Kuching: A night market in the heart of Kuching is being proposed by the Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) to invigorate the city's night life, with the end of the year targeted as the date of implementation.
STF president Audrey Wan Ullok said Carpenter Street and Jalan Main Bazaar near the Kuching Waterfront had been identified as the potential night market location.
"We are preparing a working paper and will submit it to State Tourism and Heritage Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg by next month," she told Bernama today.
The STF was gathering feedback from the local council, traders and key tourism players, she said, adding that it was hoped the launch of the night market could coincide with the year-end school holidays.
The working paper would propose the setting up "halal" (permissible in Islam) and non-halal food stalls, handicraft stalls, Sarawak traditional cake or biscuits stalls, and food and drinks stalls.
"We are also proposing that cultural song and dance performances be held at the Kuching Waterfront theatre," she said, adding that the night market would benefit small traders as well.
"The night market proposal was in response to the feedback we received from locals and tourists, that Kuching City needs to come up with activities at night, especially for those who have families, to boost its tourism image," she said.
She said foreign tourists need not go far to enjoy Sarawak's signature dishes like laksa as it would be available literally at their hotel doorstep as the proposed night market location was not far from the four or five star hotels.
"Look at Jonker Street in Melaka; we think that Sarawak can emulate that and further boost our tourism industry," she said.
Audrey also expressed the concern of the tourism industry in the state on the impending increase in airport tax, saying the move would hurt the domestic tourism industry the most.
"For budget-conscious travellers, it would affect tourism as the cost of tourism packages to Sarawak would certainly be more expensive than before, especially for tourists from other states in the country," she said.
She said the government must look into the impact on the tourism industry as well as other factors, such as the cost of air travel within Malaysia, before deciding to go ahead with the hike.
On Aug 11, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the airport tax or the passenger service charge would go up, with speculation rife that it would be raised from the present RM51 to RM65 for the 39 airports managed by Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB).
The tax for the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang was also likely to be increased, from the current RM25 to RM32. - Bernama