Wednesday, September 29, 2010
KUALA TERENGGANU: Kenyir Lake, the largest man-made lake in South-east Asia, has been officially declared a Free Trade Zone (FTZ), Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said said. He said the state received the official letter, dated Sept 21, from Finance Ministry confirming Kenyir as an FTZ.
"The state government will inject an initial fund of RM100mil for the makeover of Kenyir and we will fully open the doors of a modern Kenyir by the year 2012. "We will make sure that the FTZ is fully utilised to propel the local tourism industry while turning Kenyir into the top holiday destination in this region," Ahmad said after chairing the weekly state exco meeting here Wednesday.
The new staff, comprising two business development executives and two support staff, will be based in Kuala Lumpur as the majority of the bureau's clients are based in the Klang Valley, said its CEO, Jill Henry. SCB will also launch a programme in the first quarter of 2011 aimed at immersing visiting delegates in Sarawak's indigenous culture. As part of this, it has been training local speakers to share tribal wisdoms.
Monday, September 27, 2010
He said the cruise, which started last week from the jetty of the new RM61mil man-made Pulau Warisan island, was expected to be a lucrative revenue spinner for the tourism industry. Since its beginning, it has become immensely popular. “We are thinking of extending the ride to cover the Cheng Ho temple, located upstream of the Sungai Terengganu,” added Toh, who is the state Commerce, Industry and Environment committee chairman, after taking the cruise with a group of people from the tourism and media industries on Saturday.
According to Chinese annals, Cheng Ho set foot in Kampung Jeram, a 30-minute boat ride from the Sungai Terengganu estuary, in the 15th century. The admiral was said to have sailed here in 1414 and stopped for food and water at the small village on his fourth voyage from China to the Malay peninsula. It is documented that Cheng Ho and his crew spent a few months at the village before setting sail for Malacca in 1415. Legend has it that he left a footprint on the riverbed before his departure.
A century later, Chinese seafarers who came here built a shrine to commemorate his visit.
Now known as Sam Poh Kong, it was upgraded over the centuries and people flock there to offer prayers in memory of the admiral. Toh said that apart from the temple, the river tour would make a stopover at Kuala Berang where the Batu Bersurat Terengganu was found during a major flood in 1899. The Jawi inscriptions on the stone are believed to have been written around 1303. Historians said this proved that Islam had reached Terengganu before the 14th century and that a government had existed long before Malacca was founded.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Up to 2015, the peak summer travel period will coincide with Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. Tina Travel & Agencies, with strengths in the Indian and Iranian markets, has also diversified to Australia, South Africa, Mauritius and Indochina due to increased competition from new players. However, its managing director Adam Kamal said results of laying the foundation this year through sales calls and hosting fam trips for agents would only be seen next year as contracting for the year had been done earlier.
"We must be prepared with enough manpower to handle higher volumes of foreign-speaking tourists before we go into aggressive destination marketing."World Avenues' executive director Ally Bhoonee said a new body should be created to re-train current service industry players and train new entrants. "The way of selling Malaysia must change, in line with the needs and expectations of high-yield tourists.
"Red Apple Travel & Tours' managing director Arokia Das Anthony urged the tourism ministry to brief the private sector on initiatives it would undertake to meet this ambitious target. "Everyone has to be on the same page and there must be strong political will to bring about change."
The gist of the declaration was read out by Japan’s Land, Infra-structure, Transport and Tourism Minister Sumio Mabuchi. Malaysia was represented at the meeting, by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen which also saw the participation by Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and the United States. The declaration said even as member countries advocated an “inbound tourism strategy”, they should also share relevant information and best practices as well as explore opportunities for collaboration within the region.
Towards this, they agreed to exchange information on ways to expand new and emerging types of tourism such as medical and wellness, religious events, sports, cruise, eco tourism and MICE (meetings, incentive travel, convention and exhibition/events). These avenues, they said, could stimulate new demand and tourism-related investments across the region. They agreed that tourism would continue to play an important and relevant role during this period of significant change in the global political and economic order. Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city, will host the 18th Apec Economic Leaders’ meeting on Nov 13 and 14.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Twelve entry point projects have also been identified to grow the tourism industry in order to raise its Gross National Income contribution by RM67 billion to reach RM104 billion. These include developing the world’s first eco-nature integrated resort in Sabah and building three premium outlets across the country. The above were recommendations proposed by the private and public sector at a recent tourism lab initiated by the government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit. The two-month lab that started in June was helmed by the chairman of Tourism Malaysia.
Dr Ng, on a promotion tour of Japan, was speaking to a group of Japanese investors, travel agents and operators, and airline representatives here. She said Malaysia enjoyed political stability and was not exposed to natural disasters, such as typhoons or earthquakes. It was also a reasonably cheap place to live in, she added. Earlier, Dr Ng had a luncheon meeting with Osaka prefecture deputy governor Kimura Shinsaku and his delegation.
She said 395,746 Japanese visited Malaysia last year as against 433,462 in 2008. The decline was mainly due to the global economic slowdown and the H1N1 outbreak. “We are targeting 430,000 Japanese tourist arrivals this year. We are confident of achieving this as the first half of this year has seen close to a 2% increase in arrivals compared to the corresponding period last year,” she said.
Later in the evening, she launched the Jalan Jalan Makan campaign at a hotel here to promote the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme and a host of products such, as homestay, train leisure tours and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions). She also attended a Hari Raya gathering with Malaysian students, where she urged them to act as ambassadors to promote the MM2H programme. “Also, if you can get 40 people to attend a homestay programme we will give you an incentive such as a free ticket home,” she said.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
She said that its strong seat sales and successful ancillary income were enough to offset the rise in fuel price, adding that it used innovation to drive its costs down and were looking at various other revenue streams rather than impose a fuel surcharge. “Imposing fuel surcharge may be an easy way out, but it can also be an addiction in driving artificial revenue to a company,” Kathleen added.
Last year, ancillary income for the entire AirAsia Group (AirAsia Bhd, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia) was approximately RM603.5mil, 14.6% of the group’s revenue. The group’s ancillary income was RM460.9mil as of the first half of this year.
Declaring Malaysia as a global biodiversity hub and positioning the country as a duty-free shopping destination for tourist goods are among the EPPs expected to deliver significant results in the industry within a 10-year time frame. The other EPPs are developing the world’s first eco-nature integrated resort in Sabah, designating KLCC-Bukit Bintang as a vibrant shopping precinct and establishing three new premium outlets in Malaysia.
There are also plans to create a Straits Riviera, targeting more international events, establishing dedicated entertainment zones, developing local expertise and better regulating the spa industry, establishing Malaysia as a leading business tourism destination, improving rates, mix and quality of hotels and enhancing connectivity to priority medium-haul markets.
A total of RM204bil in funding would be required over the next 10 years to achieve these aspirations. Of this funding, only 2% is expected to come from the public sector.
Malaysia’s growth in tourism has mostly relied on growth in arrivals rather than yield: 75% of growth has been from increased arrivals and 25% from increased yield. The laboratory on retail also proposed the setting up of 21 1Malaysia malls in emerging markets overseas by 2020, starting with Vietnam, to expand local retailers abroad.
Azran said he estimated that more than 60% of the passengers between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo would be first-time visitors, adding that new market segments could be created from the tourism growth. To mark its new destination, Air Asia X is offering promotional fares for a one-way ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo from as low as RM99. The tickets will be available from Sept 23 to Sept 26 for travel period Dec 9 to Jul 31, 2011. The seats are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and tickets are only available online via www.airasia.com and mobile.airasia.com.
Passengers will travel in a brand new A330 aircraft with standard business class “Premium Flat Bed” seats that feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities, such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen. AirASia X currently flies to destinations in Australia, India, Taiwan, China, Europe and Korea.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
“We are more than happy to take in more,” she told a gathering of representatives from several Japanese associations here. “We have Japanese schools, Japanese clubs and Japanese restaurants back home. “The cost of living in Malaysia is also a third of that in Japan. Almost everything is duty free except liquor, tobacco and Corningware (a brand of glassware that is resistant to thermal heat),” added Dr Ng, who is here to promote the Make Malaysia Your Second Home (MM2H) programme. She said since the programme started in 2002, more than 14,300 foreigners had made Malaysia their second home. Of these, more than 1,100 were Japanese.
She said other successful applicants were from Iran, Britain, China, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Bangladesh, the United States and India. Dr Ng said Malaysia was an ideal tourism as well as retirement destination with more than 1,000 islands, 42 marine parks and a 130-million-year-old rainforest. “We also have homestay programmes which have been popular with Japanese tourists. Our diversity is also a big asset and this is certainly an added attraction to foreigners,” she said, adding that successful MM2H applicants would get a 10-year multiple entry social visit pass.
She said foreigners need only to show that they have liquid assets worth more than RM350,000 and some form of a monthly income, such as a pension, if they were above 50. “When your application is approved, you will have to save at least RM150,000 in a fixed deposit with a bank in Malaysia, of which RM50,000 can be withdrawn from the second year onwards if one wishes to,” she said. For applicants aged 50 and below, they have to show they have liquid assets worth RM500,000 when applying and a monthly income of RM10,000. “When the application is approved, he or she will have to keep RM300,000 in a fixed deposit account in a bank in Malaysia. He or she will be able to withdraw up to RM150,000 from the second year onwards if he wishes to use the money,” she said, adding that Malaysia was listed by the Wolrd Tourism Council as the ninth most visited country.
Ng said both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia would start direct flights to Haneda, near Tokyo, in November and December and this would give the Japanese more reason to join the MM2H programme. MAS now operates regular flights from KL International Airport to Osaka and Narita.
Monday, September 20, 2010
However, he said proper guidelines to enter these premises needed to be put into place to safeguard the sanctity and sensitivities of their devotees. ”For example, visitors cannot simply enter a mosque without knowing requirements such as proper dressing as this may create unnecessary problems. ”The same rules apply to other places of worship, which may require visitors to give due respect before entering,” he said after attending a Mooncake Festival cum Hari Raya celebration at the Lao Zi temple here yesterday.
Shafik Fauzan said he had instructed relevant authorities such as the state Tourism Malaysia office and the Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation to draft pamphlets depicting the history behind these sites and guidelines for the visitors. He said besides boosting tourist arrivals in the state, the initiative could help foster closer understanding and rapport among the different races. Shafik Fauzan added that the state government would help to upgrade infrastructure and public amenities at the sites and would seek aid from the Federal Government if necessary.
Earlier, during the event, 15 children from the Kuantan Handicapped and Mentally Retarded Children Centre were feted to a luncheon of mooncakes and other festive delicacies and given duit raya.
The selection criteria was based on a combination of actual travel experience, word-of-mouth and an idea of the brand drawn from advertising and editorial exposure in the media, primarily online. Muzzaffar said MAS was looking forward to delivery of its new planes. “The new B737-800s will be delivered next month. “We will be the first airline in Asia and second in the world to receive the new Boeing Sky Interior,’’ he said. In two other categories, MAS ranked 5th in the Top 10 Airlines Cabin Service and 6th in Top 10 Airlines Business Class.
On another matter, Hamidah said the state government would no longer allow private companies to develop hot springs in Perak for commercial purposes. She said certain companies had overly commercialised these areas and charged tourists exorbitant entrance fees. “The remaining hot springs are best left to the state government to develop and manage for the benefit of the public,” she said.
Dr Ng said Malaysia had good golfing facilities, with about 170 golf courses, and was fast becoming a major golf destination in the region. “Next month is the ‘Month of Champions’ for Malaysia, as we will play host to three world class golf tournaments involving top professional golf players. “These back-to-back tournaments will be held at some of our esteem golf courses namely Iskandar Johor Open on Oct 14-17 at the Horizon Hill Golf and Country Club in Johor Baru, Sime Darby LPGA on Oct 22-24 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and CIMB Asia Pacific Golf Classic on Oct 28-31 at the Mines Resort and Golf Club,” she said.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Based on contract rates, the agreement will see both parties administering the gains and losses from currency exchange fluctuations throughout the year. At the end of the year, the losses and gains will be shared equally by both parties. "This has never happened before, as it was not necessary," said van Amerongen. But as Asian currencies gain strength against the euro and the UK pound, more European operators are asking for the agreement.
Asian Trails said it had received similar requests from partners but managing director Jacques Guichandut said Asian Trails would not accede. "Currency exchanges have been up and down for many years. If you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose. It's part of the game," he said.
She said that innovative tourism products such as the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism 2010 (MCAT) launched this year was aimed at attracting visitors who were willing to go far in search of art pieces and could afford the finer things in life. Dr Ng added that the MCAT would be an annual event from July to September and would have a different theme every year.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Venue: Central Market Kuala Lumpur
Organised by: Ministry of Tourism
Supported by: Kuala Lumpur City Hall & Central Market
- Lantern Riddles Contest
- Harmonica Perfomances
- Lion Dance
- Lantern Parade
- Lantern Making Contest
AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani declined to reveal any pricing when contacted yesterday by StarBiz. But the market is abuzz with talk that the introductory price could range from RM99 to RM199. Azran said that flying to Tokyo would be “super exciting as finally people will have choices and low fares to go to great places.’’ Three flights per week may be too few for AirAsia X but for now the airline does not have much of a choice. It is learnt that the Japanese authorities had accorded seven rights and the Malaysian authorities awarded three each to AirAsia X and MAS, and one to Transmile.
“Japan is a high fixed cost city and with so few flights it would be difficult to make the sector sustainable so we will have to convince the authorities to grant us daily flights,” Azran said. MAS will introduce three flights a week between Kota Kinabalu and Haneda from Nov 15. Haneda airport is the main domestic hub for Tokyo but due to congestion in Narita, it will start receiving international flights next month. Haneda is just a 20-minute monorail or cab ride from downtown Tokyo whereas Narita is at least an hour’s train ride, and the trip can take over two hours by car on clogged roads.
To beat potential competition from six foreign low-cost carriers from China and South-East Asia, both Japanese carriers – Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) – want to set up low-cost airlines. ANA has inked a deal with Hong Kong’s First Eastern Investment Group to set up a new airline that will start operations in the second half of 2011. ANA will own 39% in the venture and Far Eastern 33%. The balance equity will be sold to other investors.
The company will double its advertising and promotional budget to these destinations this year. He said the goal was to see sales turnover double from RM3 million (US$963,855) in 2008. Apple is also building its second boutique hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Le Apple Boutique Hotel in Jalan Sultan Ismail is scheduled to open its doors in March 2011 with 60 keys.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
On Sunday, after officiating the Malaysia Pavilion National Day at the World Expo here, Dr Ng said tourists from China were a high-yield tourism worth tapping. “We have spoken to tour operators to develop very focused tour products. “We know Chinese are high spenders who like to stay in top-class hotels and travel in style; so we are now aiming for this high-end market,” she said.
“More people will be involved in the tourism industry,” he said. He said although there were already tourism activities in Belaga, these had yet to achieve the economies of scale that could yield better profits for the locals. The 205m-high Bakun hydroelectric dam, which creates a reservoir of water measuring 695 sq km, is the second tallest concrete rock-filled dam in the world. It will have the capacity to generate 2,400MW of power.
The entire Bakun catchment area, situated at the Balui River, about 37km upstream of Belaga town, measures about 14,759 sq km, which is equivalent in size to 12% of Sarawak. Several longhouses, particularly within the Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme, have started promoting homestay programmes in recent years. The resettlement scheme was established in 1998 to accommodate some 15,000 people who had to be relocated from their villages in Balui River, Belaga, to make way for the project.
Uma Belor is one of the longhouses at the scheme offering homestay to tourists, having converted 16 of their 101 rooms into guest rooms. The longhouse’s security and development committee secretary Nora Igang said its “Leo Dian Homestay” was meant to generate new sources of income for the villagers, who are from the Kayan ethnic group. “We also want to contribute more significantly to the development of the country’s tourism sector, especially when there is a lot more that people can learn about us and our culture,” she added.
The Guys are the majority shareholder of Destination Asia in the two destinations, which complete the regional network for the 14-year-old DMC headquartered in Thailand. Destination Asia currently has offices in Thailand, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Myanmar. Both Reed and Bob Guy said Singapore was spewing new MICE, wholesale and cruise potential as a result of its new IRs and other infrastructure development. Malaysia has become equally important as more clients seek "participatory" and CSR programmes, which destinations such as Borneo and Langkawi lend themselves to.
An office in Singapore has been set up at Windstedt Road. The Malaysian office will be in Penang. Guy expects to have full operational capability by December if not sooner. Reed said the network was now completed and he would use 2011 to consolidate the 10 companies before looking at other opportunities in late 2011 or 2012 for expansion.
On April 28, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a RM28mil infrastructure project to transform the island into an agropolitan centre. Pulau Bruit was prioritised for development by the state for its strategic location in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.
The government will look into areas of urgency such as the construction of roads connecting the villagers of the island to the district of Sibu where it will enable them to transport their produce to sell at a lower delivery cost. Kampung Penipah also requires a clinic of its own as patients currently have to travel for 40 minutes by longboat to the Tekajong Health Clinic and this can only be done during high tide.
Booking period is from Sept 14 to Sept 19. “Fly to Europe, Australia, China, India, the whole of Southeast Asia and all over Malaysia for 20% less,” it said.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu has ordered four luxury boats worth RM1mil to boost tourism in the state. State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Rahin Mohd Said said the construction of two of the boats were already completed while the order for the two others was made last week. "It is one of the state government's programmes to rekindle tourism activities along the Terengganu river," he told Bernama here.
Abdul Rahin said the boats, made of high quality cengal wood, were ordered from a renowned boat builder in Kampung Seberang Takir. He said each boat could take up to 60 passengers and would cruise along the Terengganu river which offers panoramic view of Seberang Takir fishermen's village and the greenery provided by the wild nipah trees. Abdul Rahin said the two completed boats would be handed over to the Seberang Takir Small Boats Association for its operations.
The other two boats were expected to be completed in another 18 months and would probably be handed over to and managed by the Islamic Civilisation Park, he said. Abdul Rahin said the state government was trying to develop the Terengganu river as a tourism product due to its vast potential as a new tourist attraction in the state. - Bernama
Thursday, September 9, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: Russian beauty Anna Kournikova will make a return visit to Malaysia when she joins a host of former tennis greats in the ‘Showdown of Champions – A Night of Aces’ next month. The annual event, to be held at Malawati Stadium, Shah Alam on Oct 8, will also feature five other big names in world tennis – Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Pat Cash, Goran Ivanisevic and Martina Hingis. All, except for Anna, are former Wimbledon champions. British singing star Jay Sean will make a special appearance at the event.
Anna, more renowned as the girlfriend of Latin singer Enrique Iglesias, was ranked as the No 8 favourite female sports star in the United States in 2000. Partnering Hingis, the pair won the Australian Open women’s doubles title in 1999 and 2002. Once the most googled sports star, Anna “retired” from competitive tennis because of injuries.
Announcing the line-up yesterday, LD Sports Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Mohd Taufik Omar said the company’s involvement in the event was proof of its commitment to promoting sports. “The line-up also illustrates our efforts to have the best tennis players come here and play,’’ he added. The Showdown of Champions is scheduled to start at 6pm with Ivanisevic taking on Cash, followed by Becker against old rival Lendl. The doubles will see Ivanisevic and Hingis play Cash and Kournikova, followed by Becker-Kournikova against Lendl-Hingis. Ticket prices are from RM28 to RM288. The event is supported by the Tourism Ministry with The Star as the official media partner and Red.fm as the official radio station.
Morahols Travel's managing director, Eric Sinnaya said he hoped to triple sales turnover from the three countries next year, from last year’s turnover of RM1.2 million (US$385,173).
Apodis Hospitality's chief investment officer, Umesh Luthria, said the joint venture – a management company – was on track to have 20 Tune Hotels in three years. He said the properties kept to the model of Tune Hotels except for room sizes, which must conform to Indian regulations of a minimum of 13m² for a single room and 15m² for a double. Luthria brushed aside skeptics who did not believe Indian guests would pay for extras such as towels, air-conditioning and TV. He believed that his decision to partner Tune and not a global hotel player with a budget brand was the right one.
“We picked Tune Hotels because it is an Asian company and thus understands the Asian guest psyche better, because it came out of an airline company, which understands the concept of limited service better than hotels, and because it came from a budget carrier, whose customers understand that they will get what they pay for,” he said. He expected an ARR of US$30 for Tune Hotels in India. This is probably the lowest hotel rate travel agents can get in India. A new economy hotel brand, Peppermint, by India's Royal Orchid Hotels, expected a rate of US$80 for a 20-22m² room. According to chairman and managing director, Chender Baljee, that is lower than what he believed an Ibis in India fetches, US$100 in general.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Dr Ng and a delegation from the ministry and Tourism Malaysia were on a six-day official visit to Thailand to seek closer ties with the Thai government and industry players. A total of 1.4 million Thais visited Malaysia last year bringing in revenue of RM1.46bil, she said, adding that they also recorded the third highest tourist arrivals in Malaysia after Singapore and Indonesia. However, Dr Ng said statistics showed a drop of 3% Thais visiting last year compared to 2008 and it was a similar situation in the first six months of this year and last year due to the political situation there and the global economic slow down.
She said Malaysia planned to have joint tourism packages between the two countries by holding joint tourism events and increasing more than the 179 direct flights that is offered now weekly.
Chumpol said Thailand welcomed Malaysia’s initiative and that Dr Ng’s visit showed Malaysia’s strong commitment for bilateral cooperation. He suggested that there be a one-currency and one-passport for easy travelling within Asean countries. Dr Ng had earlier launched a holiday package brochure and website for the Thailand market, providing information on Malaysia in English and Thai.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
JOHOR BARU: Tour packages using chartered flights should be promoted because they are cheaper compared to normal airline fares, said the Malaysian Tourist Guides Council. Its president Jimmy Leong said chartered flight packages could boost tourism and increase tourist arrivals. Such packages were currently popular among tourists from Hong Kong and South Korea, he added. Leong said between January this year and March next year, 7,000 visitors from Hong Kong and South Korea were expected to fly into Jo hor via 31 chartered flights.
“Some of the offers using chartered flights are as low as 50% of the price of a regular flight,” he told The Star here yesterday. Leong said chartered flight fares were cheaper because they were normally full. “The Tourism Ministry should promote such flights as it is a good way to boost tourist arrivals and revenue for the country,” he said. Leong, however, said luring tourists with chartered flights was only the first step, and travel agencies must offer attractive packages to ensure visitors do not leave the country to visit neighbouring countries.
He said Hong Kong and South Korean tourists coming in tour packages spend between RM4,000 and RM5,000 per visit on food, handicraft and souvenirs. “Although these tourists are not high-yield spenders, this type of revenue can help other small businesses,” he said.
KUCHING: The promotion of homestay in Malaysia is going mobile with the launch of iPhone and Blackberry applications. The smartphone applications, developed by MoAd Technologies, will incorporate global positioning system (GPS) enabled Google maps, photo galleries and even phrase book features. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen will launch the digital marketing application on Sept 29, at an event jointly held with Maxis Communications.
MoAd Technologies said in a statement yesterday the multimedia applications would boost marketing efforts, and allow tourists easier access to information during their stay in the country. “Smart phones have gained tremendous popularity. Indeed, it is the fastest growing mobile phone segment,” the statement said. In an instructional video available at Tourism Malaysia’s homestay promotions website, go2homestay.com, one of the coolest features demonstrated is the phrase book.
Users will be able to select sentences like, “Where is the closest eatery?” in English, and have the application voice it out in Bahasa Malaysia. Adding more input and output languages are future possibilities. Other features include entries on places of interests, coupled with GPS technology that allows turn-by-turn directions. It is worth pointing out the applications also include a built-in, video-calling feature. The feature, which connects to the Tourism Ministry, allows prospective international clients to communicate directly with homestay operators visually.
Monday, September 6, 2010
“The operators will have to apply for the permit through our ministry’s office in Alor Setar,” she said. “It (the ruling) is to make sure the tourists are protected and everything is accountable and transparent,” she told Malaysian reporters during her official visit to Thailand. Dr Ng said one of her main tasks during her visit to Thailand was to address the van and bus operators issue and explain the situation. “They (van and bus operators) always have problems at the border, so we are here to discuss and build a good relationship,” she said.
It was reported that about 30 to 40 Thai bus and van operators had pitched a tent along the main road about 1km from the Thai immigration checkpoint in May to stop and turn away Malaysian-registered buses and vans carrying passengers into the kingdom. Malaysian consul-general in Songkhla Mohd Aini Atan was reported as saying that he had been working closely with the Thai government to find a solution to the problems that led to the blockade. He said the issuance of summonses by the Road Transport Department on Thai van and bus operators for ferrying tourists to Malaysia was an old issue.
“Packages to up and coming destinations in countries like Taiwan, Australia, South Korea and Japan were the most popular among Matta Fair due to their pricing,” he said here yesterday. Tan said the fair managed to meet its target of having 80,000 visitors during its three-day exhibition. “All the exhibitors were also happy with their sales results,” he said. The travel fair was the second to be organised this year after a successful one in March.
There were more than 855 booths in the 20,000 sq m area in Halls 1, 2, 3 and also at the linkway of PWTC. Holders of the Matta Credit Card issued by the EON bank Group not only got to enter the fair for free but also enjoyed plenty of goodies by using the credit card. There were also discounts and loyalty bonuses for early birds.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: The perception of travel operators must change, particularly in the eco-tourism sector, in order to attract more visitors, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit. He said tour operators from small- and medium-sized enterprises were not trained enough to deal with tourists and their questions. “What tourists need is to be directed. If a tourist asks questions, the tour operator must be able to give a decent and logical answer,” he told reporters after launching the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Fair at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday. Dawos said he would have a dialogue with this group of tour operators after Hari Raya to discuss the matter.
“We have to change their attitude and perception so they are better equipped with knowledge. Why call them tour guides when we can call them tour directors instead? That way, they will do everything. “From there, we can attract more qualified individuals. After that, we can continue to train and retrain them to maintain their knowledge,” said Dawos. Association president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said it would not stop tourists from visiting Indonesia despite the recent anti-Malaysia incidents there. “We will advise them accordingly but if tourists still want to go to Indonesia, we cannot stop them,” he said.
The event, which kicked off yesterday, will run until Sunday. Matta Fair organising chairman John Tan said there were 860 booths at the fair, including those of national and state tourism bodies, resorts and airlines. “We are maintaining our target of 80,000 visitors and charting RM90mil in turnover from this exhibition,” said Tan.
Friday, September 3, 2010
PHUKET: Malaysian travel operators should work closely with their counterparts in Thailand to jointly promote their tourist destinations. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Malaysia and Thailand should not view themselves as rivals, competiting for a share of the tourism market. “I see opportunities for great collaboration between Malaysia and Thailand. “I hope to see those tourists who visit Phuket also dropping by at Penang and Langkawi. Similarly, those visiting Malaysia can go over to Phuket as well,” she told reporters during an official visit here Friday.
Dr Ng said such cooperation could further boost tourism in both countries, particularly inorthern Malaysia and southern Thailand. “Both the countries have close relations and historical ties, especially with the people in the southern region of Thailand,” she said, adding that for example, the Phuket Thai Peranakan shared a unique bond with many Peranakan in Penang and Malacca. Dr Ng said that accessibility, such as regular direct flights between the two countries, would help to forge better cooperation.
She also said some 1.4 million people from Thailand visited Malaysia last year, the third highest after Singapore and Indonesia. Dr Ng said tourism was an important sector for Malaysia, providing 500,000 jobs and involving 14% of the local workforce. “We hope to strengthen the sector and increase the percentage of Malaysians working in the industry to 25%,” she said.
Earlier, Dr Ng launched an exhibition by Thai photographers, featuring tourist attractions in Malaysia. The minister also presented recognition awards to 26 travel agents and members of the tourism council and business federations from southern Thailand for their contributions to local tourism.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
“We know Kuala Lumpur. We have heard about Borneo but not Sarawak or Sabah in detail. You have the biggest cave in the world? We would love to see that,” he told The Star here last week.
Hong was one of the VVIPs invited for a luncheon with Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen during her stop here as part of her tourism mission to New Zealand and Australia. Hong said in the state of Victoria alone the Council of Chinese-Australians had more than 400,000 members and had links, among others, in China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. “I will help to promote Malaysia among my association members. Malaysia is still very new to most of us. We have a lot of members who visit China, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Europe and United States every year.
“I am sure they would love to include Malaysia among their travel destinations if we can give them enough publicity about the places of interest,” Hong said. He said Malaysia had several distinct advantages that it should promote extensively if it wanted to draw more tourists.
He said that among them were the currency exchange rate, diverse culture and races, security, favourable climate year-round, ease of communication, good transportation and accommodation, and excellent facilities. “The Australian government provides financial grants to our organisations every year to be used for our overseas travel. Our members go overseas for convention, meetings, excursions, adventure tours, golf, mahjong and even pingpong tournaments.
“We have money to spend. What we look for are new places of interest. I am sure we can find many new destinations in Malaysia that will be very interesting to us,” he added. Hong said Dr Ng’s visit was very useful as she had explained in detail what the states in Malaysia had to offer.
Asked what was the most negative thing he had heard about Malaysia, he said he had heard allegations of “widespread deforestation, illegal logging, wildlife abuse and land disputes with forest people”. Hong said these issues were very sensitive among tourists and must be addressed comprehensively.
Firefly will also be promoting holiday packages at its booth at the fair, said the airline’s head of marketing & communications, Angelina Fernandez, in a press statement. The packages highlight destinations offered by Malaysia Airlines and Firefly. Fernandez said complimentary value-added items would be thrown in for buyers. These include free night stays, dinner, transfers or spa sessions. Emirates Airline is also offering 25 European destinations for fares as low as RM2,871. Customers can obtain the offers from selected travel agencies at the Matta Fair.