This morning at 9:30 am, Metropolitan Travel Service Sdn. Bhd. launched its Tour Bus, the first ever privately operated full-fledged tourist coach to meet the long-felt need of Sibu.
The launching,which was officiated by YB Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, marked an important milestone in the tourism industry of Sibu. With Tour Bus coming on stream, it implies that from now onwards, Sibu would at least be catered for by a proper tourist coach of industry standard.
I remember vividly a sour experience poured out to me by the leader of an orchestra from Peking last year. "We had to charter a local passenger bus without air-conditioning facility for a trip to Sarikei," he grumbled. A far cry from what is available in Peking, he expressed surprise at our very lacking infrastructure.
Upon arriving at the premises this morning, the posh Tour Bus came into my sight and it struck my mind - O dear, what a long wait for Sibu to have one!
My thought instantly flashed back to the first ever tourist coach in Sibu something like 15 years ago. A MOT (Ministry of Tourism) - owned and operated, the coach was despatched to Sibu in 1993 under a scheme to boost the local tourism industry. It served Sibuians humbly for 5 years before MOT auctioned it off in 1998 without assigning any convincing reason. I remember at that time a few industry players' eyes almost turned red to see the coach go into history.
The MOT-owned coach was truly an asset to Sibu. While the private sector could not afford to viably operate one, the Ministry stepped in to take the lead.
We benefited a lot from the scheme (of providing a coach at very much subsidised rates), especially in tourism aspects. Its demise was not only a loss but also a blow to the region's tourism industry.
It was a delight that after 10 years, Metropolitan Travel Service Sdn. Bhd. came in to bridge the gap. We hope its humble steps now would one day turn into a giant leap for the tourism of Sibu.