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Boost for Perak economy and tourism

Sunday May 31, 2009

IPOH: Perak businessmen and travel agents are expecting a shot in the arm for the local economy following news that budget carrier Firefly will operate shuttle flights between here and Singapore.

The Singapore Manufacturers Association has already sent a delegation to Ipoh to explore investment opportunities.

"The flights should boost tourism and the economic climate here," said Datuk Chang Ko Youn, Chinese affairs adviser to the Perak Mentri Besar.

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Perak branch chairman Datuk Gan Tack Kong hailed the development, noting that Singapore was among the top three investors in Malaysia.

"This is very good news. At present, some 75% to 80% (of Singapore's investment) is concentrated in Johor, but with the flights, the investors could come direct to Ipoh."

"Foreigners could also use Singapore as an entry point into the city. Ipoh will be open to the world," said Gan.

Perak Malay Chamber of Com-merce president Datuk Muhammad Muhiyuddin Abdullah said the flights would be a boon for many locals with businesses in Johor and Singapore.

Perak should also promote its tourist attractions, he added.

Perak Chinese Assembly Hall president Tan Sri Chong Chin Shoong expressed the hope that other carriers would also start more flights between Ipoh and other countries such as China.

Welcoming the Firefly flights, Chong pointed out that the economic potential for additional shuttle services would be enormous since the Silver State boasted a population of 2.4 million.

"Travel industry veteran Jimmy Goh Kim Boon described the flights as a positive development. The (Sultan Azlan Shah) airport has been quiet for too many years. Hopefully, with the support of the state, Ipoh will come alive again," said Goh, who is managing director of Golden Century Tour and Travel Sdn Bhd.

Firefly officials are expected to have a briefing on June 8 with the state and meet travel industry leaders.

Chang confirmed that the service was expected to take off on July 12, with four flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

The air fares will be around RM88 to RM390, including tax, and will also depend on when bookings are made.

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