LE Tour de Langkawi (LTdL), which will enter its fourth edition funded by taxpayers next March 1-7, is on the right track towards being a private venture again.
Sports Ministry secretary general Datuk Mohd Yassin Salleh said with traditional corporate sponsors remaining on board and growing interest from the corporate sector, the government could, in the near future, relinquish its position as the main funding arm.
"The idea was always to re-privatise the Tour and we're slowly getting there. There are more new sponsors coming in, and topped up with the traditional sponsors, we should be getting there soon," said Mohd Yassin after launching next year's edition on Thursday.
The Sports Ministry stepped in to rescue the LTdL in 2007 following the failures of previous organiser First Cartel Sdn Berhad, which was saddled with debts amounting to RM10.2 million.
First Cartel had been the organiser of the event since its inception in 1996.
After First Cartel was wound up in 2007, the Sports Ministry took ownership of the race and settled most of the debts via a buy-out package.
|DATUK MOHD YASSIN SALLEH|
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) had been charged with organising the race in collaboration with the Sports Ministry in the past three editions.
"For next year's race, we've got our sports industry department taking the lead and hopefully, we can seriously look into how to develop the commercial aspect of the race," said Mohd Yassin.
Sponsors such as Volkswagen distributors Cartrade were brought in for this year's edition and have found their role as official car suppliers beneficial to their business. Cartrade will be continuing with the LTdL next year.
The seven-stage race next year, said Mohd Yassin, will have a budget of RM10 million.
"We are appealing for more involvement from the corporate sector in events such as these," said Mohd Yassin.