Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tioman's Airport Fails To Take Off

What has happened to the proposed RM150 million airport in Tioman Island as highlighted four years ago?

The new airport in Kampung Paya was supposed to take off in 2003 as soon as the environmental impact assessment (EIA) was completed.

The new airport is to help promote tourism growth in this duty free island.

Yet four years have lapsed, there is still no sign of the airport project taking off and all parties concerned are at a loss.

The project now is not only a poser to the islanders but also the Pahang state government that gave its blessing for the new airport.

"It is a Federal Government's project, we are yet to be informed of its status whether it would be implemented or not, the state government on its part has given its approval," said Deputy Menteri Besar Datuk Tan Mohd Aminuddin Ishak to Bernama.


On 27 April 2003, the Second Finance Minister at that time Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said work on the project would begin the same year as soon as the EIA report is ready.

Dr Jamaluddin said the airport would be built parallel to the coastline and its runaway can accommodate Boeing 737s.

The government even had planned to convert the current airport in Kampung Tekek as a shopping haven.

Dr Jamaluddin was quoted saying the existing airport in Kampung Tekek was no longer suitable. Currently only propeller-powered planes can land there.


"The government has agreed to replace the existing airport, it poses hazard to flights because the aircraft is actually landing on the foot of a hill.

"Thus to develop the island, it must be well connected through air, land and water. If not, we can't add value, we have to market the island, the people will ask whether the island is easily accessible," said Dr Jamaluddin.

Meanwhile the Tioman Development Board General Manager Datuk Hashim Mat Tahir also agreed that the proposed airport would serve as a catalyst to lure more tourists to the duty free island.

According to the latest statistics about 300,000 tourists made their way to the island, listed among the 10 most beautiful in the world, with 80 percent of them using the sea as their transport mode.


When asked whether the islanders are hoping the project to go on, Hashim replied: "The majority are agreeable though some opposed, like in the construction of the marina in Kampung Tekek but when it was completed they knew it benefited the tourism industry here."

In 2004, the marina worth RM40 million was strongly opposed by those who feared it would endanger the reef in the underwater park.

Meanwhile, many including the islanders want to see the project proceed knowing well it will boost tourism in the island.

A villager, Abdul Latif Salam, 45, from Kampung Mukut here is confident of more tourist arrivals with the new airport that will improve the accessibility to the island.

Berjaya Tioman Beach, Golf & Spa Resort' General Manager Gordon Koh is also confident the new airport will bring in more tourists.

Tioman was declared a duty free island effective 1 Sept 2002. With the new status, it was hoped that Tioman will be able to stand at par with Indonesia's Pulau Batam and Bintan that are wooing Singaporeans in droves.

Nevertheless, the dreams of Tioman islanders to see Boeing 737s filled with tourists land in the island remain no more than a dream.

Source : Bernama
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