Sipadan: a SCUBA-diving paradise: an analysis of tourism impact, diver satisfaction and tourism management
Since its discovery as a dive site in the late 1980s, Sipadan has become a Mecca for international SCUBA divers. Increasing development, crowding and their environmental impact have become a matter of concern. This paper examines the tourism developments on the island in relation to their impact, diver satisfaction, problems of management and their possible solution. A questionnaire was designed to elicit the divers' profiles, their satisfaction with environmental, social, service and facilities aspects of the island and their perception of the impact of tourism development. Some 314 questionnaires were completed by divers from 22 different countries. The result revealed overwhelming satisfaction (97.8 percent) mainly due to the island's outstanding marine biodiversity, easy diving access, and the friendliness and efficiency of the staff. Impacts of most concern were crowding, over-development, noise and litter. Sipadan should be constituted as a Marine Park and steps should be taken to reduce the physical, ecological and social impact on the island. In view of the island's small size (one square kilometre) and its vulnerability to human interference, it is recommended ideally that all diving operators should be moved either to the mainland or nearby islands and the necessary rehabilitation should take place to re-establish the ecological balance. If this is not practicable there should be a tighter limitation on the number of divers and a centralization of resources.
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