Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sending Tourists by Boats to Mulu Park

KUCHING: Some tour operators have reverted to sending tourists to Mulu National Park in northern Sarawak by river in view of accessibility problems by air.

Sarawak Tourism Board's chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said tourists would take express boats from Miri to Marudi and Long Terawan, and then ride on longboats upriver to Mulu.

This is a day-long trip tourists, Europeans in particular like to travel by river and enjoy the scenery,'' she added.

Geikie said the board was encouraging tour operators to reintroduce the river travel for big tourist groups as this was one way to ease the flight problems to Mulu.

She said on the return trip, tourists would fly out of Mulu to Miri, Kuching or Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.

Tour operators and travellers have complained about unrealiable flights in and out of Mulu when Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) took over the rural air services from Malaysia Airlines six months ago.

There were frequent flight cancellations or rescheduling of flights.

In a meeting chaired by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy in Miri last week, the state authorities had repeated calls to the federal government to allow MAS to resume its rural air services.

Geikie said the Mulu National Park, a world heritage site, was worst hit as major international tour whole-salers, especially those in Europe, had either stoppped or suspended selling Sarawak and Mulu packages due to the unresolved interlining and connectivity problems.

She said tour operators who were selling culture, adventure and nature (CAN) tours were affected as about 60% of these products were located in the rural areas.

Besides the reknowed caves in Mulu, the head-hunter trail, Bario and Ba'kalalan highlands are all located in the interior northern region.

The Bario highlands, for example, is only accessible by air.

Geikie said the board would launch a 34-page supplement on Mulu at the forthcoming International Tourisme Bourse (ITB), the world's largest travel fair, in Berlin in its efforts to rejunvenate the very established tourism products in Malaysia.

Source : STAR
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