Sail Malaysia Sets Sights on Tuaran for Sailing, Watersports Centre

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KOTA KINABALU: Sail Malaysia has identified Tuaran as an optimal location for an exceptional sailing and watersports centre, owing to its captivating waterways that entice nautical enthusiasts.

Its managing director Sazli Kamal Basha emphasised the observation expressed by participants of the Sail Malaysia Rally, affirming Tuaran as the ideal yachting hub, rivaling Kota Kinabalu.

“I’ve closely observed waterfront developments in various countries and across Malaysian states. Tuaran is a potential goldmine awaiting strategic masterplan development for Sabah.

“Transforming Tuaran into an international harbour for tourism will solidify Tuaran’s future as a world-class multi-day recreational and scenic destination.

“Tuaran can be the primary location for yachts visiting the area in favour of the more congested areas of Sepanggar and Kota Kinabalu city centre,” he proposed.

Sazli conveyed this vision with the state Assistant Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board Datuk Joniston Bangkuai during a recent meeting to discuss plans for the 2024 Sail Malaysia Rally.

Furthermore, Sazli emphasised that this initiative aims to significantly aid local fishermen by providing a seamless entry and exit point for their fishing vessels.

He also highlighted the importance of a well-constructed breakwater to prevent siltation at the harbour entry.

With this breakwater in place, he said the Tuaran harbour enjoys natural protection and becomes accessible under all weather conditions, ensuring year-round utilisation of the harbour.

Sazli drew a comparison between Tuaran and the Kuala Terengganu waterfront, highlighting its success in offering safe harbors for fishermen.

He also noted parallels with Croatia and the Maldives, where each inhabited island features a protected harbor.

He added input would be needed from a master consultant and the relevant state agencies to develop a comprehensive Master Plan for Tuaran.

In response, Joniston said the idea of a sailing and water sports centre in Tuaran would be in line with the state government’s plan to establish a tourism belt along the coast between Tuaran and Kota Belud, aligning with the completion of the Pan Borneo Highway.

He highlighted how the proposed habour is in harmony with this vision of transforming Tuaran into a bustling tourism hub.

“This flourishing district already serves as a vital gateway to rural attractions, and the envisioned habour would further catalyse economic growth within the community,” he emphasised.

However, Joniston urged caution, stating, “While we embrace positive developments benefiting the people, we must also consider potential environmental impacts.

“A thorough review and feasibility study by relevant authorities and the Ministry or STB would be prudent, and we stand ready to extend assistance when needed.”

Since its inception in 2008, the ‘Sail Malaysia Passage to the East’ has drawn 400 sailboats from more than 30 countries to Sabah.

In 2022, the annual sailing event made a triumphant return to Sabah after a pandemic-induced hiatus and continued its success in 2023, bringing 20 boats from various nations.

Throughout their journey across Sabah’s seas, participants will stop at Kudat, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, and Semporna, with Pitas and Tuaran added as new locations for next year.


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