Friday, April 30, 2010

Concerted Efforts Needed To Promote Borneo As Premier Ecotourism Destination

KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 (Bernama) -- Concerted efforts by the relevant government agencies and the private sector are needed to promote Borneo as a premier eco-tourism destination in the world, said Sabah Tourism chairman Tengku Zainal Adlin. The imperatives for the way forward were shared visions and values, a global and experiential brand, clear roadmap, good infrastructure and direct intra transport (air, land and sea) connectivity, strategic networking and smart partnership with key players, he said. He told Bernama this at the recent Pacific Area Travel Association (PATA) Annual Meeting at the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching.

He said creativity and innovation, packaging the best of Borneo, joint promotion and marketing, strategic initiatives and direction to achieve measurable targets, both government-led and private-sector driven, were needed to attract the tourists. Equally important, he said, was community based tourism (CBT) in unlocking potential and empowering the local community towards poverty alleviation. "Green tourism, constant product improvement, quality service, benchmarking, best pratices, people-to-people and building relationship are prerequisites, he said adding that cleanliness, politeness and efficiency must be a way of life of all stakeholders. He said the Borneo-Three Countries One Conservation Vision, Three Countries One Ecotourism Vision inititive could shine among the best. Borneo, comprising three countries -- Brunei, Indonesian Kalimantan and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and Labuan island -- was strategically located by the equator in the centre of Southeast Asia, he said.

It is a veritable melting pot of indegeneous people, cultures and traditions set amid a landscape which ranges from the oldest rain forests to the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. Borneo is among the top 12 mega biodiversity sites in the world, ranked with Amazonia and equatorial Africa, and blessed with the world's most biologically productive and diverse ecosystem on earth," according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). The Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative is the world's largest contiguous network of rain forests of 220,000 sq km under natural forest management. Tengku Zainal said Borneo, the biggest component of BIMP-EAGA, was an emerging, exotic, exciting, highly diverse, unique and value destination with huge potentials for sustainable growth. "Culturally, naturally and historically, Borneo resonates a premier ecotourism destination," a destination like no other, being the heart of biodiversity and beacon of cultural diversity," he added.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Royal Jordanian Airlines Looking At 85 Per Cent Load Factor

KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 (Bernama) -- Royal Jordanian Airlines, soon to resume flights and on-line operations in Malaysia, is looking at 85 per cent load factor in the first year of operations. The airline will begin Amman-Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur-Amman services on June 2 after a five-year lapse driven by commercial reasons, said Country Sales Manager Wilson Chan. He said studies indicated an upward market trend in tourism and commercial activities in Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia was highly regarded as an ideal tourist destination to the Arab world and the Gulf Cooperation Council member states.

With the commencement of the flights, Royal Jordanian Airlines was committed to better serve passengers especially Jordanians and the Arab community residing in Malaysia. "My main aim is to get the flights go up into the sky and back in Kuala Lumpur. This time we hope to stay as long as we can," he told Bernama. He said that with strong marketing strategies, the Amman-Kuala Lumpur route would be viable and successful as the airline had plans to fly direct to Amman, the modern and ancient capital of Jordan. Chan said he was meeting travel agencies to work closely with them to promote the services. "Once the load picks up for our in-coming and out-going, we can then start flying direct to Amman instead of via Bangkok," he said. He said the airline is also targeting traffic growth from students, captains of industry and leisure travellers.

He said the flights are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays onboard latest A330 aircraft, an addition to its expanding fleet of new generation planes. "We just got two new A330 aircraft on leasing for five years," he said. The A330 wide-bodied aircraft can carry 283 passengers in two class configurations, of which 24 are configured as "Crown Club Class", offering sleeper seats that recline to flat-bedded seats on the long-haul sectors. "As a Crown Class passenger, you will feel the difference not only onboard, but also at the airport with exclusive check-in counters and lavish lounges for your utmost ease and comfort," he said. The balance 259 are comfortable economy-class seats. Moving forward, the airline plans to fly to China and Johannesburg, he added.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cuti-cuti 1Malaysia Travel Fair - Sabah

Date: 1 ~ 2 May 2010
Time: 10.00 am ~ 10.00 pm
Venue: 1Borneo Hypermall Kota Kinabalu
- Tour packages
- Sape performances

- Bamboo Orchestra performances
- Culture performances from Sarawak & Sabah

- Lucky draw
- Tourism Quizzes

Monday, April 26, 2010

141 Qualify As Tour Guides Licensed By Ministry

SERI KEMBANGAN: A total of 141 students from the Travex Institute of Tourism have become the country’s first batch of professionally-trained tour guides. They completed a diploma course last year to qualify them as tour guides licensed by the Tourism Ministry. Travex International College chief executive officer Kim Jung Pyung, who presented the scrolls at the graduation ceremony, said the course was aimed at meeting the demand for tour guides in tandem with the increasing number of foreign visitors.

One of the graduates, Yip Jin Hoe, 22, said he had always been interested in the tourism and hospitality industry as he was fascinated by the job ever since he was a child. “I’d always pictured myself to be either in the hotel industry or showing tourists around the places I’m proud of, especially in my hometown Taiping when others wanted to be lawyers or doctors,” he said. Yip, who graduated with a double distinction and obtained the world-recognised distinction tourism diploma from the International Air Transport Association, Canada, said he had already been offered a job as a tour guide by a travel agency. Travex Institute of Tourism founder and managing director Keriun Ong said Travex had come a long way since its establishment in 1985 to become a household name. He said the institute was responding to the call of the Tourism Ministry to have professionally-trained and multilingual tour guides.
-The Star

MASwings Targets record 1.1 Million Passengers Within Sabah, Sarawak This Year

KOTA KINABALU, April 25 (Bernama) -- MASwings has set a target of flying a record 1.1 million passengers within Sabah and Sarawak this year, said Malaysia Airlines chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid. He said the target would be made possible with the latest 10th ATR aircraft which would enter its service by end of the month. He said for the first three months this year, MASwings registered a commendable 150,000 passengers and hoped it would increase significantly with the additional aircraft. "To date, we carry approximately 88,000 passengers each month, which represents a 24 per cent growth rate in passenger volume compared with that of last year," he said in his speech in conjunction with Delivery of the 10th ATR72-500 Aircraft and Farewell ceremony to the last Fokker 50, at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, here Sunday.

Mohd Munir said the weekly flight frequency had increased from 400 flights per week in October 2007 to 600 flights per week last year, and a further increase to 900 flights per week this year. "MASwings have, over the last two years, progressively increased the weekly frequencies, to continuously meet the ever growing demand for air travel within Sabah and Sarawak," he said. He said Fokker 50 aircrafts had served the people of Sabah and Sarawak for more than 20 years since 1989, and as of August 2006, only 171 Fokker 50 aircrafts remained in worldwide airline services. "With the ever growing demand as well as needs to improve the level of safety and also to lower our operating cost, this aircraft no longer provides MASwings with the competitive features, due to its age. "MASwings has decided to retire this aircraft and introduce the cost effective and more reliable ATR72-500 to its fleet," he said.

Meanwhile, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin who thanked MASwings for its contribution and excellent service to the people of Sabah and Sarawak was also grateful to MASwings for employing about 1,300 employees from Sabah and Sarawak. Pang also hoped that MASwings would consider extending its air service to neigbouring countries within the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), in the future.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Proboscis River Cruise Launched In Semporna

SEMPORNA, April 23 (Bernama) -- A special tourist jetty as well as a tourist information centre and a new tourism product, the "Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise", were opened and launched here on Friday to enhance the tourism appeal of this east coast district. Minister in the Chief Minister's Department Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran opened the jetty and the centre which are located at the water village here.

The facilities are part of a two-phase project, costing RM2 million, to enhance tourism facilities in the district. According to Semporna district officer Abdul Muhamed Ibnu Abd Kadir Baba, the first phase of the project consists of the construction of an office block which houses government agencies, a craft centre as well as a "dive shop". The second phase involves the construction of 12 buildings which will house offices of tour agents as well as other facilities.

The Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise will bring tourists along the Sungai Buaya in Kampung Tonggulangan, about 20km from here, to watch the unique proboscis monkey, a species endemic to Sabah. The cruise, launched by Bugaya assemblyman Datuk Ramlee Marahaban, is expected to attract 1,000 tourists a day.

Singaporean Travellers And Travel Agents Skip Thailand

Thursday violent outburst by protestors in Bangkok has alienated the Singaporean travel market, said leisure agents. AD Travel's bookings for the whole of Thailand have fallen 70 per cent since the rallies started in late-March. Director and general manager Joe Lim said: "Even Phuket is no longer attractive for families. Krabi is the only Thai destination to see some movement, but even that is small." 

CTC Holidays senior vice president (marketing & PR) Alicia Seah said Phuket and Chiang Mai were starting to see "very few bookings". Some school groups due to visit Chiang Mai have diverted their travel to Cambodia. Leisure travellers have also switched to Hong Kong, Bali, Vietnam and
Malaysia. Seah described the present situation in Bangkok as "very disruptive and destructive" compared to previous protests, but was confident interest would return once the problems were over and promotions were introduced. 

As interest and security in Thailand wanes, travel agencies have ceased promotions for the destination. Lim said: "Hotel promotions are useless in such situations because traveller confidence is missing. We'll probably see a stronger wave of hotel promotions once the protests die down and during the quieter months of August and September." 

- TTG Asia

Friday, April 23, 2010

MATTA Targets 15,000 Visitors To July Exhibition

JOHOR BAHARU, April 22 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agencies (Matta) is targeting 15,000 visitors to its 12th Johor Matta Fair 2010 or Malaysia's premier travel fair at Danga City Mall Expo Hall from July 23 to 25. "We will set up 170 booths for this year's fair, an increase of 22 booths from last year," Matta (Johor chapter) organising chairman Kenny Ngi told a press conference here Thursday. He said the fair was one of the biggest which Matta had held and it would involve participation from local tourism agencies, as well as those from other states. Indonesia's tourism and cultural agency has confirmed participation in the fair. Ngi said lucky visitors stood a chance to win a brand-new Proton Saga BLM as the grand prize, apart from other lucrative prizes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Malaysia To Take Part In Arabian Travel Market In Dubai

DUBAI, April 21 (Bernama) -- Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen will lead a 120-member Malaysian delegation from 83 organisations to the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010, scheduled to take place here from May 4 to 7. 2010 marks Malaysia's 17th year of participation at the ATM, the largest trade and consumer travel show in the Gulf region, according to a statement from Tourism Malaysia. With representatives from both the government and private sector, the delegation consists of 54 hotels, 22 travel and tour operators, six state governments and Malaysia Airlines. Dr Ng will also lead Malaysia's post-ATM 2010 sales mission and road show to Kuwait and Qatar from May 8 to 12, aimed at further promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination.

The minister will be accompanied by Azizan Noordin, Tourism Malaysia's deputy director-general for planning. Among others, the sales mission will showcase a business session and a dinner at the Sheraton Kuwait Hotel in Kuwait and the Four Seasons hotel in Doha, Qatar. Fifteen hotels, seven travel and tour operators, a state government and Malaysia Airlines will be joining Dr Ng on the road show to the Gulf cities. "During the mission, the delegation will hold meetings with the local travel trade players in the respective cities," said Tourism Malaysia. The statement also said that a media conference on tourism developments in Malaysia and the launch of 1Malaysia Package 2010 will be held on May 9 at the Sheraton Kuwait Hotel at 12.30pm.

Malaysia recorded 23.6 million visitors last year, with a 7.2 per cent growth, as compared to 2008. Last year, the West Asian market registered 284,890 visitors with a growth of 7.8 per cent over 2008 (264,338). Of this, 20,170 visitors were from Kuwait, as compared to 18,853 in 2008 (up by seven per cent), and 4,257 from Qatar over 7,808 in 2008 (down by 45.5 per cent). The promotion in West Asia is based on travel packages coupled with high standard quality services and products. Key segments promoted in West Asia market include leisure holidays such as beaches and islands, shopping, dining, eco-tourism and MICE packages. Special interest promotions are education tourism, medical and health tourism, honeymoon, spa and Malaysia My Second Home programme.

In the context of medical and health tourism, Malaysia is among the popular destinations for health tourists from West Asia. "It is fast emerging as a value-for-money destination with world-class health and state-of-the-art medical facilities as Malaysia has over 200 international standard hospital and clinics," said Tourism Malaysia. Similarly, the good exchange rate has attributed to the growth in education tourism, thus making Malaysia a centre of research and educational excellence."Twinning programmes with foreign universities have made it affordable for students from West Asia to pursue their tertiary education in Malaysia," the tourism promotion agency added. Malaysia received an award in 2007 for being the number one holiday destination for United Arab Emirates' residents by Asfaar magazine, a prominent travel magazine in the UAE.

New Ferry Service To Sabah For Labuan Islanders

LABUAN, April 20 (Bernama) -- The 87,000-odd residents of Labuan now have another choice of ferry ride to Sabah with the launching of the Labuan-Menumbok ferry service on Tuesday. The service provides three trips daily, starting at 9am, then at 1.45pm and the last at 5.30pm. Each trip takes about one hour. It is hoped that the ferry, named Duta Muhibbah 3 with a 110-passenger capacity, can help promote national integration and have a positive impact on the economy and tourism industry of Labuan and Menumbok.

Datuk Isli Siput, chairman of Isro Shippping, the ferry service operator, said his company recently received the landing rights from the Sabah goverment and had conducted trial runs for the ferry service. "Our ferry service provides an alternative for the people of Labuan to visit Borneo via Menumbok," he said. He said the residents of Labuan and visitors to the island had been depending on the two trips daily provided by Double Power Sdn Bhd which had three vessels -- Seri Labuan 5, Labuan Express 3 and Express Kinabalu, each with a 171-passenger capacity per trip. Isli said since some years ago, his company had been operating the Labuan-Brunei-Labuan ferry service using two boats, Duta Muhibbah 2 and Ming Hai.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Promotion Of Homestay Industry In Hulu Selangor Needs To Be More Aggresive - DPM

HULU SELANGOR, April 18 (Bernama) -- The homestay industry in Hulu Selangor should be promoted more aggressively because its benefits the rural folk and Felda settlers in the constituency, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. According to him, this was because the industry which was centred on the traditions and culture of the rural community held vast potential and did not involve a huge capital outlay. He said this when launching "E-pemasaran homestay" in Felda Tengi here Sunday. "E-pemasaran homestay" enables tourists, locally and abroad, to book homestay packages through 3G capable handphones without having to go through third parties. Also present were Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Felda chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Noor and Malaysian Homestay Association president, Sahariman Hamdan.

Meanwhile, Ng said now the application was accessible to the 11 million customers of Maxis and in future, would be expanded to other networks based on needs. On the homestay industry, she said her ministry allocated RM45 million last year whereby each operator was given financial aid up to a maximum RM2,500 to repair or install new toilets. As of March this year, there were 3,283 homestay operators in the country offering 4,414 rooms.

RM1,000 For Felda Folks To Participate In Homestay Programme

HULU SELANGOR, April 18 (Bernama) -- An allocation of RM1,000 will be provided to Felda settlers who want to be 'homestay' operators to upgrade their toilets to participate in the rural tourism programme. The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) chairman, Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Noor, said the aid will be chanelled via an entrepreneur incentive scheme under the Felda Entrepreneurship Fund with an overall allocation of RM100 million. "The Homestay is a Felda initiative to provide additional income to settlers who now earn RM1,500 a month from oil palm planting," he said when met after the launch of the Homestay e-marketing promotion at Felda Sungai Tengi here Sunday evening. Yusof said there were 130 homestay facilities under the Felda umbrella, of which 30 were in Sungai Tengi. Asked about the allegation by the PKR-DAP-Pas coalition that RM1,500 was not in line with Felda's earnings besides allegations that the authority denied settlers rights, Yusof said the allegation had no basis.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan, said RM36.9 million was being spent by Felda to rehabilitate oil palm plantations that had been neglected over the last five years. He said the amount included the cost-of-living of settlers from Felda Soeharto, Gedangsa, Sungai Tengi and Sungai Tengi Selatan who left the land scheme in 1995. "For ten years they were separated, their plantations were neglected until Felda had to spend RM36.9 million to restore the damaged places," he told reporters when met at Felda Sungai Tengi this evening.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CM: Penang Needs RM50mil For Tourism

GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s tourism sector needs a federal allocation of RM50mil instead of the mere RM500,000 that was channelled here last year, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. “The additional funds are needed as Penang is the third highest state contributing to the tourism industry in Malaysia, with nearly six million tourist arrivals last year. “Penang’s role in promoting tourism in Malaysia should not be belittled,” he said in a press statement here Sunday. Lim said that logically, with such a large number of tourist arrivals to Penang, RM500,000 was too little and insufficient for tourism programmes, activities and events, especially related to infrastructure, upgrading of facilities and promotions.

The state recorded 5.96 million tourist arrivals last year - 2,982,687 domestic and 2,977,642 foreign - and targeted six million this year. “In her written reply in Parliament on April 5, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the Ministry spent RM500,000 in 51 tourism programmes, activities and events in Penang for 2009,” he said, adding that the programmes included the launching of the Penang Homestay Promotion, Malaysia Travel Fair 2009 and Penang International Food Festival. Lim said a bigger allocation should be channelled to Penang as a boost to the tourism sector that would, in turn, inject positive growth into other industrial sectors in the state, specifically the small and medium sized industry, and, thereby, generating the people’s income and improving the nation’s economy.

He also said the recognition of George Town as a Unesco World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, showed that the state still had a lot of potential to develop its tourism sector. He added that the Federal Government had allocated RM50mil for restoration works in Penang and Malacca in Budget 2009, and had prepared a RM899mil allocation in Budget 2010 for the nation’s tourism sector.

Malaysia Airlines Introduces GRADS Student Card In UAE

DUBAI, April 18 (Bernama) -- Discounted airfares, additional baggage allowance and holiday packages are some of the perks awaiting students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who sign up for Malaysia Airlines' student card called GRADS. The card was launched by the carrier here Saturday in conjunction with the Gulf Education and Training Exhibition 2010 which saw the participation of the Dubai-based Malaysia Education Promotion Centre (MEPC) and nine Malaysian universities.

Malaysia Airlines' regional manager for Middle East and Africa, Merina Abu Tahir, said GRADS was open to students aged 12 and above attending government recognised and accredited schools or institutions of higher learning in Dubai or abroad. "They must be full-time students with at least six months of study left at the time of application," she said. With a membership fee of only US$10 per year, GRADS members can earn additional baggage allowance of 10kg when they travel to any Malaysia Airlines destinations worldwide for higher studies.

Members just need to present a valid GRADS card at the check-in counter to enjoy the extra baggage allowance. The card also allows members to enjoy discounts at a number of partner merchant outlets. Students who sign up for GRADS will also be automatically enrolled into "Enrich", Malaysia Airlines' frequent flyer programme. They need to download the application form online and register at Malaysia Airlines' Dubai office. They are required to present a valid student identification/metric card or an offer/admission letter from eligible universities during registration.

Monday, April 12, 2010

AirAsia To Fly Twice Daily From Melbourne And Perth To K.L.

MELBOURNE, April 12 (Bernama) -- AirAsia will operate twice daily services between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur from July 1 and between Perth and Kuala Lumpur from Aug 1, the airline said Monday. Currently, the budget airline flies daily from Perth and Melbourne to the Malaysian capital. Azran Osman-Rani, chief executive of AirAsia's long-haul offshoot, AirAsia X, said the new flights reflected healthy demand from Australia. "Loads have been consistently strong year-round on all Australian services," he said in a statement. "This has given us the confidence to increase our capacity particularly on Melbourne and Perth routes and as we grow our network and expand heavily to India.

We've been delighted with the response from the travelling public, support from state and national tourism bodies and our airport partners who have really thrown their weight behind these routes and AirAsia as a whole," he said. AirAsia will also boost its Perth-Bali service to 21 flights a week from June 1, up from the current 14. AirAsia currently flies out of three Australian cities -- Melbourne, Perth and Gold Coast. AirAsia hoped to make Sydney the fourth by mid-year and had received the green light from local authorities and had concluded negotiations with the Sydney Airport. But it failed to get approval from the Malaysian government in time for the July 1 start date, forcing the airline to abort plans to fly to Australia's most populous city for now. "At this stage we can't anticipate when approvals for Sydney will be granted," Azran told Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper on April 9. AirAsia said its recently launched flat bed premium seats available between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur would be progressively added to flights from Gold Coast and Perth this month.

Malaysia Services Exhibition 2010 (MSE 2010)

Date: 13~15 April 2010
Venue: Za'abeel Hall, Dubai International Convention And Exhibition Centre, UAE

Organiser: MATRADE

Services sectors to be showcased at MSE 2010 include:
- Construction and Related Services
- Education and Specialised Training
- Financial Services including Islamic Finance
- Franchise in various industry sectors
- Healthcare and Hospital-Related Services
- Information & Communications Technology, Telecommunications
- Oil and Gas Services
- Professional Services, Energy and Power Generation

Bigger Shoe Festival Next Year, Says Ng Yen Yen

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 (Bernama) -- A bigger and more international shoe festival would be held next year, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. She said this was due to the huge success of this year's three-day festival that made RM5 million in sales and drew over 45,000 visitors including from Singapore, Indonesia, China, the Middle East, South Africa, Australia and South Korea. "We plan to hold a five-day festival next year. One day will be allocated specially for international buyers from all over the world and another day for special, high-value shoes, before we open the remaining three days for the general consumers," she told a press conference at the Appreciation Night in conjunction with the Malaysia International Shoe Festival 2010 here Sunday.

She said the ministry had also come up with a theme, "Sole of the Equator", because Malaysia was well known as having good expertise in the shoe industry in Asia." There were already a number international brands which showed interest in joining next year's festival. "Therefore, we are expecting double sales and we will be discussing increasing the allocation from RM4 million this year (to host the event) as we are also increasing the number of days."We not only want better returns from the next festival but also to encourage our youths to join the shoe industry" she said.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Exciting Borneo Package Through Three-region Collaboration

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (BRUNEI), April 9 (Bernama) -- Tourism players in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei have a 'goldmine' in their hands. Since the two Malaysian states and Brunei possessed distinct products, they could work together to promote a comprehensive Borneo tour package, said Sarawak Tourism and Heritage Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan. He said, Sarawak had always regarded the promotion of tourism as a two-way traffic mission which benefited all parties. "For tourists, it will be an interesting experience, with Sabah's Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, Brunei's rich and colourful royal culture and Sarawak's famous Mulu Caves," he added. Dr Chan, who is also deputy chief minister, said this when launching the Sarawak Travel Fair at Gadong Mall near here Friday. The three-day fair featuring travel agent products, shopping centres and hotels in Sarawak was organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board, in collaboration with the Brunei chapter of Tourism Malaysia. On Brunei, Dr Chan said the Sultanate had been Sarawak's traditional tourism market, with its visitors always topping the list of arrivals over the years.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pulau Redang Aims To Lure The Rich With Room Rates No Less Than RM1,600

KUALA TERENGGANU: Pulau Redang — rated as one of the world’s most beautiful islands — is set to be turned into a getaway exclusively for the rich and famous. Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said the state government would no longer approve the construction of chalet-type accommodation on the renowned island, which is much visited by the diving community. “Only hotels rated five-star and above will be allowed to be built,” he said when met after the state assembly sitting here yesterday.

In future, only wealthy individuals would be able to afford holidays in Pulau Redang as hotel rooms will cost no less than US$500 (RM1,599) a night, Ahmad said. He that said with the decision to turn the island into a high-end holiday destination, current chalets catering for backpackers would have to upgrade and raise their rates. Asked if the move would draw criticism from non-governmental organisations, Ahmad said it was the only way to save the surrounding rich marine life and prevent environmental destruction due to pollution and indiscriminate littering. “Some of the budget accommodation places on the island have no proper sewage system and waste is directed to the sea, and this destroys the corals,” he said.
Apart from that, Pulau Redang is a jewel for Terengganu and the 10th most beautiful island in the world, Ahmad said. “Efforts must be made to save the island from deteriorating environmentally. Those on budget excursions can visit other islands like Pulau Kapas and Pulau Perhentian that are equally charming.”

Pulau Redang, a popular holiday destination for locals as well as foreigners, attracts about 100,000 visitors annually including many who flock there to visit the marine park. Terengganu Tourist Association deputy president Alex Lee lauded the move, saying that it was time for Malaysia to create its own niche market. “Redang has only one five-star hotel and others are mostly budget accomodations,” he said. He believed the move by Ahmad was initiated out of concern for the environment as damage to the corals had been extensive.

The owner of an eight-room hotel in Redang, however, was worried that his livelihood would be affected if Pulau Redang became an exclusive holiday destination. He said the move would affect many holidaymakers, both local and foreign, who would not be able to afford to stay in Pulau Redang if the state government went ahead with the niche market proposal. “I hope the state government will meet budget hotel and chalet operators in Redang to get our views and include us in the planning,” said the man, who wanted to be known only as Dina. He also said the state government should ensure there was proper drainage and sewage on the island for better waste disposal. Another chalet operator, Nik Kamal Nik Husin, 43, said the move would only burden the villagers on the island as many were renting out rooms to budget travellers. He also said only a handful of irresponsible chalet operators were directing the waste into the sea. The state government, he said, should build a centralised sewage treatment to deal with the waste disposal problem.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

AirAsia Partners With Vietjet Air To Boost Tourism Sector

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 (Bernama) -- Low-cost carrier, AirAsia Group on Thursday signed a strategic partnership agreement with VietJet Air, a Vietnam-based low-cost airline. Air Asia had earlier acquired a 30 per cent stake in VietJet Air which is launching a Vietnam based low cost airline, named VietJet Air Asia. The airline will be operating both domestic and international flights, an AirAsia statement said here.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister, Truong Vinh Trong witnessed the signing of the deal today, which was held on the sidelines of the 16th Asean Summit. AirAsia Chief Executive Officer, Tony Fernandes who signed on behalf of this company, said the presence of leaders from both countries at the signing indicated the support from both governments to further support tourism growth in the Asean region. "VietJet Air Asia will help to boost Malaysia's tourism sector, strengthen the relations between Vietnam and Malaysia and the process of Asean integration," he said. Both companies today also announced that they have entered into an engineering support service agreement.

Monday, April 5, 2010

AirAsia X To Mount Flights To Melbourne & Perth

SEPANG, April 5 (Bernama) -- AirAsia X will operate flights to Melbourne and Perth, with three more Airbus A330 aircraft coming in, as securing routes to Seoul and Sydney are a challenge. Currently, it is using six A330 and two A340 aircraft.

"For some reasons we are not privileged enough to get some routes. So, we will be adding more flights to Perth and Melbourne and keep pushing Mumbai and New Delhi routes in 2010," says chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani. AirAsia X will service the New Delhi route in August. "However, that doesn't mean AirAsia X is dropping those routes from its plan, we still want to fly to Seoul, Sydney, Jeddah and to one city in Japan as there is huge demand. So, the guys next door are not going to run away from competition as we will keep throwing in more flights in the current routes," he told reporters after unveiling the budget airline's premium "Lie-Flat Bed" seats at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal here on Monday.

As for Mumbai, Azran said AirAsia X has the rights to fly four times a week to the Indian city and was pursuing to secure another three more landing rights as only then the route would be economically viable. "We hope to secure the rights within this year. Singapore Airlines operates four flights to Mumbai daily, meaning Malaysia is losing out," he said. Asked on possible code-sharing arrangements with other budget airlines, Azran said it did not make sense to do code-sharing as with on-line booking, travellers could do it themselves.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

F1: 2010 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix Results

SEPANG, April 4 (Bernama) -- Following are the results of the 2010 Petronas Malaysian Formula One (F1) Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit here Sunday:

Race Preliminary Classification after 56 laps (310.408km):

1. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, 1 hour 33 minutes 48.412 seconds
2. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, 1:33:53.261s
3. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team, 1:34:01.916s
4. Robert Kubica (POL) Renault F1 Team, 1:34:07.001s
5. Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 Team, 1:34:09.471s
6. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, 1:34:11.883s
7. Felipe Massa (BRA) Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, 1:34:15.480s
8. Jenson Button (GBR) Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, 1:34:26.330s
9. Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso, 1:34:59.014s
10. Nico Hulkenburg (GER) AT&T Williams, 1:35:01.811s
11. Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso, 1:35:07.350s
12. Rubens Barrichello (BRA) AT&T Williams - 1 lap
13. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro - 1 lap
14. Lucas di Garsi (BRA) Virgin Racing - 3 laps
15. Karun Chandhok (IND) HRT F1 Racing - 3 laps
16. Bruno Senna (BRA) HRT F1 Racing - 4 laps
17. Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus Racing - 5 laps

Not Classified:
- Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus Racing - 10 laps
- Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault F1 Team (Did Not Finish - DNF)
- Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 Team (DNF)
- Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team (DNF)
- Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber F1 Team (DNF)
- Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing (DNF)
- Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) BMW Sauber F1 Team (Did Not Start)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Yahoo! Travel Magazine Lists Malaysia Among Top 10 Destinations

FRANKFURT, April 2 (Bernama) -- Malaysia is among the top 10 most affordable destinations in the world where Europeans can go a long way with their Euros for a memorable holiday, according to the German-language Yahoo! Travel Magazine. It listed Malaysia along with Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt and Hungary. Malaysia's Langkawi island was praised for its long, white sandy beaches, palm trees and fascinating coral reefs. Nature lovers too get "full worth" for their money with the abundance of flora and fauna.

"Your holiday budget is spared: life here is exceptionally affordable!" said the Yahoo! site. Thailand was cited for its exquisite cities, rich culture and pristine beaches making it a dream holiday destination for many, from backpackers to island tourists. Thailand's popularity is also due to the fact that it is a traditionally affordable destination and airfares have declined dramatically to around 300 Euros from Germany for some lucky travellers. "The Euro is very strong compared with the Thai baht, which makes it attractive for people from the Euro zone to travel to Thailand where they get a long stretch with the Euro," said Thomas Wischnewski, an Asian specialist travel and tour operator.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Harumanis Season In Kangar

KANGAR, April 1 (Bernama) -- The Harumanis season has begun and the fruit, dubbed the "King of Mangoes", will be made available to the public for the whole of April. Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Md Isa Sabu, who launched the sale of the Harumanis at the Bukit Bintang plantation near here today, hoped that the farmers would help increase the yield of this popular fruit.

Perlis Agriculture Department director Ghazali Zakaria said that starting this year, a tagging system had been used to control the quality of Harumanis produced by the plantations supervised by the department. However, the production this season was only 55 tonnes, a far cry from last year's production of 100 tonnes, he said. "This was mainly due to weather change which caused the mango flowers to fall off," he said. The Harumanis produced by the Perlis Agriculture Department is sold at between RM5 and RM10 per kilogramme, depending on the grade.