Mersing’s Tourism and Agribusiness Sectors Set for Further Transformation, Generating More Jobs and Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Rakyat

MERSING, JOHOR, 18 APRIL 2018: The Federal Government through the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) and the Johor Government, today announced the implementation of new strategic InfraRakyat projects and human capital development programmes in Mersing, Johor, which will further accelerate the district’s socio-economic transformation by attracting more private investments thus creating new jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the Rakyat.

“Over the last decade, Mersing has experienced a remarkable socio-economic transformation, having benefited from the high-impact infrastructure projects and the ‘Rainforest to Reef (R2R)’ development strategy implemented by ECERDC in partnership with the Johor State Government. In fact, the tourism sector has now become a vital growth engine in Mersing with the district recording an 8 percent growth in tourist arrivals in 2015 and 2016. This has brought about tremendous spill-over benefits in jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the local communities, thus uplifting their livelihood significantly,” said Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, YBhg. Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John during the working visit of the Menteri Besar Johor, YAB Dato’ Mohamed Khaled Bin Nordin to ECERDC’s Mersing Projects in Tanjung Penyabong today. The Menteri Besar is also the Chairman of ECER Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) Johor.

Over the last ten years, the Federal Government through ECERDC, has allocated RM200 million for development expenditure in Mersing for the implementation of high-impact InfraRakyat projects and human capital development programmes to spur socio-economic growth in the district. Some of the completed and ongoing tourism projects include the Mersing Harbour Centre, Medan Ikan Bakar Endau-Mersing, upgrading of roads leading to Taman Negara Endau-Rompin and the InfraRakyat works on the Mersing Islands as well as the Pusat Informasi dan Perkhidmatan Taman Laut Sultan Iskandar (PIPTSLI) in Pulau Besar.

As a result of this public investment, the amount of private investments in Mersing has increased by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5 per cent between 2007 and 2017, which amounted to RM1.6 billion to date. These investment, in turn, created 1,710 new jobs for the Rakyat and 171 new business opportunities in Mersing. The Department of Statistics also recorded that Mersing’s household income grew by 33% between 2012 and 2014.

“As part of our next leap of growth for Mersing and in line with Johor’s Strategic Growth Plan, we will capitalise on the district’s solid foundation built over the decade and leverage on its natural endownments, which will bring new opportunities in the tourism and agribusiness sectors to improve the livelihood of the local communities. Moreover, Mersing’s strategic location between the ECER Special Economic Zone and the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex, two of the fastest-growing industrial nodes in the east coast, puts it in a solid position to draw on the economic spillover, which in turn will uplift the livelihood of the Rakyat through better jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities,” explained Datuk Seri Issace.

In conjunction with the working visit, YAB Dato’ Mohamed Khaled in his speech announced the following upcoming tourism and agribusiness projects for Mersing:

  • Dairy Valley in Jemaluang will replicate the success of the Anchor Company business model used for the Muadzam Shah Cattle Research and Innovation Centre in Pahang. Once operational, the Dairy Valley project is expected to produce four million litres of fresh milk by 2021 and create 60 new jobs for the locals as well as business opportunities for satellite farmers. The project will be driven by the private sector, involving the development of a commercial dairy farm on a 275-hectare area in Sungai Ambat, Jemaluang, which will be complemented with agro-tourism activities.
  • Endau-Mersing Fish Processing Park. An initiative implemented under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the Endau-Mersing Fish Processing Park focuses on the production of fish balls, otoshimi, fish crackers and other marine-based products. It will be fully equipped with the necessary infrastructure and support services such as cold room and ice factory. Once completed, the park will improve product quality in accordance to international food safety and traceability requirements, which will benefit more than 3,000 people involved in Mersing’s fisheries industries. The project will involve a total cost of RM26.5 million, with an initial allocation of RM3 million this year through ECERDC for the infrastructure works.
  • The Kampungstay Tourism in Air Papan involves the construction of chalets and upgrading of homes, which will enable the local home owners to earn an income from tourists via Kampungstay while at the same time offer other tourism related services including as tour guides. Skills and entrepreneurship training via the empower ECER programme will also be provided to the local participants. A total of RM15 million has been allocated to transform this traditional homestay programme to a community-based tourism offering.
  • The Sungai Jemaluang Jetty will be upgraded and works are expected to commence in 2018. With an allocation of RM1 million, this is expected to further promote tourism activities in Mersing and provide more convenience for the local population, particularly the local fishermen.
  • The Tanjung Penyabong Tourism Development is not just a project for tourism but it is also expected to boost the income levels of the local community, including fishermen, via the seafood stalls complex and a handicraft centre, which in turn will open up 23 jobs and 15 entrepreneurial opportunities for the Rakyat. The project, including the jetty upgrading works, is expected to be completed by 2019. Construction works for this project have already started since 2017.
  • The Rest and Relax (R&R) in Simpang Tenggaroh will be upgraded with an allocation of RM1.5 million to accommodate the growing demands of traffic passing through the town and provide travellers greater convenience, at the same time create entrepreneurial opportunities for the locals in Tenggaroh.
  • Street lights will be installed between Persimpangan Tenggaroh and Tanjung Leman with an allocation of RM1.18 million. This is part of the Government’s efforts to enhance road safety for the benefit of local communities including the FELDA settlers in Tenggaroh. Tourists visiting Mersing’s islands will also enjoy added convenience as the road serves as an important access to Pulau Sibu in Taman Laut Sultan Iskandar through the passenger jetty in Tanjung Leman.

At the event, YAB Menteri Besar, Dato’ Mohamed Khaled Bin Nordin also presented certificates of recognition to students who have participated in ECERDC’s empower ECER Academic Training programme and succeeded in their PT3 and SPM examinations. The local entrepreneurs under the empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Programme as well as the entrepreneur ECER who have transformed their livelihood were also celebrated for their persistence and desire for change.

“At ECER, we firmly believe in developing the Region in a holistic and inclusive manner. Given the immense impact of the programmes and projects to date, we will continue to implement these efforts especially those that are aimed at enhancing the workers’ productivity for agribusiness and tourism-related industries, enabling more Rakyat to benefit from the socio-economic transformation that the Government is delivering in Mersing,” concluded Datuk Seri Issace.

In this regard, ECERDC’s projects and programmes have directly and indirectly benefited 27,524 Rakyat in Mersing, of which 97 per cent are from the Below 40 (B40) income group. Human Capital Development Programmes were also implemented by to upskill the locals in which 4,788 people have participated and benefited from ECERDC’s inclusive programmes including 2,400 students under the empower ECER Academic Training arm. These students recorded a 77% increase in academic performance while 97% of the 600 individuals under the Skills and Entrepreneurship Training arm have become entrepreneurs after graduating from the programme.

Recently, the Prime Minister, YAB Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who is ECERDC Chairman announced the inclusion of Segamat, Johor into the ECER. This is expected to not only boost the district’s economic development but will also further complement Segamat’s economic ties with Mersing. The inclusion of Segamat is also a testimony of ECER’s success over the last decade in transforming the region’s socio-economy.