Malaysia: Sarawak’s Kuching considers developing cruise port

Malaysia: Sarawak’s Kuching considers developing cruise port

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Sarawak is looking into the feasibility of developing its own deep sea ports and dedicated cruise facilities, in compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

This was based on the proposed study on the Lundu-Sematan Coastal Development Area Master Plan, said state tourism minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg.

He said cruise tourism operators had expressed interest in making Kuching as part of their itinerary but their decision to operate here was currently hindered by the limitation of the Sarawak River draught to cater for their mega cruise ships and non-availability of dedicated cruise facilities.

“It is estimated that RM360 million is required to dredge the channel to enable cruise ships of bigger size to enter the Sarawak River as, at the moment, only cruise ships of small and medium size (100-500 passenger capacity) can berth at the Kuching Port,” he added.

Abang Johari, who is also state housing minister, said this in his winding-up speech for his ministry at the state legislative assembly sitting here today. He said regionally, Penang, Selangor, Sabah and Brunei were developing and upgrading their port facilities to cater for the mega cruise ships, with cruise tourism accounting for one of the fastest-growing tourism segments in the Asia-Pacific Region which now captured 18 per cent of the global cruise market.

Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), he said, Kuching had been identified as one of the ports with potential for cruise tourism development and had the most number of cruise ship arrivals due to its close proximity to tourism attractions.

Abang Johari said Sarawak was scheduled to receive a total of 15 cruise ships, bringing in approximately 13,000 passengers and injecting RM2.3 million into the local economy this year.

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, he said, the federal government, through the tourism and culture ministry, had allocated RM55.3 million for the implementation of 58 tourism-related projects in Sarawak.

On visitor arrivals in Sarawak, he said, it had indicated a steady increase from 3.8 million in 2011 to four million last year, bringing in an estimated tourism revenue of RM5.5 billion in 2011, and RM6.2 billion last year.

About 4.2 million visitors with estimated tourism revenue at RM8 billion is expected this year.


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