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Proposed Kudat-Palawan ferry service promises economic boost and tourism revival
Published on: Saturday, June 08, 2024
By: FMT, Lynelle Tham
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Proposed Kudat-Palawan ferry service promises economic boost and tourism revival
Sabah chief minister Hajiji Noor said Kudat port could serve as a berthing point for vessels sailing from southern Mindanao to Labuan. (Facebook pic)
PETALING JAYA: Tourism and business groups foresee a transformative impact on the local economy following a proposal for a ferry service between Kudat, Sabah and Palawan, Philippines.

Sabah Tourist Association president Melanie Chu said stakeholders in Kudat’s attractions, food, souvenir, and shopping sectors stand to benefit quickly.

“As Kudat will be the main point of entry and exit at the northernmost tip of Borneo and after a 4 to 5-hour ferry journey, it is most likely that visitors would stay 1 to 2 nights in Kudat,” she told FMT.

Chu said cultural and culinary experiences offered by the Rungus community, local artworks, and beaches in Kudat are expected to appeal visitors from Palawan.

“Markets such as Tamu Kudat can attract visitors to experience the vibrant atmosphere and purchase local produce, handicrafts, and traditional snacks, which are not found in Palawan and, therefore, encourage production, variety and growth of tourism-related small traders,” she said.

SME Sabah honourary president Foo Ngee Kee echoed optimism regarding the proposed ferry service, foreseeing a revitalisation of sluggish business activities in Kudat.

“As of now, trade and business activities in Kudat have been slow, localised, and reliant on limited tourist traffic,” he said.

“(The ferry service) will have a positive impact on seafood trading as well as food and beverage businesses.”

Last week, the Sabah government proposed ferry services between Kudat and Palawan in the Philippines to boost the local economy and revive barter trading.

Sabah chief minister Hajiji Noor said Kudat port will be equipped with customs and security facilities to support this initiative.

Hajiji also said that Kudat port may serve as a berthing point for vessels sailing from southern Mindanao to Labuan.

In January, transport minister Loke Siew Fook said the ferry route was a good idea as it would boost the socioeconomic prospects and the tourism sector of not just Kudat but Sabah as a whole.

Despite the promising prospects, Chu cautioned tourism operators to remain mindful of various challenges and risks associated with the ferry service.

“Potential challenge is to keep volume large enough to sustain the continuous operation in order to justify the investment to be made,” she said, adding that proper maintenance of the ferries and supporting services need to also be carried out accordingly.

Meanwhile, Foo pointed out challenges including maritime laws compliance, ferry specifications, establishing CIQ facilities, and securing funding approval.

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