Friday, October 01, 2010

It's duty-free at Tasik Kenyir

Tasik Kenyir has been accorded duty-free status, joining the ranks of the islands of Labuan, Langkawi and Tioman.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said said the state government's application for duty-free status had been approved by the Finance Ministry, which had informed them of the decision last week. He said with this, the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia would now be developed as a premier eco-tourism destination.

Ahmad, since taking over as menteri besar two years ago, has been aggressively promoting Tasik Kenyir as an alternative to Terengganu's famed Perhentian, Redang and Kapas islands.
Ahmad thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for approving the state's request. "We reapplied for the duty-free status some four months ago and I've been trying to convince the prime minister since then that Kenyir has the potential to be a top tourist destination."

Kenyir was created in 1985 by the damming of Sungai Kenyir to create the Sultan Mahmud Power Station. The lake covers 260 sq km and contains 340 small islands, once the tops of hills and highlands, more than 14 waterfalls, numerous rapids and rivers.

However, other than fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers, the area had not been aggressively promoted until the past few years.

Ahmad said plans for a duty-free complex, to be situated in Pulau Bayas, would begin soon and was expected to be completed next year. The state government has already set aside an initial budget of RM100 million for basic infrastructure and amenities such as electricity supply, communications and jetties.

The integrated development plan include the development of five-star, four-star and three-star resorts on some of the 340 islands in Kenyir. Others include a cable car ride from Pengkalan Gawi, houseboat cruises, water theme parks and golf courses. All these were expected to be operational by April 2012, said Ahmad.

"Kenyir has been neglected for almost 30 years. It is time the people got to know of its natural wonder. Making Kenyir duty-free will help boost tourist arrivals and receipts,"

Terengganu recorded almost 3.5 million tourist arrivals for the past two years, although many head to the islands, which the state government fear would end up damaging their precious coral reefs. This has forced the state government to only allow luxury resorts on the islands in the future, and to promote other nature-based destinations such as Kenyir.

Source : NST

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