Wednesday, July 24

Ministry eyes more govt funding to improve state’s tourism facilities under 11MP

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SARAWAK Tourism Ministry is lobbying for government funding, from both state and federal level, to upgrade tourism facilities here under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP)

Its minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg (BN-Satok), in delivering his winding-up speech at the DUN sitting here yesterday, told the august house that it had submitted request for funds to improve facilities at the state’s national parks – namely in Bako, Semenggoh, Gunung Gading and Lambir.

“New tourism products submitted under 11MP, among other things, are Wallace Discovery Centre, Brooke Dockyard Maritime Museum, Kuching Wetland Ramsar (Convention) Site, Expansion of North Yu Seng/Jalan Merpati (Tourism Belt) and Bakam Point (in) Miri,” he said.

In response to the inquiry by Ripin Lamat (BN-Lambir) on the implementation of Bakam Point, Abang Johari said the project scope had been revised to make it more tourism-related.

“The current fund of RM5 million is insufficient to cover the revised scope, which includes landing ramp to Sibuti-Miri Coral Reef catering for diving enthusiasts, amphitheatre for events, snorkelling and scuba centres, parking space, as well as elevated walkway or jetty.

“The project will include viewing tower, handicraft centre, gazebo, softscape/hardscape and signage, recreational centre, Bakat Point Administration Block, beautification along the river as well as beach and lighting system”.

“The total cost for this project is estimated at RM21.4 million. My ministry has put this project as a priority under 11MP.”

Earlier, Abang Johari – who is also Housing Minister – informed the august house that for this year, the state would expect visitor arrivals to reach the five-million mark.

“Visitor arrivals to Sarawak from January to February 2015, totalled 763,532 – an increase of eight per cent versus (the number recorded in) the same period last year.”

He said to attract visitors, his ministry had been and would be hosting various tourism events all year round, adding that the most recent one was the Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) 2015, which took place here on April 9-11.

“In complementing the ‘Year of Festivals’ campaign launched by the Tourism and Culture Malaysia Ministry (Motac), Sarawak has laid out more than 80 events on its ‘2015 Calendar of Tourism Events’.

“Apart from Aiffa, other international events in 2015 are Pesta Benak (Tidal Bore Festival) and Pesta Kaul (both in April), World Harvest Festival and Borneo Jazz Festival (both in May), World Rainforest Music Festival (August), International Dragon Boat Race and Sarawak Regatta (September) and Borneo International Kite Festival (October),” he said.

According to Abang Johari, the growth in tourism sector should be further boosted with the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway, which was launched by the prime minister in Bintulu recently.

“The highway will provide alternative mode of connectivity, enhance accessibility and mobility as well as more comfort and safety for would-be travellers, who would like to explore the vast countryside of Sarawak at their own pace.

“The Pan Borneo Highway will also serve as an important land link within the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area) member countries of Sarawak/Sabah in Malaysia, Brunei and Kalimantan (Indonesia),” he added.