In celebrating and understanding the importance of sustainability in the tourism industry, let’s get to know Tun Mustapha Park, Malaysia’s second-largest marine park after Luconia Shoals in Sarawak.
Before we begin, let’s answer this: what does it mean by sustainable tourism? According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), “sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.”
In other words, sustainability is a way of life. In conserving and preserving Mother Nature, we have to play our part in practising sustainability. Sabah, for instance, has played its part in protecting its marine life through the establishment of Tun Mustapha Park.
1. WHERE IS IT LOCATED?A map of Tun Mustapha Park (TMP). Source: WWF Malaysia.
Tun Mustapha Park comprises more than 50 islands and islets off the north coast of Sabah, across Kudat, Pitas, and Kota Marudu districts. Spanning 2.4 million acres, it serves as both a marine park and shark sanctuary, also making it Malaysia’s largest marine protected area (MPA).
2. WHEN WAS IT ESTABLISHED?Continuous research and planning to bring Tun Mustapha Park to fruition.
After 13 years of negotiations and planning, Tun Mustapha Marine Park was gazetted and formally established in 2016. A continuous collaborative effort between government authorities, local communities, international partners, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
3. WHAT DOES IT PROTECT?A sight to behold at Tun Mustapha Park. Source: WWF Malaysia/ Eric Madeja.
Home to more than 250 species of corals and 300 species of fish, Tun Mustapha Park aims to conserve and protect the marine biodiversity of the region including dugongs, endangered green turtles, seagrass, and mangrove forests.
4. IS FISHING ALLOWED?The park is home to more than 80,000 local communities. Source: getlostmagazine.com.
With local communities of more than 80,000 people whose livelihood depend on fishery, the park continues to allow local communities and commercial fisheries to operate in designated zones to ensure “sustainable use of resources” and to protect the area from overfishing, blast fishing, and pollution.
5. IS IT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC?A haven for sustainable tourism. Source: expatgo.com.
For continuous socio-economic sustainability, Tun Mustapha Park offers various business opportunities for the locals and activities for eco-travellers to enjoy. Through homestays, bird observatories, turtle conservation activities, mangrove tours, and volunteering programmes, eco-tourism has benefitted the local communities at Tun Mustapha Park.
As responsible citizens and travellers, let’s continue to learn and adopt a sustainable lifestyle, not just while travelling but wherever we are!