MIRI: Miri will take over the city tram for its tourism industry despite its failure in Kuching.
Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) had thrown in the towel for the Kuching run in the face of the high operating cost of RM250,000 annually.
Announcing this bold move, Lee Kim Shin who is Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communications and Miri City Incorporated (MCI) tourism committee chairman said the service was expected to start in March this year.
Roped in were the citys Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Datuk Sim Hock Guan as chairman of the management committee, representatives from Sarawak Bumiputera Entrepreneur Council of Miri, hoteliers, tour operators, airlines and other stakeholders.
The industry here gave the thumbs-up to the takeover of the tourist city tram from STB, giving it a year to operate on a trial basis in Miri.
STB which introduced the free tram service in Kuching in 2003 - the first of its kind in Malaysia - handed it over to Sarawak Tourists Federation (STF) in 2005 but it was returned a year later.
The catch is that all the major stakeholders, particularly hoteliers and major shopping complexes with pickup points, will have to contribute to the operational expenses, while contributions would be collected from those intending to advertise in its flyers to be distributed to tourists.
Lee said Miri Transport Company (MTC), owned by Koperasi Serbaguna Miri which operates the fleet of city buses, would provide the professional essential service and maintenance in this venture.
Yeo Yeow Sum from MTC believed the company could lower operation costs as it is in line with its nature of business. He is expected to inspect the condition of the tram in Kuching soon.
Lee called for initial contribution from STB to help this fledgling non-profit tourism service take off in Miri, in response to comments by STB marketing manager Mary Wan Mering that STF Miri, which had shown interest, has yet to confirm its sincerity as reported in The Borneo Post on Jan 16.
This is a collective responsibility from stakeholders in the tourism and related industry in Miri and we are trying it for one year before reviewing it, he said.
The proposed tram service would be only for hotel guests of major players who paid up. The route is likely to start from Marriott Resort and Spa to the old business district and shopping complexes, Miri City Fan and Saberkas and Boulevard Commercial Centres.
All the 25 stakeholders, except one, agreed on the proposed city tram service at the meeting yesterday.
Hotels currently provide their own shuttle service for guests, and this city tram service can complement this segment for leisurely visits in the city.
Those on business or official duty can make use of taxis as this tram service runs at fixed intervals only suited to those with time on their hands, he said.