Friday, April 21, 2006

Sabah Government bodies urged to venture into tourism

STATE Government agencies with strong financial standing have been urged to venture into the hotel and hospitality sector via either equity participation or direct investment to help address the problem of insufficient rooms to meet tourism demand.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said he agreed with Datuk Mohd Lan Allani (Sulabayan) to get government-linked agencies to invest in the sector.

"In this respect, financially-strong State government agencies like Suria Capital, Sabah Credit Corporation, Yayasan Sabah, KKIP and Sedco should seriously consider the business proposal (but) without involving any funds from the Government," he said in his winding up speech.

Chong who is also Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister said at the moment Yayasan Sabah and Sedco had successfully ventured into the hotel industry, namely, Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, respectively.

"The Ministry always encourages smart-partnerships between local and foreign investors interested to invest in the hotel sector," he said.

He also said the State Government has, thus far, no plan to develop the former Mamut copper mine in Ranau for tourism, but that his Ministry had submitted an application for funds to rehabilitate the site from the Federal Government under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

In allaying Kundasang Assemblyman, Dr Joachim Gunsalam's fears, Chong said the State Government through Sabah Parks had allocated about RM774,000 to upgrade the sewerage system from Gunting Lagadan to Layang-Layang in Mt Kinabalu, which had already been completed.

Under the second phase of the project, works would be carried out to upgrade the sewerage system from Layang-Layang to Timpohon Gate.

It would commence soon after the new rest house and restaurant in Layang-Layang is completed, he said. Under the second phase, the public toilets along the climb trail would be connected to the main pipe to the environment-friendly sewerage tank down at Timpohon Gate.

He assured that Sabah Parks would continue to monitor and find solutions to any problems relating to the sewerage system in the World Heritage Site to ensure pollution does not seep into the nearby water bodies.

On studies on the Domestic Tourism Development Concept plan for the Interior under the 9MP, he said it would also include areas in Tawau, including Sebatik, which would be included to get funding in the 9MP mid-term review later.

On issues raised by assemblyman from Membakut, Klias and Kuala Penyu regarding the sea sand dredging for use in the construction of the Binsuluk/Palu-Palu road, he said:

"My officers in the Environment Protection Department had inspected the activities and found that it was operating illegally under the Land Ordinance," he said, adding the case had been referred to the Land and Survey Department for further action.

He said sand dredging in beaches was banned since it is deemed to be an environmentally-sensitive area as it acts as the buffer zone, hence there is no question of it requiring the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Source: Daily Express

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