KUCHING: Kapit Division has a huge potential to be developed as an eco-tourism area, said Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing.
He particularly referred to areas drawn up for this year’s Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari, like Sg. Majau, Sg. Mujong, Sg. Baleh and Batang Rajang, saying they could be turned into places of great interest for tourists as well as nature lovers to explore.
“Those areas have vast potential to be turned into an eco-tourism attraction. Once developed, the riverine areas are suitable for this kind of activities,” Masing told a press conference yesterday to announce the 16th edition of Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari scheduled from Sept 22 to 24. Masing pointed out that beginning with this year’s edition, the safari was expected to have a new name to reflect eco-tourism elements in its activities.
“We will think of the name for the event soon. At the moment, it will still be the same. The new name will reflect the new concept of the event,’ he said at his office at Masja Building yesterday.
Masing added that this year’s safari would see various activities.
“There will be four main events — that is rafting, canoeing (kayaking), mini carnival and powerboat race.”
He pointed out that kayaking, which will be named ‘Kayaking 1Malaysia’, although a newly-introduced event would be an interesting one.
Partly organised by the Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation (KPSU), the new event is included in a bid to scout for young and talented paddlers from the area.
“As we know, our kayak team had a poor outing in the last Sukma games. This is the right time to search for new talents in the sport to represent our kayak team in Sukma,” he said.
He believed that the task to find capable paddlers would not be difficult as there were many undiscovered talents in the upper rivers.
“Those riverine areas are a perfect place to find champion paddlers for the state,” he stressed.
Masing said he was pleased with the preparation for the event, which he hoped would draw a huge crowd.
This year, Rumah Ajai in Sg. Majau, a tributary of Sg. Mujong, Baleh will be the first transit and flag-off point (for Men’s Open Category) while the second transit point will be at Rumah Anding, Nanga Sepuna, Mujong before moving down to Kapit town.
The distance from Baleh to Kapit is about 60km, equivalent to two-days of raft journey.
The event will be divided into five categories- Men’s Bamboo Raft Open, Men’s Closed for Clubs, Associations and NGOs, Men’s Free Style, Women’s Free Style and Tourist Category.
Winner of Men’s Open Category will receive RM3,000, second runners-up RM2,500 and third place RM 1,500 while teams in fourth to tenth places will walk home with RM800.
For Men’s Closed for Clubs, Associations and NGOs, Men’s Free Style, Women’s Free Style and Tourist Category, the winners will get RM2,000, runners-up RM1,500 and third — place winning team RM1,000 while teams in fourth to tenth places will receive RM500.
The hosting of the raft race has been rotated among the major tributaries of Baleh River since it was introduced in 1996 to give people in various areas opportunity to take part in the event.
Masing is expected to launch the first flag-off and Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit is expected to launch the second transit flag-off.
Meanwhile, Masing handed over a sponsorship of RM30,000 to Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot for the event yesterday.