KUCHING: A direct flight connecting Kuching and Melaka may commence as early as next month or early next year.
Melaka Chief Minister Dato Sri Mohd Ali Rustam when announcing this yesterday said he was keen to see the flight become a reality, possibly three times a week.
“I am looking forward to see the Sarawak and Melaka state governments collaborate on the direct flight to Melaka in the best interest of both states,” he told a press conference.
Mohd Ali is in the state with the Melaka Foundation (YM) delegation and its board of directors to witness a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Sarawak Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA/Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd) and YM yesterday.
LCDA was represented by Senior Minister and Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing and two Assistant Ministers, Datuk Gramong Juna and Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz.
Also present was Senior Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh who is also mnister of local government and community development, and second finance minister.
Mohd Ali said the route could boost tourism in both states.
“Melaka so far receives a total of 10.4 million tourists in 2010 with 20 per cent of them from overseas: Taiwan, Japan,China, Hong Kong, German, Switzerland and New Zealand.”
He said as of September this year, a total of 8.4 million tourists had visited the historical city, and the number is expected to reach 11 million by yearend. He said the proposed Kuching-Melaka flight could be shortened to one hour, compared to the one-and-a-half hour Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route.
“The flight is shorter than that to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Hence this could be an alternative route.”
At the moment, Melaka is chartering Firefly and Melaka Air flights to Pekan Baru and Medan City on the island of Sumatera in Indonesia. The flight connection had lured many tourists from the neighbouring country to the city.
“Sumatera is a big island and at least 10 per cent of the population are from high income families who choose Melaka as a holiday destination every year,” he said.
Mohd Ali said the Melaka state government was planning to construct a larger theme park to lure tourists.
“We are launching a wildlife park this afternoon (yesterday) and Hang Tuah Village theme park which portrays the era of the Melaka Sultanate.”
The state government would build the largest silat arena next to Hang Tuah theme park. Mohd Ali said the Melaka government would continue to cooperate with the Sarawak government to promote their tourism to the world, especially eco-tourism.
“Sarawak has a lot to offer the world – fantastic natural scenery and many others including the famous Rainforest World Music Festival. Mohd Ali said this was the first time the two governments were working together. I hope this will not be the last but open the way to many more joint ventures between the two states.”