Amping up Ampang’s allure

The Pandan Perdana Lake is a recreational site MPAJ plans to capitalise on to draw visitors to Ampang Jaya.

AMPANG’S various eco-tourism products are set to draw more visitors to the east of Selangor with the setting up of a tourism task force by the local council.

Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) president Mohd Fauzi Mohd Yatim said one of the task force’s aims was to find ways to harness and capitalise on the tourism products Ampang has to offer.

“The tourism sector in the MPAJ administrative area needs to be developed as it will be an economic resource for the surrounding population.

“The establishment of this committee is also in line with the council’s initiative to empower tourism in Ampang through our slogan, ‘Nak ke mana tu? Singgahlah Ampang dulu’ (which translates to ‘Where do you want to go? Stop by Ampang first’),” he said.

For the first phase, the council is seeking to further strengthen attractions such as the Kampung Kemensah waterfalls, Gombak-Hulu Langat (GHL) Geopark, Pandan Perdana Lake, Zoo Negara and Lorong Ampang Mampan murals in the Jalan Memanda commercial district.

Also in the plans are conservation and upgrading works as well as providing tourism facilities at key gathering locations such as lookout points in Bukit Antarabangsa, Bukit Ampang and Bukit Saga.

An action plan would be drawn up before implementing programmes relevant to each committee that had been set up, Mohd Fauzi said.

MPAJ’s Tourism Task Force is chaired by the president, with the secretary, various heads of departments and units as well as councillors sitting on the committee.

One of major issues to be handled by the task force’s is legalising campsite and homestay operators in Ampang Jaya.

This follows a move by the Selangor government to regulate all camping and glamping activities in the state following the Batang Kali landslide on Dec 16 last year.

Mohd Fauzi said a rough census revealed that there were some 20 campsite and recreational site operators within MPAJ’s jurisdiction.

“The council is also in the process of legalising chalets and sports recreation sites along Kampung Kemensah in Hulu Kelang.

“MPAJ will refer to the guidelines that will be presented by Selangor government for the implementation of the exercise as well as examine the survey plan to identify the building structures involved that are located on individual or government land,” he said.

Selangor local government committee chairman Ng Sze Han had previously said that a survey plan, which must be obtained from a licensed surveyor, would indicate the exact location and geographical condition of the area.

This is necessary for the authorities to determine if the site is suitable for camping before issuing any approval.

The first step is for campsite owners to register with their local councils who will also issue the guidelines.

The survey plan must be submitted at the time of registration.

At present, the state’s local councils are in the process of calling on operators to register before the March 31 deadline.

Mohd Fauzi added that further discussions would be held with the owner and relevant technical agencies such as Selangor Drainage and Irrigation Department, Gombak Land and District Office, Selangor Water Management Authority and Selangor Forestry Department.

Maximising geopark status

Seeking to increase its tourism revenue, MPAJ hopes to bring in tourists to the area with the recent recognition of the state’s first unified national geopark – the GHL Geopark.

The recognition is given to geosites that are of global, regional and national importance, with an emphasis on sustainable development and preservation of natural resources, local history and culture.

MPAJ, Mohd Fauzi said, intended to set up a geopark gallery at MPAJ Community Hall as a promotional tool.

“The GHL Geopark management body, with MPAJ, will try to identify a suitable geotrail for visitors to safely enjoy.

“At the moment, Bukit Tabur, which used to be a popular hiking spot, is off-limits because of safety concerns,” he said.

Bukit Tabur makes up a part of the Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge, the longest pure quartz dyke in the world.

GHL Geopark was formally recognised on Nov 14, 2022 and some 31 geosites make up the 112,955ha geopark.

However, only 20 of these geosites will be actively promoted.

It stretches from Gombak to part of Hulu Langat district, involving the Ampang Jaya, Selayang and Kajang municipal councils.

Stakeholder inclusion

Taman Melawati Residents Association chairman Azhari Abd Taharim said stakeholder involvement was an important component of any sustainable tourism effort.

“There needs to be increased awareness and proper management of tourism activities.

“For example, Bukit Tabur used to be a popular hiking area but many were not aware they needed permission to enter from the forestry department.

“Despite being closed to all climbing and recreational activities since 2016, there are still people who attempt to hike there,” he added.

Several years ago, residents set up a volunteer group called Reactivate Bukit Tabur, in the hopes of trying to find safe activities that can be carried out.

The group also had volunteers to stop people from encroaching into the area at the west entrance near the Klang Gates Dam in Taman Melawati.

“We have met with the district forestry office twice to offer feedback and suggestions but have not received a response.

“But perhaps this can be taken into consideration by MPAJ’s Tourism Task Force,” Azhari said.

Noina Baharuddin, one of the coordinators of community group Ampang Jaya (AJ) Rimba Collective, urged MPAJ to ensure proper safeguards were in place to protect environmentally sensitive areas.

“Some areas in Ampang Jaya are classified as a disaster and hazard risk.

“There should be strict adherence to the local plan, including following limitations on land use and conditions stipulated in the plan.

“Most importantly, there should be enforcement as it concerns environmental and safety issues,” she said.

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