Sunday, 14 April 2019

Bigger airport needed for Lahad Datu to promote tourism

Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said he would push to promote Darvel Bay, where Sabah’s very own Blue Ring is located, as Lahad Datu tourism product and called for the area to be protected. (NSTP/EDMUND SAMUNTING)

KOTA KINABALU: Lahad Datu needs a bigger airport if it hopes to see more tourists coming into this part of eastern Sabah, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi.

Noting not many tourists were visiting the district, Mohamaddin said there were a lot of things needed to be done, including the possibility of upgrading its existing airport to allow bigger aircraft to land.

"Our (Lahad Datu) airport for example can only accommodate Fokker and smaller aircraft and not Boeing. For Boeing to land, we need to construct bigger airport.

"I am thinking of a new airport so that bigger aircraft can come here and bring more tourists to Lahad Datu," he told reporters at a press conference here today.

The Silam MP was responding to a question on plans to boost visitors arrival to Lahad Datu. He, however, said the construction of bigger airport was just a plan but noted if approval was obtained, there should be no problem to get it off the ground.

Speaking further on tourism, Mohamaddin said he would push to promote Darvel Bay, where Sabah’s very own Blue Ring is located, as Lahad Datu tourism product and called for the area to be protected.

"The Blue Ring has been there for quite a long time and we only came to know about it now. It’s going to be a new attraction for tourists. I will be visiting the area and to promote it, the media have to come with me.

"In fact, we have quite a lot of tourism products such as Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Reserve, among others. So we will continuously promote Lahad Datu, Tungku, and Kunak," he said.

In 2017, local dive operator Pirate Divers discovered two large slope holes (Blue Ring) after taking an aerial photography with a drone of the Tingakyu Reef.

Sabah Parks, last month, credited Pirate Diver owner Glen Hapirulla for the discovery and called for proper planning as well as sustainable management on Darvel Bay, including gazetting it as protected marine park.

Glen, who mapped over 60 dive sites in Lahad Datu, has described the Blue Ring as diving into a ‘pail’ with its sloping surrounding decorated with patches of coral reefs and sandy bottom reaching down to 17-metre during low tide and 20-metre during high tide from the surface areas.


The area, he said, is rich in macro, particularly the nudibranchs, and suitable for novice divers as well as snorkelers.
-nst online.

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