Ahmad Said (centre) officiating the Kenyir Festival 2014 in Pangkalan Gawi.
KUALA BERANG: One of the many waterfalls in Tasik Kenyir, which is being promoted by Terengganu as a major tourist attraction and duty-free area, is to be reserved for women only.
The people handling boats going to that waterfall as well as security personnel for the area would all be women, said state Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said.
This arrangement was being made in meeting a special request from women tourists from West Asia, he told reporters after launching the month-long Kenyir Festival 2014 which will be on until May 29 at Pengkalan Gawi at the lake.
Ahmad said the specially-designated area was one of the Terengganu government's efforts to promote the lake as a unique international tourist attraction.
From September next year, Tasik Kenyir will also be the first duty-free lake in the world.
Ahmad said the government had thus far spent about RM300 million to develop the lake into a tourism attraction and duty-free area.
He said projects already completed included providing electricity to the Pulau Bayas duty-free site by extending the cables a further 22km at a cost of RM33mil.
Several islands in the lake area had also been developed and work was now in progress to build the main jetty on Pulau Bayas at a cost of RM70mil.
He also said that construction of a network of shops, facilities for Indah Water Konsortium, a water tank and the Customs complex was about 75% completed.
Ahmad said work on a new four-lane bridge, which would become the main link between Pengkalan Gawi and Pulau Poh Besar would begin soon.
He said the island, which covers about 40 hectares, would also get two jetties, one for passengers and another for cargo.
"We will build a hotel, a water recreation park and a 1,000-bay car park as Pengkalan Gawi does not have a large space for parking," he said.
On the Kenyir Elephant Village, Ahmad said it would be managed by the private sector and was due to open to the public on May 9.
He said the village now had nine tame elephants while there were 14 wild elephants in the surrounding area.
Ahmad said the village would feature tree-top chalets, a suspension bridge and a perimeter lookout point.
He said the area would be very attractive with its waterfalls, and tourists who stayed in the chalets would get to see the elephants wandering in the area.
"I am confident that Tasik Kenyir can draw the tourists and become a choice tourist destination in the future," he said.
The Terengganu government, through Ketengah, is targeting about 500,000 tourists to the largest artificial lake in Southeast Asia, sprawled over 260 sq km, with 340 man-made islands.
Last year, the lake attracted about 400,000 tourists.