KUCHING: Facilities at the Niah Caves near Miri will be improved to develop it into a leading tourism attraction.
Tourism, Culture, Arts, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said Niah has the potential to draw tourists, because of its historical significance.
"Human habitation at Niah was previously thought to date back 40,000 years from the utensils and turtle shells found there. But, the latest findings from New South Wales researchers indicate that humans had been staying there for 65,000 years.
"This will trigger a lot of interest when it comes to tourism, and it is something that we can showcase," he told reporters after chairing a Sarawak tourism steering committee meeting here on Wednesday (Apr 3).
Abdul Karim said a proposal will be presented to the state Cabinet within the next two months on the cost of providing trails, buggies and other facilities at Niah.
"We want to make it easier to visit the Niah Caves. The project will be fast-tracked and we hope to see the infrastructure work starting within this year," he said.
Abdul Karim also said the ministry would continue to improve tourism infrastructure and products as part of the Visit Sarawak Campaign, which was launched last Dec 31.
He also said that efforts are being made to increase air connectivity to Sarawak.
"My ministry is actively engaging with local and several airlines from China to explore the possibilities of direct flights from China. We are also working hard to realise a direct flight between Kuching and Jakarta," he said.