Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bintulu Promenade

GLORIOUS: Beautiful sunset from the promenade.

SERENE: The Parkcity Everly Hotel as a background to the promenade.

FAMILY GATHERING: Some residents bring the families for outing at the promenade during the weekend.

ANGLING SPOT: Quiet place for fishing and relaxing.

RECREATION: A youth skateboarding at the promenade.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bintulu’s longest walkway by the sea

MODERN TRADEMARK: Beautiful landscaping at the Bintulu Promenade, said to be the longest waterfront in the state.

THE Bintulu Promenade, sprawled on a 120-acre site, is presently the longest waterfront to be built in the state.

Developed by Sarawak Land (Kemena Park) Sdn Bhd, it is a commercial and recreational park rolled into and strategically located near the delta of Kemena River and close to the Parkcity Everly Hotel.

It is also the latest popular spot for Bintulu residents to visit and relax with friends and the family members.

Most people go there during the weekends to watch the beautiful sunset and enjoy the evening breeze.

Derosita Chok Mung Na, 26, who visited Bintulu recently, said: “Personally, I think tourists, rather than locals, will find the promenade a nice place to visit -- especially those from countries like the America or Europe staying at nearby hotels. But for pensioners, local or foreign, they will certainly enjoy the scenery and the serenity.”

Asked further for her views of the promenade as a Sarawakian who resides outside Bintulu, she said it looked bare most of the time and there were no tourist attractions such as stalls, road shows or events during the festive seasons -- only the view.

“Unlike the Kuching Waterfront, opposite Main Bazaar where there are stalls and programmes most of the year, this place is so quiet,” she noted.

While agreeing that this might be due to the “newness” of the promenade, she suggested the authority concerned try emulating the Kuching Waterfront by setting up food, drink, and souvenir stalls, stages or halls for social events, proper parking, special fishing spots, benches and even chairs under canopies.

She also observed that the street lightings in the area were not bright enough to highlight the beautiful features of the landscaping at night.

“Maybe in the future, benches and a mini playground for kids will be provided to make the place more lively during the weekends.”

Since the town is facing the sea, she added, it could be developed into one of the best tourist destinations in the state and also a place for pensioners to make their second home.

“I think if there are universities here, the tourism industry will benefit because international students will come over for tertiary education,” Chor said, adding that Bintulu has the potential to be known as an exciting city.

Mulyadi Hasbullah, 25, a human resource development executive in a private company in Bintulu, believes the promenade is a good place for families and friends to hang out and unwind.

Asked if the standard of place had met his expectation, he said not quite yet because a lot of areas still needed improvement.

“I have been here twice with my friends and colleagues. The promenade provides a peaceful environment -- we can hear the waves lapping on the shore and feel breeze and see the sunset in the late afternoon,” Mulyadi said.

However, he thinks the place can be further spruced up, and for visits, he feels a good time is between afternoon and midnight.

He also suggests more lightings be installed and socialprogrammes planned to attract tourists.

The Bintulu Promenade might need time to be on par or even better than the Kuching Waterfront, according to Mulyadi who feels confident this can be achieved if the promenade is properly maintained.

“The major concerns are loafing and loitering (lepak) and vandalism which can spoil popularity and beauty of the place if there are no long-term efforts to prevent them,” he stressed.

Mulyadi said social problems in the Division would increase with development, adding that while they could not be avoided, they could be minimised.

“This is where the authority has to act,” he said, referring to incidents like fighting and even killing at the Kuching Waterfront recently.

“There is no doubt that Bintulu can be a strategic place for the tourism industry if we can highlight to the world our uniqueness and what we can offer.

“But the most important thing is that we must be able to manage our resources well. Resources can be anything from the environment, the people to law enforcement.

“If these resources are well-managed, Bintulu can become a popular tourist destination,” he said.

Mulyadi hopes Bintulu could become an industrial centre in state, referring especially to economic opportunities created the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) which he believes will promote growth and provide jobsin surrounding areas and the state.

A man in his 30s who did not want to be named when met while fishing with his two sons near the promenade, said the authorities should organise water sports to attract not only locals but also international tourists.

“We have annual events like the Bintulu Regatta but why don’t we organise small events, especially during the weekend, at this beautiful promenade. For sure, they will attract a lot of local spectators.”

He also suggested drink and food stalls be set up for the benefit of the public, especially those taking part in recreational events or competitions organised at the promenade.

On littering and vandalism, he said the people who managed the promenade should have their own enforcement personnel
to tackle such problems.

On the ‘no fishing’ restriction, he pointed out that if people couldn’t cast a line, then there was no point building the promenade in the first place.

An angler himself, he feels the Bintulu Promenade is ideal for sport fishing with nice scenery and a beautiful backdrop.

“Angling can attract visitors who may be curious to see what’s the biggest catch for the day -- if it also not allowed, then the place will remain quiet with nobody coming.”

He is confused as why fishing is not allowed at the promenade, saying if the authority does not want the place to smell of fish, it could set aside a special zone for the anglers.

But overall, he said the promenade is a beautiful and comfortable place to go for an outing, especially during weekends – apart from the Tanjung Batu beach, and hoped better facilities could be provided in the future.

Helmi Farudin, 28, a government servant when met while skateboarding with his friends at the promenade, said he was impressed with the place, adding that the people in Bintulu should be proud as it is the longest waterfront ever built in Sarawak.

He commended the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) for its foresight in building the promenade, saying it was the best thing to do since Bintulu would someday become an industrial city and need a place like the promenade for its residents to relax.

“Every project has its pros and cons. As long it has proper planning, taking into account the short and long term results, it should be fine,” he said.