PANTAI Merdeka is set for a major facelift from a mere idyllic seaside with swaying casuarinas to a bustling seaside resort complete with facilities and amenities to cater to
a new niche tourist market under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
Sungai Petani Municipal Council Planning Department chief Mohd Amin Ali said, currently, the resort drew mainly locals and domestic tourists from the northern states and not many foreign visitors.
He said the resort was a favourite venue of government departments from the northern
states for holding conventions and meetings.
Mohd Amin also said the federal government had approved an allocation of more than RM2Omil for the project which would be carded out in two phases.
He said the first phase, costing RM8mil, would involve turning the place into a premier tourist attraction in Kedah.
The second phase, he said, would involve the construction of a jetty with four landing spots.
Currently, he added, there was no jetty for visitors to hop on and off the boats at the beach.
The waiting area at the jetty would have covered roofing, comfortable seats and guardrails for the safety of the people, he said.
"We will also demolish the 21 existing food stalls, upgrade the pedestrian walk and landscape the area." He said. adding that 30 new food stalls would be constructed.
A surau, public toilets, a playground, an information centre and souvenir shops would also be provided.
"We will retain the existing casuarinas trees and coconut trees. We will also put up attractive new signboards all the way to Pantai Merdeka." he added.
He said tourists could go "island-hopping" from Pantai Merdeka to nearby Pulan Bidan,
Pulau Bunting and Pulau Song Song.
"Pulan Bidan and Pulau Bunting have sandy beaches all around the islands. The clear water is suitable for swimming, fishing and snorkelling.
"Pulan Bidan, which is surrounded i0 corals, is a favourite among Japanese tourists," he added.
He also said once it was completed and the infrastructure was in place, Pantai Merdeka could be the northern region water-sports centre.
"Why should we allow all the water activities to be centred in states like Penang, for instance, when we have the islands, jell and water-sports activities here," he said.