Cruising into the sunset
by Raymond Tan, firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on December 27, 2011, Tuesday
SIBU: Pandaw forced to cease unprofitable Rajang River cruise, last adventure next March.
RV Orient Pandaw the cruise boat that brings tourists into the heart of Borneo along the mighty Rajang is sailing into the sunset as it will cease operation next year.
It will sail up the longest river in Malaysia for the last time in March and its swansong voyage is already almost fully booked with just a few tickets left available.
The Pandaw newsletter recently announced the cessation of its Rajang cruise explaining that “…logistical and operational difficulties of working are so tough an environment that the project has been commercially unsuccessful”.
Pandaw the largest luxury river cruise operator in South East Asia runs river expedition cruises in four countries in the region – Burma on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers, Cambodia and Vietnam on Mekong River and Malaysia on Rajang River.
The Sarawak Tourism Board had been notified but there is nothing it could do because as a commercial venture the Pandaw Rajang cruise is subjected to market forces.
Direc tor of Corporation Communication of Angelina Bateman when contacted recently said; “Our role so far has been to help facilitate it by promoting the tour. Other than that we cannot get involved, except in helping them to promote since it is a commercial operation.”
Bateman expressed regret that the cruise failed to succeed as a commercial venture as it had helped to promote tourism in the state internationally.
When it was launched on July 1, 2009 it was hailed as a catalyst for the growth of the tourism industry in the central region of the state but it was also drew flaks from local tour operators who were left out of its travel itinerary.
Tourists are transferred to the boat from the airport, and after the river expedition, whisked off to the airport reducing Sibu to a mere transit point of the river expedition.
The travellers instead stayed several days in Kuching for visits to Sarawak Cultural Village, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and Matang Wildlife Centre.
For its remaining days on the Rajang River, Pandaw will be promoting two river adventure tours called ‘The Mountain and the River’ and ‘Into the Heart of Borneo’.
Both expeditions will start at Burung Apu Wharf at Khoo Peng Loong Road to go upstream to Durin, Kanowit River, Kapit, Baleh River, Pelagus Rapids and for a jungle trek in the Rajang Upper Reaches.
For its lower stream journey, the cruise will take tourists to Igan River, Sarikei; a sunset mangrove cruise experience at the delta and a cultural visit to Rajang village.