MALACCA: The rehabilitated Malacca River is set to become a major tourist attraction, with its river cruise activities capable of attracting 500,000 visitors this year.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the state would continue to promote the river as a tourist product, including starting a water taxi service by the end of the year.
"Based on ticket sales last year, some 350,000 visitors took the Malacca River cruise for their sightseeing.
"We expect the numbers to rise to more than half a million this year following our promotion," he said during the launch of the 3rd annual Malacca River Fiesta on Saturday.
He said there were 26 pilots operating 40 ferries for the 4.5km cruise along the river, adding that the state planned to recruit more soon.
Mohd Ali said the state would also be building the country's largest aquarium on a site near the river in a bid to enhance its tourism appeal.
Meanwhile, the nine-day fiesta kicked off to a glittering start as thousands of people gathered at Dataran Sungai Melaka to witness the event.
Among the highlights was a river cruise taken by Malacca Governor Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob and other dignitaries from Taman Rempah in Pengkalan Rama to Dataran Sungai Melaka.
The event, launched by Mohd Khalil, also saw colourful cultural performances by various ethnic groups and fireworks display.
Other events at the fiesta, themed River - The Pulse of Life, were dragon boat races, a colouring contest, jet ski performances, kite flying, exhibitions and a gotong-royong to clean up the river.
-The Star/Asia News Network