Banking on Bentong‘s charm

Getting to Bentong, Pahang, from Kuala Lumpur involves a scenic drive through the mountains.

When the weather is not too hot, the hills near and afar are wrapped in mist, offering a breathtaking view.

With waterfalls, ginger and musang king durian and more drawing in tourists, Bentong – located slightly more than an hour’s drive from the capital city – truly lives up to its nickname as the “Back Garden of Greater KL”.

But as big development projects, such as the East Coast Rail Line, loom ahead, the people of Bentong are understandably worried about the environmental impact that might ruin the town’s “good mountains and good water”.

Bentong MP Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai gave residents his assurance that his mission was high growth and low carbon emission, with an emphasis on ecotourism by leveraging on the town’s precious natural resources.

“Tourists come to Bentong for ‘lung-washing tourism’ to breathe in the fresh air here.

“At night, they lie on the ground looking at the stars and the moon while listening to the insects ‘orchestra’,” he told attendees at a Green Bentong gathering to commemorate Earth Hour 2017.

Liow, who is also Transport Minister and MCA president, said he did not wish to see Bentong turning into another concrete jungle that loses its green lustre.

He said he had approached Tenaga Nasional Bhd, which has agreed to provide saplings to add to Bentong’s greenery.

While the Bentong Municipal Council would be in charge of identifying locations for the tree planting campaign, Liow envisioned the trees growing at the Sungai Marong riverbank and in new villages.

He added that it was also important to strive for sustainable development with many economic opportunities to keep the younger generation from venturing into other urban areas for jobs.

“If you have a business idea, present a working paper to me and I will help you to look for capital,” he told the young audience.

Later, at another function, Liow launched the second phase of “Go Bentong”, an initiative to publicise attractions in Bentong through website (http://www.gobentong.com/en) and mobile app.

He added that these platforms have helped boost businesses in Bentong, with featured proprietors reporting an increase in the number of customers.

Liow said the Go Bentong Facebook page (facebook.com/GoBentong/) had 22,000 followers with a reach of 500,000 to 600,000 a month.

The 44 videos on the page have also recorded an accumulated 600,000 views.

“Tourism is a smokeless industry that is a main source of revenue for the country. Our tourism receipts raised 18.8% last year from RM69.1bil in 2015 to RM82.1bil.

“We are bringing more income to the people of Bentong by promoting tourism here while preserving the environment,” he said.

Source : The Star Online

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