|Juara Beach, Tioman. photo: http://www.101bestbeaches.com/malaysia|
In 2014, more than 57 per cent or 18,886 foreign tourists out of the 33,090 foreigners who came to the island were visitors from Europe with a large number of them from Germany.
Tioman Development Authority (TDA) general manager Datuk Hashim Mat Tahir told Bernama the rest comprised Germans (5,734), French (4,730), British (4,384), Indians (3,886), Chinese (3,519), Australians (2,764), Americans (2,458), Dutch (2,362), Swedes (1,680) and Iranians (1,573).
Overall, the island received 268,784 visitors last year, a 16 per cent increase from 232,102 in 2013 while in 2012, there were 214,482 tourist arrivals, he said.
However, domestic visitors and those from ASEAN made up 82 per of the overall total in 2014.
Hashim said the number of tourists to the island could be further increased if there were alternative modes of transportation to Pulau Tioman apart from the ferry service from Tanjung Gemok, here or Mersing in Johor.
"About 95.5 per cent of the visitors use the ferry while 4.5 per cent came by air. However the ferry service is disrupted during the monsoon season from November to January," he said.
He said many were however not aware that Pulai Tioman which is located in the South China Sea has its own airport in Kampung Tekek with a 992-metre runway.
"There was a regular air service to Pulau Tioman operated by Berjaya Air using a De Havilland Dash 7 aircraft with a capacity for 48 passengers but it was discontinued due to the high cost of maintenance and the production of aircraft has stopped.
"For the time being, the charter air service provided by Systematic Aviation Services (SAS) from Subang or Senai, is rather costly as it is based on request," he said.
Therefore, to ensure tourist arrivals all year round, the late Rompin MP, Tan Sri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis had proposed extending the island's airport runway, he said.
Hashim said Jamaluddin saw the runway if extended could accommodate the ATR-72 aircraft used by several low-cost carriers in the country to land directly in Pulau Tioman.
Many however have questioned if there were tourists who wish to visit when the sea is rough and Hashim was quick to reply that some tourists actually looked forward to the monsoon season waves for surfing.
For accommodation, there are 2,089 rooms provided by 78 resorts at Salang, Air Batang, Tekek, Paya, Genting, Mukut and Juara in which 50 per cent are categorised as luxury, 30 per cent moderate and 20 per cent are budget rooms.
"TDA in its effort to improve and raise the standard of existing accommodation to ensure the comfort of visitors, will expand the number of luxury hotels as a lure for international tourists," he said.
Hashim said apart from enjoying the beauty of 29 kilometres of sandy beaches and sea at warm temperature, tourists could also carry out activities such as snorkelling to marvel at 183 species of coral reefs and various types of fish in the waters of Pulau Tioman.
"One can also go trekking to the waterfall and view the wildlife of the island which included 33 species of mammals, 67 species of birds, 21 types of lizards, and 17 species of amphibians.
"For those who love outdoor and extreme experience, there is rock climbing at Kampung Juara and Kampung Mukut," he said, adding that development at Pulau Tioman was being carried out carefully to preserve its ecological system.