THE Malaysian Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sabah will be further developed as an open zoo concept.
It is one of the efforts to launch Malaysia as one of the world’s premium eco-tourism destinations.
While the rainforest centre will showcase Malaysia’s wild flora and fauna, the Malaysian Marine Discovery Centre will focus on the marine species.
Total funding required is estimated at RM896mil for over a period of 10 years (2010-2020) and the bulk of it will come from private sector.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Tourism Ministry will set up the Global Biodiversity Hub (GBH) Board of Management which will comprise representatives from the federal and state governments, private sector, the academia and non-governmental organisations.
After a one-year interim period, it will be managed as a non-governmental body with federal and state government representatives participating to ensure that the policies are in line with the national objectives.
Last year, the tourism industry generated RM36.9bil in gross national income (GNI), making it the fifth largest industry after oil, gas and energy, financial services, wholesale and retail, and palm oil.
It hopes to reap RM103.6bil in GNI in 2020 and increase higher yield from not only increased tourist arrivals (24 million in 2009 to 36 million by 2020) but also the amount they spend.
The ministry targets RM168bil tourist receipts by then and this would mean that the industry will grow by three times and contribute RM3bil receipts per week by 2020.
The 12 entry point projects (EPPs) for tourism are divided into five themes that cater to different segment of tourists such as the avid shopper, nature lover, business traveller and families on vacation.
A private investor who has the land, financial resources and industry expertise has been identified for the project and will work with the Sabah state government and related federal agencies to obtain the necessary approvals before 2011.
The first phase of the development is expected to be ready by 2013.
Total investment is expected to be RM6.7bil with RM6.1bil from the private investor and the rest from the Government while the GNI is expected to be RM707mil with 7,700 jobs created by 2020.
Other EPPs include the development of a Straits Riviera, modelled after the French Riviera cruise experience, positioning Malaysia as a duty-free shopping destination and turning the Bukit Bintang area as a premier shopping precinct with seamless connectivity, establishing premium outlets in three locations and increase flight frequencies and air rights to 10 priority cities.
In order to successfully implement all the EPPs, a cumulative total of RM136.6bil (3% public and 97% private) will be required from 2011 to 2020.