Monday, July 22

‘Pandaw Cruise: Offer innovative options’

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TOURISM STRATEGY: Abang Johari, flanked by Abdul Karim (left) and Azmi, speaks at the press conference.

SIBU: Tourism industry players involved in the Pandaw Cruise are urged to come up with innovative options to replace the luxury cruise that will cease operation next month.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said he would personally meet them (players) over the matter.

“I have read about their decision (Pandaw operator) to move out, but that should not worry us too much because we can think of options,” he told the media after officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony of a new housing project, ‘Pearl Avenue’, in Sibu Jaya here yesterday.

He added: “After having found a replacement for Pandaw Cruise, we have to work out a marketing strategy. We can promote it on the website and instead of restricting it to Europeans we can target those from Peninsular Malaysia to participate in the cruise.

“Sibu is well-known for its shipbuilding industry.

“For example, an operator can take hold of an old ship, fabricate it to meet the requirement of travellers and provide good food and entertainment.”

Assistant Minister of Housing Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, HD Cam Sdn Bhd director Azmi Hashim, Daya Builders chairman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi and Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems president and chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah were among those present at the function.

Pandaw Cruise operator, Irrawaddy Flotilla, had in its November 2011 online newsletter said it would cease operation in March.

The Myanmar-based river cruise company cited low profit margin and logistical and operational difficulties for ceasing the operation.

Dubbed as a five-star floating hotel, the Pandaw Cruise on Rajang River was introduced in July 2009.

Until December last year, it has brought in more than 800 European, North American and Australian tourists who paid between RM10,270 (US$3,255) and RM15,760 (US$4,995) for a nine-day, eight-night journey along the river from Sibu to Kanowit, Song, Kapit, Pelagus, Sarikei and Tanjung Manis before returning to Sibu.