KOTA BHARU, KELANTAN, 3 OCTOBER 2017: The district of Mersing in Johor, is being transformed into a tourism gateway to its beautiful and picturesque islands and rainforest following the high-impact public infrastructure projects implemented by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) in partnership with the Johor State Government.
The recent launch of Mersing Harbour Centre, an integrated small and medium enterprise (SME) and tourism complex by His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Ismail ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj, the Sultan of Johor, is now operational where tourists can get a taste of local delicacies as well as shop for handicrafts unique to this district. The one-stop centre also has essential amenities for the public such as parking lots, an information counter, an exhibition hall, a surau, a children’s playground and other facilities. The centre has provided an opportunity to more than 50 local entrepreneurs to establish their business and they in turn have created close to 80 jobs for the locals.
“Mersing has great potential to become a premier regional tourism destination. It is an ideal destination for tourists to explore the local culture, its food, handicrafts and other recreational activities. Our efforts to boost tourism in Mersing leverage on its unique environment assets based on the ‘Rainforest to Reef’ (R2R) development strategy, which seamlessly links all products, assets and development from the Endau-Rompin National Park to the world-class beaches, islands and reefs of the coast of Mersing. We envisaged that the spillover benefits from the growth of the tourism sector will help create more employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the local community, which will in turn improve the livelihood of the Rakyat,” said YBhg. Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC after the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) Johor meeting today. The meeting was chaired by Johor Menteri Besar, YAB Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Bin Nordin at his office in Kota Iskandar.
ECERDC has also been working closely with the Johor State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN Johor) to carry out infrastructure projects in Mersing and its surrounding islands namely, Pulau Besar, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Aur and Pulau Tinggi, further solidifying Mersing’s position as a regional tourism destination. In fact, through ECERDC, the Government had allocated RM30 million for the implementation of infrastructure projects, including the upgrading of amenities such as boardwalks and mosques as well as utility works in the islands of Mersing.
Ongoing projects to boost Mersing as a premier tourism destination include the Pusat Informasi dan Perkhidmatan Taman Laut Sultan Iskandar (PIPTLSI) in Pulau Besar, the construction of a new jetty in Pulau Pemanggil and improvement of water supply in Mersing’s islands. Meanwhile the Kampungstay Air Papan project at Pantai Teluk Buih will benefit local homestay operators through hospitality trainings particularly on good management, local ownership and a variety of related activities. Once completed, these projects are expected to further enhance visitors’ “Rainforest to Reef” experience when exploring the various tourist attractions in Mersing and the surrounding areas.
To further boost tourist arrivals in Mersing, plans have also been put in place to introduce several distinctive tourism events such as the Mersing International Fly Fest 2017 and the Mersing Monsoon Rugby Challenge 2017 this year.
As of August 2017, Mersing has received a total investment of RM1.6 billion and created more than 1,710 job opportunities for the Rakyat. The tourism sector makes up 63% or RM1 billion of the total investments in Mersing.
Meanwhile, the development of the agribusiness sector in Mersing has been earmarked as another driver of the district’s socio-economic growth through key projects such as the “Dairy Valley” in Jemaluang, which will replicate the success of ECERDC’s Muadzam Shah Cattle Research and Innovation Centre. The project is expected to produce 4 million liters of fresh milk by 2021 and create 60 new job opportunities that will benefit the locals, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for the satellite farmers. The Endau-Mersing Fish Processing Park is another initiative under the 11th Malaysia Plan which is expected to create more jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities particularly for the 3,000 locals who are involved in Mersing’s fisheries industry.
ECERDC has also rolled out a series of human capital development programmes to upskill the local community particularly those from the Below 40 (B40) income group. On the whole, 3,288 people from the district of Mersing have participated in ECERDC’s programmes. Under the empower ECER programme, more than 2,400 students have attended the Academic Training programme while 600 adults have participated in the Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme, with 97% of these participants from the B40 community. Meanwhile, a total of 288 micro, small and medium entrepreneurs have benefited from the entrepreneur ECER initiative which is implemented in partnership with SIRIM, Agrobank, and Maybank.
“The holistic transformation in Mersing have brought about positive impact to the Rakyat especially in terms of developing the local talent and uplifting the livelihood of the Rakyat. In this regard, we are working towards reviewing our current strategy for the ECER including Mersing which will be unveiled next year. This is aimed at sustaining the socio-economic growth of the Region in line with the National Transformation Agenda,” concluded Datuk Seri Issace.