BOOMING A multi-million ringgit project at Tanjung Leman will add more flourish to the vibrant tourism sector in the state's east coast.
The Fishing Bay Resort is among the many resorts in Mersing. It offers a breathtaking view.
The tourism sector for Johor's east coast received a huge boost recently when Johor Corporation (JCorp) announced the RM100-million Tanjung Leman resort town project at the popular beachside destination.
The mixed development, which includes a resort, theme park, agrotourism attraction, marina, 700 units of houses and 93 shoplots, is expected to spur economic activities in the surrounding areas.
Located about 120km from Johor Baru, Tanjung Leman is one of many beaches along Johor's east coast. This stretch of beach has a jetty which provides ferry services to nearby islands. There are also chalets and the Felda Residence resort.
The beauty of the state's east coast has been known for many years as it is blessed with sandy beaches. The coast is also teeming with fish that attract many anglers. Johor's east coast stretches from Pengerang at the southeastern tip to Mersing at the northeast.
Tanjung Leman is among the many tourist destinations between these two points. Other popular beaches along the same stretch are Desaru, Tanjung Balau and Tanjung Sedili.
Mersing and Tanjung Leman are located within the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) which is among the comprehensive development blueprints put in place by the government.
All these locations are expected to become boom towns in the years to come.
Many of these towns are considered small and are less congested compared to towns along Johor's west coast.
It is something one notices whenever one drives to this part of Johor. Instead of the busy north-south expressway at the west coast, there is a trunk road that stretches from Kota Tinggi to Mersing.
This trunk road is dotted with hilly terrain, jungles, villages, small towns and oil palm estates.
It is a less congested route. Though that can be a much-welcome respite for motorists, many also find that it can be somewhat deserted at night.
Some motorists try to avoid these roads after dark because of the many ghost stories that have been told about this stretch.
Nevertheless, Johor's east coast is an ideal place for nature lovers.
The Panti bird sanctuary in Kota Tinggi has been named by experts as one of the top four birdwatching spots in southeast Asia. It is located along the same trunk road, several kilometres north of Kota Tinggi.
Spread over 1,600 hectares, the sanctuary is known as a stopover for about 48 per cent of the total bird species found in peninsular Malaysia.
Managed by the state Forestry Department, the sanctuary has an 8-km bird-watching trail known as Bunker's Trail.
Nature lovers may be able to see tropical lowland birds and migratory birds from Myanmar, Thailand, India and Mongolia at certain times of the year.
Desaru, with its sandy beaches that are lined with trees, is another popular beach for Johoreans and foreigners alike.
The name is a combination of the Malay words desa (countryside) and rhu (casuarina tree). The beachside has several resorts, chalets and a public beach popular during weekends and public holidays.
The annual Desaru International Triathalon, which is normally held from September to November, also attracts sportsmen from across the globe.
Further down, at the southeastern tip of Johor, is Pengerang which is poised to become a boom town because of its oil and gas (O&G) industry.
Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said Pengerang may well be on its way to becoming an O&G hub bigger than Kerteh in Terengganu.
This scenario is likely due to a RM60-billion refinery and petrochemical integrated development (Rapid) petrochemical complex slated for opening in 2015. Another RM6-billion deep-water petroleum terminal will also be built in Pengerang. These two projects will certainly create a ripple effect on tourism and spur the economy for local residents.
The town of Sungai Rengit, which is barely a few kilometres from Pengerang, is famous for its seafood restaurants, and this will bring in more tourism earnings to the town once the O&G projects are completed.
Johor's east coast will thrive even more now with more development projects in place.
Places like Pengerang, Tanjung Leman and Mersing will become more vibrant in years to come.