By BORNEOTODAY REPORTERS
LABUAN: Having weathered the storm, the people in Labuan can look forward to better times in the year ahead, with tourism taking the lead as the top money earner.
And with the feasibility study of the Labuan-Menumbok bridge on the cards, Rozman Isli, the Labuan Member of Parliament is certain that the gloom is now all behind and that good times will return.
“It will not happen overnight unfortunately, or as fast as we all hope, but it is happening. The worse is over and we can only look to better times from now on,” he said here Sunday.
According to Rozman, who was met at the Remembrance Day service at Surrender Point here, the announcement of the feasibility study of Labuan-Menumbok bridge has also got local and foreign investors all interested in the duty-free island again.
He said that once the feasibility study is completed the government would decide on whether to give the green light to go ahead with its construction he has been given to understand that a favourable decision would be reached.
“It is not only Labuan that the federal government is looking at,” he said. “Opposite the island on the Menumbok and Kuala Penyu side, there are some fine beaches which could be developed into resorts.
“Once that happens, tourists would opt for Labuan as with the proposed bridge, it would only be a 30-minute drive to that destination, unlike two hours from Kota Kinabalu.”
“And if we seize the opportunities that would be available to Labuanites, and if we package our tourism products attractively and competitively, we would be able to capture a sizeable foreign tourist market.”
Rozman said that while debating Budget 2018 in Parliament recently, he had raised the hardships people in Labuan had experienced with the downturn in the oil & gas industry, especially job layoffs that went into the thousands.
The Labuan lawmaker said he also raised unemployment as well as squatter issues in his speech and he was given assurances that Labuan has not been forgotten.
“The oil & gas industry will rise from its setback and when that happens, our economy will grow once again, and this time it will be even better with the tourism dollars,” he added.
Rozman said he would be meeting with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdul Rahman Dahlan to get more details on the proposed feasibility study and when exactly it would start.
He said key people in Labuan’s business circles would be invited to give their input as well so that it would become a ‘people’s bridge’ as they too would have a stake in it.
Rozman said Budget 2018 has several goodies for the low and mid-class people as the government understood the tough situation caused by the higher cost of living, and aid such as BR1M would help out.
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