Thursday, June 20

Tourism set to be Labuan’s economic engine

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LABUAN: Labuan is on track towards making tourism an  active generator of its economic development.

Member of Parliament for Labuan, Datuk Rozman Isli, said to increase the economic benefits of tourism, it was essential for it to adopt and implement a tourism strategy focusing on sustainable development.

“The government has approved an allocation of RM18 million to improve the tourism facilities in all the marine parks such as on Rusukan Island.

“The tourism facilities will be further improved to give better impression to both domestic and foreign tourists to ensure they will return in the future.

“Otherwise, we might face difficulties and need to do ‘repair’ works,” he said at the closing of the Natural Tourist Guide Course (Level 2) Labuan yesterday.

He said the annual tourism programme, Remembrance Day, a memorial day to commemorate the sacrifices of the First World War armed forces, would be celebrated historically and joyfully with participants from participating countries such as the United States and local hoteliers and eateries.

“We need to accelerate our domestic economy after the slump in global oil prices that led to the slowdown in the oil and gas sector.

“Local traders are badly hit with more than 10,000 oil and gas workers with their families having left the island, and there are hotels ceasing operations.

“We need a sustainable development to stimulate our economy and create employment opportunities for the locals,” he said.

Rozman who is also the Labuan Corporation chairman said a number of investors had submitted proposals to the corporation and top government leaders for future investment especially relating to a marine park on Kuraman Island and other prime areas including sea reclamation areas near the downtown area.

“We are not in a dilemma despite receiving these proposals. We are still studying every proposal before making any decision.

“Of course, we would like to preserve our marine parks in the interest of the tourism industry in the long run,” he said.

Rozman said the proposed projects around the island were estimated to be worth over RM1 billion, which included the construction of commercial buildings with modern facilities and yacht.

One of the proposals, he said, was from former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who owns Kuraman Island.

To transform the island’s development landscape, several projects were on the cards such as waterfront development, hotel with mall and coastal road to improve connectivity, he said.

“Labuan boasts of exceptionally diverse and preserved natural and cultural  tourism potential and these are valuable assets that must be maintained and  protected so that it can contribute to the development of tourism in the long term.

“Traditionally, Labuan is a tourism oriented island, hence, the sector needs to become one of the basic generators of development,” he added. — Bernama