Protecting Mount Santubong from a Cable Car Project
According to recent press reports, long-standing plans to build a cable car at Mount Santubong have been revived. This is a matter of great concern for both residents of the wider Kuching area and Sarawak’s tourism industry. Mount Santubong is a special place and a unique tourism and recreational asset.
The rainforest-covered mountain is steeped in legend and a source of enjoyment for Sarawakians of all ages and backgrounds. There is therefore a strong public feeling that Santubong should be preserved in its natural state. In short, stakeholders do not want a cable car to be developed at Santubong. This ground swell is based on the following factors.
1. Lack of Commercial Viability - We believe there is insufficient demand from both foreign and domestic tourists to justify the substantial investment in this project. Upon opening, the facility may attract local interest but this domestic demand will taper off after the novelty wears off. Demand from foreign tourists is unlikely to cover operational costs.
2. Negative Impact on Tourism Industry - Mount Santubong forms a magnificent backdrop to the resort hotels at Damai Beach, the Sarawak Cultural Village and Sarawak’s only internationally known event – the Rainforest World Music Festival. Adding cables, large support pillars and significant modifications at the summit will degrade the current views. In addition a range of activities such as wildlife watching, jungle trekking, the Summit Climb, mountain biking, etc. will all be negatively impacted by the cable car.
3. Alternative Investment Options - There are more suitable options for growing Sarawak’s tourism industry. From a strategic perspective, Sarawak is better off investing in our existing major attractions (e.g. Bako National Park) rather than investing in new projects that lack commercial viability.
4. Ecological Damage - The summit is a narrow sandstone ridge. It would require extensive modification to support the cables, gondolas, machinery, lookout points, offices, toilets, shops, etc. It is impossible for any contractor to construct a cable car system without causing substantial damage on the summit and at the locations of each of the pillars.
5. Social and Ecological Costs - The social and ecological costs are likely to outweigh the financial benefits (if any) of investing in a cable car project. The cable car project offers a poor return on investment for Sarawak.
6. Safety & Maintenance Concerns – Should the cable car project fail to be profitable the operators may fail to invest sufficiently in maintenance and safety compliance. The potential negative consequences of this are unthinkable for Sarawak’s tourism industry and public safety.
In view of the above concerns regarding the development of a cable car at Santubong, we are petitioning for a complete ban any form of cable car on the Santubong Peninsula and Mount Santubong.