I READ with interest awhile ago that Sarawak will soon introduce amphibious aircraft to serve remote areas.
The proposed routes for now are Kuching to Batang Ai, and Bintulu to Bakun.
I have to admit I find the idea rather exciting.
I’m probably admitting my age by saying that I used to love the TV series ‘Fantasy Island’, which aired in the ’70s and ’80s.
Those of you old enough to have followed the series would remember the character Tattoo ringing the tower bell and shouting, “The plane! The plane!” Those of you who aren’t, just google the series.
I always imagined riding on the amphibious aircraft, it seemed so out of this world that a plane could land on water!
Fantasy will soon become reality, for some at least, when Sarawak gets its own amphibious planes.
At present the Ministry of Tourism is planning to use them for the State’s dams, but these planes can also land on rivers. Oh and of course they can land on airstrips too, so there are many possibilities for the State.
This will of course tie in with developments under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).
It will also give the State the opportunity to develop new tourism products.
As cheesy as it sounds, I can’t wait to shout, “The plane! The plane!”
A report from Borneo Post:
Amphibious plane a la ‘Fantasy Island’ in the offing
By Georgette Tan
KUCHING: Getting to tough-to-reach rural areas such as Batang Ai and Bakun would be a breeze beginning sometime next year when the amphibious aircraft service comes into service.
Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip said destinations such as Batang Ai was ready to receive an influx of visitors as there was already a resort in place.
“When it comes to Bakun, there is no hotel there yet. We are looking at options. At this moment, we do not have anybody or group coming up with a concrete proposal,” he said at a press conference yesterday to announce the staging of ‘Sungai Bedil Food Festival 2011’ this Sunday.
He added that the flight schedules of the amphibious plane, which will connect Kuching to Batang Ai, and Bintulu to Bakun, would be finalised after taking into consideration the availability of infrastructure and related facilities at the various destinations.
“The amphibious plane service will still need to feed off on tourist traffic coming into Kuching or Bintulu. We can’t say which destination will be served first. It all depends on the demand,” he said.
Talib revealed that the state government had broached the idea about Bakun to several operators, but the distance was causing some hesitancy.
“Obviously, amphibious planes are a practical option for Bakun for the time being,” he said, adding that it would be operated either by an established airline or private operators.
Last month, Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg said that his ministry was coming up with a new strategy to push for tourism products in areas with hydroelectric dam development.
This will involve the ministry purchasing a Twin Otter equipped with floats to solve the problem of landing in Bakun.
Another report from New Sarawak Tribune:
Amphibious aircraft for dam areas?
KUCHING: The state government is looking into the possibility of using amphibious aircraft for the tourism industry in dam areas.
Minister of Tourism and Heritage Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg Johari disclosed this to reporters after attending a pre Ramadan dinner at Ristorante Beccari, Merdeka Palace Hotel here recently.
“During my next visit to Maldives I hope to see aircraft which are suitable for use in our dam areas. As I have said before, our Bakun Dam with its reservoir and catchment area as big as Singapore and Murun Dam about one third the size of the Bakun Dam can be turned into tourist attractions.
“With amphibious aircraft available, I am sure would want to visit the dams and its surrounding areas,” he said, adding that it is also one of the ways to promote the state’s forest reserves and natural environment to the tourists.
He also said that facilities in Kuching, Miri and other major towns will be upgraded to attract more tourists to the state.
“This will definitely change Sarawak landscape and boost the local as well as the national tourism industry,” he said.
Also present at the dinner were Chairman of Gegasan Abadi Sdn Bhd Kushairy Zaidel and Member of Parliament for Batang Sadong Hajah Nancy Shukri.