MERSING, JOHOR, 21 AUGUST 2016: Tourists holidaying in Mersing and its coastal islands will soon experience the ease of a new, one-stop information and service centre at Pulau Besar – the ‘Pusat Informasi dan Perkhidmatan Taman Laut Sultan Iskandar’ (PIPTLSI). Visitors of PIPTLSI will not only get to learn more about the beauty and local folklore of the islands within the Iskandar Royal Marine Park but will also enjoy the convenience of a wide variety of public amenities.
In line with the ‘Rainforest to Reef (R2R)’ concept, the soon to be built one stop centre will also function as a Rural Transformation Centre (RTC) for Mersing’s group of islands, offering a variety of public services and facilities under one roof such as an information counter, exhibition centre, surau, clinic, police station and a cafeteria overlooking the clear blue waters of this tropical paradise. In addition, the locals will be able to access services offered by government agencies at the RTC including the Mersing District Council and Southern Region Marine Department.
“PIPTLSI and the building of new infrastructure reflect our firm commitment towards developing Mersing into a regional hub for tourism. Mersing and its surrounding islands are well-positioned to become a great eco-tourism attraction, in accordance with the ‘Rainforest to Reef (R2R)’ concept. The R2R concept 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,” said Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John, Chief Executive Officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).
“Moreover, the PIPTLSI will provide us the platform to showcase the stories on island lifestyles, local legends and folklore to add to the mystic nature of Mersing and its magnificent islands as a holiday destination,” he added.
The PIPTLSI project implementation was launched today by His Royal Highness the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar as part of HRH’s two-day “Kembara Mahkota Johor Jelajah Pulau-Pulau Daerah Mersing 2016”.
The development of PIPTLSI is part of the ECERDC and the State Government’s strategic implementation plan to transform Mersing into a premier tourist destination. The construction of PIPTLSI is expected to start in March 2017 and it is scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2018.
ECERDC is also working with the relevant government agencies through the Johor Economic Planning Unit (UPEN Johor) to build and improve basic infrastructure in Mersing and five of its surrounding islands, namely Pulau Besar, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Aur and Pulau Tinggi.
In line with sustainable tourism development, infrastructure upgrades and construction projects have been completed on three islands namely Pulau Sibu, Pulau Aur and Pulau Tinggi. For Pulau Pemanggil, the construction of a new jetty is expected to begin in March 2017 while works to improve water supply will be carried out at Pulau Besar, Pulau Aur and Pulau Sibu.
On the mainland, several other projects such as the Mersing Homestay programme, development and upgrading of recreational fishing facilities at Tanjung Penyabong as well as upgrading of the road infrastructure have been carried out to not only increase accessibility for tourists, but also improve the income levels of the local and Orang Asli communities.
Some RM29 million was spent by ECERDC to upgrade infrastructure and facilities in  Mersing’s group of islands to support tourism development programmes and meet the needs of local communities.
This investment is expected to generate more than 1,710 job opportunities for the local population. Focus is also given to the human capital development of the local community to ensure that they are provided with the necessary skills and confidence to seize the growing opportunities in Mersing.
To date, more than 2,300 people from Mersing have benefited from ECERDC’s human capital programmes, namely the empower ECER and entrepreneur ECER programmes, including 1,500 students under Academic Training, 718 under the Skills and Entrepreneurship Training and 130 under entrepreneurship ECER training. Approximately 98% of them are from the B40 households.