Sarawak coastline a magnet for tourists

KUCHING - Sarawak's coastline can attract tourists to the state, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He said the state would embark on a new approach to city development by incorporating the environment into the plan.

"Quality living conditions will create a clean and healthy environment in the city.

"And we are looking at developing some of our coastlines into new townships with a resort city-like concept," he said at the launch of the Borneo Samariang Resort City (BSRC) at the Borneo Convention Centre here yesterday.

Cahaya Mata Sarawak, as the state's infrastructure catalyst, and Sentoria Borneo Semariang Sdn Bhd yesterday announced a research agreement with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak to do a 15-month tourism sustainability study of the Kuching Wetlands National Park.

The study will focus on wildlife, river cruise, maintenance of adjoining fishing villages and sustainability of the wetlands, which will be part of BSRC.

Taib said the state was looking into developing the Santubong and Sematan coasts into tourist attractions.

"We have beaches, caves and national parks to offer, but many of these lack tourism infrastructure. BSRC will be the first but not the last for the state.

"The spin-off effects from these projects will provide jobs for the people in the state."

Sentoria Group Berhad joint managing director Datuk Gan Kim Leong said BSRC would include 80ha of international-standard leisure and hospitality facilities and a 121ha mixed development comprising mainly affordable housing.

"This project will boost the attractiveness of Kuching as a tourist destination and create new job opportunities"

The leisure and hospitality segment of BSRC is targeted for completion within eight years. It has an estimated development value of RM73 million. The mixed property development component has an estimated development value of RM1.27 billion and will be completed over 10 years.

Located 20km from the city centre, BSRC is located near the Kuching Wetlands National Park, which was classified as a totally protected area under the Sarawak National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance 11 years ago and declared a Ramsar site eight years ago.

Known for its Irrawaddy dolphin sightings, the wetlands is the state's first and the nation's fifth Ramsar site. Cahaya Mata Sarawak group managing director Datuk Richard Curtis said the group would ensure that the resort city development played a role to support and sustain the wetlands park.