KUALA TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA: "Welcome to the island, but don't eat turtle eggs!" This may well be the new greeting to the tourists who flock to the islands.
A couple of resorts on Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang are joining the "Say NO to Turtle and Terrapin Eggs" campaign, launched by the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) Turtle Research and Rehabilitation Group in February.
The goal of the year-long campaign is to stop people from eating turtle and terrapin eggs.
The group hopes to record a million lifetime pledges not to eat the eggs and Malaysians are able to make their pledges online.
With more than a million visitors expected for Visit Terengganu Year 2008, it could not be a better time to highlight the threat to what was once known as the icon of the state.
Laguna Redang Island Resort managing director Toh Seng Lip said he was saddened by the dwindling number of turtles.
"We all know the importance of looking out for the environment. If no one takes care of the turtles who will?
"As a resort operator, I know I can reach out to more people, especially during the peak season."
Toh, who is also a member of the Malaysian Nature Society said he would have posters designed by UMT plastered around the resort and recreational areas.
Guests who are being briefed on island activities will also get to see slide presentations on turtles prepared by the resort.
"We will also remind them not to eat the turtle eggs sold on the mainland," he said, adding that he would let his staff wear shirts and badges as part of creating awareness of the campaign.
Bubbles Dive Resort on Pulau Perhentian will also be explaining to its guests the importance of not eating turtle eggs.
Owner Ronnie Ng Chee Yeong, however, is going one step further by giving them a lesson in conservation.
This will include what to do and what not to do if one comes face-to-face with a turtle while diving or snorkelling.
"I know people come here to relax and have fun but I also want to enlighten them.
"I figure even if I talk to 20 people, it will have a domino effect as this group will go back and tell others.
"A lot of people don't understand the importance of turtle conservation. This is one of the reasons why I decided to take part."
UMT Turtle Research and Rehabilitation Group leader Prof Chan Eng Heng said she had asked the two resorts to join the campaign because she had found out that many tourists had gone to the markets to buy turtle eggs after a trip to the islands.
"There are now more people on the islands who can help spread the message faster," she said, adding that she would soon approach other resorts to help.