Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Moving beyond metro Malaysia

Tourism Malaysia is aiming to draw Indian tourists to destinations outside Malaysia's metropolitan cities, thanks to improved accessibility between its capital of Kuala Lumpur and second- and third-tier cities in India. Experiential holidays at places other than those already popular with the Indian market - Penang, Langkawi, Genting Highlands and Kuala Lumpur - are now being promoted. 

Among them are activities such as cave exploration at UNESCO World Heritage site Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, and scuba diving and snorkelling on the islands off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and off the coast of East Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia Mumbai director P Manoharan said: "We are targeting savvy middle-income professionals who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s. 

"We are using more online media and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to reach this segment of travellers as it is more cost-effective compared to traditional advertising. Online media also has a wider reach." Red Apple Travel & Tours managing director Arokia Das Anthony said he had received more travel enquiries for East Malaysia this year and attributed this to awareness created by Tourism Malaysia.
-TTG Asia.

Online food trail receives huge response from people round the globe

KUALA LUMPUR: Over 30,800 people from 47 countries, including Malaysians, have provided feedback on the food trail for the best nasi lemaklaksa and bak kut teh in the country through an online portal started by the Tourism Ministry, says its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. She said the ministry would select the best outlets serving the three popular delicacies in December based on best food, value for money, hygiene and customer service.

Owners of selected food outlets would each receive a certificate of acknowledgement and a special logo for their outlets. Food lovers had earlier provided feedback through www.fabfood1malaysia.com, she added.

‘Foodies’ haven: Dr Ng launching the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Food Trail 2009 directory at Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.

“The food trail is to promote food as one of the main tourism products,” she told reporters after launching the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Food Trail 2009 directory here yesterday. Dr Ng said 120 outlets including hawker stalls were named in the directory offering the best for the three popular dishes that were being promoted. The next three delicacies to be promoted next year are satayroti canai and chicken rice. Food lovers would be able to vote for their favourite outlets through the same website, she said.

The ministry, she added, hoped that the effort would help outlet owners to improve their standards to international level. Tourists spent about RM8.77bil on food and beverages in 2008, she said, adding that it grossed the third largest revenue in the tourism sector after accommodation and shopping. She said “foodies tourism” was popular in New Zealand and Australia and some of the tourists even asked if Malaysia would follow suit.

-thestar online.

Tourism Ministry Launches Booklet On Nasi Lemak, Laksa And Bak Kut Teh

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 (Bernama) -- The Ministry of Tourism on Monday launched its 'Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Trail 2009' booklet featuring ten best and must try food in three different categories - nasi lemak, laksa and Bak Kut Teh (meat bone tea).

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the main objective of producing the booklet was to provide a definitive guide in helping to navigate food aficionados.

Dr Ng said it was also to harness upon the attractions in the food sector and entrench them as outstanding products of Malaysia's food tourism.

"Food tourism is very important. In 2009, the food bill alone from tourists to Malaysia stood at RM8.5 billion. It was the third highest expenditure among tourists.

"As such, based on public feedback, we came up with this booklet where the best 50 outlets for each category are listed as per the recommendations of the www.fabfood1malaysia.com website.

The booklet will be distributed nationwide," she told a press conference after launching the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Food Trail 2009 here Monday. She said the listing was also based on the quality of food, customer service and cleanliness. She said since the launch of the website, over 30,864 visitors from 47 countries visited the website to report their recommendations from the rich diversity and variety of local food served by the best Malaysian restaurants and street food stalls.

For this year, Dr Ng said the ministry would continue the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia 2010 programme, which would be held from October until December. "This year we choose three more types of food - sate, roti canai and nasi ayam. This way we hope to uplift our restaurants to be international standard. "Malaysia wants to be known as food heaven, good food variety, exotic, traditional, fine dining and green," she said.

The Fabulous Food 1Malaysia campaign which was launched last year, is a three-month campaign divided into three segments - Malaysia International Gourmet Food Festival in October, ASEAN Heritage Food Trail in November and Street Food Festival and Restaurant Food Festival in December.

Commuters Look Forward To Labuan-Brunei New Ferry Service

LABUAN, Aug 30 (Bernama) -- Thousands of commuters are looking forward to the new Labuan-Brunei ferry service as it will boost economic and tourism growth. The Labuan-Muara (Brunei) ferry service by P.K.L. Jaya Sdn Bhd is expected to operate before Aidilfitri. Fast Service and Supply manager Hajah Fauziah Datuk Mohd Din said the Transport Ministry would issue the operating licence soon.

"The ferry service will boost tourism as we expect to see more Brunei tourists in Labuan," she said. The ferry named
Shuttle Hope can make the journey in 30 minutes and can accommodate 25-40 vehicles per service.

Monday, 30 August 2010

HK tourists awed by Malaysia

SENAI: Many tourists from Hong Kong believe that Malaysia is safe and friendly and looked forward to visiting the country again. Student Terrence Lau, 17, said he had a wonderful vacation and was pleased that he visited Sibu Island, Malacca and Kota Tinggi. “I especially enjoyed visiting Kota Tinggi, as I managed to see thousands of fireflies there,” he said. Lau said that this was his first visit to Malaysia and it would leave a lasting impression on him, as the local cuisine was delicious while the locals were friendly and hospitable.

Happy visitors: Woolly (left), Lee (middle) and Lau (right) posing with a couple of friends before their flight out of Johor at the Senai International Airport yesterday.

His mother, Dora Lee, in her 40s, said that the holiday was more than she had initially expected from Malaysia. “The stay in Sibu Island was amazing. “I went snorkelling and petted some deer,” she said, adding that she also enjoyed visiting Malacca as the city was rich in culture and heritage. Lee hopes to come back to Malaysia again within the next two years, and wants to visit Kuala Lumpur as she has heard many interesting facts from her friends about the city.

Meanwhile, student Ko Woolly, 17, said that she loved the local cuisine here as it was spicy and colourful. “Malaysian food is very spicy and unique. “I enjoyed feasting on the curries and gravies,” she said, adding that this was her second visit to the country so far. Woolly, Lee and Lau were part of a group of tourists who visited Malaysia under a special charter flight tour package offered by Option Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd and EGL Tours Ltd.

Option Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd executive director David Tham (pic) said that a total of 1,760 tourists from Hong Kong had purchased the tour package which costs RM2,500 per person. The tourists spent a total of five days touring several states within Malaysia. Tham explained that the travel package, which was the travel agent’s most popular, included a two-night stay in Sibu Island, one-night stay in Malacca and a day trip to Kota Tinggi to watch fireflies.

-thestar online.

PM: M’sia to have world’s first mega low cost carrier terminal

SEPANG: Malaysia will have the world’s first mega terminal dedicated to and designed for low cost carriers, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Scheduled to be completed in 2012, the terminal would be known as KLIA2, he said. Najib said the low cost terminal had been given development priority due to booming budget travel and KLIA2 was estimated to meet low cost travel needs for the next 10 to 15 years. He said this was a variation from the original KLIA masterplan as low cost travel and its extraordinary boom in this part of the world was not previously envisioned or anticipated.

"Fortunately for us, we were dynamic in our adaptability and able to accommodate the low cost carriers needs for the past few years at the current LCCT. “However, the time has come to once again revolutionise the airport terminal design for low cost carriers and passengers in order to stay ahead of the competition," he said at the ground breaking ceremony of KLIA2. Also present were Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad chairman Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman and its managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad.

The RM2bil project, with a capacity to handle 30 million passengers, was due to be completed by the end of 2011 but was delayed. The new terminal includes the development of the runway, taxiway, parking bays, terminal, control tower, fire station and related facilities like hotel, retail shops and food and beverage outlets. The project will also link the main terminal of KLIA to the KLIA2 via a 2km extension of the Express Rail Link. The existing LCCT has already breached its initial capacity for handling 10 million passengers.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said despite it being dedicated to serve low cost carriers, the new LCCT would meet passengers’ expectations with built-in walkways, bigger space per passenger and total separation between arrival and departing passengers for improved security. Most importantly, Kong said, the new terminal would have an integrated transport hub, connecting various modes of transportation such as taxis, buses and the Express Rail Link (ERL) service. “The market has long awaited this new terminal that will fulfill our long-term aspiration to cater for the growth in low-fare air travel for both the airlines and passengers.

“The aviation industry anticipates the emergence of more new low-cost carriers that will rival the full service carriers. “It is crucial the new terminal is designed and built to capture and accommodate the future market of air travel and positioned as an attractive hub for airlines, not only regionally but also globally,” he said in his speech at the ground breaking ceremony of the new terminal by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Kong said the aviation industry was undergoing a paradigm shift with the accelerating growth of low-cost carriers defining the future of air travel, especially in Asia.

He said that last year, due to tremendous increase in demand for low cost travel, the LCCT Phase 2 was extended further to cater for 15 million passengers yearly as a temporary solution and even then, authorities had underestimated the magnitude of the growth and had to look again for a solution to cater for the rapidly growing traffic. The present LCCT was built in 2006 and was designed to accommodate 10 million passengers annually.

The minister also commended Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad for its efforts to engage stakeholders to ensure the new terminal would be built to meet the requirements of all, including airlines, ground handlers, public transport network, government agencies, local authorities and the standards set by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). “MAHB’s foresight in the designing and planning stage serves as a critical success factor of the new LCCT. “It is crucial to anticipate the future requirements for air travel, especially with the impending implementation of the Asean Open Skies policy in 2015, which will open up greater opportunities and expand our market potential exponentially,” he added.

-thestar online.

Eye-opener for Kiwis, Aussies

CHRISTCHURCH: The sights and sounds of every Malaysian state were promoted extensively throughout a 10-day mission carried out by the Tourism Ministry in New Zealand and Austalia. Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, during her meetings with tour operators, airline players, media representatives, trade organisations, local politicians and local tourism policy-makers, gave much publicity to the Malaysian states.

Among others, she promoted Sabah and Sarawak as places of adventure and intrigue, giving detailed explanations of the Mulu National Park which is a World Heritage Site, Borneo’s 130 million-year-old jungles and animals such as orang utan and proboscis monkeys. She also pushed for Penang, Malacca, Perlis and Perak, saying that they offered much history and heritage attractions. Dr Ng visited Auckland, Rotorua, Milford Sound, Christ church, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide during the tour mission that stretched from dawn to night every day.

Each time, the video presentation of “Malaysia, Truly Asia” offered much delight to the audience at stops in those cities. Brain Tohill, a tour agent from New Zealand who caters to high-end tourism, said the presentation by Dr Ng had been very impressive. His company also handles aerial tours of New Zealand.

Dr Chris West, the chief executive officer in charge of zoos in South Australia, said he learnt many new things about Malaysian states from the briefings. “She explained in great detail what each state in Malaysia has to offer. And the point she highlighted about Malaysia trying to be green and clean and taking steps to overcome illegal logging and ensure eco-preservation is very useful to international tourists,” he said. In wrapping up the tour mission, Dr Ng said she would compile a report about her visit to the two countries. The trip, she said, had been an eye-opener for her as she learnt how world-class tourists venues in New Zealand and Australia were managed.

-thestar online.

Tourism Malaysia survey reveals interests of Arab travellers

DUBAI: Beyond the well-known destinations of Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi, Arab travellers appear to be keen on exploring Malaysia's resort islands such as Redang, Perhentian and Tioman. This was the outcome of a recent online survey, devised in a multiple-answer format, undertaken by Tourism Malaysia Dubai in collaboration with a local English daily. It drew 4,172 respondents, including 3,536 United Arab Emirates (UAE) nationals, according to Mohamad Ibrahim Masri, Tourism Malaysia marketing manager for UAE, Gulf and Iran.

He said 1,471 respondents (35.25%) were in favour of island escapades, followed by vacationing at hill resorts like Genting Highlands, Fraser's Hill and Cameron Highlands (1,139 respondents, 27.29%). Arab tourists would also like to experience Malaysian culture as well as adventure with nature, like those on offer in states like Sabah and Sarawak, he told Bernama. On the type of activity they would indulge in on vacation in tropical Malaysia, 2,379 respondents (57.01 per cent) picked ecotourism above shopping, spa and wellness programmes, diving and golfing.

Mohamad Ibrahim said: "You can see that ecotourism is high on the list, and this goes back to enjoying nature and greenery. "People in this part of the world live in an environment pretty much lacking in greenery, which can be found in abundance in Malaysia. "So, it makes sense if they want to indulge in activities associated with nature when they go on vacation," the tourism official explained. Golfing garnered merely 319 positive responses of the 4,172 survey respondents.

Queried on festivals organised in Malaysia that they would likely attend, 911 respondents (21.83%) opted for the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia event, followed by Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival and Colours of Malaysia extravaganza. A question on spending Ramadan in Malaysia was also featured in the survey. A total of 2,663 respondents (63.82%) said they would like to experience the Ramadan night bazaar while 1,692 (40.55%) had savouring Malaysian food and delicacies in mind. - Bernama

Helicopter Service In Langkawi To Be Expanded To Other Destinations

LANGKAWI, Aug 28 (Bernama) -- The helicopter ride, the latest tourism product in Langkawi, will be expanded to other destinations, including overseas. Director of CIG Global Helicopter Tour & Services Sdn Bhd, the company which operates the service, Amirullah Abdullah, said the service would be expanded to Satun and Ko Lips in Thailand soon.

We are in the final stage of discussions with the authorities there, he told reporters at a breaking-of-fast here Friday. Besides the two destinations, Amirullah said, the service would also be available in Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang. He said that since the service was introduced last year, almost 2,000 tourists had taken the helicopter ride for an aerial view of the Langkawi island.

CIG Global - Tel: 604-953-2887, email: lgkhelitour@gmail.com

Friday, 27 August 2010

Malaysia eyes niche tourism

ADELAIDE: Malaysia wants to develop niche tourism programmes to enhance bilateral ties and get more Australians to visit, said Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. Several new niche areas could be developed in Malaysia specifically catering to Australians.

They include:

> SANDAKAN-RANAU heroes’ trail for former Australian soldiers and their families in remembrance of the 2,000 soldiers who died in the death march during the Japanese Occupation during World War Two;

> VOLUNTEERISM-TOURISM for students from Australia, where one-year visas will be issued to 100 Australian students to do volunteer work in Malaysia;

> “GOLDEN third age” packages to attract Australian retirees and their families to visit and even live in Malaysia,

> ESTABLISHING link with home stay associations in Australia; and

> SETTING up a Malaysia Living Arts Tourism package to attract Australian artists to Malaysia; and turn Malaysia into Asean’s very first live art tourism destination.

Dr Ng said there were many new things we could learn from the Australian tourism industry. For example, more than 500,000 tourists visit the Adelaide Arts Museum here. This is a tremendous figure. “If we can do something similar in terms of arts for Malaysia, we can attract more Australians and visitors from other countries to visit us every year,’’ she said after visiting the Adelaide Arts Museum. Dr Ng is on a 10-day promotion mission to Australia and New Zealand.

However, the minister ex pressed concern that there were still negative perceptions about issues regarding Malaysia’s alleged deforestation and destruction of orang utan habitats due to oil palm projects. “We need to clear the air over these issues. We need to explain to people here that Malaysia has policies in place to protect, preserve and conserve our forests and our eco assets. “There are many Australians who expressed surprise that we in Malaysia, actually have a ministry to handle environmental issues,” she said.

-thestar online.

MAS offering Merdeka sale for domestic destinations

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines is offering a 72-hour Merdeka sale with fares from RM99 for destinations within the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak. The sale is on from Sunday until Tuesday. Tickets can be purchased at www.malaysiaairlines.com and via mobile at http://flymas.mobi.

MAS senior general manager, Dr Amin Khan said at only RM149, one could travel from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, Sandakan, Tawau and Sibu. “Customers connecting from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Miri and Bintulu can enjoy fares from RM169. “All fare quoted are for one-way travel only,” he said in a statement yesterday. Dr Amin said with flexible travel dates from Sept 29 to May 30 next year, MAS was encouraging customers to take advantage of the offers and plan ahead for their holidays and balik kampung trips.

-thestar online.

Be tourism envoys, Ng tells Malaysian students

MELBOURNE: Malaysian students in Australia are urged to become tourism ambassadors and help sell Malaysia to their fellow university mates. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said these students were in a good position to promote a better understanding of Malaysia’s multi-racial and multi-ethnic way of life. “Reflect this multi-racial concept in your university life and make known our 1Malaysia to the rest of the world,’’ she said when visiting Malaysian students living and studying in Melbourne at Malay sia Hall.

Dr Ng, who is on a 10-day mission to promote Malaysia to New Zealand and Australia, also took time off her hectic schedule to visit a Malaysian student suffering from brain tumour living in Malaysia Hall. Evana Kamarudin, 29, a student at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, was with her mother Kintan Mohamed in their room when Dr Ng visited. Kintan, the headmistress of SK Kuala Pomson in Kajang, said she was touched by Dr Ng’s gesture.

-thestar online.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Develop niche programmes for Aussie tourists: Tourism Minister

ADELAIDE: Malaysia wants to develop niche tourism programmes to enhance bilateral ties and get more Australians to visit Malaysia, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. These include: - The Sandakan-Ranau heroes' trail for former Australian soldiers and their families in remembrance of the 2,000 Aussies soldiers who died in the death march during the Japanese occupation during the second world war, - Volunteerism tourism for students from Australia, where a one-year visa will be issued to 100 Aussies students to do volunteer work in Malaysia, - "Golden third age" packages to attract Australian retirees and their families to come and visit and live in Malaysia, - Establishing links with homestay associations in Australia, and - Setting up a Malaysia Living Arts Tourism package to lure Australian artists to Malaysia and turn Malaysia into Asean's very first live art tourism destination.

"We have identified many new exciting areas we can develop into very attractive tourism attractions for Australians. "My visit here has opened up many new ideas for development that can bring in more tourists from this part of the world to Malaysia. "There are many new things we can learn from the Australian tourism industry. For example, more than 500,000 tourists visit the Adelaide Arts Museum here. This is a tremendous figure.

Impressed: Dr Ng having a closer look of a human sculptor during her visit to the Adelaide Arts Museum yesterday.

"If we can do something similar in terms of arts for Malaysia, we can attract more Australians and visitors from other countries to visit us every year," she said after visiting the Adelaide Arts Museum Thursday. Dr Ng is on a 10-day mission to Australia and New Zealand to promote Malaysia.

She, however, expressed concern that there are still negative perceptions of Malaysia, over issues the alleged deforestation and destruction of orang utan habitats for oil-palm projects. "We need to clear the air over these issues. We need to explain to people here that Malaysia has policies in place to protect, preserve and conserve our forests and our eco assets. "There are many Aussies who expressed surprise that Malaysia actually has a ministry to handle environmental issues. They do not seem to know that. "Much more needs to be done to better inform foreign tourists about our efforts to protect our environment," she said.

Ng said her trip to Australia and New Zealand had opened up new areas of cooperation for bilateral tourism ties. Earlier, she called on Malaysian students in Australia to function as "tourism ambassadors" and help to sell Malaysia to their college and universities mates. These Malaysian students were in a prime position to help promote better understanding of Malaysia's multi-racial and multi-ethnic way of life, she said when visiting Malaysian students living and studying in Melbourne at Malaysia Hall. "Show them how well we can mix and live with people of all races. Malaysia is the place where we find such multi-racial harmony," she said.

-thestar online.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Prasarana to upgrade three LRT stations in the city

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) is spending RM51mil to upgrade three LRT stations in the city to provide a comprehensive integrated transportation system with better connectivity, accessibility and convenience for its passengers. The move will include building a six-storey carpark at the Gombak LRT station with 1,260 bays and one level specifically dedicated to women. A company spokesman, who made the announcement in a media briefing yesterday, said the objective of the project was to provide a sustainable transport system with a seamless transfer between the Kelana Jaya and Ampang line as well as the Monorail system.

Look to the future: This is how the Titiwangsa LRT station would look when integration projects are completed next year.

“The projects will include facilities for the disabled such as lifts, chairlifts, toilets, ramps, escalators and tactiles in Masjid Jamek, Hang Tuah and Titiwangsa LRT stations,’’ he said. Construction work has started in all three LRT stations including the multi-storey carpark and the whole project is expected to be completed in stages next year.

The main objective of the Masjid Jamek project is to provide a common concourse for the Kelana Jaya and Ampang Line Station to facilitate seamless transfer between both links as well a provide barrier-free access for the disabled, elderly, infirm and pregnant women. “About RM9mil will be spent on demolishing and relocating the ticketing counter room of the Ampang line station, refurbishing the platforms and providing a walkway from the station to the Jalan Melaka bus stop (opposite Standard Chartered Bank).

Work on the Hang Tuah station involves integrating the paid and unpaid area of Hang Tuah LRT Station (Ampang Line) and Hang Tuah monorail station. Facilities for the disabled such as lifts, toilets, ramps, escalators and tactiles will be constructed. There will also be a new lobby and ticketing counters at the Hang Tuah LRT station (Ampang Line), widening of platforms and other upgrading work. The project is estimated to cost RM8mil.

The Titiwangsa LRT station will see the building of three new lifts, integration of the paid area between Titiwangsa LRT station and monorail station, new waiting area, surau and ramps for the disabled, toilets, queue boxes with tactiles and a new chairlift for the monorail station at the existing pedestrian bridge which will cost RM5mil.

High-tech: An artist impression of the RM29mil multi-storey carpark connecting to Gombak LRT.

For the multi-storey car park in Gombak which is now at the piling stage, new facilities include bays specially for women and the disabled at the ground level. Other safety features include a parking guidance system, CCTV cameras and panic button system. “Once the carpark is ready we will implement a system where only LRT users will be charged a fixed rate of RM3 a day to park,’’ he said. “A temporary carpark with 300 bays near the station is now available for people to park and ride during the construction period.”

-thestar online.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Firefly Increases Its Turboprop Fleet To 10 Atr72-500s

KUALA LUMPUR, 24 August 2010 - Firefly, Your Community Airline, announced today that it will increase its present turboprop fleet with the purchase of three additional ATR72-500s, two of which will be delivered in December 2010 and the third in January 2011. Entry into service will be 1 month from delivery date. This brings Firefly s total turboprop fleet size to 10.

The additional aircraft will be used to strengthen Firefly s current network footprint through increased frequency for high demand sectors and reinstatement of some Penang based routes that were previously suspended as a result of a network rationalization that was carried out in the 1st quarter of 2009 due to unfavourable economic conditions.

River cruise sector still struggling

MILFORD SOUND (New Zealand): River cruises are big money-spinners overseas but not so in Malaysia due to the reluctance of local banks to give financial help to those starting such activities. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen on Sunday saw how the river cruises along the majestic fjords in Milford Sound, in New Zealand’s South Island, attracted up to 500,000 foreign tourists yearly.

All aboard: Ng waiting for a boat ride at Milford Sound in New Zealand yesterday.

She was disappointed that despite Malaysia having wonderful marine parks, geo-parks, riverine towns, settlements and islands, the river-cruise sector in almost every state was struggling to move forward. “This river-cruise sector is one area where we need to catch up with the rest of the world,” said Ng, who is on a 10-day promotional visit to Australia and New Zealand.

In the four days of her visit to New Zealand, Ng had a close-up look at the country’s botanical gardens, Maori handicraft, the Auckland Museum, aerial tourism as well as the food and shopping sectors. She visited Milford Sound to see how the river-cruise players made a success of their trade. “This place, despite being five hours by road from the nearest city (Queenstown), some 500,000 tourists take the trouble to come and see the place every year. “In Malaysia, we also have some scenic and beautiful coastal and river-based attractions, such as the Langkawi geopark, the islands off the east and west coasts, Kuching City and the interior settlements of Sarawak and Sabah.

“However, banks in Malaysia are reluctant to give loans to those who want to go big in the river cruises because they see the sector as one that gives slow financial returns. “If we don’t develop our cruise boats and ships, we can’t draw tourists and progress fast in the cruise sectors,’’ she told The Star. “This river-cruise sector in Malaysia has not achieved its full potential. We (the ministry) will come up with workable plans on what we can do to progress in this sector,’’ she stressed. Milford Sound has huge cliffs rising steeply to more than 300m from sea level. Glaciers and waterfalls towering down into the river gives the fjord an ancient feel.

Tun Mahathir against Langkawi bridge project

LANGKAWI: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is against the proposed Langkawi bridge project as it will erode the island’s unique features. “Langkawi must remain as an island and unsuitable to be turned into a land mass,” he told reporters after presenting chocolates and cash to 120 orphans and special children at Masjid Istiqamah in Kuala Teriang on Saturday night.

Two companies based in Perlis had proposed building a 48km bridge linking Langkawi to Kuala Perlis on the mainland. Juruelit Sdn Bhd executive chairman Kamarudin Husin said on Friday the company had enough funds for the project which included a monorail bridge. On another note, Dr Mahathir said he was disappointed that Muslims had become enemies just because they had different views. This, he cautioned, could result in Muslims losing power in their own land.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Ng: Lure the super-rich

QUEENSTOWN (New Zealand): Malaysia is losing out millions of ringgit from “super-rich” tourists because there are not enough adrenaline-packed tour packages to attract them. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, who visited the town here yesterday, said this holiday destination located in the Southern Alps of New Zealand was many “light years” ahead of Malaysia in tourism. She said Queenstown had a tour package for visitors in every income category – from backpackers to millionaires.

“The alps alone attracts an income of NZ$100mil (RM245mil) every year from entrance fees and spin-offs such as food and activities like bungee jumping, parachuting and helicopter tours.“Queenstown has everything – from great souvenirs to great food and adventures, all of which are innovatively packaged. The town itself attracts up to a million foreign visitors every year.

On top of the world: Dr Ng taking in the scenery after a helicopter ride to a mountain peak in Queenstown.

“Such value-add is sadly missing in Malaysia. Our tourism destinations offer very basic packages,” she said after a briefing by Skyline Gondola senior manager Chris Dickson. Dr Ng said Malaysia needed to come up with innovative ideas to lure tourists from every income group because although it had plenty to offer, the “packaging” of its products was not good enough.

“We have cities with nice buildings, beautiful islands, ancient forests, huge limestone caves and mountains, which people would love to see. “If we can offer helicopter tours, I am sure many rich tourists would come to Malaysia for aerial tourism,” she said, adding that for example, visitors paid up to RM5,000 per hour for helicopter tours in Queenstown.

Dr Ng, who is on a 10-day mission to New Zealand and Australia to promote Malaysia, said she would discuss with tourism development authorities and the private sector to come up with more innovative ways to enhance the industry.

-theStar online.

Park Regis Hotel Management To Manage Taragon Puteri KL

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 (Bernama) -- Park Regis Hotel Management Sdn Bhd is to manage the Taragon Puteri KL, which is expected to begin operations in January 2011. Park Regis Hotel Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of StayWell Hospitality Group, signed the deal to manage the hotel through Bluestone Group Malaysia's wholly owned subsidiary, Taragon Capital Malaysia (TCM) Sdn Bhd. In a statement here Monday, Bluestone Group said TCM was currently in the final stages of completing Taragon Puteri KL with work on-site running as scheduled.

Taragon Puteri KL, a four-star hotel, will mark StayWell's first foray into Malaysia. With 27 floors, the hotel will feature services such as conference and banquet facilities, swimming pool and fully equipped gymnasium aimed at providing a refined level of service to its guests.

KTMB Offers 25% Discount At Matta Fair

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 (Bernama) -- Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) is offering a 25 per cent discount for its intercity services for tickets purchased during the Matta Fair 2010 from Sept 3 to 5 at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC). KTMB Intercity Services Marketing Manager Mohd Noordin Kimi said Monday the offer would be given to Matta Fair visitors with minimum purchase of four tickets to any destinations, including Singapore. He said the tickets are valid for three months from the launch date of the fair, but limited to the super off peak days which are from Monday to Thursday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) here, he said a 25 percent discount are also offered to visitors buying two tickets to visit the Matta Fair via KL Sentral Station between Sept 2 and 5. Organising Committee chairman John Tan said the Matta Fair was expected to attract 80,000 visitors to the 820 booths participated by 173 exhibitors. "We hope to see a total of RM90 million sales from this year's sales," he added.

VOA Abolished As Existing Rules Adequate

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 23 (Bernama) -- The government abolished the Visa Arrival (VOA) effective Aug 16 as existing regulations are sufficient to manage the entry of foreigners, said Immigration director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman. He said tourists from countries that were required to apply for visas must do so while for those exempted from visas, existing rules applied. "The situation is still the same, it is not something new as before we introduced the VOA, the rules were the same," he told a news conference on the VOA here Monday.

In related development, he said the i-Visa system was introduced in India five or six months ago to facilitate the entry of Indian travellers to Malaysia. Intended travellers need to apply for visas online to the Immigration Department before their applications are processed by the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi within 24 hours, he added. As for China, he said the i-Visa arrangement was still awaiting approval from the Chinese government. He said India and China were chosen for the implementation of i-Visa as they were the top tourist markets for Malaysia.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Malaysia eyes Kiwi tourists

ROTORUA (New Zealand): Malaysia is eyeing the 90,000 New Zealanders who visit Britain annually, hoping to lure them to “drop by” for at least a week in the country while enroute to Europe. About 63,000 New Zealanders visited Malaysia last year but Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen believes the number can be increased by 1.5 times if those who head to Britain can be convinced to land for a few days and tour Malaysia. Dr Ng, who has spent time meeting with people involved in the tourism industry in New Zealand over the past few days, said she found that there was great potential to increase the number of New Zealanders visiting Malaysia.

“New Zealanders are very keen travellers to other parts of the world. “They are keen on food, arts and crafts, as well as horticulture,” she said yesterday.

Welcome: Ng (left) with her husband Dr Chin Chee Sue getting a briefing during their tour of a Maori village on Thursday.

She said that she had obtained data which showed that about 90,000 New Zealanders head for Britain each year. “We want to get them to come to Malaysia for about five days or one week. “We can tailor special packages that can give them a relaxing and enjoyable time before they fly off to Britain,” she said. Ng is on a 10-day mission to promote Malaysia in New Zealand and Australia.

She has called on Tourism Malaysia to launch aggressive campaigns in New Zealand by drawing up new packages as soon as possible.

-theStar online.

MAS Set To Receive 35 New Boeing 737-800

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 22 (Bernama) -- Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will be operationally more efficient to handle faster turnaround when it take the delivery of 35 new generation Boeing 737-800 within one year, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri. He said the first three aircraft would be delivered this year with the first one to arrive in October while the rest in stages until October next year. The fuel efficient 737-800 with the capacity of 150 seats is bigger than B737-400 and is set to replace MAS' aging fleet and expand its operations, he told Bernama.

"I believe the arrival of the new aircraft will enable MAS to provide better and more efficient domestic service, especially in the Sabah and Sarawak sectors. "I am confident that the flight's on-time performance rate will improve to around 80 per cent with the new aircraft in service," he said when commenting on passenger complaints on flights delay. "The purchase of a younger fleet is justified due to growing number of passengers and tourists if we want MAS to continue to be the airline of choice," he added. Abdul Rahim urged consumers to plan their air travel to take advantage of the MAS "all-time low fares" campaign.

M’sia needs to do more to attract super-rich tourists: Yen Yen

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND: Malaysia is losing out multi-million ringgit in potential income from the “super-rich’’ tourist categories because there are not enough dynamic, adrenalin-rush tour packages in our country to attract those who have tonnes of cash to burn. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen took a comprehensive aerial, ground and mountain tour of world-famous Queenstown, nestled in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and found that this globally-famous destination was way ahead of Malaysia in tourism attractions. Queenstown offers everything to tourists from every income category, from back-packers to multi-millionaires.

“Just look at the amount of money spinning out from this place (Queenstown). The mountains alone attract an income worth NZ$100mil every year (RM245mil) in terms of gate entry and spin-off for food, bungee-jumping, parachuting and helicopter tours. “This value-adding is sadly missing in Malaysia. We in our country do not have any special packages for helicopter tours to cater to the super-rich CEOs and celebrities who have money to spend. “Our tourism destinations in Malaysia offer the very basic for tourists only. Look at this place, it has everything, from great souvenirs to great food and great adventures. “These are being packaged in such an innovative manner that Queenstown alone, by itself, can attract up to a million foreign tourists yearly.

“’We really need to enhance our creativity and innovativeness in Malaysia and offer tour packages, food and touring facilities to cater to every income group of tourists, including the super-rich who have plenty of money to spend,” Dr Ng said after a briefing by Skyline Gondola senior manager Chris Dickson. Dr Ng is on a 10-day mission to New Zealand and Australia to promote Malaysia.

Dr Ng also took an aerial tour to the top of the highest peak in Queenstown, walked around the famous town to inspect the facilities, restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as ride the gondola for a panoramic view of the region. She said Malaysia had plenty of such scenic places - from Langkawi to the east coast to Sarawak and Sabah - but the packaging was not good enough. “We have cities with nice buildings, beautiful islands, forests that are 130 million years old, huge caves, beautiful limestone mountains and mysterious interior areas that people would love to see. “If we can offer helicopter tours, I am sure a lot of very rich tourists from all over the world would love to come to Malaysia for aerial tourism,” she said.

She said that some wealthy tourists who came to Queenstown were willing to spend up to RM5,000 (NZ$2,700) per hour for helicopter tours. Dr Ng said she has jotted down the value-added tourism advantages that Queenstown had and would talk to the tourism development authorities and private sector tourism players on urgent measures to come up with more innovative ideas to expand Malaysia’s attraction to tourists.

Traditional Malay Village To Start Operating Next Month

ALOR SETAR, Aug 22 (Bernama) -- A tourism resort at the foot of Gunung Keriang near Alor Setar, which comprises a purpose-built traditional Malay village, is expected to resume operations by next month. State Tourism, Domestic Trade, Consumer Affairs, Indian Community and Estate Workers Committee chairman M. Manikumar said once operational, the village would promote traditional Malay culture, tradition as well as act as another tourist destination in Kedah. "We will promote traditional Malay culture through many activities lined up like paddy planting using buffalo, a traditional method of ploughing land, that might have been forgotten," he said when contacted here Sunday.

He said the State Economic Planning Unit had engaged a company, Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Holding (AHMSH), to manage and operate the RM6.4 million complex built under the Ninth Malaysia Plan but
left to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance. Meanwhile, Kedah Tourism Ministry Office Director Anuar Abdul Razak said the complex that was completed in March 2009 was not an abandoned site but rather not managed by anybody after its completion. "In the process of handing over the complex, there has been overgrown bushes giving the expression to the public that the place was abandoned," he said.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Desert drought

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s efforts to woo the Middle East market during the holy month of Ramadan have fared poorly, with the country registering only negligible bookings. Middle East tourists who arrived in late July returned to their homes prior to Ramadan, which began on August 11. The market’s penchant for making last-minute bookings left the trade in the dark as to whether Middle East tourists would return to Malaysia for the two weeks post-Eid Ul Fitr prior to the end of their summer holidays.

Andy Muniandy, director of sales and business development of Asian Overland Services Tours and Travel, said efforts to attract Middle East clients through shopping tours and special rates had failed. He thus expected a 20 per cent drop year-on-year for this summer holiday period. At press time, rooms were still available in Langkawi, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Hotels also did not impose a surcharge. “This was never the case in previous years,” said Muniandy.

World Avenues, which specialises in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets, is now looking to diversify its market mix, especially since Ramadan will continue to fall during the Middle East holiday season until 2015. Calling the trend “worrisome”, executive director Ally Bhoonee said: “While we will not neglect our GCC markets, we can no longer depend on them fully even though they are high-yield and long-staying guests. We have started tapping other Middle East countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, which have a large non-Muslim population who can travel during Ramadan. Their yield is lower than the GCC markets but beggars cannot be choosers.”

RM Travel and Tours executive director and CEO, Khadijah Abd Rahman, will try another tack for the next Middle East season – marketing homestays in Malay villages. Blaming the poor showing of her Middle East packages this year on their high rates and lack of religious elements, she said the homestay experience could chop 30 per cent off rates, compared to a 14-day tour package in a three-star hotel.
-TTG Asia.

Don’t be taken in by what you read in cyberspace, Yen Yen tells oversea students

AUCKLAND: Malaysian studying overseas have been told to beware of political brainwashing from home-grown “political extremists” via the new media. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said these “extremists” were using blogs and websites to influence students overseas to have negative views about the Government. “Do not be easily taken in by what you read in cyberspace of what is happening back home. “Bloggers and writers on certain websites tell you 50% truth that is mixed with lies. “They are trying to confuse the minds of young students, including those studying overseas,” she told Malaysian students at a buka puasa and dialogue session here on Thursday night.

Dr Ng, who is touring Australia and New Zealand to tap the tourism market of the two countries, advised Malaysian students overseas to always double-check with government leaders on the extreme views expressed on the Internet. She added that it was important too for Government leaders going on official trips overseas to meet Malaysian students abroad and provide them with the true picture of programmes like the Government transformation plan, anti-corruption drive and improving the living standards of the poor.

Meanwhile, during a trip to the Hobbiton movie set — near a small town called Matamata on the way to Rotorua — which was the location for theLord of the Rings movie trilogy — Dr Ng saw how the residents had made the town special. Dr Ng said cities and towns in Malaysia could emulate them by promoting their icons to make their mark on visitors. “Ipoh, for example, was the location of the film The King and I. The people of Ipoh should use and build an icon from this to identify itself with the famous film. “Such an identity will attract tourists to the place and make it famous,” she said, adding that many places in Malaysia have historical events and happenings that should be turned into tourist attractions.

-thestar online.

Malaysia To Lay Ground Work For Garden Tourism

AUCKLAND, Aug 21 (Bernama) -- Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen plans the use Malaysia's abundance of fantastic flora and fauna to woo naturalists and garden lovers from around the globe to Malaysia. She said Malaysia enjoyed a unique collection of orchids, hibiscuses and many other rare plants that would be appreciated and treasured by overseas visitors. "But we must go about it in the right way, so I will be inviting noted horticulturalists and garden experts from overseas to help Malaysia develop our gardens and parks," she said here after visiting the internationally-acclaimed Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Dr Ng was so impressed with the Auckland gardens that she invited Auckland gardens manager Jack Hobbs to visit Malaysia to advise on presentation and help put together a garden-orientated tourism package. To mark her visit to the Auckland Botanic Gardens, Dr Ng on Thursday planted a Malaysian hibiscus at the garden, marking a new beginning in the Malaysia-New Zealand parks and gardens cooperation and goodwill. Dr Ng is on a seven-day promotional tour to New Zealand and Australia.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Azizan Is Tourism Malaysia Acting D-G

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 (Bernama) -- Tourism Malaysia Deputy Director- general (Planning) Azizan Noordin has been appointed Acting Director-General of the agency. The appointment took effect Thursday, Tourism Malaysia said in a statement Friday. The announcement came in light of the recent charge against Tourism Malaysia Director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg Mirza Hadi Hassan Beg.

Mirza was charged on Monday along with former Pembangunan Pelancongan Malaysia Berhad chief operating officer, Mohammad Rosly Md Selamat, with criminal breach of trust involving RM888,000. They pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Chance To Get Insight Into Minangkabau Traditions

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Handicraft Authority or Kraftangan Malaysia will be showcasing large-scale cooking by Minangkabau society in Negeri Sembilan at its craft complex here as an attraction under its Aidilfitri craft promotion. The programme, which begins Friday and ends on Aug 31, includes the 'gotong-royong' activity to enable urban society, especially the young people, understand how their older generation cooperated in preparing food for the Aidilfitri celebration.

"The idea is to let the people see and learn how the earlier society lived, and indirectly revive the practices which are now dwindling due to the modernisation process," Kraftangan Marketing and Promotion director Ibrahim Ismail told Bernama Friday. He said during the programme, products and food for the Aidilfitri celebration will also be on sale apart from demonstrations on traditional food cooking and 'marhaban' as well as 'berzanji' competitions.