KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has expressed its support for the proposed revival of the stalled Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) project in Kudat.
The association believes the project would benefit Sabah’s tourism industry and improve the livelihood of many in Kudat, which is currently ranked among Sabah’s poorest districts.
Matta’s national President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, stated that Kudat would experience a tourism boom if the project is revived and successfully completed.
The private-funded mega project would rejuvenate Kudat as a must-visit destination, which currently faces competition from neighbouring countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines for scarce tourist dollars post-Covid.
“The Kudat Riveria project and the Ro-Ro ferry service linking Kudat and Palawan did not materialise, thus failing to boost tourism activities there,” said Tan.
“There is nothing much to make tourists visit a place like Kudat. It is considered a stale tourist destination, and the Mazu statue will change all this for the better.”
According to Tan, Sabah would attract three categories of international and domestic tourists: eco-tourists (Sandakan), adventure tourists (Kinabalu and Sipadan), and religious tourists (Kudat).
The seafood restaurants in Kudat would cater to all these tourists, which could mean significant revenue for Sabah’s tourism industry.
Tan also cited other famous landmarks and statues that attract millions of visitors each year, such as the Wat Chayamangkalaram and the Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang, the Lord Murugan Statue in Batu Caves, the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, India, and the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro.
The Mazu project was cancelled midway by a previous government 17 years ago, but Matta believes that it may be time to revisit it, especially since Sabah needs to compete with neighbouring countries for tourist dollars post-Covid.