, it wasn't a big issue among the tourists and locals.

Shukri, who has been to Semporna seven times, believed Singamata is still safe as it was guarded by the army and police.

A diving enthusiast, who declined to be named, said he would return to Semporna, particularly to the Mabul and Sipadan islands.

"I went to Mabul a week after the Lahad Datu intrusion. There was nothing to be worried about. In fact, it was full house then.

"I'm not sure whether it was because we are ignorant over the intrusion or we really don't feel scared," he said, when contacted by The Star yesterday.

While Mabul and Sipadan islands were considered safe, the 40-year-old, who has visited Semporna four times since 2012, claimed it was different when it comes to Singamata island.

The risk of going to Singamata is due to the geographic factor and, he claimed, it was a sentiment shared by some of the locals he met.

"Mabul is the nearest to the mainland, while Sipadan is further down. But Singamata is even further. "The further you are from the mainland, the riskier it gets," he said.

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