KUCHING: The Sarawak Entrepreneur Association (SEA) welcomes the proposed dredging of the Sarawak River project by the Federal and Sarawak state government.
Its president, Simon Wong, said that it would be a big boost to the local tourism industry as bigger cruise passenger ships could call on Kuching Port.
“The bigger cruise vessels will carry about 1,000 to 1,500 passengers and some of the International Mega Cruise will carry more than 5,000 tourists per trip. The route will be from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to Kuching then to Kota Kinabalu.
“At the moment, Kuching is missing out on the cruise line business because bigger ships cannot come in at all.
“While there are added costs from capital and maintenance dredging, the tourism dollar will benefit the local economy tremendously,” he said in a press statement issued yesterday.
At the moment, the cruise vessels that call on Kuching are far and few in between, not more than six times per year and only carrying about 100 to 300 tourists.
Wong was commenting on the new channel maintenance fee charged by Kuching Port Authority for maintenance dredging of the Sarawak River.
He pointed out that the extra cost of one ringgit per tonnage will give more benefits, such as increased navigation safety for cargo ships, cruise passenger ships, fishing ships with enforcement by government agencies, better risk management, increased cargo load per voyage therefore a better economy of scale, time and cost savings on vessel chartering as there is no need to wait for tide and also a spike in cruise tourist arrivals to Kuching.
“As it is now, sea connectivity to the outside world is rather restricted where, more often than not, tourists from overseas will only stop by Singapore and Kota Kinabalu only. This is a totally huge loss for the local tourist industry players as well as the state economic development,” he said, while also calling on the private sector to develop more tourism infrastructure and attractive spots to promote culture, adventure and nature tourism in Sarawak.