Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Turning Sarawak River into major tourist attraction

KUCHING: The Ministry of Tourism will allocate RM35 million to spruce up the Sarawak River and beautify its riverbanks stretching from the Waterfront up to BCCK.

This is part of the ministry’s three-year tourism development plan which emphasises enhancing infrastructure in Kuching and Miri, the two gateways into the state.

This was disclosed by Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg at a dialogue with tourism industry players at a leading hotel here yesterday,

With the ‘Open Sky Policy’ to be implemented in 2015, Abang Johari stressed that his ministry must tailor their plans for the industry to fully benefit from the policy.

With the three-year plan and the lead time to the open sky policy, he hoped tourism industry players, especially tour operators, would have enough time to plan their business to attract tourists from all over the world.

“The focus will be given to Sarawak River because we want to utilise our river for more activities,” the minister said citing the success of the Melaka River project as a good model to follow.

Abang Johari who is also the Minister of Housing said: “The ministry will also look into redeveloping the Malay villages along the riverbanks at the same time.”

The Sarawak river development plan will include a pedestrian bridge across the river and setting up of water taxi service to turn the waterway into a main attraction for Kuching city.

Abang Johari said the ministry would also look into developing the Heritage Trail and make the city centre more friendly for pedestrians.

The plan will improve facilities at national parks and information centres to provide better accessibility and information for visitors.

“We have identified three national parks namely Semengok, Bako and Lambir in Miri,” Abang Johari said.

On tourist guides, the minister said their knowledge must be broadened and improved.

“Our guides must be competent in telling the story of a place and our natural vegetation.”