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COCONUT palms swaying in the breeze and gentle waves caressing the sands are among the natural charms of Air Papan. For years, picnickers have enjoyed this beautiful beach and to ensure that it remains viable for the future generations, Tourism Malaysia recently organised a clean-up campaign aptly named "Mersing Berseri" (Charming Mersing). 

Participants of the Mersing Berseri beach clean-up campaign with their certificates of appreciation at the conclusion of the day’s work.Besides being the preferred destination for picnickers, Air Papan beach is also synonymous with the annual Air Papan Beach Carnival, where activities include traditional games and cultural performances.

Each weekend, and especially on public holidays, this 2km stretch of beautiful beach attracts large crowds of picnickers.

Unfortunately, as these picnickers leave, they also leave behind a trail of garbage and rubbish.
The "Mersing Berseri" beach clean-up campaign is aimed at educating local residents on the need to appreciate their environment and encourage them to actively protect the beach from pollution.

Hoo Seong Chang, the state Tourism and Domestic Trade Committee chairman, was represented by Johari Darmidi, the secretary to the Mersing district officer.

In his speech read by Darmidi, Hoo stressed that protecting the environment was a collective responsibility.

He said he hoped that through the campaign, picnickers would learn to love the environment and take up the responsibility of maintaining the cleanliness of Air Papan beach.

There are 50 islands in Johor, of which 13 make up the Mersing Marine Park. These are the islands of Harimau, Mensirip, Goal, Besar, Tengah, Hujong, Rawa, Tinggi, Mentinggi, Sibu, Sibu Hujung, Pemanggil and Aur. Besides being the gateway into the Mersing Marine Park, Mersing is being developed into a tourist destination under the East Coast Economic Region plan.

Facilities at Air Papan beach were recently upgraded, including new car parks and food stalls. Since May 1, visitors could not only enjoy good food but also sing late into the night at the karaoke sessions.

Of the beach clean-up campaign, 200 people comprising local residents, 60 trainees of the Sekakap Mersing National Service Camp, 46 trainees from the Mersing Civil Defence Department, representatives from government agencies, the travel industry and media participated.

Village headman Mohd Asri Jaffar; Noridah Kamaruddin, the Director of Tourism Malaysia Johor, Tourism Malaysia's Director of Domestic Marketing Division, Abdul Rahman Shaari; and Johari launched the campaign by taking the lead in collecting rubbish and depositing them in the appropriate recycling bins.

Soon after, the volunteers moved to the beach, where they cleaned up after the picnickers.

Nooraine Faizah Sobari, from Taman Universiti, Johor Baru and her friend Norshakila Mohd Saberi of Kangkar Pulai were among the national service trainees who participated in the campaign.

Among the residents who volunteered their help were farmer Hamsan Liman, 65, and retired teacher Md Nor Abd Jalil, 66, both from Kampung Air Papan Tengah.

While they could have left the arduous task to the young people, Hamsan said as the beach was at their backyard, they should help to keep it clean.

Each participants was rewarded with a certificate of appreciation, which will remind them of the importance of keeping the environment clean in the days to come.

At the end of the day, each person was a winner as they were ultimately rewarded with a cleaner, more beautiful beach.


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