KOTA KINABALU: The allocation of facilitation fund for Sipadan Mangrove Resort (SMR) project in Semporna would further boost tourism activities in the district, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
Speaking at the handing over of the fund here yesterday, he said the SMR project was creating a new gateway to Sipadan Island as it offered a wide range of ecotourism features.
The resort, he added, would appeal not only to diving enthusiasts planning to visit the island, but also other market segments.
"It supports the tourist market for Sipadan Islands, and provides tourism products for higher-end consumers, drawing higher yield as aspired by the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) for the tourism industry," he said.
SMR Sdn Bhd, the developer and operator of the resort, yesterday signed an agreement with Public-Ptivate Partnership Unit (PPPU) for the disbursement of the fund amounting to RM48.98 million meant for upgrading the access road to the property.
Located along the coastal area between Tawau and Semporna and just about 30 minutes' boat ride from Sipadan and Mabul islands, SMR has been acknowledge by PPPU as a high impact project that would greatly benefit the economy of the district and the state as a whole.
Musa who is also the State Minister of Finance, said Sabah is one of the most active states in bidding for the facilitation fund and had to date successfully secured a total funding of RM459.2 million.
He said the allocation was given to six projects, namely Tawau Green Energy; the International Technology and Convention Centre in Penampang; Sabah International Convention Centre;Integrated Development of Gleaneagles Medical Centre in Kota Kinabalu; Dalit Bay Integrated Tourism resort in Tuaran;and the SMR project in Kalumpang, Tawau.
"The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Programme is regarded as one of the key initiatives to foster a win-win collaboration between the government and the private sector.
"It allows the public sector to benefit from commercialization, innovation and efficiency through investment from the private sectors in terms of skills, capital and experience," he said.
He noted SMR Sdn Bhd has realized around RM190 million for the first phase of the project so far, andwas entering the second phase of their development plan involving construction of more resorts and chalets.
Musa also expressed appreciation to the federal government under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for being supportive and attentive to the needs of Malaysians in Sabah.
He also commended PPPU for a job well done and affirmed that Sabah Economic Development Investment Authority (SEDIA), which he chaired , would render its fullest cooperation to the agency and federal government to ensure the success of the PPP programme in Sabah.
The projected total investment for the SMR project is estimated to reach about RM450 million, with SMR Sdn Bhd expected to invest another RM150 million on the next few years.
The resort is surrounded by a green belt of natural wetland reserves, with development area covering 200 acres of organic and aquaculture farm, 100 acres or resort ground, and 2,500 acres of mangrove swamp. The total number of rooms in the resort was expected to increase by at least 250 by 2015.
Source from: The Borneo Post
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