HULU TERENGGANU: The high number of visitors making stops at the Tasik Kenyir duty free area at Pengkalan Gawi has reaped up to RM1 million in sales for outlet operators.
Opened on Aug 17, its operator, Ketengah Holding Sdn Bhd, revealed operators have reported of positive returns from sales of items such as crockery, chocolates and souvenirs.
Ketengah general manager Omar Ismail said things were moving fast at the duty free zone since it was gazetted in January covering 65,650ha including all 339 islands under Ketengah or Central Terengganu Development Authority.
Omar said last year, it had similar sales but the returns were way below expectations as there was little choice of items for visitors to buy.
“The main duty free area at Pulau Bayas is nearing completion and the success of the duty free outlets at Pengkalan Gawi will push for early completion of some of the projects. Tasik Kenyir will offer a different kind of shopping experience,” he said.
Omar said Ketengah was looking at developments in Tasik Kenyir beyond its duty free attractions but also at the creation of economic opportunities for the villagers along several routes leading to the man-made lake which is almost the size of Singapore.
There are four routes leading to Tasik Kenyir namely Kuala Berang-Jeneris, Sungai Tong, Langkap and Aring in Kelantan.
He said the RM100 million resort at Pulau Poh when completed by the end of next year would not only provide jobs but also enable villagers to become suppliers of freshwater fish, fruits and vegetables.
“Someone in the village can also start a laundry service. Some visitors may stay more than 48 hours to be eligible for the duty free status. I am sure the natural attractions are a magnet for visitors to discover the wonders in the lake and stay longer,” he added.
Even without the free trade area, Tasik Kenyir was already a popular tourism hotspot in the state and had attracted more than 150,000 visitors last year and with its transformation into a shopping paradise it expects to record more than 250,000 visitors this year.