The proposed Duty Free Zone (DFZ) at Bukit Kayu Hitam will help boost business for locals and also traders. Pix by AMRAN HAMID.

BUKIT KAYU HITAM: The proposed Duty Free Zone (DFZ) here, the second in the state after Langkawi, will help attract more tourists and transform this quiet town, less than five kilometres from Danok, southern Thailand.

Until now, Bukit Kayu Hitam town has comprised mainly small shops and foodstalls, with not much else to draw the attention of local and international tourists.

The proposed second DFZ, however, which will be located between the Malaysia-Thai border checkpoint, is set to change this.

Local Basir Abu, a trader, said the second DFZ will hopefully bring life to the town.

“Most of the time, tourists just pass by either to travel south to Penang or Singapore, or (north) to Danok. If the second DFZ materialises, I believe it will create a spill-over effect for people living and doing business here,” he said when met today.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah announced yesterday that the second DFZ would cover some 2,428 hectares of the Malaysia-Thai border town here.

He was quoted as saying that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak gave a nod to the proposal while chairing a meeting with the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) recently.

Another trader, Romlah Thoh, 43, said the second DFZ should be made more easily accessible to visitors compared to the current one, which requires visitors to pass through the border checkpoint.

“I hope that the government will consider this factor, because better access to the DFZ will bring more people to the area.

“We are now sharing the same access point with motorists (travelling between Malaysia and Thailand), and on certain days, we cannot get any customers due to road congestion at the border exit point, (especially) during peak seasons,” she said.