3.1 Reliability of the Questionnaire
Table 1 shows the Cronbach’s alpha value for Section C (visiting factors and swimming ability), Section D (knowledge of rip currents), and Section E (knowledge of beach safety). Due to different answer scheme used for every question, each question was analysed in separate grouping for consistency and to yield higher score in the scale reliability coefficient. In Section C, Q11(A) in the questionnaire was grouped as Part 1 and Q11(B) was grouped by Part 2, respectively. The Cronbach’s alpha for Section C (Part 1) was 0.54, and 0.727 for part 2. As Q12 to Q14 have a yes and no options, they were grouped in Part 1 while Q15 and Q16 were in the Part 2 for Section D. The Cronbach’s alpha value for these Part 1 and Part 2 was 0.362 and 0.322, respectively. Meanwhile, for Section E, the Cronbach’s alpha of Part 1 (Q17 to Q21) and Part 2 (Q23 and Q24) was 0.270 and 0.545, respectively.
3.2 Demographic Information of the Respondents
Table 2 shows the demographic information for 147 males (49%) and 153 females (51%) respondents. Respondents were arbitrarily divided into four age groups, i.e., from 18 to 29 years old, 30 to 39 years old, 40 to 49 years old, and above 50 years old. Altogether, there were 83 respondents in the first group, 117 in the second, 75 in the third, and 25 in the last. Overall, approximately 62% (186) of the respondents) were local people from Kuantan, while 38% (114) came from elsewhere. Table 3 shows the frequency of beachgoers visiting TCRB, more than half (58.3%) of the respondents had visited this beach more than five times. In the study area, only 8% of the respondents came to this beach for swimming. Visitors went to TCRB for various reasons, including safety, near the city, and moderate wave conditions. Beach safety was the dominant factor that prompted visitors to visit the beach and followed its proximity to a city, suitable waves, and patrolled by lifeguards.
3.4 Visitors’ Swimming Ability
Visitors’ swimming ability was subdivided into two categories, i.e., one on the variables that influenced the respondents’ decision to visit or not to visit the beach and the other on the respondents’ swimming ability. For the first category, numerous visitors, low tide conditions, and no companion were the principal variables that attracted the respondents to visit the beach (Figure 3). By contrast, high tide conditions, no lifeguard, storms, and closed beach areas were the main factors that hindered the presence of visitors. Figure 4 shows the swimming ability of the respondents. Only 19% (57) of the respondents swam well, while 81% (243) of them were poor swimmers, i.e., they could not swim more than 25 m. Overall, the likelihood of the respondents drowning at the beach was moderate, and their capability of escaping from the rips was at the lowest level (Figure 4).
3.5 Knowledge of Rip Current and Beach Safety
Figure 4 shows that 61.30% of the respondents were knowledgeable about the currents, while 38.70% were aware of the existence of rips. Most respondents (86%) incorrectly believed that rip currents were generated by wind with only 13.3% of the respondents answered it correctly. Besides, when asked on the question about the swimming direction when trapped in the rip currents, 39% of the respondents indicated that they would swim in parallel with the current flow, 42% would swim with the direction of the flow, and 19% would swim against the rip current (Figure 5).
Meanwhile, each respondent was given three photos to evaluate their ability to identify the presence of rip currents in Q21. Photo in Q21(A) andQ21 (B) showed the occurrence of the rip currents in the water. For Q21(A), 74% of the respondents could not identify the rip currents. Meanwhile, only 27.3% of the respondents answered correctly for Q21 (B), suggesting that more than half of the respondents could not recognise the rip currents regardless the gender and age. The flag system used along the beach can be an indicator to assess the beach safety knowledge. Respondents were presented with a yes and no knowledge scale that depicting different beach conditions with different flag system. On the swimming response to beach flags, 46.7% of the respondents chose to swim within the area marked with flags, and 53.3% of them incorrectly opted to swim outside the flags, i.e., in the rips.
Figure 6(A) shows that 83.3% of the respondents recognised the function of the lifeguard tower located at the beach. Majority of the visitor responded well to the function of flags with 44% answered correctly for yellow-red flag and more than 90% for red flag (Figure 6(B) and 6(C)). Overall, respondents showed a satisfactory and fair awareness and understanding of both the yellow-red and red flags. The number of patrolling lifeguard patrols along the beach was sufficiently abundant owing to the high-risk rating of TCRB and its attractiveness as a tourist hotspot. The presence of patrolling lifeguards and red flags might enhance the awareness of the beachgoers in choosing the safety area for their activity (Woodward et al., 2015). Those beachgoers that decided to take their own risk swimming beyond the designated area are mostly experienced swimmer. 23.7% of them share their experience being trapped in waves while only 2% did notice the encounter with rip current. Failing to identify the rip currents led respondents to swim in the rips, and hence also the low proportion of rip currents as the primary challenge.
3.7 Association between the Study Variables and Knowledge of Rip Current and Beach Safety
Table 4 shows the association between the study variables and the awareness of the rip currents. These variables included the socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents, their swimming ability, and their experience during water activities. The respondents’ awareness of the current was determined by their ability to spot the occurrence of rips in the water. Table 5 shows the multiple regression analysis between the study variables with the awareness of the rip currents. Variables such as gender (AOR = 0.647, 95% CI = 0.487 - 0.60, ρ = 0.003), locality (AOR = 2.482, 95% CI = 1.407 - 4.380, ρ = 0.002) and the respondents’ experiencing problems (AOR = 0.170, 95% CI = 0.635 - 6.379, ρ = 0.000) in the water activity showed significant associations with the rip currents.
Table 6 shows the association between the age group and the knowledge of beach safety. Respondents older than 36 years old tended to have a better understanding of beach safety. Variables such as gender, locality, frequency of visits, and swimming ability were significantly associated (ρ < 0.05) with the knowledge of beach safety. The knowledge of beach safety was determined based on the respondents’ ability to identify whether the beach condition was safe to swim when they were picture given in the questionnaire. Table 8 shows the multiple logistic regressions between the study variables and the respondents’ knowledge of beach safety. Only gender (AOR = 0.665, 95% CI = 1.14 - 5.02, ρ = 0.021) and locality (AOR = 1.821, 95% CI = 1.022 - 3.245, ρ = 0.042) were significantly associated with the knowledge of beach safety