Sunday, 30 May 2010

Flavours & Colours Of Malaysia in Mauritius

Four renowned chefs from Malaysia will transport the charms and flavors of Malaysian fine cuisine to the Labourdonnais. Sample an authentic buffet that offers an array of Malaysian specialities with original touches and be surprised by the tantalising creations.

Buffet at L'Escale & La Terasse
Lunch Rs 750* - Dinner Rs900*

Daily at La Terasse:
- Pull Tea Show - Roti Canai Demonstration

At L'Escale:
- Traditional Malay Dance Show as from 8pm every evening - Malaysian Caricature Demonstration

Organised by Tourism Malaysia, Air Mauritius and Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel. For bookings and more information, call 202 4024. At the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel. From 28th May to 5th June 2010.

RapidKL Launches RM10 Daily Unlimited Journey Pass On Tuesday

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Bernama) -- Public transport users can buy the Flexi Rapidpass for unlimited journeys by bus, monorail and LRT for as low as RM10 per day beginning Tuesday. Kumpulan Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad managing director Datuk Idrose Mohamed said passengers using the public transport on an integrated basis could also choose to buy the card for three days at a cost of RM25, one week (RM50), 15 days (RM90) or one month (RM150) depending on their travel needs.

For students who were Malaysian nationals, they would be charged at a cheaper rate for the Flexi Rapidpass at RM40 for one week, 15 days (RM60) and one month (RM100), while for the bus service, they only had to pay RM20 for one week, 15 days (RM30) and one month (RM50), he said in a press statement here. He said that foreign students would have to pay RM125 for one month for the Integrated Flexi Rapidpass and RM75 for the bus service. Users can also use the "Touch n Go" system for the Flexi Rapidpass card by activating it at the LRT stations beginning Tuesday, he said. For further information, consumers can contact the Helpline at 03-78852585 which is operational from Monday to Friday (7am till 8.30pm) or 8.30am until 5.30pm (Saturdays and Sundays) or surf the website or twitter@ MYrapid KL.

Need To Increase Awareness In Italian Market - Minister

MILAN, May 29 (Bernama) -- There is a need for synergistic cooperation and collaboration among travel operators in creating awareness on Malaysia, to various groups in the Italian market, Tourism Minister Dato Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Friday. Speaking during a luncheon meeting with Italian tour operators at the Principe di Savaoia Hotel here Friday, she noted there was a lot of work to do in the Italian market to promote Malaysian eco-tourism, lifestyle and family enrichment programmes, among others. Dr Ng, who is on a four-day visit here, said her ministry was looking at ways to increase awareness in the Italian market to lure more visitors to Malaysia. "I would like to bring our cultural group to perform in your towns and participate in your festivals," she told the tour operators, while outlining Malaysia's unique and rich culture that would interest Italian visitors.

The minister conceded that as in Munich, there was a need for a direct flight from Milan to Malaysia. "MAS (Malaysia Airlines) needs to look at Milan. If MAS cannot, then we will look at Air Asia which is already offering direct flights to London and many other places," she said, adding that Tourism Malaysia would work with airlines which bring in tourists into Malaysia. On the political turmoil in Thailand, Dr Ng reiterated Malaysia's stand that because Thailand was an Asean country, it was important that member countries helped each other. "We do not wish to take advantage of the situation as a drop in tourist arrivals there will also affect everyone else," she said, conceding however, that there were travellers who re-routed their destinations to Malaysia. "We have had a big swing from China and India but long-haul visitors, especially from the UK market, are more cautious," she said. The week-long working visit which had also taken the minister to London and Munich, saw much interest amongst travel operators on developments in Thailand. Meanwhile, tour operator Manuel E. Cazzaniga, of Seiviaggi Tour Operator, said there was "a good interest in the Italian market and the potential is big". "I think the country could be promoted as a whole, not only nice beaches and resorts but also the culture, the ethnic mosaic that you have and the quality of life and the friendliness of the people, as well as the possibilty of investing in the country. "This is what people here are missing in their knowledge about Malaysia," he noted. For Professor Franco Brevini, language had not been a problem during his four visits to the country where he enjoyed expeditions in Sarawak, scaling Mount Kinabalu and exploring the geological structures and islands, which he described as a tropical paradise. "Malaysia is a destination where you can walk, climb and dive to discover nature," he said, adding that he had introduced Malaysia to Italians who loved outdoor activities.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Six German Cities To Be Targetted For Tourism Drive

MUNICH (Germany), May 28 (Bernama) -- Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen is targeting six German cities in a promotional drive to bring in more tourists if MAS reconsiders resuming direct flights from Munich to Malaysia. The six cities are Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne and Dusseldorf, she said after a meeting with German tour operators here Thursday. "With a total population of 83 million people, the potential is there. Last year, there was an increase of only 15 per cent, from 111,525 to 128,888 and only five Germans participating in Malaysia's 'My Second Home' scheme," she told Malaysian journalists Friday, before flying to Milan for another promotional drive. MAS, which has five direct flights to Malaysia from Frankfurt, stopped its Munich route, seven years ago. "The Germans are very much into culture, knowledge and education and we need to create greater awareness of Malaysia, especially among the younger generation, by upgrading the present website. This is very important", said Dr Ng. A think-tank, she said, would be formed and based in Frankfurt, to be headed by Malaysia's Ambassador-designate to Germany, Datuk Ibrahim Abdullah. The think-tank will look into ways to create awareness, especially culturally. "The think-tank will have to come up with more strategic, more tactical and more localised planning," she added.

The minister is especially, interested in the setting up of a cultural group, which would involve local German youths participating in Malaysian cultural events. "We have the budget for traditional clothes," said Dr Ng. Germany is the second largest country in Europe, in terms of tourist arrivals in Malaysia, after the UK. Dr Ng also spoke of the need to have more German-speaking tour guides. However, she said special permission would be given to big groups of German businessmen to bring their own interpreters and translators. "We must train our tour guides to speak German," she added. Last night, the minister hosted a reception at the Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Hotel in Munich for tour operators.

Melaka Government Looks To Enter Aviation Industry By Introducing Melaka Air

MELAKA, May 28 (Bernama) -- The Melaka government is looking into making inroads in the aviation industry by introducing "Melaka Air" to boost the tourism and aviation sectors in the state. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said for a start, they would study whether to rent a Boeing 737-400 aircraft or an Airbus 320 to offer flights from Melaka International Airport (LTAM) in Batu Berendam here. "We will conduct a study on the viability and marketing aspects including public demand over the next three months before the state government makes a final decision on the matter." He told this to reporters after flagging off the first flight for Melaka-Medan-Melaka route by community aviation company, Firefly, at the LTAM Friday. He said among the destinations deemed suitable for the flights from LTAM were Jakarta, Pekan Baru, Palembang and Medan in Indonesia. The state government's idea to establish its own aviation company came about after being disappointed by broken promises made by several airlines including AirAsia to use the LTAM for their local flights, he said. "AirAsia promised to start its flight to Penang and Medan from LTAM this year, but it never happened. So, it is best for us to have our own airline and rent aircraft to boost activities at LTAM," he said. At present, he said the RM160-million airport, launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Feb 4, was being used only by Riau Airlines, which flies five times a week from Melaka to Pekan Baru using a Fokker 50 aircraft. Meanwhile, Mohd Ali said the state government was also planning to promote health-tourism especially among the people in Sumatera, Indonesia. "Sumatera has a vast health-tourism market to be explored seriously by the state government. About 50,000 Indonesian tourists came to Melaka last year for health purposes," he said.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Tourist Arrivals Unaffected By H1N1

KUALA LUMPUR: There was a 5% increase in tourist arrivals for the January-March period compared with the same period last year. There were 5.75 million tourist arrivals during the period compared with 5.46 million in the same period last year, said Tourism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng. He added that the Influenza A (H1N1) disease did not have any effect on tourist arrivals. “If you look at the figures, we have been registering positive growth. We don’t see any dampening effect at the moment,” he said during the Domestic Tourism Industry Players Merit Celebration of the Malaysia Tourism Award 2008/2009 yesterday.

“The ministry is expecting 24 million tourist arrivals for this year with a targeted revenue of RM56bil to RM57bil compared with 23.65 million tourist arrivals and RM53.4bil revenue last year.” Dr Ong said the increase in tourist arrivals was a result of the recovering global economy and an increase in the per capita income of tourists. “These are positive signs and we are optimistic in achieving the target,” he said.


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Malaysia's Tropical Garden Bags Gold At Chelsea Flower Show

LONDON, May 26 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's Tropical Garden, with its distinct rainforest feel and a wakaf, won a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show 2010 on Tuesday. Announcing the victory at the launch of the first full-size tropical garden in the history of the Royal Horticutural Show since it started in 1804, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the win had given the ministry the impetus, confidence and commitment in creating parks and gardens as its newest tourism product. Designed by Amphibian Designs and owned and run by Malaysian-born ethnobotanist and TV presenter of the programme Grow Your Own Drugs, James Wong, and David Cubero, the chic, ultra-modern reinvisioning of a traditional Malay village has a calm reflective pool and a pavilion framing and providing a shady retreat from the sun. Happy and elated over the success, Ng said she has invited the Royal Horticultural Society to come to Malaysia to help establish a similar structure. "Perhaps we can then identify all the appropriate gardens with potential, develop upon them so that they come under the umbrella of gardens to visit in Malaysia. "With this also, we want to develop a new career path, a career growth of Malaysia's economy and human resource development, related to gardens and garden designing," added Ng.

The minister said the concerted effort and the government's faith in the ministry to take part in the prestigious event had paid off. Since the announcement of the award, the 220 sq meter garden with more than 50 species of plants and trees from all over Malaysia has been the subject of media coverage in the UK and has created a lot of publicity and awareness of what Malaysia has to offer. The minister said that the project, which cost RM2 million, was money well spent. "This is one way to promote to the world what Malaysia is all about. Malaysia is about progress as well as nature. It is not just about beaches and islands but also about parks and gardens," she said.

For Wong and Cubero, it was 365 days ago to the day when they were introduced to the minister visiting the show and given the task to build a Malaysian garden. "The garden is inspired by both traditional kampung architecture and also the Malaysian rainforest -- two different concepts. We turned them into a garden which shows a very modern and contemporary part of Malaysia. "We've got clean lines of white limestones and the wakaf which would create interest amongst the UK audience," said Wong. The ethnobotanist turned TV presenter who grew up in Malaysia and Singapore said he was proud to be able to create the award winning garden and hoped that Malaysian gardeners would appreciate and use what was around them. "It has been a real tricky job bringing plants here. For nine months we had to look for the right species, sizes and combination but we feel that we have done Malaysia proud in creating a small piece of rainforest here," Wong added. The Tourism Ministry will donate the plants to parks and zoos around the UK after the show this weekend. "There will be pieces of Malaysia all over the country," said Ng. Also present at the launch were Malaysia's Tourism Ambassador to the UK Datuk Jimmy Choo and Malaysia's Deputy High Commissioner to the UK Datuk Rustam Yahaya.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Government Restores Visa-Free Transit Facility

PUTRAJAYA, May 24 (Bernama) -- The government will restore the visa-free transit facility for nationals from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka from July 1, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Monday. He said the government felt that the facility would benefit the country's tourism industry. "At one time, we had it (the visa-free transit facility) but it was withdrawn for certain reasons. "We discussed (this matter) again because it is beneficial in terms of tourism," he said after chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Tourism, here. Also present was Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. Muhyiddin said the government would hold discussions with the airlines which transit Malaysia carrying the nationals of the four countries before announcing the details of the facility. He said the Home Ministry had proposed that a special criteria be established before the visa-free transit facility was introduce to ensure that it was not abused. "It has been decided that several matters would have to be adhered to. Upon agreement, nationals from the four countries can be allowed entry with the visa-free transit facility," he said.

In a related development, he said the government agreed with a Tourism Ministry proposal to have more flights to Malaysia in an effort to increase the number of tourists coming to the country. "We ask airlines such as MAS, AirAsia and AirAsia X to negotiate for more landing rights and so on, and bring more tourists to the country," he said. Muhyiddin said
Malaysia registered 7.62 million tourist arrivals between January and April this year, up from the 7.34 million for the corresponding period last year. He said the country also rose up the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) list of tourist arrivals, taking the ninth place last year compared to the 11th in 2008. He also said that the tourism sector contributed RM12.9 billion between January and March this year to the nation's coffers compared to RM12 billion for the corresponding period in 2008.

Muhyiddin said the government had also decided that foreigners married to Malaysians could participate in the "Malaysia My Second Home" programme which was hitherto restricted to foreign couples who fulfilled certain conditions. "In this way, we can encourage more people who intend to live in Malaysia to participate in the programme. Details of the programmes will be announced shortly," he said. Muhyiddin said the government would come up with one more tourism product by introducing the "parks and gardens" tourism.

To encourage tourist arrivals from the Middle East during the Ramadan Muslim fasting month, he said the government would hold special promotions in that region to draw them to Malaysia during that period. "We want to tell the potential tourists (from the Middle East) that we have various facilities for them to undertake their fast, perform prayers, break their fast, and have the "sahur" meal with various foods, including their own," he said.

Monday, 24 May 2010

40,000 Expected To attend Sepang's GT

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 (Bernama) -- About 40,000 local and regional motorsports fans are expected to swarm the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) from June 18 to 20, as Japan's biggest racing series, the Super GT International Series, makes a comeback to the circuit. SIC chairman Datuk Mokhzani Tun Dr Mahathir said SIC would play host to Round 4 of the racing series, adding that this year would mark the 10th anniversary of the event being held at the circuit. "Now, we have a significant number of Super GT followers in Malaysia and there are many non-Japanese drivers taking part in the race. "We also have two Malaysian corporations being part of the two top teams in Super GT, namely Mutiara Motors in GT300 and Petronas TOM in GT500," he said during a media conference on Monday.

He said this year, 26 drivers and 13 cars would be competing for the championship title in the GT500 category, while 38 drivers and 19 cars would battle in the GT300 category. The 2010 Super GT International Series would also be featuring the new GT4 Asia Cup, the GT3 Asia Series, Yaris and Vios Experience Race and the environmental-friendly Scirocco Cup as support races," he said. Apart from that, Mokhzani said SIC would also organise a children's pit walkabout on Saturday (June 19), which includes a circuit safari trip where participants could have a closer look at the race as they were ferried, via a low-loader bus, onto the track during the Super GT practice session. The Super GT International Series is held annually and takes place on renowned Japanese tracks such as Motegi, Fuji Speedway and the Suzuka Circuit. Malaysia became the only country to host the Super GT outside Japan, beginning 2000.

The World's Top 10 Airlines Announced At The 2010 World Airline Awards

Asiana Airlines won the prestige Airline of the Year award at the 2010 World Airline Awards, that took place in Hamburg. Asiana Airlines was named winner of the Airline of the Year 2010 title, ahead of Singapore Airlines (2nd) and Qatar Airways in 3rd place. Some 40 different airlines from around the world assembled to receive their accolades, which were handed out by Mr Edward Plaisted, Chairman of Skytrax. The award winners are selected by the airline industry's most important audience, it's customers.

More than 17.9 million air travellers from over 100 different nationalities took part in the 10 month survey, between July 2009 and April 2010. The awards are respected and recognised around the world for being the only truly global, independent passenger survey of airline standards. Commenting on the Airline of the Year 2010 award received by Asiana Airlines, Mr Plaisted said: "this is a fantastic achievement for Asiana Airlines to be named winner of this top Airline of the Year Award, and Asiana Airlines are clearly meeting and exceeding their customer's expectations. This award represents a true recognition of the front-line product and service that Asiana Airlines is delivering to it's customers, and the award slogan of 'The Passenger's Choice' underlines the fact that Asiana Airlines are succeeding in satisfying the hardest critics - their users." Asiana Airlines President and CEO, Mr Young-Doo Yoon, said : "We would like to express our most heartfelt appreciation to our customers who voted us for Skytrax 2010 Airline of the Year Award. Asiana Airlines is extremely honored to be recognized as the world’s top airline by our customers and to be awarded our industry’s highly esteemed accolade from Skytrax. To be the winner of the 2010 Airline of the Year Award is even more special and holds greater meaning, as it is 'The Passenger's Choice'."

The final top 10 places in the Airline of the Year were:
1. Asiana Airlines
2. Singapore Airlines
3. Qatar Airways
4. Cathay Pacific
5. Air New Zealand
6. Etihad Airways
7. Qantas Airways
8. Emirates
9. Thai Airways
10. Malaysia Airlines


Best Low-Cost Airline Worldwide WINNER: Air Asia

Best Economy Class WINNER: Malaysia Airlines

Best Low-Cost Airline Asia WINNER: Air Asia

Staff Service Excellence Award - Asia WINNER: Malaysia Airlines

Colourful Malaysia On Stage

THOUSANDS of locals and tourists were treated to an unforgettable sight of our country’s heritage and harmony at the Colours of 1Malaysia celebration at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. Called the Greatest Tourism Malaysia Parade, the dazzling performances were presented by some 6,000 participants from around the nation, including students, to tell the world about Malaysia’s unique arts, cultures as well as tourism products — homestay programmes, food, eco-tourism and beaches. Adding to the excitement were firework displays and a mega dikir barat peformance by 5,000 people which made it into the Malaysia Book of Records.

The event was launched by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen and other Cabinet ministers were among the VIPs present. Also present were 158 people from 25 countries as part of the Tourism Ministry’s Mega Fam tour, as well as American celebrity and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, who was here for a short trip. The show began with “Gendang 1Malaysia,” a thunderous performance showcasing the wide variety of drums used in the country, including jidor, Chinese, Indian, Sarawakian and Sabahan drums along with kompang and rebana.

This was followed by the homestay parade featuring kampung-like activities, a sewang dance performance and a display of Malaysian fruits. Dr Ng said the event was one of the country’s signature events since 1999 and had contributed significantly in raising awareness worldwide about the nation’s tourism products. The event was also telecast live in over 20 countries, she said. “It is a night of celebration, a night of sharing Malaysia’s diverse culture and tourism products,” she said. The Cuti-Cuti Malaysia dance featuring more than 5,000 performers marked the finale of the event on a high note, that the country’s peace and harmony be upheld by everyone.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

"Tourism And Biodiversity" Theme Of World Tourism Day 2010

DUBAI, May 22 (Bernama) -- The World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations, hosted officially this year by China, will take place under the theme "Tourism and Biodiversity", according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The WTD is a thematic event held every year on Sept 27 and the Chinese province of Guangdong will be the focus of the 2010 edition, the organisation said on its website. It said the theme provided a unique opportunity to raise public awareness on the importance of biodiversity to tourism and the role of sustainable tourism in the conservation of life on Earth.

"UNWTO wishes to raise awareness and calls upon the tourism stakeholders and travellers themselves to contribute their part of the global responsibility to safeguard the intricate web of unique species and ecosystems that make up our planet," UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said. Alongside a series of cultural events organised by the Chinese government, the China National Tourism Administration will host the 2010 World Tourism Day Think Tank around this year's theme. It will bring together leading public and private tourism stakeholders, as well as biodiversity experts and members of the media, to highlight the close relationship between tourism and biodiversity, and identify how tourism can contribute to preserving life on Earth and its unique biodiversity.

Marudu Bay Has Potential To Be An Eco-Tourism Centre

KOTA MARUDU, May 22 (Bernama) -- Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili on Saturday called on the people of Kota Marudu to intensify efforts to develop the district as another destination for eco-tourism. He said over the past 400 years, Marudu Bay here had been known for the uniqueness of its beaches and marine resources and it could become a fast-growing tourist destination if the eco-tourism aspects were to be developed. As such, he said the ministry's National Oceanography Directorate, with the cooperation of Universiti Putra Malaysia, was in the midst of conducting a research on Marudu Bay's mangrove and seashore areas to improve the eco-system and the socio-economic level for the local residents through mangrove resource management. He said the ministry had also allocated RM720,000 for the research. "The research, which is 75 per cent completed, has found that the seashore and mangrove areas in Kota Marudu are intact in terms of the water quality. 

"The areas also have vast potential for economic development such as through the breeding of fish and mussels in cages," the minister said at the opening of Marudu Bay Carnival 2010 in Kampung Tanjung Batu Laut, here Saturday. Ongkili said a scientific research was also being done to identify local products with potential to be developed in the future. So far, he said the research also revealed that Marudu Bay had over 60 species of almost-extinct birds, mammals and reptiles which could attract tourists to the area. "The area could also be developed with homestay and water-village," he added. Meanwhile, the annual Marudu Bay Carnival is aimed, among others, at creating public awareness on the importance of preserving the nature for future generation. It is held in conjunction with the Kota Marudu-level Kaamatan Festival scheduled for Sunday.

Steward Tweets About Beautiful Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Whether it is about the food or sights and sounds, Martha Stewart seems to be loving her time in Malaysia. At least judging by her numerous tweets on Twitter. “A food coma – a meal every two hours – here you are asked – have you eaten?” she tweeted on Wednesday.

Yesterday, the lifestyle guru tweeted about her third day in the country, describing the bird park as “fabulous” and the Islamic Arts Museum as “beautiful”. Later, she commented about a lunch menu, stating that they were eating “razor clams with garlic, clams with kum heong sauce, crab with salted ducks eggs, dumplings whole steamed fish.” Stewart also tweeted about her tea party with the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah at the Te reng ganu palace, describing the Queen as a mother of four who is “vivacious and caring and very beautiful.” The television host and author even posted a picture of her signing the Queen’s guest book, another of her niece Sophie singing at the tea party and a formal group picture.

On her Thursday brunch with the Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Stewart tweeted they loved her adding: “She is doing good work with programs for children and is an active philanthropist.” Stewart has also posted several pictures on her Twitter account since her arrival on Wednesday including a sunset view of the city from her hotel suite, describing Kuala Lumpur as “green, clean, lively and wonderful.” In an early morning tweet, she noted that Kuala Lumpur meant muddy estuary, adding that “the river looks like cappuccino or teh tarik (tea), the city is just waking”, before heading to Brickfields for breakfast. She also talked about her trip to Malacca which she said had a colourful history. This is Stewart’s first visit to Malaysia. She is expected to head to Sabah tomorrow before leaving the country on Wednesday.

- thestar.

RM 100mil To Make Kenyir A Tourist Draw

KUALA TERENGGANU: Kenyir lake, the largest man-made lake in South East Asia, will undergo a RM100mil makeover. It is also expected to be declared as a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) to make it a top tourist draw. Kenyir, with 340 islands, is currently not a top tourist destination.

With the FTZ, the Terengganu government hopes it will be an impetus for the growth of eco-tourism in this area. Mentri Besar Ahmad Said confirmed the state government had requested the Federal Government to declare Kenyir as an FTZ. The proposed development for Kenyir included introducing a 40-seater jet boat to tour the lake; constructing a cable car line, setting up a theme park, creating an orchid garden, a fruit orchard as well as birds and butterfly parks. The jet boat ride is expected to be crowd-puller with the highlight being the “Shotover” where the boat makes a 360-degree spin at full throttle.

Kenyir will also be turned into a shopping paradise, offering merchandise at affordable prices. The lake makes a fascinating tourism spot as it is home to more than 8,000 species of flowers, 2500 species of plants and trees, as well as more than 300 species of fresh water fish. The infrastructure and transportation system leading to Kenyir, specifically to the islands, will also be upgraded. Ahmad said a jetty would be constructed fronting Kenyir's main gateway.

Tourism Malaysia DG Relieved MACC Withdraws Appeal

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 (Bernama) -- Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab is very glad his ordeal with the courts is finally over following the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Friday deciding to withdraw its appeal against his acquittal from a corruption charge by the Sessions Court. Contacted by Bernama, Mirza said he was pleased with the development as his trial had taken a heavy toll on his life and career. He is now busy with preparations for the "Colours of Malaysia" celebration which will be held here.

MACC's Prosecution and Legal Affairs Division director Datuk Abdul Razak Musa, when contacted, confirmed that the MACC had withdrawn its appeal against his acquittal due to insufficient evidence. He said High Court Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha allowed the MACC's application to withdraw the appeal. On July 24, 2009, Sessions Court judge Zainal Abidin Kamaruddin acquitted and discharged Mirza after finding the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against him. Mirza, 52, was charged with accepting dental treatment valued at RM13,860 which was paid for by Zulhisyam Ayob, a director of a media consulting company, despite knowing the company had dealings with him as the director-general of the Tourism Promotion Board then.

Friday, 21 May 2010

AirAsia World's Best Low-Cost Airline, Says Skytrax

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 (Bernama) -- AirAsia is the world's best low-cost airline again, says Skytrax.S ome 18 million travellers polled worldwide chose AirAsia as the World's Best Low-Cost Airline for the second consecutive year, says the respected London-based aviation consultants in its annual global survey. AirAsia said it came out top in the independent survey that measured airlines' products and services standards. AirAsia Chairman Datuk Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar received the award on behalf of the airline at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany, yesterday. The carrier was also named Best Low-Cost Airline Asia at the ceremony.

AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the Skytrax award was very special to AirAsia as it was voted in by passengers. "The award is public and global recognition for the efforts of my colleagues, the AirAsia Allstars. They are the foundation of AirAsia's success," he said. He said the dedication, commitment, creativity and hardwork they displayed everyday, day in and day out, enables AirAsia not just to compete but also succeed on the global stage. And we're just over eight years' old," he added. AirAsia has flown more than 92 million passengers todate.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Melaka To Host World Wedding Festival In December

MELAKA, May 20 (Bernama) -- The World Wedding Festival (WWF) 2010 to be held at Dataran Pahlawan, Bandar Hilir, in December will bring together wedding industry operators from within and outside the country. WWF chairman Datuk Ismail Mohamad said the weeklong festival starting Dec 5 and themed "One World One Heart" would have two main programmes, a World Wedding Expo and a World Wedding Competition. A total of 360 exhibition booths would be set up and the uniqueness of the wedding ceremonies of each state in Malaysia and several other countries would be showcased, he told reporters after the pre-launch of the festival by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam here Thursday.

Develop Tourism Industry Based On What We Have, Says Victor Wee

KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 (Bernama) -- The best way to develop the tourism industry in Malaysia is to capitalise on what the country has to offer, said Chairman of Tourism Malaysia Datuk Dr Victor Wee. Exchanging views on how to maximise tourism potential, Wee said countries that aim to tap into tourism to enhance their economies should leverage on their strengths and be creative in attracting visitors. Citing Malaysia as example, Wee said, even the monsoon season itself had been turned into a tourism product despite the fact that it is regarded as a low period for tourism and hindered tourism potential. Referring to the "Monsoon Cup" regatta off the coast of Terengganu, Wee said the monsoon period with its strong winds and rain had proven to be an advantage with proper planning. "We have a competition. We invite people...sailors to come and compete with one another. Instead of seeing the monsoon season as a disadvantage, it is now a feature of our tourism and has put the country on the world map," he said during a panel discussion at the 6th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), here Thursday. 

The discussion entitted "Tapping Tourism Potential:Putting Resources to Work", was moderated by Chairman, Malaysia Airlines and Bank Muamalat Malaysia Berhad, Tan Sri Mohd Munir Abdul Majid. Wee said capitalising on the country's best tourism feature - diverse ethnic groups - Malaysia had leveraged on what it had in the country and created the 'Malaysia Truly Asia' campaign, which has grown into a brand of its own. Apart from that, Wee said, to further enhance the tourism industry, Malaysia had made significant moves to package existing products so as to make them more appealing to the niche markets. This included medical tourism, educational tourism, home-stay products, eco-tourism, the "Malaysia My Second Home" programme and shopping festivals which targeted different markets around the world. Wee said the launch of the Visit Malaysia Year in 2007 went a long way in re-engineering all stakeholders' perspective on tourism and helped align them with the objectives of the government's tourism initiatives. "These strategies have seen our tourism arrivals increase four-fold in ten years; from 5.5 million tourist arrivals in 1998 to 22 million in 2008," he said. 

Maldives Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dr Ahmed Ali Awad, who was also on the panel, spoke on the evolution of his country's tourism industry from rustic home-stay products to the sophisticated high-end resorts of Thursday. Admitting that with lack of resources and connectivity back in the 1960s, Dr Ahmed Ali said, the island country was not even on the main tourism routes. "Some pioneers brought European tourists on home-stay programmes to our idyllic islands by simple boats. They carried stories of their stay here by word-of-mouth, and that's how our tourism industry was born," he revealed. Recognising the country's tourism potential, the government ensured that it made infrastructure development a priority, including building an international airport which later put the island on the air routes, he added. However, he said it was the unique concept of "One Island, One resort" policy which emphasized on environment preservation and ensuring sustainable development that has gave the Maldives tourism industry a boost. "We abide by the one island, one resort policy, which limits one resort being built per island. And all resort structures may only occupy 20 per cent of the islands' land area and are not to be built higher than the tallest tree," he said. 

For Executive Council member of the South African Ministry of Economic Development & Tourism, Michael Mabuyakhulu, he said players in the tourism industry had to do business in a different way to fulfil the desires of today's tourists. He said to meet their needs of "more output for less input", industry players must upgrade their services and quality. Mabuyakhulu said, the time to sell countries individually had passed, thus industry players had to cooperate and collaborate to sell regions as destinations. He said South Africa had begun to do this in the build up to the FIFA 2010 World Cup finals, which will be held there. In conclusion, the panel discussion agreed that tourism had the potential to change the face of nations, build cultural bridges and alleviate poverty if the right strategies are applied.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Royal Jordanian Resuming KL Service After 7-year Break

DUBAI, May 18 (Bernama) -- After a seven-year hiatus, the Royal Jordanian (RJ) airline will resume its regular flights to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, beginning June 2. RJ president and chief executive, Hussein Dabbas, said the decision to reconnect Jordan and Malaysia came in light of what he described as the Malaysian economic revival and the growth of its commercial activity as well as tourism. The carrier stopped its Kuala Lumpur service in 2003 due to what it viewed as "weak economic feasibility of the route over the past years". "Feasibility studies conducted by the company showed that resuming flights to Kuala Lumpur is bound to service the economic and commercial movement, and the communities living in the two countries, particularly students and businessmen," he said in a statement.

Additionally, RJ will be transporting tourist groups to and from Malaysia, as the Southeast Asian nation is a preferred destination for Jordanian families and various other countries in this region, the airline said.Dabbas also pointed out that Jordan constituted a stop for Malaysian passengers travelling to the holy places in Mecca and Medina.
RJ will operate three weekly flights departing from Amman on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, via Bangkok. The Jordanian carrier will deploy the 283-seat Airbus A330 aircraft that will join the RJ fleet on May 24. Kuala Lumpur is the second destination being added to RJ's route network in 2010, after Medina. With the addition of Kuala Lumpur, the airline's destinations reach 58, served directly from Amman.

Pameran Automotif Di Kompleks Muzium Negeri Terengganu

"Colours of 1Malaysia 2010" Take On A New Look: Ministry of Tourism to Showcase Five Main Tourism Products

KUALA LUMPUR, 15 May 2010 – The annual “Colours of 1Malaysia”, organized by the Ministry of Tourism, will take on a new theme with a vibrant and colourful concept. Themed “Colours of 1Malaysia 2010 Parade”, the event will start as early as 5.00 pm on 22 May 2010 at the Dataran Merdeka. An estimated 6,000 people will be taking part in the parade this year.

The event will be officially opened by Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah. Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd. Najib Tun Razak will be among the VIPs who will be attending. The annual parade will feature dances of the various ethnic communities in Malaysia – the “Orang Kita” (or Aborigines), Malays, Chinese and Indians - bringing together the diverse communities in Malaysia in a cultural extravaganza. This year, the focus will be on five main products which will be highlighted according to zones:

Eastern Zone - Homestay
Northern Zone - Food and Fruit Fair
Western Zone - Mega Sales and Shopping Paradise
Southern Zone - The Golden Beaches and Islands
Sabah and Sarawak - Ecotourism

The 1.5 km parade will start at Jalan Raja heading towards Jalan Raja Laut and will move through Jalan Isfahan and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman before heading back to Jalan Raja and Dataran Merdeka. There will also be a mega Dikir Barat presentation by 5,000 performers. The number is expected to enter the Malaysia Book of Records. The finale of the night will be the Tarian Cuti Cuti 1Malaysia, a dance specially choreographed by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Faces of 1Malaysia performance, which was first presented in Washington during the Prime Minister’s visit to the USA in April this year.

Monday, 17 May 2010

10,000 Visitors Targeted For Endau-Rompin National Park

MERSING, May 17 (Bernama) -- The Johor National Parks Corporation has set a target of 10,000 visitors for the Endau-Rompin National Park by year end. Its director, Abu Bakar Mohamed Salleh, said it believed that the target was achievable as about 3,000 people had visited the park between January and April. "We believe that tourist arrivals at the park will increase between June and September in conjunction with the school holidays and winter in Europe," he told reporters at a briefing at the Johor Press Club Expedition here Sunday. He said over 6,000 visitors came to the park every year, and 45 per cent of them were from Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Europe. He said the park was also planning to open new attractions, namely Gunung Pertawai, Padang Temambun and Kuala Kinchin which were endowed with the unique flora and fauna.

Lada Wants To Attract More Middle East Tourists

LANGKAWI, May 17 (Bernama) -- The Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) wants to double efforts to attract more Middle East tourists to visit this tax free island resort. Tourism manager Megat Shahrul Azman Abas said tour agencies should create more packages tailored to Middle East tourists as a promotion in Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar found that many agencies there were keen on Langkawi. He would be discussing with tour agencies and hotel operators to create the packages which include marriage, honeymoon, yachting, beach, shopping and food.

Efforts would also be made to get Middle East tourists to stay longer during the Ramadan fasting month. Over 100,000 tourists from Middle East countries are expected to visit Langkawi this year. Megat Shahrul who accompanied Tourism Malaysia to the "Arabian Travel Market" in Dubai recently said Langkawi was among the favoured destinations other than Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Sabah. He also had a discussion with two Iranian tour agencies handling tour packages to Malaysia.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Melaka Wonderland Water Theme Park Opens To The Public

MELAKA, May 15 (Bernama) -- The Melaka Wonderland Water Theme Park located at Ayer Keroh, here, which provides 16 slide activities, was opened to the public Saturday. Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the theme park, which was constructed in August 2009, was expected to attract more than 800,000 visitors annually. "The 30-acre (12-hectare) theme park has 16 slide activities, which is the most in Malaysia," he told reporters after performing the official opening ceremony. Mohd Ali said the project, developed by Melaka Wonderland Sdn Bhd, cost RM80 million of which, RM42 million was the construction cost for the theme park while the remaining RM38 million was for the land and other development such as the hotel which was under construction there.

Multi-Racial Dikir Barat To Add Splendour To Citrawarna

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 (Bernama) -- A multi- racial dikir barat performance will add splendour to the Citrawarna Malaysia 2010 procession at the Merdeka Square on May 22. A musical form originating from Kelantan, dikir barat involves singing in groups, often in a competitive setting and without instrumental accompaniment. The 1Malaysia dikir barat will be made up of about 5,500 participants and is set to enter the Malaysia Book of Records as the biggest multi-ethnic participation in a traditional activity, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said about 6,000 people would take part in the 1.5km procession starting from Jalan Raja near the Merdeka Square and passing through Jalan Raja Laut, Jalan Isfahan, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman before returning to Jalan Raja. The theme of this year's celebration, the "Colours of 1Malaysia" focuses on tourism products rather than cultural aspects, she told a news conference on Citrawarna here Saturday. Among tourism products that will be highlighted are homestay, food and fruit festival, beaches, mega sales and Malaysia as a shopping haven. Ng said a total of 160 guests from 21 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa, Australia and Asian countries, have been invited for the occasion. Singers Karen Tan, Haziq AF, Bob AF, Fabulous Cats and Datuk Khadijah Ibrahim will grace Citrawarna which is expected to be attended by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Firefly Offer Travel Bargains At Tourism Fair

PETALING JAYA: Firefly will be highlighting packages for group travels during the Malaysia Domestic Tourism Fair from today until Sunday at the Putra World Trade Centre. Its marketing and communications head Angelina Fernandez said Firefly encouraged families and groups to explore and enjoy the variety of domestic holiday spots through its Family Holiday packages.
“In short, the more people travel together, the cheaper it will be for all. There will be a holiday package for everyone both in terms of budget and also activities,” she said in a statement. The promotion, which starts today until Sunday, is valid for the travel period between June 14 and March 26, 2011.

Packages start as low as RM369 to Penang both ways or RM239 for a drive-your-own package to Cameron Highlands. Another exciting bargain on offer are Firefly tickets for RM1, which are only available at the fair and can only be purchased on Firefly’s new mobile phone application, Firefly Mobile. Customers must register with Firefly Mobile at and download the application to start booking, and the highest spender of the day will also be rewarded with gifts. Travellers and holiday-makers will get more than just special packages and cheap fares from Firefly when they visit its booth. The first 100 customers who purchase Firefly Holiday Packages will be rewarded with a gift voucher worth RM50. Free 10-minute massages will also be provided for those who purchase holiday packages. Customers of all ages will also get to experience flying a plane on the Wing Commanderz flight simulator and stand to win free tickets to selected destinations if they win the challenge.
-the star.

EMelaka Earns RM 4.4 Billion From Tourism In 2009

KUALA TERENGGANU, May 13 (Bernama) -- The tourism sector was the main revenue earner for Melaka last year, contributing RM4.4 billion from 8.9 million tourists who visited the state. State Tourism, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Seet Har Cheow said this figure was higher than that achieved in 2008 where 7.2 million tourists contributed RM4 billion to the state. "Melaka targets 8.2 million tourists his year, which is less than last year's figure in view of the economic slowdown," he said at the "Jom Ke Melaka" tourism promotion drive Thursday organised in conjunction with the 13th Malaysia Games (Sukma) to be held here.

Also present at the function were Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaacob and Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said. Seet said that between 1999 and 2009, 47.25 million tourists had visited Melaka with an average annual increase of almost 20 per cent. Most of the tourists who visited Melaka were from China, Indonesia and Singapore, besides Europe. Seet said Melaka which was chosen to host the 10-day 2010 Sukma Games from June 10 was expected to see about 500,000 visitors during this period, with 198 units of accommodation available, offering 11,215 rooms. "These accommodation include first-class hotels, resorts, chalets, budget hotels and homestay throughout the state." He said to further boost the tourism industry in Melaka, the state was given a facelift with the Batu Berendam Airport upgraded to become the Melaka International Airport (MIA), which was officially opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Feb 4. Besides the Sukma Games in June, Melaka will also organise various tourism events such as
the three-day Melaka International Air Carnival 2010 from June 4 at the MIA. "So far, we have received 100 entries involving 31 small aircraft and four helicopters from Malaysia and other countries like Singapore and Indonesia," Seet said.

Government Pursuing More Air Service Agreements With Arab Countries

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 (Bernama) -- The government is working at signing more air service agreements with Middle Eastern countries to have more flights between Malaysia and these countries. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said among the latest developments was that low-cost carrier AirAsia would have five flights weekly to Tehran, Iran from July. He said efforts to enhance air service between Malaysia and the Middle East was in line with the government's aim of attracting more Middle Eastern tourists to Malaysia. "However, this will depend on collaborative discussions in obtaining landing rights for Malaysia from the Arab countries," he said after launching the "Marhaba Gold Car", a tourist card, here, Thursday.

Ong said to date, Malaysia had signed air agreements and memorandums of understanding with 11 Middle Eastern countries. He said six countries, namely Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Yemen had given flexible landing rights to Malaysia without restrictions on the number and type of aircraft and frequency of flights. Ong said nine airline companies in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Yemen and Iran operated 66 flights to Malaysia per week. "Malaysia Airlines, on the other hand, flies 33 times weekly to the Middle Eastern countries." Meanwhile, IMAF Sdn Bhd executive chairman Akram Youssef said the Marhaba Gold Card provided a diverse range of benefits for Arab tourists, including great discounts on shopping, hotel stay, and visits to major tourist attractions and other places of interest.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Tourism Malaysia Concludes Roadshow To Kuwait, Qatar

DUBAI, May 13 (Bernama) -- Tourism Malaysia concluded its roadshow to Kuwait and Qatar on Tuesday, whetting the appetite of the Arabs with tourism products ranging from ecotourism, shopping, food and urban life to Ramadan and honeymoon packages. It began in Kuwait City on May 8 and closed with a bang at the Four Seasons Doha hotel with the Malaysia Gala Dinner featuring a mesmerising cultural show courtesy of Istana Budaya dancers. According to Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general for planning Azizan Noordin, there was growing interest in Malaysia's ecotourism as well as medical tourism among the Arabs. "Interest in ecotourism is growing as we're now slowly getting the second and third generation of the people who were visiting Malaysia since we started tourism promotions in this region back in the mid-1990s," he said in Doha recently.

Malaysia is also rolling out the red carpet to Arab visitors during the Ramadan fasting month. Azizan said feedback from tour operators and hoteliers in both Kuwait City and Doha indicated that Malaysia stood a good chance of getting more arrivals from this region during that period. "We have all the ingredients; we're a Muslim country, the daylight hours (for fasting) are almost the same throughout Ramadan and many flights are going to Malaysia," he explained. Azizan said Malaysian hoteliers were talking about bringing in chefs from the Middle East for food promotions. "In fact, we already have quite a number of Arab restaurants in places like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and even Langkawi," he said. Shops and eateries in certain areas were likely to stay open later than usual to cater to Arab visitors during Ramadan, added Azizan. The Tourism Malaysia official also said that honeymooners from the Middle East were another market segment that the Malaysian hospitality sector would be focusing on. "Actually, this is not something new to us as we've been getting honeymooners from countries like Korea and Japan. So our hoteliers can use that experience to cater to newly-weds from Arab countries," he said.

Accompanied by four Istana Budaya performers who looked resplendent in traditional Malay costumes, Azizan went on a walkabout at the Villaggio shopping mall in Doha, Tuesday. The dancers generated quite a bit of attention as shoppers took the opportunity to snap photographs with them, asking where they were from. Azizan also called on several tour operators in the Qatari capital, with the Istana Budaya dancers helping to distribute promotional items on Malaysia. The roadshow to the two Gulf nations was led by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. It came on the heels of the Arabian Travel Market 2010 in Dubai, also headed by the minister. Malaysia aims to attract 300,000 visitors from the Middle East in 2010.

Oman Air Plans Daily Flights To KL

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 (Bernama) -- Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, plans to mount daily flights between Muscat and the Malaysian capital by next year. "At present, we fly four times a week from Muscat to Malaysia and I bet we will have daily flights here by next year," Chief Commercial Officer Barry Brown told reporters Thursday. He said the airline also planned to have a code-sharing arrangement with Malaysia Airlines and hoped to introduce it on June 1. Oman Air District Sales Manager Kathleen Leong said: "Oman and Malaysia recognise there are mutual benefits to have direct flights and the up-tick in the economies of both countries makes this a strategically smart move.

"Malaysians performing Haj or Umrah can make a stop at Muscat while Omanis can enjoy the shopping and leisure experiences offered here." Oman Air Chief Executive Officer Peter Hill said hotels and restaurants in Oman recorded a high annual growth rate in the third quarter of 2009 compared to first and second quarter which indicates a positive growth for tourism sector in 2010. Also, there were 1.4 million passengers from the Middle East in 2009, an increase of 5.8 per cent from 2008, he said. The number of tourists visiting Malaysia from Oman this year is expected to reach 21,000, a 100 per cent increase from last year with the availability of direct flights from Oman to Malaysia. Hill also noted that in 2008, Malaysia's imports from the sultanate amounted to US$866 million, an increase of 78 per cent compared to 2007. Oman Air is the first airline in the world to offer both Wi-Fi and mobile telephony to all classes of passengers, in addition to live television. The airline operates direct flights from Muscat to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, United Kingdom and Germany.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

KL Offers 'Beauty Tours'

KUWAIT CITY: A new tourism product is being created in Malaysia, catering exclusively to Arab women, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said. Dr Ng, who earlier met leading tour operators here, mooted the idea after receiving feedback that well-heeled Kuwaiti women frequently made trip overseas for excursions. “We have tagged this new package as Ladies Tour where these tourists can look forward to a magnificent holiday in Malaysia,” Dr Ng said.

She was speaking at a Malaysian Gala Dinner which was attended by several prominent Kuwaitis, local tour operators and Malaysian hoteliers at a hotel here on Sunday night. Dr Ng said based on feedback, Kuwaiti women have a tendency of spending heavily on beauty products and grooming. She said that the package would be designed to attract women who were now flocking to London and Paris for the same reason. Dr Ng described her two-day tour here as a very successful trip and was optimistic that tourist arrivals from Kuwait would increase significantly. Dr Ng said Malaysia received 22,200 Kuwaiti tourists in 2009. Her ministry has set a target of 25,000 for this year.
-the star.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Kuwaitis Keen On High-End Investment

KUWAIT CITY: Investors from Kuwait are willing to look into high-end investments in Kuala Lumpur, such as establishing boutique hotels to cater to jet-setting tourists from the Middle East and other parts of the world. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Kuwaitis had expressed their willingness to invest in the tourism industry, provided they have a clear picture on the bureaucratic procedures for foreigners and the return of investment.

“At present, Malaysia is not well represented here in terms of luring wealthy Arabs to invest in our tourism. France and India have beaten us to this. It is time we look into luring the rich and wealthy to our country, which is a microcosm of Asia. “They (Arabs) are very excited about setting up boutique hotels,” she said after paying a courtesy call on Kuwait's Minister of Commerce and Industry Ahmad Rashed Haroun yesterday. Dr Ng said education and wellness tourism packages could also be bolstered with Arab investments.
- the star.

Langkawi Targets 200,000 Foreign Tourist Via Singapore This Year

LANGKAWI, May 10 (Bernama) -- Tourism operators in Langkawi are targeting to draw 200,000 Singaporeans and visitors to Singapore to duty-free, mystical Langkawi island this year. Pishol Ishak, chairman of the Kedah branch of Matta (Malaysia Association of Tour and Travel Agents), said towards this end, Matta and the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) together with 15 travel agents in Langkawi would be holding a tourism promotion drive in Singapore from May 13 to 15. He said according to statistcis from Lada's tourism unit, over 40,000 Singaporeans and other foreign tourists visisted Langkawi in 2009. Pishol said as an international flight hub, Singapore was a prime market for tourists from the island republic as well as its foreign visitors. He said currently, Singappre's Silk Air, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia had direct flights between Langkawi and Singapore. Meanwhile, Lada is participating in a Tourism Malaysia roadshow in Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar which began on May 4 and will end tomorrow. More than 89,000 tourists from the Middle East visited Langkawi last year.

"Malaysia Truly Asia" Comes To Life In Kuwait City

KUWAIT CITY, May 10 (Bernama) -- With colourfully-clad members of the Istana Budaya cultural troupe in tow, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen rolled up her sleeves Sunday as she got creative in her bid to woo more Kuwaitis to holiday in Malaysia. Strolling into several travel agencies unannounced here, the Malaysian tourism minister unleashed her marketing skills as she promoted Malaysia directly to tour operators and their potential customers. "Come to Malaysia, we also have good diving sites such as Sipadan," she coaxed one client at a travel agency who was considering going to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt to indulge in the sport. Explaining her move to the Malaysian media later, Dr Ng said: "I'm very happy because you can see how shocked they were when we went in. Tourism is about reaching out to people."It's not about coming here and talk to a few people and then disappear. Today, I've already sold some packages. "The minister's little walkabout in downtown Kuwait City appears to have had the desired effect. "We appreciate her visit and we hope to do very well this summer for Malaysia. We'll really give all our support to Malaysia," one travel agency boss said when met by Bernama.

Dr Ng told a press conference earlier that Malaysia was eyeing 25,000 arrivals from Kuwait this year over 20,170 achieved in 2009. At every opportunity in the Kuwaiti capital, the minister touted Malaysia's charms as a tourist destination, with a particular stress on the country's natural beauty besides shopping and mouth-watering food. "We have rainforests of some 130 million years old, 1,700 islands and some of the world's best diving spots," she told the assembled members of the media. Tourism Malaysia's efforts to boost visitor arrivals from the Middle East during the fasting month of Ramadan was also a recurring theme. Dr Ng is leading a two-day Tourism Malaysia roadshow in Kuwait after attending the Arabian Travel Market 2010 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Malaysia's tourism push in Kuwait is further boosted by the "Discover One Malaysia" holiday packages offered by tour operator Boodai Aviation Group, and launched by the minister at the press conference. Dr Ng left no stone unturned in her quest to increase tourist numbers and tourism revenue for Malaysia. Also Sunday, she called on Kuwait's Commerce and Industry Minister Ahmad Rashed Al Haroun to signal Malaysia's commitment to the Kuwaiti market. "He said that in Kuwait you need to keep reminding people about your products. The French already came to do a French week, and the Indians are coming to do the Indian week. "So, we have to go back and think of ways to further enhance our presence in this Gulf country," the Malaysian minister said. According to Dr Ng, the Kuwaiti minister welcomed opportunities for his country to invest in Malaysia. Dr Ng also got a taste of Kuwaiti hospitality when she jumped at the opportunity to visit the residence of the owner of one of Kuwait's top tour operators. There, she found out that his daughter had spent her honeymoon in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, a few years back. "Do come to Malaysia for a second honeymoon. And tell your father to go and buy properties in Malaysia," Dr Ng told her over a lavish spread of cakes and sweets.

And "Malaysia Truly Asia" came to life during a gala dinner organised by Tourism Malaysia at the Sheraton Kuwait hotel Sunday night, where the sights and sounds of Malaysia took centre stage. The invited guests were entertained to a pulsating and colourful cultural performance and video presentation. Midway, Dr Ng took charge, taking pains to explain to the audience what the movements were all about. She later led the way in performing some of the dances herself, to the delight of those present in the hotel ballroom. "The Kuwait roadshow is extremely successful," was the minister's verdict, adding that she had gotten the chance to meet whoever she was supposed to meet. According to her, tour operators here had expressed commitment to send more visitors to Malaysia. "I've also invited some ladies to come over to Malaysia where they can indulge themselves at our spa and wellness facilities, go shopping as well as develop potential business contacts," she said. She hopes to come back with a team of people who can further promote Malaysia's medical tourism, education tourism and property sector. Dr Ng was assisted in Kuwait by Tourism Malaysia's deputy director-general for planning Azizan Noordin, its Dubai office director Tuan Razali Tuan Omar and Malaysian ambassador to Kuwait Datuk Ashaary Sani. The minister flies to Doha, Qatar on Monday for the final leg of the roadshow aimed at further promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination among Gulf travellers.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Twin Towers Plan To Lure Tourist Ringgit

DUBAI: The Government will look into ways to turn Malaysia’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers into a lucrative tourism product.Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said it planned to unveil a package that would allow visitors to pay a reasonable sum in order to reach the skybridge without having to wait in long queues.
Currently, tourists are allowed to go up to the skybridge for a bird-eye’s view of Kuala Lumpur free of charge but that they have to wait in long queues due to the high volume of visitors. "We are planning to unveil the package where visitors can get to the skybridge minus the long waiting line but for a reasonable sum,” she said after touring the 828m-high Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest man-made structure on Friday. Dr Ng said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked her to lay the groundwork to turn the Twin Towers into a cash-generating tourism product. “Petronas is also receptive to the idea and we will work on it at once,” she said, adding that Internet bookings could also be introduced for visitors to the Twin Towers. “We can also add features like a visual projection of the nation’s history and culture as the visitors ride to the top of the Twin Towers in the elevators,” she said.

Dr Ng said despite the exorbitant price of RM388 for an instant visit to the Burj Khalifa and RM98 to book a visit in two days’ time, the volume of tourists to the tower was tremendous. “The idea of Burj Khalifa initially originated from Petronas Twin Towers but they have overtaken us in terms of turning the structure into a revenue-generating tourism product,” she said. Dr Ng also commended Malaysian architect Nor Shaharom Mansor, who is Emaar Properties PJSC Assistant Director, the management company for Burj Khalifa for his involvement in the project.

Minister In Malaysian Tourism Push In Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY, May 9 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen kicked off a tourism road show here with a meeting with top tour operators Saturday night where she touted the possibility of visitors from Kuwait and beyond being involved in property investment in Malaysia. The Malaysian tourism minister said interested parties could also look into developing boutique hotels in Malaysia. Elaborating, she told the gathering that visitors could buy a second home in Malaysia, for example. "In this manner, Malaysia will not just be seen as a tourist destination but also as a place away from home to get away to during the summer. "So, instead of zooming off to places like London or Paris, it's now Malaysia," she later told the Malaysian media covering her visit to Kuwait. Education tourism and medical tourism could be further developed from there, said Dr Ng who is in the Kuwaiti capital after leading the Malaysian delegation at the May 4-7 Arabian Travel Market 2010 in Dubai.

On boutique hotels, the minister said "they were very interested". "I'll look further into it and see how we can proceed. They can always do a boutique hotel of, say, 50 room, 100 rooms," she said. According to her, potential customers would not be confined to Middle Easterners alone as people from other regions, like the millions of Muslims from China, travel as well. Dr Ng also talked about the idea of developing super luxury holidays for well-heeled people. "There's a very big opportunity for this market segment where holidaymakers will be treated like a king or queen," she said. The minister said her ministry would likely rope in only selected players for this purpose. "We can't just open it to everybody because quality of service is absolutely critical. The moment the service quality is down, the project is finished," she noted. Dr Ng also briefed the tour operators on Tourism Malaysia's efforts to bring in more Arab tourists to Malaysia during the Ramadan fasting month. The Malaysia Gala Dinner will be held at the Sheraton Kuwait hotel tonight.

Inaugural Royal Kedah International Hot Air Balloon Fest Starts On May 28

ALOR SETAR, May 9 (Bernama) -- The sky here will be filled with colours when the inaugural Royal Kedah International Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010 kicks off on May 28 at Taman Jubli Emas, Suka Menanti, here. At only RM10, members of the public will also get the chance to enjoy an exciting ride in a hot air balloon during the three-day festival. The patron of the festival, Tunku Panglima Besar Datuk Seri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz Sultan Abdul Halim, said 10 hot air balloons from participating countries like New Zealand, Japan, Belgium, Thailand, France and Malaysia would conduct the rides for the public at two sessions -- 6.30am to 9am and 5.30pm to 7.30pm. "Each balloon will float between 15m to 30m above the ground depending on the wind condition and its capacity. Each ride will take between 10 to 15 minutes," she told reporters after pre-launching the festival here on Sunday. Stressing that such festival could promote the state as a must-see destination in Malaysia, she also hoped that it would eventually grow in prestige and be made a permanent feature in the state's annual tourism calendar.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Tourism Potential Of Petronas Twin Towers To Be Further Explored

DUBAI, May 8 (Bernama) -- Tourism Malaysia and Petronas are exploring the possibility of further developing the tourism potential of Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the skybridge experience, for example, could be turned into an income-generating tourism product. She pointed out that currently admission to the skybridge linking the two towers was free, but visitors had to queue for the tickets to get up. "Many tourists have actually asked how to book tickets in advance because it's cumbersome for them to wait in a long queue. "They say that by the time they finish waiting the tickets are gone," she told Malaysian media after visiting Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building here, Friday.

According to Dr Ng, who led the Malaysian delegation to the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010, tourists wanted convenience and were prepared to pay for it rather than wasting time unnecessarily. Citing the example of Burj Khalifa, the minister said visitors who wished to go up the observatory deck on the 124th floor of the super tall structure could book tickets costing 100 dirhams (about RM80) per person in advance, while those who wanted immediate entrance could do so at a premium. "It's a fantastic system. They have utilised the Burj Khalifa to become a very powerful tourism instrument. And I think our Petronas Twin Towers have that potential too," she observed. Dr Ng said the Petronas towers should have a similar system -- one that allows advance ticket bookings that eliminates long queues.

Nevertheless, Dr Ng conceded that Petronas, Malaysia's national petroleum corporation, did not build the 88-storey twin towers with tourism in mind. "Actually, we've been asked by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to see how we can work and assist Petronas to develop the skybridge into a tourism product. "Tourism Malaysia has already spoken to Petronas and the company is very receptive to the idea," said Dr Ng who was accompanied on her tour of Burj Khalifa by Emaar Properties assistant director (projects), Nor Shaharom Mansor. She said tourism was not only a matter of coming up with new products to woo tourists but also value-adding existing products, such as the skybridge. According to Melaka-born Nor Shaharom, who has been involved in the Burj Khalifa development since day one, further developing the tourism potential of the Petronas towers was something 'doable'. "For Burj Khalifa, we knew what we wanted since day one. The idea behind it is that we don't want people to go to the observatory deck just for the view. "We want to create something more interesting by ensuring that the experience, both interactive and educational, starts from the ticketing counter all the way up the tower," he said. According to him, the observatory deck of Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper that can be seen from 95km away, was generating a lot of income for Emaar, the developer of the project.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Tourist Arrivals From Kazakhstan Expected To Increase

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 (Bernama) -- Malaysia aims at increasing tourist arrivals from Kazakhstan by 150 per cent following an overwhelming response to Tourism Malaysia promotion there. The positive response was gauged from a tourism seminar conducted in Kazakhstan's capital, Almaty today, said Tourism Malaysia and Donaplus Tour & Travel Sdn Bhd in a statement to Bernama. Attended by 130 tour and travel agents, the seminar is organized by Donaplus Tour & Travel and supported by Malaysian Embassy in Kazakhstan, Air Astana, Kazakhstan national carrier, and Tourism Malaysia. Air Astana sales director Madina Otrabayeva said there was a gradual increase in passenger traffic from Kazakhstan to Malaysia since the launch of the Almaty-Kuala Lumpur flight on Oct 30 last year. Donaplus business development director Gulnora Khamidova said 5,493 Kazakhstan tourists visited Malaysia between January and October last year or an average of 550 visitors a month. "Kazakhstan travel agents expect the number to increase as in January this year alone, 1,577 tourist arrivals from the country was recorded," he said, adding that on average most of them stayed seven days and spent RM8,200 each.

"Teh Tarik" A Crowd-Puller At Malaysia Tourism Pavilion In Dubai

DUBAI, May 7 (Bernama) -- "I'm very proud to be able to promote Malaysia to the world in my own special way," said Mior Sazali Mat Ali, whose skill at making "teh tarik" (literally pulled tea) is creating quite a stir at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010 here. His little stall may be tucked away at the back of the Malaysia Pavilion, but this has not stopped thousands of visitors to the Middle East's premier travel fair from making a beeline for a delicious cuppa. With a poster of Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers serving as a backdrop, the 47-year-old Perakian can be seen "pulling" the tea mixture this way and that to the delight of the people who drop by at the pavilion.

"This is my second time in Dubai but this time around the response has been tremendous. I'm serving up to 1,500 cups a day," a pleased Mior Sazali said when met by Bernama. Teh tarik is a hot beverage that can be commonly found in restaurants, outdoor stalls and "kopitiam" in Malaysia. Its name is derived from the pouring process of "pulling" the drink during preparation. It is made from tea, condensed milk and water. Mior Sazali's tea-making talent has not gone unnoticed as he has been regularly roped in by Tourism Malaysia for its promotional drives abroad. "I've been to countries like Australia, the United States, Saudi Arabia and South Africa," said the winner of the 1995 Federal Territory Teh Tarik Competition who is heading for Mauritius next month. "And I'm happy to be of service to the country," he added. He has been attached to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre since 1984. The four-day ATM 2010 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre ends on Friday.

Yen Yen Charms The Arabs

DUBAI: Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen went on a charm offensive to lure in tourists and airlines from West Asia when she personally made her rounds at the Arabian Travel Market held here. Starting her day at the Malaysian pavilion which had been designed after a typical Malay kampung house, Dr Ng briefed the foreign media on what the country could offer tourists. “Malaysia has a diverse culture. You get the best of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans and even Arabs in one country. “I am a Chinese and a Christian. But I am a key Federal Minister in charge of the tourism portfolio. We (Malaysia) are a melting pot of Asia,” she said yesterday in reply to an Arab journalist who claimed that the country was stereotyping population based on their ethnic background.

Being the only minister who walked among the crowds at the Dubai Convention and Exhibition Centre where the event was held, Dr Ng was clearly the focus of the foreign media. She also unveiled Malaysia’s holiday package for this year’s Ramadan, promising Arab tourists a unique experience for their fasting month as well as a meeting soon with local authorities to extend the operating hours of shopping complexes during this time. She also met Oman Air chief executive officer Peter Hill and its chief commercial officer Barry Brown, expressing hope that the carrier’s new service of four weekly flights between Muscat and Kuala Lumpur from May 1 would help to double the number of visitors from the Gulf state. Meanwhile, Emirates Airline has responded positively to the request by Malaysian government for more flights to Kuala Lumpur during the fasting month. “I requested Emirates to increase flights to Malaysia during Ramadan and the airline boss was supportive,” she said after the meeting at Emirate booth at the ongoing Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010 here. Dr Ng is leading a Malaysian delegation at the Middle East premiere travel fair which will end today. Emirates operates 21 weekly non-stop flights between its home base of Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.

- the star.