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Borneo, Sarawak, Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Sarawak Economy, Sarawak Tourism

Bakun islands to become tourist attraction

DID you know that more than 20 islands were created as a result of the Bakun Dam’s impoundment?

Well it turns out that over 10 of them will be permanent features and they will have the potential to become tourist attractions. Who would have thought?

The Batang Ai Dam has been a tourism draw for quite a while now. There is the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, which offers luxury accommodation and the longhouses in the area also offer tourists accommodation and tour packages.

Dam tourism is not a new concept overseas either. In the US, the Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction! The Bureau of Reclamation has conducted tours through the Hoover Dam and powerplant since 1937, attracting nearly one million tourists annually.

They actually have three options — Power Plant Tour, Dam Tour and Visitor Centre Admission.

The full Hoover Dam Tour includes a one-hour guided tour and admission to the Visitor Center, Power Plant and Dam Passageways. This is fascinating stuff because visitors also get to see eight of the dam’s 17 huge generators and tunnels to explore rarely seen areas of the dam itself.

Lake Mead, which is known as the Hoover Dam’s scenic by-product, offers opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, camping, exploring the desert or just sightseeing.

Tourism websites describe the lake as a “vision of a bright blue sea in the midst of a stark barren desert landscape” that is quite startling and beautiful.

Visitors can rent fishing boats, speedboats or houseboats at several locations on Lake Mead and on Lake Mohave. There is even an old-time paddlewheel steamboat that offers tours of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead or dinner dance cruises on the lake.

Here’s the kicker. Lake Mead attracts over 10 million visitors every year!

Now surely we can learn many lessons from Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam on how to develop Bakun’s tourism potential.

Imagine the economic benefits it would bring locals as well as those in the surrounding areas. New opportunities would abound.

Steps are being taken in the right direction already as the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) is planning to build a resort in Bakun.

Also the Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce amphibious aircraft to enable air links to the area, because we all know connectivity is vital for the success of any tourist attraction.

All these plans will definitely fit in with one of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy’s (SCORE’s) growth areas — tourism.

Clear vision and concrete plans for Sarawak’s transformation. Good stuff.

The article from The Borneo Post:

Bakun islands to be tourism draw

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING: More than 20 islands created as a result of Bakun dam impoundment.

More than 10 major islands will become permanent features of the Bakun hydroelectric dam area covering an area almost the size of Singapore.

Sarawak Hidro managing director Zulkifle Osman said that more than 20 islands had been created as a result of the impoundment of the dam since Oct 13 last year.

He, however, said that when the dam had reached its maximum requirement of 228 metres, many islands would be submerged. Currently, the water level is at the 219 metre mark.

“Of course these islands have great potential to be tapped as tourism products,” Zulkifle said when contacted yesterday.

Chairman of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) who is also Assistant Minster of Tourism, Datuk Talip Zulpilip, had said that they would build a resort in Bakun dam area soon.

Minister of Tourism and Minister of Housing Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg had also said on many occasions that the state would explore the possibility of providing air linkages via amphibious planes to the Bakun dam area.

On another issue, Zulkifle said the people of Kapit were now able to travel up to Belaga by express boats, after the water level had risen to an almost normal level, after water from the dam was released through the spillway recently.

About 20,000 people have been ‘stranded’ during the dam impoundment exercise due to the low water level between Kapit and Belaga.

Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot, meanwhile, lauded SEDC’s move (to set up resort in the dam area) and hoped that the people of Belaga and Sg Asap who had been affected by the dam would not be left out but invited to become active participants of the project.

He was also optimistic that when the water level has reached the normal level, tourists would come back to Kapit to enjoy the scenery upriver especially the Pelagus Rapids.

He said that during the impoundment period almost no tourists travelled up to Kapit. If they had to go to Belaga they would take the land route from Bintulu.

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