As a new initiative, Terengganu is hoping to be an alternative stopover point for cruises departing from Singapore. The Terengganu PAS government is considering a relaxation of its religious laws barring alcohol and gambling, specifically for cruise ships as it hopes to entice to the state, according to a state official.
The state official said “We are working towards allowing these cruises to stop by Terengganu, and the passengers to visit us. By 2021, god willing, this will be allowed,”
The state is a jump-off point to popular island destinations like Pulau Redang and Perhentian, which is basically known for traditional Malay arts and culture like kite flying and top-spinning. Terengganu and neighboring Kelantan region have strict religious laws according to their beliefs introduced by the PAS administrations.
The Alor Limbat assemblyman said “The cruises are passing by to explore the beauty of Terengganu. So what happens inside, like casino or alcohol consumption that is against Islam, it’s not really our concern. I personally don’t think it’s a problem,”.
“We have received word that there is no opposition for cruises to come. To use an analogy, if a traveler drives pass Terengganu and stops by a stall to buy some banana fritters while drinking a bottle of wine in his car, the sale is fine,” he said.
Ariffin said the state’s tourism target was 6.5 million inbound tourists annually from the year 2025 onwards with an increase of 35 percent from 2018.
“More tourists mean more jobs, local businesses thrive and income rises. I think it’s important for Terengganu that tourists keep coming,” he said.
The Terengganu state government is also opening its doors to foreign investment that could help fund more tourism activities and other state projects.
However, when locals were asked about the topic they were concerned about the overcrowd of visitors, worried that they might impact its environment.
However, Ariffin said locals should not be xenophobic and be more welcoming instead.
“If foreigners damage our corals, they will be punished. Overall, the visitors have been fine, but if individuals misbehave, it’s normal I think. But we as locals should attempt to explain to them and educate them,” he said.
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