Thursday, 7 November 2013

‘Camerons is still safe to visit’

It is still safe for tourists to go to Cameron Highlands, although hoteliers fear poorly planned development and rampant land clearing are harming tourism prospects.

Cheng Weng Kin, general manager of Parkland Hotels and Apartments, said hotel booking cancellations had risen up to 40% since the Oct 23 Bertam Valley flash flood.

He said this was taking a toll on the tourism sector as people feared getting caught in another flood or landslide.

“Please understand that Bertam Valley is located far away from the main tourist spots. The main road accessibility is not affected and it is safe to travel here,” he told The Star.

Cheng, who urged the Government to gazette Cameron Highlands as a tourism destination, said tourists had been flocking there in droves since accessibility improved.

However, he said even tourists noticed a rise in temperatures as land clearings were constantly taking place.

“There are always new areas being cleared. During the rainy season, we have to explain to tourists why their bath water turns the colour of teh tarik (milk tea).

“We recently installed large water filters, and we provide guests with filtered water dispensers. It’s no use using kettles now because they turn yellow after a week,” he said.

Cheng, who agreed that corruption was present in the system, said he foresaw a very bleak future for tourism in the highlands if uncontrolled development was not curbed.

Cheng also disagreed with district officer Datuk Ahmad Daud’s statement that the situation in Cameron Highlands was “under control”.

However, he said the media and NGOs were doing a good job of highlighting problems there.

He said hoteliers wanted the main road widened for better traffic management. They were also still waiting for the popular Brinchang night market along the main road to be relocated since it had caused massive traffic jams.

They were also lobbying for an end to haphazard development, which increased the risk of landslides and flash floods.

“It is ironic that although our MP is the Natural Resources and Environment Minister, no action has been taken since the elections,” he said.

“As for the district office, we have met with them and with the local council for the past two years, but no action has been taken.”


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