KUDAT: The soon-to-be introduced ferry service connecting Kudat to Palawan in the southern Philippines will boost the status of Sabah’s northernmost district as the gateway to four Unesco World Heritage sites.
They are Kinabalu National Park in Sabah, Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park as well as Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan.
Kudat District Officer Sapdin Ibrahim said the ferry service would also be a catalyst for the development of tourism and benefit the agricultural, fisheries and food industries.
“With the Kudat-Palawan ferry service. Kudat can be the gateway to Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan, Indonesia.
“This ferry service will also encourage two-way travel between Sabah and the Philippines,” he said, adding the ferry could carry up to 270 passengers, 30 cars and 10 lorries.
In 2017, the number of domestic and foreign tourists to Kudat was about 182,000, compared to 128,000 the previous year, thanks to the implementation of more than 50 programmes in conjunction with Visit Kudat 2016/2017, he said.
Kudat could expect between 200,000 and 250,000 visitors this year, Sapdin added.
Kudat has an abundance of beautiful beaches and the ‘Tip of Borneo’ in Simpang Mengayau is also located here.
The Tun Mustapha Park is the largest marine park in Malaysia, covering 898,762.76ha and encompassing the waters off Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas.
Sapdin said the district office had applied for a RM15mil allocation from the government to upgrade Simpang Mengayau while the RM7mil Tun Mustapha Museum, which is under construction, would contain historical material on Kudat and independence icon Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun.
“Kudat is among the best locations for surfing in Sabah. We are ready to receive visitors and have about 500 hotel rooms, homestays and chalets,” he said.
Sapdin said tourism would receive a further boost with the construction of the Pan Borneo coastal highway project from Tuaran to Simpang Mengayau to be built next year, and the proposed airport in Sikuati. – Bernama