Tourism Ministry allocated RM44m for next year

Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh makes his way to the complex for the DUN sitting.

Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh makes his way to the complex for the DUN sitting.

THE Tourism Ministry has been allocated RM44 million under the 2017 state budget to boost the state’s tourism industry.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg disclosed this when met by reporters yesterday.

He said parts of the allocation would be used as incentives for direct charter flights into Sarawak, which he hoped would be turned into scheduled flights.

“The market has responded and we need certain incentives to be given to them,” said Abang Johari who is also Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister.

The allocation would also be used for upgrading tourism infrastructure, particularly national parks.

Abang Johari, who has been tasked to lead one of the three cabinet committees – the Performance and Service Delivery Transformation Committee – said the Housing and Urbanisation Ministry would be coming out with an Urban Renewal Master Plan.

“We are doing a master plan for us to redevelop or renew our urban centres.  As you know, there are certain areas that we need to redevelop,” said Abang Johari, who is also Housing and Urbanisation Minister.

Citing Kampung Darul Hana and Main Bazaar of Kuching as the examples, he said while the ministry was redeveloping city centres, it would also strive to preserve the villages or areas that had historical value.

“Renew here means revitalise the city. The city, after 100 years, is already subdued. We have to re-plan the city and these areas included the parts not conducive to living,” said Abang Johari.

The master plan, according to the minister, would include removal of slum areas, re-alignment of streets as well as the improvement of public transportation but at this stage, he could not reveal more details.

“Let them do an overall study. We must not rush these things. There must be a proper master plan that can last 20 to 50 years,” said Abang Johari, adding that it would take between eight to 12 months for the master plan to be completed.

He said at the moment, there was only allocation for planning. The RM30 million set aside for the Housing and Urbanisation Ministry had been for the building of new hawkers centres for a few cities.

On the 2017 state budget, Abang Johari said it had been development-oriented where the rural areas would take the bulk of the fund, except for certain strategic areas such as those slated for tourism.