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More recreational and ecotourism facilities are in store for Lahad Datu in line with the fast development pace taking place in this east coast district of Sabah, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said.

Apart from meeting an increasing demand for such facilities, Musa said it would also bring about benefits to the conservation areas in the district.

“Tourism sector is the second largest contributor to Malaysia’s economic growth after petroleum, therefore, it could not be denied that this sector could generate income to stimulate the state’s economic growth.

“It is for this reason that the state government approved RM4.2 million to develop Mount Silam,” he said in his speech at the launch of Menara Kayangan Lahad Datu (Lahad Datu Tower of Heaven) at Mount Silam, here yesterday.

His text of speech was read by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Musa said that the facility would complement existing ecotourism attractions in the east coast of Sabah such as Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Sanctuary.

According to the Chief Minister, the tower is appropriate for recreational activities as it is located inside a forest ecosystem that is free from environmental pollution.

“I am also confident that this area has the potential to be one of the unique tourist destinations,” he added.

Meanwhile, State Forestry Director Datuk Sam Mannan in his speech said that Lahad Datu had proven that development does not necessarily mean environmental degradation.

He said Lahad Datu is one of the rapid developed districts in Sabah, yet still rich with natural resources. It also has the biggest area of forest reserves and all are protected forests and not opened for logging.

“We should be grateful as all the forest areas are reserves for conservation and people’s interest and able to be used for research, tourism, education and others,” he added.

Masidi said at a press conference later that the state government would strive to accelerate the establishment of a tourist information centre in Lahad Datu to promote the district as one of the important tourism destinations in Sabah.

“The establishment of the tourist information centre is seen as a need to provide information to tourists as many tourists visit this district without using travel agents,” he said.

Masidi added that he would recommend to the Chief Minister in the next Cabinet meeting on the fund to set up the information centre and hoped that the allocation would be released in the mid-term review of the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Also present were Deputy State Secretary (Administration) Datuk Maznah Abdul Ghani, Tabin Wildlife Holidays Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Yusoff Datuk Haji Mohd Kasim, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur, Kunak assemblyman Datuk Nilwan Kabang and State Forestry deputy director Fidelis Edwin Bajau.

Source: Borneo Post (by Azmie Lim)

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