PENGERANG: The state’s latest international entry point in Desaru is about 95% completed and is expected to be ready by July this year.
Desaru Development Holdings One Sdn Bhd managing director and chief executive officer Roslina Arbak said this would be the only Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in south-eastern Johor.
“We are supposed to connect with a ferry terminal in Singapore. As an international entry point to the country, the new ferry terminal will allow guests from Changi Airport to be brought here directly.
“However as the borders with Singapore are still not open, my team will be looking at other options including local excursions, day trips around the east coast, island-hopping, sea activities and even yacht cruises, ” she said in an interview.
Desaru Development Holding One Sdn Bhd, the master developer of Desaru Coast, owns and manages the ferry terminal.
Presently, there are 16 entry points via land, sea and air into Johor.
On the development of the ferry terminal, she said the terminal was designed to handle about 300 passengers at any one time.
Roslina added that besides Singapore, they also hoped to connect with Indonesian islands such as Bintan and Batam once borders reopen.
She said the ferry terminal would have huge spin-offs for the local economy, especially with regards to employment and business opportunities such as car rental services, food and beverages, and even tour guides.
Asked about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism sector in Desaru, she said like many places they too had been hit hard but were fortunate as they had support from local visitors and government sector, which organised events and meetings while adhering to the SOP.
“We are offering some good promotions and packages for our five-star hotel stays, water park and other activities which have been well received, ” she said, adding that their water theme park alone recorded some 37,000 visitors since reopening on March 11.
Roslina said adherence to SOP was paramount, including limiting the number of daily visitors to the water theme park from 5,000 people to 2,000 at any one time.
“Although it has been a difficult time for the tourism sector, we continue to apply the highest standard of health and safety measures here, ” she said, adding that none of its 1,200 staff, mostly Johoreans, working on its various properties in the area, had been laid off.
She hoped that the government would recognise those in the tourism and hospitality sector as “economic frontliners” and vaccines would be made available to them soon too.
Desaru coast spans over 1,578ha along a 17km unspoiled beachfront.
Johor Public Transportation Corporation chief operating officer Fadzil Abdul Hamid said that Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal would be the state’s ninth international ferry terminal.
“The border closure has adversely affected our ferry terminals with only the one in Stulang and Pasir Gudang operating at the moment, ” he said, adding that the other terminals were in Muar, Batu Pahat, Tanjung Pengelih, Puteri Harbour, Pontian and Tanjung Belungkur.
He said that besides Singapore, they also served at least five Indonesian islands.