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The Pulau Perhentian jetty is pictured on August 8, 2021. — Bernama pic
The Pulau Perhentian jetty is pictured on August 8, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KUALA BESUT, Aug 8 — The presence of tourists in Pulau Perhentian provides a good source of income for resort owners and petty traders on the island, but things have changed since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.

Since the pandemic hit the country in March last year, a majority of the 20 traders at Kedai Majlis Medan Selera Pulau Perhentian food arcade are now forced to close down business as there has been no tourist arrival with the tourism sector is not allowed to operate due to the implementation of movement control to curb the spread of Covid-19.

However, Siti Kartini A.Ghani, 49, continues with her kuih business as usual.

“I have no choice but to continue to open my stall as usual even though sales is not as good as before. It’s my only source of income to support my family.

“Previously, I would use 25kg of wheat flour to make various types of sweetmeats, as well as bread and puff, which were sold out in two or three hours.

“But now, even using only six kg of floor, I find hard to sell them. My hope is for the tourism sector to be opened again so that tourists will come back to the island and then I can get orders for my kuih from the resort owners,” she said when met at her stall.

Siti Kartini, who has 10 children aged between three and 32, said, she could only make sale of about RM100 a day compared to RM3,000 daily previously.

“The situation now is so bad that I have to pawn some of my jewellery for cash to support my family. Some of my children are working in the tourism industry, but now they are out of job and have no income as there is no tourist,” she added.

Meanwhile, Pulau Perhentian Residents Association chairman, Zainuddin Mohd, 52, who is Siti Kartini’s husband, said the closure of the tourism sector had forced a majority of the traders to look for alternatives like farming.

“But farming is not making enough money and we have to wait for two to three months before we can reap the benefits. Our lives are now reduced to living from hand to mouth,” he said, adding that 95 per cent of the 2,000 residents on the island worked in the tourism sector.

Zainuddin said he hoped the Pulau Perhentian Tourism Sector Outreach Programme would help kick-start their lives so that things could return to normalcy. — Bernama

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