KUCHING: The proposed Santubong cable car project which was shelved for over a decade should be implemented, but it must be funded by the private sector and supported by the state government.
A tourism expert YS Chan said the project has to be led by a reputable or large corporation with abundant financial resources.
“This is so a consortium can be formed later and then able to rope in many different stakeholders, each a specialist in their own field such as accommodation, food and beverage, retail outlets for tourist products – local produce, souvenir items and so on,” he told New Sarawak Tribune today.
He was responding to remarks by Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Husain that SEDC was currently studying the proposal to see whether or not the cable car project would be feasible in terms of attracting people to visit the Damai peninsula.
“Now is the best time to plan and build when construction costs are lower and will be ready when the world economy and tourism recovers in a few years time.
“However, all projects must pass the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA). This is to ensure that degradation of the national park and local society will not happen,” he said.
He stressed there should not be any building of hotel or restaurant on the mountain top, but only providing chemical toilets and observation deck so that visitors could enjoy the panoramic view.
“In the past, state governments would open up jungles, mountains, waterfalls in the name of tourism but they were just for leisure activities with these sites turning into huge garbage dumps in no time by picnickers.
“Tourism is business and it must be profitable to be sustainable, while concessionaires are responsible for upkeep of the vicinity,” he said.
He pointed out that Damai Peninsula could be branded for all kinds of affordable outdoor adventures, where rough activities such as quad bike trails could be built outside the national park, and this would later lead to outdoor theme parks similar to Escape Penang.
“To be economically feasible, the cable car project should not be a standalone project.
“These tourist facilities must benefit the local communities which could be community-based tourism as they should not remain bystanders,” he said.
He also said the concessionaire for the cable car should be given other opportunities to build tourist facilities at the cable car station at the foothill and also along the way from Kuching.
“Having said that, the government should not be involved in business, its role is more on sustainable tourism of an area.
“Responsible tourism is shared by both public and private sectors, and tourism projects are best studied by investors,” he said.