Plans to expand airport

Perak looking to turn current airport into a regional hub

BATU GAJAH: A new airport may take years to be built. In the meantime, Perak hopes to transform its current airport in Ipoh into a regional hub with better facilities.

State Tourism, Industry, Investment and Corridor Development Committee chairman Loh Sze Yee (pic) said while the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport might not be able to cater to big planes like the Boeing 777, it is suitable for smaller commercial planes such as the Airbus 320.

“While the state government is excited about adding more routes, the final approval will have to come from Putrajaya,” Loh told reporters at the Silverlake Village Outlet here yesterday.

“We have had several discussions with various tourism players including from Thailand. That is why we want to suggest to the Malaysia Airport Holding Berhad to make it a regional airport focusing on routes within the Asian region.

“We hope there will be a positive response from the Federal Government soon,” he added. On June 6, Loh said the state government plans to have more direct international flights to encourage foreign tourist arrivals in conjunction with Visit Perak Year 2024.

On Oct 29, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the state government had suggested a new airport in Seri Iskandar, but the construction process would be long and tedious.

Therefore, he said, the ministry is focused on upgrading the current airport in Ipoh and had also requested Singapore’s low-cost airline Scoot to add more flights between the republic and Ipoh.

Separately, Loh said Perak’s first premium outlet, the Silverlake Village Outlet, is expected to officially open next month.

“After delays for various reasons including the pandemic, I was informed that the outlet is on track and has 60% confirmed retailers.

“The outlet had its soft launch last September where it held various festivals and received good response from visitors.

“We are happy the management has been able to give us a date. In fact, the state-level New Year Event celebration is also scheduled to be held here. So we are excited to have visitors,” he added.Loh said the outlet is the latest additional tourist attraction in Batu Gajah and the state is looking to improve the public transportation system in the town and Gopeng.

“Usually when people come to Ipoh, they only go to places within the city. Now, we want to focus on expanding the tourism culture within the greater Ipoh area such as Gopeng and Batu Gajah.

“Among the suggestions is expanding the Hop-On Hop-Off bus route for the Gopeng-Batu Gajah tourism cluster,” he said.

Loh said the outlet will also feature a dinosaur exhibition called Dinosaur Encounter with high-technology features.

“The exhibition is an anchor tenant to the outlet where it has Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Animatronics.

“It is a combination between entertainment and education suitable for schooling children and adults,” he said.

Silverlake managing director Shaik Rizal Sulaiman, who was also present, said the exhibition is run by a local company called WeGrow Global Sdn Bhd.

“This would be their latest exhibition site after the ones in the National Science Centre, Zoo Melaka, Zoo Teruntum Pahang, and Wetland Studios Putrajaya.

“Through this collaboration, we hope that it will not only boost the tourism sector but also help with the local economy through job opportunities.

“We see Dinosaur Encounter as one of the main attractions in the outlet besides shops, cafes, and restaurants,” he added.

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