With domestic tourism gaining importance amid the pandemic, the East Malaysian state of Sarawak has been earmarked for a large allocation (RM52 million) to introduce new tourism products around the state and upgrade the existing infrastructure.
The federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) Nancy Shukri recently announced that Sarawak would be given a total of RM48.3 million (US$11.6 million) to fund 18 proposed tourism and cultural development projects.
Nancy, who is also the Batang Sadong MP in Sarawak, had earlier urged the state's Tourism, Arts and Culture MOTAC Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to apply for a RM100 million grant from the federal government.
Travel Weekly Asia was given a breakdown of the project’s RM103 million from the state MOTAC’s planning and development unit, with part of the financing presumably coming from the state’s coffers too.
The fund injection is expected to pave for the launch of several new attractions, including those in Santubong, a beach town situated less than an hour’s drive from Kuching.
The RM30 million Santubong Archaeological Park, set to complete in the first quarter of next year, will be home to three separate parks with significant historical sites and the Wallace Centre – said to be modelled after the famed Darwin Centre in the UK.
The latter is dedicated to the famous 19th century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace – and his assistant Ali who hailed from the area – who had published the theory of natural selection a year before Darwin.
These crop of new attractions, together with the existing Sarawak Cultural Village and the famed beaches nearby, are expected to draw more visitors for day trips or longer to the area.
About 50 minutes to the south of Kuching, the Mount Serembu project near Siniawan will house a newly opened eco-park and also a cottage built by British explorer James Brooke, who ruled as the first White Rajah of Sarawak in the mid 19th century.
Upgrading of the access roads and trails to other attractions such as the Bidayuh longhouses on the mountain will be done to improve visitors’ experiences.
Elsewhere in the state, upgrading work on the trails and facilities is also in the plan for Gunung Ngeli, which lies three hours south-east of Kuching. The mountain is the site of coal mines that operated during the British and Japanese occupation, as well as the jade-coloured Silabur Caves, which is growing in popularity among locals as a hiking destination.
The oil town of Miri, near the border to Brunei, will be getting some funding attention too. Tusan Beach, where the ‘Blue Tears’ bio-luminescence phenomenon has been observed, will see the development of facilities to the tune of RM5 million. Bakam Point, another local beach, with a waterfall nearby, will see the construction of homestay facilities and other recreational facilities (RM5 million).
Meanwhile, Miri town is allocated RM3.5 million for the Wireless Miri Walk with entertainment and food on offer. Niah Caves, as the destination's best-known attraction, will receive the massive slice of the budget to see major upgrades in its infrastructures and amenities, spanning trails, bridges and a buggy trail surrounding the national park.