Yogi Eka Sahputra, Batam – Tourism observer assessed that black oil polluting beaches in Bintan Island, Riau Islands, cause major impacts on the regional tourism sector. Moreover, the island is renowned for its natural environment.
"This is a serious problem in the world of tourism. What is sold [in Bintan] is its nature," Riau Islands tourism observer Siska Mandalia said on Wednesday, March 29.
Not only selling its natural destinations, but Bintan tourism is also well known as an exclusive destination in international eyes. "Bintan is branded as an exclusive tourist area, of course, this is a problem. Pollution can affect the comfort of tourists," said Siska, a tourism lecturer who graduated from Tourism Management at Chung Hua University Taiwan.
Polluters must be given strict sanctions because it is not only detrimental to the tourism sector but also to the natural environment in the regency. "If this has happened repeatedly like this, of course, there must be a responsible party. The government must jointly investigate the source of the black oil and find a solution," Siska underlined.
Moreover, Siska argued that black oil is very difficult to clear up. She is worried that those beautiful beaches with natural white sand will be hard to return to the way they used to be.
"Tourism and natural areas must be mutually beneficial and supportive, so conflicts should not arise. The current trend is that tourism actors do not only think about profit but also protect the environment," said Siska.
Bintan beaches are off-limits
Black oil waste in the waters of Teluk Bakau Village, Bintan Regency, has occurred since Friday, March 24, 2023. It was suspected that the oil was dumped by foreign ships crossing the open sea and was then carried by the wind to the coast of Bintan Island. This incident has been happening for several years but no ultimate solution has been found yet.
One of the managers of the affected beaches said that marine ecosystems such as seagrass beds, and cages containing shrimp, crabs, and lobsters all died due to the oil waste. Black oil also stuck to the mangrove trunks around the coast.
"The worst was that all shrimp, crabs, and lobsters in the cages died. Our losses are estimated to reach Rp10 million," said Rina, the manager of Bamboo Beach, on Wednesday.