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Boosting rural tourism in Borneo

By Sharon Ling

KUCHING - The upgrading of the Pan-Borneo Highway and road signs, and promotion of holiday packages by land transportation companies will help boost rural tourism in the State.

Tourism Minister Dato Sri Abang Haji Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg said the importance of land transport in promoting tourism in rural areas should not be discounted.

Towards this end, his ministry has allocated half a million ringgit to the Public Works Department (JKR) to upgrade road signs along the Pan-Borneo Highway in line with international standards.

"We have given the green light to JKR to upgrade the signage. At the moment, some of the road signs along the highway are not up to standard and can be quite misleading, especially to foreign tourists.

"The improved signage will be based on international standards, such as green colour for highways and brown for national parks. This will facilitate travel along the Pan-Borneo Highway," he said when launching Biaramas Express Sdn Bhd's official website and holiday package here yesterday.

Johari added that the final stretch of the Pan-Borneo Highway to be upgraded - from Spaoh to Sebangkoi - would hopefully be completed by the end of this year or early next year.

In addition, the Federal government had approved the construction of a road linking Sungai Tujuh at the Sarawak-Brunei border with Limbang, Lawas and Sabah.

He also said the Tourism Minis-try would build rest and restaurant (R&R) stops along the highway, adding that RM10 million had been allocated for this purpose.

Congratulating Biaramas for coming up with its "Cuticuti Sarawak" holiday package, Johari called on the private sector to be innovative in creating value-added products for tourism.

He also urged bus companies to ensure that the maintenance and quality of their vehicles were not below par.

On the possible effects of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on the coming Gawai festivity, Johari said it would not likely be affected by the syndrome as the Gawai tourism event was organised for domestic tourism.

He added that Sarawakians working abroad should not be discouraged from returning home to celebrate Gawai but would have to put up with screening at airports if they came from SARS-affected areas, such as Singapore.

Meanwhile, Biaramas director and general manager Henry Lai said the company's holiday package was targetted at domestic and foreign tourists who wanted to travel within Sarawak.

Priced from RM96, the package includes return bus fare, hotel accommodation and transfers from bus terminals to hotels.

Passengers can obtain information on routes, fares and timetables from its website at

Source: Sarawak Tribune

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