Friday, December 31, 2010

National Key Economic Areas - TOURISM

Where we are today

Malaysia is one of the world’s top destinations, in the top 10 in arrivals and top 15 in global receipts. Tourism is our fifth largest industry, generating RM37 billion in GNI in 2009. The industry is expected to continue growing with arrivals rising from 24 million in 2009 to 36 million in 2020.

Vision the future

Malaysia’s growth in tourism has mostly relied on growth in arrivals rather than yield: 75 percent of growth has been from increased arrivals and 25 percent from increased yield. Going forwards, we must focus on growing yield. To attract the higher yield segment, we will need to both improve and upgrade our offerings and services and enhance connectivity to our key priority markets.

Targets and aspirations

The tourism industry is targeted to raise total GNI contribution by RM67 billion to reach RM104 billion by 2020. This will require the sector to triple from the starting position of RM37 billion in 2009.

This incremental increase is driven by 12 EPPs, which will deliver RM28.4 billion in incremental GNI and three business opportunities that will deliver RM28.6 billion in incremental GNI. In achieving this, an additional 497,000 jobs will be created.

A total of 12 EPPs have been developed across six themes to deliver significant results within a 10-year timeframe.

1Affordable luxury: Shopping currently accounts for 28 percent of our total tourism receipts, compared to 35 percent in Singapore and 57 percent in Hong Kong. We will position ourselves as a shopping destination and aim to grow shopping receipts to 35 percent by 2020.

2Nature adventure: Malaysia aims to become one of the world’s best offerings of biodiversity. We target to have a recognised network of different biodiversity sites of international calibre, which will be developed and/or rehabilitated and allow for tourist participation in rehabilitation activities.

3Family fun: This theme primarily targets the rapidly growing middle-class of India, China and the Middle East, which represent about 48 percent of global population but only 13 percent of global tourism departures, and offers them a destination in Southeast Asia for family entertainment.

4Events, entertainment, spa and sports: Malaysia lags our neighbours in the magnitude and variety of events as well as in our nightlife offerings. Hosting more international events and promoting a vibrant nightlife is necessary to attract tourists and provide a boost to the tourism industry.

5Business tourism: Business tourism represents a small part of our industry, with just 5 percent of total arrivals and 19 percent of receipts (2009), unlike Singapore, where it accounts for 30 percent of tourist arrivals and 40 percent of receipts. We believe there is potential to further grow this segment.

Cross-theme projectsMedium-haul connectivity and better quality hotels: Two cross-theme projects will support delivery of the other projects: enhancing connectivity to priority medium-haul markets and improving the rates, mix and quality of our hotels.

Enabling growth

Achieving our aspirations will require RM204 billion in funding over the next 10 years. Of this funding, only 2 percent is expected to come from the public sector. We have identified four sector-wide enablers critical to unleashing the sector’s full potential. They are increasing and focusing our marketing in priority markets; re-introducing selective visa on arrival; ensuring an adequate supply of qualified human capital; and improving the tourism environment by improving offerings and accessibility (e.g. taxi services), access to funding and quality of front-line staff.

-PEMANDU.

Lifestyle mall for Setia Alam set to open in May 2012


New shopping mall: Setia City Mall will offer a fun and affordable family experience, encompassing shopping, dining and entertainment, and green space. The mall located in Shah Alam is slated to open in May 2012.

Setia City Mall in Setia Alam, Shah Alam, is all set to be the retail heart of a fast-growing neighbourhood and serve as a new shopping destination for Klang Valley denizens.

Expected to open in May 2012, the shopping mall is developed and managed by Greenhill Resources — a joint venture between property developer SP Setia and the Asian Retail Investment Fund, which is managed by Lend Lease Investment Management.

Greenhill Resources Sdn Bhd development director Robert Spinks said Setia City Mall would offer a fun and affordable family experience, encompassing shopping, dining and entertainment, and green space. “What makes Setia City Mall different is the green space element and open-air feel incorporated into this lifestyle mall,” he said. “The mall will have a variety of shopping retailers, local and international dining, and entertainment. “Setia City Mall’s X-factor edge will be its social and parklife experiences,” said Spinks, referring to the 4.2ha of landscaped parkland with green open spaces and water features. “The mall’s target market will be young families, especially those residing around Setia Alam followed by the rest of the Klang Valley.”

Setia City Mall has over 700,000 sq ft (65,032.13 sq m) of net lettable area covering four levels, including one floor for family-oriented entertainment like a cinema, bowling alley and karaoke centre. The mall features Parkson department store, Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC), Harvey Norman retail chain and Urban Fresh supermarket as its key tenants, and more than 230 stores offering a variety of products and services. Parkson will occupy a 120,000 sq ft (11,148.35 sq m) section spanning two floors, while GSC will have a nine-screen cinema. Dining options include a food hall for a quick bite on the go, a food court for sit down dining, and a variety of alfresco restaurants overlooking the park.

The parkland will have outdoor children’s play facilities, and its open space can serve as a venue for recreation activities or to host events. “The mall has a deck carpark design with 2,600 parking bays. The carpark is integrated into the mall, which means each level is directly linked to the mall entrance,” said Spinks. “The carpark was designed such that it would provide direct access and convenience for customers, as well as to benefit retailers on the upper floors.” Spinks said the mall’s gross development cost was about RM450 million.

“As Setia City Mall will be a part of Setia City, there will be sufficient infrastructure to support it with direct access from the Setia-Meru Link,” said Spinks. “However, it is in the masterplan for phase two of the mall to have a ramp linking the road to the car park,” he said. Updates and information on Setia City Mall are available via www.setiacitymall.comwww.facebook.com/setiacitymall and twitter.com/setiacitymall.

-thestar online.

Asia heads for travel record in 2010

ITB World Travel Trends Report has recently been released, presenting Asia Pacific as one of the most dynamic regions for world tourism in 2010The ITB World Travel Trends Report found that Asian outbound travel showed a strong growth of 15 per cent over the first eight months and is expected to end the year showing a 14 per cent rise on 2009. Moreover, the data presented that this year saw the outbound travel increasing at double-digit rates and is expected to end this year well ahead of 2008 levels, thus setting a new record.
 
Additionally, the report revealed that the booming outbound Asian markets this year are China, South Korea and Malaysia, which are all increasing at more than 20 per cent, while Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and India are also growing at double-digit rates. Executive director, ITB Asia, Nino Gruettke commented: “These figures confirm the optimism that people were already demonstrating at this year’s ITB Asia in October. Prospects are looking good for 2011.” Moreover, the report included that in terms of destinations, 76 per cent of Asian trips are to countries within the region, while 13 per cent are to Europe and 10 per cent to the Americas.
 
Asia Pacific is also expected to increase its share of the overall world outbound travel market this year. Based on the ITB report results, at present Asia accounts for 18 per cent of world outbound tourism, compared to 59 per cent for Europe but is already ahead of the Americas with 17 per cent. Taking into consideration such a dynamic Asian tourism growth, the region is expected to continue winning market share in the years to come. Looking further ahead, both China and India also have the potential to develop into attractive outbound markets in the years to come, according to chair professor of tourism, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Haiyan Song, who said:  “China’s emergence as the new superpower will define the global economy, as well as world tourism over the next 20 years.”
-TTG MENA.

Resort enclave in the city

If not for the presence of the striking Tabung Haji and Permodalan Nasional Bhd buildings nearby, it is easy to imagine MiCasa All Suite Hotel as a secluded resort, far away from the city. Still, it is hard to believe that the hotel is in the heart of the city, off Jalan Tun Razak which is notorious for its heavy traffic. To enjoy quiet in its fully renovated rooms is one thing, but to find such serenity in open areas such as the lobby or the swimming pool is an added advantage. The deep green salt-water pool and coconut trees make a perfect picture of a tropical getaway. The only thing lacking is the sound of nature — rustling leaves, chirping birds and lapping waves. Since the hotel is a favourite with business travellers, probably due to its strategic location, it is usually packed on weekdays. Leisure travellers will find the hotel ideal for an intimate weekend with loved ones.

Its new look, after an RM85 million makeover, adds value to the resort-in-the-city feel. While the common areas sport a clean, non-fussy look, the suites are luxurious with warm, earthy coloured sofa, furnishing and flooring. The focal point of some of the suites is the four poster-bed. Its cosy mattress, with an additional 5cm latex topper, offers restful slumber. Each suite is equipped with a fully functional kitchen featuring a microwave oven, induction cooker, exhaust hood, toaster oven and refrigerator. And, there’s high speed broadband and wireless access too.

Hotel MiCasa All Suite Hotel Kuala Lumpur. 368B, Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2179 8000 Fax: 03-2161 1186 Email: infokul@micasahotel.com Website: www.micasahotel.com 
FAST FACTS GETTING THERE: It’s located in a small lane off Jalan Tun Razak. However, if you miss it, there’s another access via Jalan U-Thant. Both accesses are well-marked with signages. MAIN ATTRACTION: Location and its resort-in-the-city setting. FIRST IMPRESSION: “What hotel?” It doesn’t look and feel like a typical city hotel ROOMS 242 suites, from one- to three-bedroom suites. F&B OUTLETS: Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar, Tapas Bistro & Bar and The Deli. OVERALL SERVICE: Homely. PLACES WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE: Embassy Row and the tourist belt of shopping malls such as Suria KLCC, Ampang Park and K Avenue on busy Jalan Ampang. FACILITIES: A salt-water swimming pool, self-service laundrette and a gym.
-nst online.

Hiking trails in Fraser’s Hill

Lurah Road and Lady Maxwell Road, while the other end is behind the mosque.

Abu Suradi Trail (20 minutes) Shorter than Hemmant, it’s a bit more challenging with a steep climb up from one end. The trail is named after Abu Suradi who in 1899, was the first man to be issued a mining lease for Pamah Libar, which later became the golf course. To commute between his tin mine and his home near the present Maybank lodge, he cut a path through a hill separating the two areas. The Pine Tree Trail (seven hours) A physically-challenged trail with steep slopes that leads to a majestic view of Fraser’s Hill and the surrounding summits. With the highest peak standing at 1,505 metres above sea level, this is Fraser’s Hill’s highest trail. Mager Trail (25 minutes) Another easy trail. It is named after F.W. Mager, a Pahang Public Works Department engineer, who oversaw earthwork on the Gap Road in 1918. He used jungle trails to identify routes for the internal roads on Fraser’s Hill as well as bungalow sites. His work helped speed up development on the hill station.


Rompin Trail (15 minutes) This is a relatively new trail, opened in the late 1980s by residents of Taman Sungai Hijau flats who wanted a shortcut to the town centre. It is named after the Rompin bungalows situated nearby. The trail slashes walking time between the flats and the town centre by half but it is quite steep.


Kindersley Trail (25 minutes) It was created in 1928 for British officials and their families to attend church gatherings at the Methodist Bungalow. The trail is named after Kindersley Bungalow (the present Raub Bungalow) which was used for church gatherings before Methodist Bungalow was built. The trail is named after Richard C.M. Kindersley who championed the cause of Fraser’s Hill to the government.

Maxwell Trail (70 minutes) It was named after Sir George Maxwell, the chief secretary of the Federal Malay States, who in 1920 took a keen interest in the development of Fraser’s Hill. The trail was used by workers who stayed at the Labour Lines (now the site of Fraser’s Pines Resort) in 1919 to get to Whiting Bungalow (now Guthrie House) to listen to news during World War I. The English tin miner who lived in Whiting Bungalow owned the only radio in Fraser’s Hill at that time.

-nst online.

Unique Loagan Bunut an attraction to nature lovers

Nestled in the quiet beauty of the silent forest in the interior of Miri, the Bunut Lake at Loagan Bunut National Park (LBNP) welcomes visitors with its still waters and serene scenery. Legend has it that the lake was formed by a boat used by the Berawan, an Orang Ulu tribe, when hunting. Since then, the lake has been a fishing spot for the Berawan. “Loagan” in Berawan means lake. Covering an area of approximately 650 acres, Loagan Bunut may not be the largest in the world, but it’s an extraordinary lake.

Burial ground: Pulau Bukit Tengah at Loagan Bunut where high caste Berawans were buried in the old days.

The depth of the lake is heavily influenced by Sungai Bunut, Sungai Teru, Sungai Tinjar and Sungai Baram, where water levels are subject to seasonal fluctuations. Sungai Bunut is a tributary of Sungai Teru, Sungai Teru a tributary of Sungai Tinjar, while Sungai Tinjar is a tributary of Sungai Baram. According to past accounts, the lake would experience wet and dry seasons from two to six times a year with its water level at its centre varying from a low of 0.5 to a high of three to four metres. The water level at Loagan Bunut is usually lowest in the months of February and May or June. These periods of low water last for about two to three weeks. When the prolonged dry periods are at their peak, Loagan Bunut can become a huge expanse of dry cracked mud.

High and dry: During prolonged droughts, the Loagan Bunut changes altogether.

Fish is aplenty in the lake. However, the fish population also fluctuates as a result of this unique situation. This extraordinary situation, however, did not happen in 2010. The lake is within a 10,736ha totally protected area which was gazetted as a National Park on July 1, 1990. The whole area comprises 80% peat swamp forest, 10% lowland mixed dipterocarp forest and another 10% secondary forest. It provides for wetland conservation including some totally protected species of animals and plants which are endemic to the park. The park supports a fairly large and varied bird population including darters, bitterns, egrets, herons, pied hornbills and kites.

Still effective: A floating hut and the ancient selambau fishing method of the Berawan at Sungai Teru.

It is said that the primates are mainly gibbons whose long arms enable them to swing from one tree to another. According to the park rangers, the loud piercing calls from the females gibbons were commonly heard in the early morning. Other animals that can be found include the barking deer, bearded pig, sambar deer, argus pheasant, long-tail macaque, black barded langur, lesser mouse deer, small-tooth palm civet and giant squirrel. This remote park beckons those in search of something different. The lake and its surrounding areas are vibrant and scenic, both during high and low water levels.

A major cultural attraction is the unique and traditional method of fishing called selambau, which is still being practised by Berawan fishermen. Selambau was developed to harvest migrating fish along Sungai Bunut and Sungai Teru during the fluctuating water levels. This technique has been used for centuries and has enabled Berawan fishermen to manage this unique fishery effectively and sustainably for many generations. Visitors can also choose to take a boat ride around the lake passing through historical sites like Lejeng (wooden pillars), Pulau Bukit Tengah, the Berawan ancient burial ground and the local Berawan settlement.

However, there are certain taboos that need to be observed when visiting the lake. Visitors are advised not to put on any red clothing or one may get ill or die. A few years ago, a group of visitors was said to have wanted to take a boat ride around the lake and one of them was wearing a red shirt. Before they even started their journey, black clouds appeared above the lake, followed by a thunderstorm, forcing the group to cancel their ride. Superstition aside, a boat ride on the lake is a must. During evening boat rides, you can stop at a private homestay owned by Loagan Bunut longhouse chief Meran Surang to watch the scenic setting sun. It is said that occasionally, fire balls could be seen in the sky above the lake in the late evenings.

At the park, visitors can bird-watch in the morning or visit the famous Berawan floating hut and selambau. LBNP also offers jungle trekking along Tapang Trail (260m), which is a 30 to 40 minutes walk; Belian Trail (720m), 40 minutes to one hour walk, and Hydrology Trail (2km), one to two hours walk. During prolonged drought, visitors have the opportunity to walk barefoot across the dry cracked mud lake, to get a feel of the simple pleasures of life long forgotten by many. It can be an exhilarating experience, especially for first timers. Although LBNP is accessible by road from Miri, it is not popular yet compared to other national parks. The journey, half of which is on a bumpy and gravel road, takes about three hours. Most visitors come for a day trip from Miri but for those who prefer to spend their night at the park, they can choose to put up in a chalet or hostel.

-thestar online.

Pemandu pelancong fasih berbahasa Korea diperlukan

KOTA KINABALU 30 Dis. - Sabah memerlukan pemandu pelancong yang boleh berbahasa Korea dalam usaha kerajaan negeri menarik lebih ramai pelancong dari negara tersebut ke negeri ini. Menteri Pelancongan, Kebudayaan dan Alam Sekitar, Datuk Masidi Manjun berkata, masalah komunikasi merupakan halangan utama yang sering dihadapi oleh pelancong Korea apabila berkunjung ke Sabah. Katanya, masalah itu hanya akan dapat diatasi sekiranya pemandu pelancong di negeri ini dapat berkomunikasi dalam bahasa Korea dengan baik. "Apa yang boleh kementerian lakukan adalah dengan melatih pemandu pelancong tempatan supaya dapat bertutur dalam bahasa Korea, sekali gus memberi keselesaan kepada golongan pelancong dari negara itu ketika berada di Sabah," katanya di sini semalam.

Beliau berkata demikian pada majlis makan malam meraikan Duta Korea Selatan ke Malaysia, Lee Yong Joon. Ia merupakan anjuran Persatuan Kebajikan dan Kebudayaan Korea Selatan di Sabah. Masidi berkata, sekiranya masalah komunikasi dapat diatasi, ia merupakan satu petanda positif dalam usaha menarik lebih ramai pelancong Korea ke Sabah. Menurutnya, sebanyak 40 peratus daripada pelancong Korea yang berkunjung ke Malaysia akan melawat ke negeri Sabah.
Jelasnya, ia merupakan satu perkembangan baik kepada industri pelancongan Sabah dan sekiranya masalah komunikasi dapat ditangani dengan sempurna, jumlah kehadiran pelancong Korea ke Sabah boleh dipertingkatkan pada masa depan.

"Selain itu, penerbangan terus dari Sabah ke Korea turut menjadi pemangkin dan sokongan terbaik kepada kehadiran pelancong dari negara maju itu ke negeri bawah bayu ini," katanya.
Tambahnya, kepelbagaian suku kaum di Sabah, destinasi pelancongan menarik dan pulau-pulau indah telah menarik minat pelancong asing untuk berkunjung ke Sabah. Sehubungan itu, beliau berharap orang ramai dapat memberi pertolongan kepada pelancong asing yang mengalami kesusahan ketika berada di negeri ini. Jelasnya, perbuatan baik tersebut akan mendorong mereka untuk kembali ke Sabah, sekali gus membantu meningkatkan ekonomi negeri dan secara tidak langsung, ia mencerminkan budaya rakyat Malaysia yang ramah tamah.
-Utusan Online.

Pameran Artifak Warisan tampilkan 2,000 artifak China dan Islam

MELAKA 30 Dis. - Bagi pencinta sejarah, khususnya berkaitan tamadun China dan Islam, 'Pameran Artifak Warisan' yang kini berlangsung di Balai Sheikh Al-Hadi, Bastion House di sini adalah suatu yang harus dikunjungi. Menampilkan 2,000 artifak termasuk yang tertua berusia antara 4,700 dan 2,900 tahun sebelum Masehi iaitu koleksi patung jed dari zaman Hongshanshou, pameran itu bermula sejak Selasa lepas dan berakhir 15 Jun depan. Pengurus Besar Perbadanan Muzium Melaka (Perzim), Khamis Abas berkata, bagaimanapun hanya 300 artifak dipamerkan pada satu-satu masa. "Kita gilirkan artifak sebulan sekali untuk dipamerkan," katanya pada sidang media mengenai pameran itu di sini hari ini.

Khamis berkata, turut dipamerkan ialah patung "terracotta" atau tanah liat yang dipercayai berusia 210 tahun sebelum Masehi iaitu semasa era Maharaja Qin Shi Huang. Juga dipamerkan barangan porselin tinggalan Dinasti Ming (1368- 1644) dan barangan gangsa dari Dinasti Zhou yang berusia lebih 2,000 tahun, katanya. Katanya, artifak itu dipinjamkan oleh sebuah keluarga dari Kuala Ketil, Kedah yang mewarisi kira-kira 8,000 artifak China dan Islam daripada nenek moyang mereka. Bagaimanapun kata beliau, tidak semua artifak itu akan dipamerkan kerana faktor keselamatan. "Antara artifak yang Perzim tidak dapat pamerkan ialah satu set cop mohor maharaja dari Dinasti Ming diperbuat daripada jed dan set itu bernilai AS$100 juta, serta artifak al-Quran yang diukir daripada emas bernilai AS$24 juta," katanya. Pameran dibuka kepada pengunjung dari 9 pagi hingga 6 petang, manakala tiket dijual pada harga RM12 untuk dewasa dan RM5 untuk kanak-kanak.

Sementara itu mengulas isu berlainan, Khamis berkata, Perzim mensasarkan 800,000 orang mengunjungi 22 muzium kendaliannya. "Semalam kita sudah capai 700,000 pengunjung untuk tahun ini. Setakat ini kita berjaya menambah kira-kira 15 peratus pengunjung setiap tahun," katanya. Tahun lepas muzium kendalian Perzim menerima 677,875 pengunjung yang mana Muzium Samudera mencatat jumlah teramai iaitu 367,522 pelawat. Khamis berkata, Perzim juga akan melancarkan sebuah lagi muzium bertempat di Pulau Besar, pada 15 Jan ini.
Selain itu katanya, Perzim juga akan membangunkan Muzium Hang Tuah dan Rumah Lima Bersaudara menerusi projek Perkampungan Hang Tuah di Duyong. Kedua-dua projek Perzim itu dijangka siap pada awal 2012, katanya.
- BERNAMA

2.6 juta pengunjung lawat muzium di seluruh negara

PUTRAJAYA 30 Dis. - Seramai 2.6 juta orang mengunjungi 21 buah muzium di bawah seliaan Jabatan Muzium sepanjang tahun ini. Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Muzium, Datuk Ibrahim Ismail berkata, jumlah berkenaan menunjukkan peningkatan 100,000 orang berbanding tahun lepas. "Muzium Negara mencatatkan jumlah pengunjung paling tinggi iaitu satu juta orang dengan separuh daripadanya ialah pengunjung tempatan manakala selebihnya pelancong asing," katanya. Terdahulu, beliau menerima kunjungan daripada bekas pekerja lombong Sungai Lembing di Muzium Putrajaya di sini hari ini.

Ibrahim menambah, dalam meningkatkan jumlah kunjungan pelawat ke muzium, pihaknya berusaha keras mempelbagaikan aktiviti dan pameran untuk dijadikan daya tarikan. Beliau berkata, antara inisiatif tersebut adalah menjalin kerjasama pintar dengan institut pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA) dan individu perseorangan dalam mendapatkan artifak serta barang sejarah. "Kerjasama seperti ini bukan sahaja menjimatkan kos perbelanjaan malah dapat memberi maklumat baru kepada pengunjung," katanya.

Selain itu, katanya, dalam masa terdekat, pihaknya akan mengadakan kerjasama dengan agensi-agensi pelancongan untuk menarik para pelancong terutamanya dari luar negara melawat muzium. "Kerjasama ini penting bagi membolehkan pengusaha-pengusaha agensi itu meletakkan muzium antara tempat yang perlu dilawati oleh para pelancong," katanya.
-Utusan Online.

Maswings offer low online deals with Sabah and Sarawak

MASWINGS is offering super low online deals from RM25 for travels within Sarawak and Sabah from Jan 1 to Jan 11. The travel time is between Jan 3 and April 30.
“This is the best time to take advantage of these great bargains as fares are really low. It demonstrates our commitment to provide customers with quality, affordability and convenience at all times” said MASwings head of marketing, Haslah Ayub. “We invite our customers to grab this incredible opportunity to make their travel experience truly exciting. We also advice our customers to plan their travel well in advance.”

Kota Kinabalu fares start from as low as RM35 to Labuan, Tawau and Miri; RM37 to Lahad Datu and Sandakan; RM45 to Bintulu; RM46 to Sibu; RM47 to Mulu and RM72 to Kuching. Fares from Sandakan to Tawau fare is priced at RM25. For destinations from Miri, offers start from RM25 to Bintulu, Mulu and Limbang; RM27 to Labuan and RM37 to Sibu. Fares from Sibu are as low as RM25 to Bintulu and RM52 to Limbang.

From Kuching, fares start from as low as RM30 to Sibu, RM45 to Miri, and RM55 to Bintulu and Mulu. Tickets for these promotional one way fares must be purchased online at least three days before departure and within the sales period. All promotional airfares are for one way economy class travel on MASwings and exclude tax and other applicable surcharges. A complete list of destinations and fares is available on www.maswings.com.my
-thestar online.

Countdown to 2011

REVELLERS ringing in the new year have a variety of places to chose from as a number of venues in Penang will be holding New Year’s Eve and countdown parties tonight. The state’s official New Year’s Eve celebration will be held at the Esplanade from 7pm with a fireworks display scheduled at the stroke of midnight. State Tourism Development and Culture Committee chairman Danny Law said there would be a mega concert featuring international and local singers as well as band performances. Three Blackberry Curve 9300 smartphones are up for grabs in a lucky draw during the event. The entry form, which was published on the cover of StarMetro on Dec 29, has to be submitted at The Star’s Penang offices in Bayan Lepas, Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling and Prai by noon today.

Queensbay Mall will hold its New Year’s Eve programme from as early as 12.30pm, with exhibition booths from sponsors and an auto show. General manager Selina Ng said an outdoor concert from 8pm will feature, among others, Yip Sai Wing of popular Hong Kong group Beyond, Asian Beat band 2010 winner Shift Machine, local rap artistes Caprice and deejay Gimix.
She said there would also be a fireworks display to welcome 2011. “We’re expecting no less than 15,000 people to join in the fun,” Ng said.

The public can also join in the New Year countdown party at the Penang Times Square in George Town which will start at 8.30pm. Ron Loh, the executive director of Ivory Properties that manages Penang Times Square, said about 10,000 people were expected at the event. There will be performances by Howard Wang who is also known as Bangkok ‘LeeHom’ and Mickey and Mikey from Soju’s resident band Crush. The main highlight will be a hip hop street dance competition which has attracted 10 groups.

For a countdown by the sea, head over to Straits Quay in Tanjong Tokong for its New Year Eve’s extravaganza which will start at 6pm today and go on past midnight. Buskers will entertain visitors with games and performances. The High Society Band and a percussion group will put on a show while a fireworks display will thrill all. Other venues which are holding parties include Gurney Plaza and Juru Auto-City. The Gurney Plaza event will, among others, feature breakdance and stage performances. Finishing it all off with a bang will be a fireworks display.
-thestar online.

Art of boat-making slowly sinking into oblivion

KUALA TERENGGANU: The remarkable skills of the boat builders in Pulau Duyong have earned international recognition but the few of them still in the business worry they may be a dying breed. Master boat builder Hasni Che Ali, who has been in the business for over 40 years, said in the 1950s and 60s, pinnace boats (light sailing craft) played an important role in Terengganu as they sailed up to Thailand and Indochina to trade. “At one time these pinnace boats ferried salt and other necessities from Narathiwat (in Thailand) to Terengganu. “However, modernity spelled doom for these boats as the new generation of people are no longer keen to use them,” Hasni said.

A German sailor, who had a boat made by Hasni about 30 years ago, had returned in 2004 to order another boat. Hasni, 56, took six years to build the Naga Pelangi II, which was recently delivered to seasoned seafarer Christoph Swoboda. The Naga Pelangi II, made of cengal hardwood, is 95 feet by 19 feet and looks like a smaller version of a galleon. The boat-making process involves intricate work, starting with the wood curing process that takes up to two years to complete before the construction of the boat itself can take place.

Although the Naga Pelangi II exudes a traditional wooden boat look, complete with its mast from the outside, it has a 250-horsepower engine and electricity derived using solar power. The boat can accommodate up to 30 people and has four sleeping compartments, apart from compartments for the crew. Hasni hoped that steps taken by Mara and the National Handicraft Corporation (Kraftangan) to train youths in boat building would ensure the perpetuity of the tradition in the island. “We hope the youths from Pulau Duyong will help preserve this trade,” said Hasni, who has been working as a boat maker since 13. He has six workers, including his children and a younger brother.

The boat they had built for Swoboda cost RM2mil. The first boat that Hasni made for him, Naga Pelangi I, cost RM30,000. After two decades, Swoboda sold the boat and came back to Pulau Duyong to get the second boat. “It involves master craftsmanship. No nails are used and, instead, locks and mortise join the wooden parts. “As it involves detailed work, it takes very long to complete. And it is for the same reason why I’m so impressed and obsessed with this type of boat,” Swoboda said. “What a waste it would be if this boat making heritage goes into oblivion as there is no one there to inherit the skills,” he said.
— Bernama

MaTIC is having a carnival

KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism Ministry is organising a carnival at the Malaysian Tourism Information Complex (MaTIC) here to usher in the new year. A statement by the ministry stated that among the programmes lined up are a fireworks display, a family fair and homestay carnival. The fireworks show will be on tonight while the weekly KL Family Fair will be held tomorrow from 4pm to 11pm. The Homestay carnival will be held tomorrow and on Sunday.
— Bernama

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Clan claims to be 200 years old

GEORGE TOWN: Written records dating back as far as 1810 have confirmed the existence of the Cheah Si Hock Haw Kong Kongsi (Cheah clan) in Penang even before the 18th Century. The latest records found in June this year showed the title deeds of two shophouses in China Street under the name Seahning Congchow in the trust of its patron saint, Jee Oui Hock How Kong, which confirmed that the clan owned the properties on May 25, 1810. The properties were originally owned by a Cheah clansman known as Chay Geong (Cheah Yeong) on Nov 20, 1801. Cheah clan honorary secretary Cheah Swee Huat said the discovery proved that the clan's history in Penang dated back to more than 200 years.

"This is a significant find for us and we are very excited about it. This is the earliest written evidence of the existence of Cheah clan ever," he told reporters recently. Cheah said the previous records obtained about a hundred years ago showed the clan's existence was only in 1820. "The latest records had been kept in our safe by our forefathers all along. It is just that we couldn't find the key to the safe and decided to finally break it. No one knew what was inside."We found the proof in June this year and it took us until now to verify the facts with the relevant authorities," he said.One shophouse is now used as a bicycle repair shop while the other, a coffeeshop.

The latest discovery by the Cheah clan made it the oldest of the five major Hokkien clan associations in Penang. The others being the Khoo, Yeoh, Lim and Tan clan associations.Between then and 1858, the Cheah clan acquired several pieces of land. The one on which the clan temple now stands was acquired in 1858 at Armenian Street. It took 15 years to build. The temple had undergone major renovations in 1918, 1933, 1949, 1977 and the last one in 2003, which was completed recently.The Cheah clan now has 600 members.

Members are from the Cheok T'ng village, Sam Thor district (now known as Haicang), Cheang Chew prefecture, Xiamen, Fujian province, in China. The first person to have the Cheah surname is Sin Pek while the 36th generation descendant was Xie An, who was the premier of Eastern Jin Dynasty.The Cheah clansmen first landed in Bagan Dalam, Butterworth and later moved to coastal areas of George Town due to booming business opportunities. A group of pioneers built an ancestral temple to pay tribute to past clansmen who had sacrificed for the community, to congregate, and to offer assistance to newly arrived clansmen. The clan owned cemetery land under the name Cheah Sek Tong in Mount Erskine in 1909. It also operated a school in 1917 under the name Cheah Si Eok Chye, which ceased operation after World War II in 1945. It was also once used as the South East Asia secretariat for the National Kuomintang Party of China.
-nst online.

AmBank to host Ambang concert

KUALA LUMPUR: AmBank Group, in collaboration with Kuala Lumpur City Hall, will be organising Ambang 2011 Kuala Lumpur concert at Dataran Merdeka on New Year's Eve. AmBank Group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim said the concert was held to foster closer ties and unity among Malaysians. "This concert is also our way of saying 'Thank You' to the public for their support. "Apart from the performances by the popular artistes, the highlight of the evening will be a dazzling midnight show of fireworks to usher in the new year," he added.

The concert to be held at 8pm will feature an exciting line-up of artistes such as Mizz Nina, Amy Search, M. Nasir, rock band Estranged, Malaysian Idol 2 winner Daniel Lee, Datuk David Arumugam, Ramlah Ram and pop rock band Pop Shuvit. There will also be performances such as the 1Malaysia dance, Malay cultural dances by City Hall dancers, Chinese dances from the CN Dances, and Indian dances from Vehaara Arts. The Bhangra group Gold Kartz, song-and-dance group The Singing Shop as well as the Orang Asli dance troupe Mah Keri will also go on stage. The City Hall orchestra will also perform. The concert will also be broadcast "live" on TV2 from 10.15pm to 1.15am.
-nst online.

Istimewanya Banjaran Dulit

MIRI 29 Dis. – Banjaran Dulit yang terletak di Hulu Tinjar, Baram kira-kira enam jam perjalanan dari Miri masih begitu kaya dengan keindahan alam semula jadi yang belum pernah diterokai. Tersembunyi di hutan tebal Borneo, banjaran yang mempunyai ketinggian 1,219.2 meter dari paras laut itu mempunyai beberapa lubang gua, sungai kecil, air terjun serta ratusan spesies tanaman yang dipercayai boleh digunakan untuk tujuan perubatan. Bagi yang tidak pernah mengetahui kewujudannya, Banjaran Dulit terletak dalam bahagian Tinjar bersebelahan bahagian Apoh Tutoh yang menempatkan tapak warisan dunia semula jadi iaitu Taman Negara Gunung Mulu di Ulu Baram.

Menurut penduduk tempatan yang pernah sampai di puncak Banjaran Dulit, mereka terkejut dengan penemuan sebuah kebun yang digelar Taman Eden di mana tumbuhan seperti tembakau dan pokok terung tumbuh subur di atas permukaan berbatu. Merang Kaling, 53, dari Tinjar memberitahu, kali pertama dia menakluki puncak banjaran itu adalah pada 1992 untuk mencari sarang burung serta gaharu dan ketika itulah dia menemui kebun tersebut. ‘‘Agak menghairankan kerana di puncak banjaran tersebut, berbatu dengan permukaan tanah yang amat kurang selain kering. ‘‘Saya terkejut kerana tembakau dan terung tumbuh di merata kawasan berhampiran pintu gua,” katanya. Kaling menambah, tembakau berkenaan ditanam dalam bentuk barisan dengan daunnya dianggarkan sebesar lima inci dan panjang kira-kira 0.3 meter manakala di tepian kebun itu pula ditumbuhi terung yang menghijau. ‘‘Saya dapati beberapa helai daun tembakau yang menghijau itu seolah-olah telah dipetik oleh seseorang, namun peliknya tiada bekas kaki ditemui,” katanya yang kembali ke puncak banjaran itu tahun lalu setelah 17 tahun menemui kebun tersebut.

Menurut Kaling, kebun seluas 3.6 meter tersebut masih wujud hingga ke hari ini namun untuk sampai ke sana, pelawat terpaksa meredah hutan kerana ketiadaan laluan pejalan kaki yang khusus. Katanya, kawasan banjaran itu dahulu merupakan tempat tinggal utama kaum Berawan; Sebop; Kenyah dan bagi kaum Penan yang memetik tembakau liar malah mereka percaya tumbuhan itu ditanam oleh makhluk halus. Sementara itu, Ketua masyarakat Kenyah, Penghulu Joseph Belulok, 66, dari Long Aton di Tinjar pula memberitahu, Banjaran Dulit sebenarnya berpotensi besar untuk menjadi salah satu tarikan pelancongan di kawasan Baram.
‘‘Kawasan ini masih kaya dengan sumber alam seperti damar, rotan, engkabang, gaharu dan puluhan spesies tumbuhan dan akar kayu yang digunakan untuk tujuan perubatan,” katanya yang turut mengusahakan perkhidmatan inap desa di Long Aton sejak beberapa tahun lalu.
Selain itu, banjaran ini amat sesuai untuk menjalankan aktiviti lasak berkonsepkan gunung ganang seperti jalan atau treking dalam hutan, rock climbing selain menjelajah gua-gua yang terdapat di puncak banjaran berkenaan.

Ujar Belulok, konsep ekopelancongan itu sudah pasti mampu menarik pelancong asing terutama dari negara Eropah yang menggemari aktiviti pelancongan berasaskan kebudayaan, pengembaraan dan alam semula jadi (CAN). Namun katanya, usaha untuk mempromosikan Banjaran Dulit memerlukan jangka masa yang panjang kerana tempat itu amat jarang dikenali dan setakat ini belum ada langkah untuk mengetengahkan kawasan itu ke peta pelancongan.
‘‘Saya percaya, Banjaran Dulit mampu menyaingi Taman Negara Gunung Mulu jika usaha mempromosikannya terus giat dilaksanakan,” kata Belulok. Dalam pada itu, Belulok mencadangkan agensi berkaitan supaya mengambil inisiatif untuk sama-sama melindungi dan memelihara keindahan alam semula jadi yang terdapat di Banjaran Dulit.

Menurutnya, kajian oleh penyelidik Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) untuk tesis doktor falsafah mengesahkan wujudnya spesies orang hutan atau wak-wak iaitu panggilan di kalangan masyarakat tempatan yang seringkali ditemui meminum air masin di sebuah tasik berhampiran Banjaran Dulit. ‘‘Difahamkan penyelidik berkenaan sudah mencadangkan kepada jabatan kerajaan berkaitan agar menjadikan tempat penemuan itu sebagai kawasan perlindungan semula jadi. ‘‘Kita menyokong cadangan itu dan akan memberi kerjasama untuk menyokong langkah perlindungan bagi memelihara kecantikan dan keunikan Banjaran Dulit dalam usaha memastikan sistem ekologi di situ tidak terancam dengan pembangunan,” ujarnya. Tambahnya, sungai dan beberapa air terjun yang terdapat di kawasan banjaran itu juga berpotensi untuk pembinaan mini hidro bagi membekalkan tenaga elektrik kepada 17 rumah panjang kaum Kenyah, Berawan dan Penan di kawasan terbabit.

Pada masa sama, dia berharap komuniti tempatan menggunakan peluang ini untuk menceburkan diri dalam ekopelancongan memandangkan sebelum ini terdapat pelawat dan pelancong dari Eropah seperti United Kingdom dan Belanda datang ke situ untuk menikmati keindahan alam semula jadi. Sementara itu, bagi pelancong yang bercadang untuk melakukan treking dalam hutan dan menaiki Banjaran Dulit, maka destinasi permulaan yang paling sesuai adalah Long Aton. Long Aton boleh didatangi dari Miri yang mengambil masa perjalanan selama enam jam menggunakan pacuan empat roda yang melalui jalan balak.
-Utusan Online.

Pelancongan: Penglibatan media diperlukan

MELAKA 29 Dis. - Pengamal media di negeri ini perlu bekerjasama dengan pengusaha industri pelancongan seperti agensi, pengusaha hotel dan pemandu pelancong bagi meningkatkan kualiti kemajuan industri pelancongan Melaka pada masa depan. Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Pelancongan, Kebudayaan dan Warisan negeri, Datuk Seet Har Cheow berkata, golongan ini yang dikenali sebagai 'tourism industry player' memerlukan penglibatan media bagi memperkenalkan produk pelancongan negeri yang kini sudah berstatus negeri maju. Menurutnya, kerjasama wakil industri pelancongan, syarikat swasta badan berkanun, media tempatan dan pelbagai pihak berkaitan terus berganding bahu dalam memastikan kesinambungan setiap produk pelancongan di negeri ini agar terus pelihara.

''Tanpa mereka ini, industri pelancongan Melaka pasti malap dan tidak akan dikenali seluruh negara. ''Apa paling penting usaha penggiat industri pelancongan ini sentiasa menampakan hasil apabila Melaka terus unggul menjadi negeri pelancongan yang sering menerima kunjungan pelancong luar," katanya. Beliau berkata demikian ketika berucap pada Majlis Penghargaan Pelancongan 2010 anjuran Tourism Malaysia Melaka di Philea Resort & Spa, Ayer Keroh di sini semalam. Turut hadir Pengarah Tourism Malaysia Melaka, Ahmad Yahaya dan Pengurus Besar Bahagian Promosi Pelancongan, Jabatan Ketua Menteri Melaka, Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad.

Pada majlis itu, media tempatan, agensi-agensi pelancongan dan pengurus hotel diraikan dalam suasana meriah dan turut menerima penghargaan dari Tourism Malaysia Melaka. Tidak ketinggalan pengurus bagi beberapa produk pelancongan negeri ini seperti Melaka Duck Tours, Melaka River Cruise, Menara Taming Sari dan pengusaha inap desa turut hadir menerima penghargaan masing-masing. Selain itu, kata Har Cheow, usaha Tourism Malaysia Melaka menganjurkan malam penghargaan tersebut dianggap langkah terbaik menggalakan pengusaha industri pelancongan bergiat aktif dalam meningkatkan mutu serta kualiti perkhidmatan kepada pelancong. Menurutnya, kerajaan negeri berharap golongan berkenaan terus meningkatkan komitmen membantu meningkatkan jumlah kedatangan pelancong ke negeri ini pada tahun akan datang.

''Saya amat menyokong inisiatif yang diambil oleh Tourism Malaysia Melaka dengan memberi pengiktirafan penglibatan aktif serta sumbangan produk-produk pelancongan dalam memajukan industri pelancongan di negeri ini," katanya. Terdahulu, Ahmad Yahaya sewaktu berucap pada majlis itu berkata, program makan malam yang diadakan itu merupakan salah satu usaha Tourism Malaysia Melaka untuk menghargai peranan media dan pengusaha pelancongan dalam meningkatkan pembangunan industri pelancongan.
-Utusan Online.

Terminal Pengangkutan TBS-BTS lambang kemodenan Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR 29 Dis. - Terminal Bersepadu Selatan-Bandar Tasik Selatan (TBS-BTS) yang akan memulakan operasi pada 1 Januari ini merupakan satu lagi lambang kemodenan sistem pengangkutan negara serta usaha kerajaan dalam memberi keselesaan kepada rakyat. Pelbagai kemudahan moden melengkapi terminal pengangkutan bersepadu itu yang dibina pada 2008 dengan kos RM570 juta bagi memberikan perkhidmatan yang lebih selesa kepada pengguna.

Terminal itu juga dihubungkan melalui Lebuh Raya Sungai Besi (Besraya), Lebuh Raya Seremban di bahagian selatan serta Jalan Lingkaran Tengah II (MRR II) di bahagian timur.
Tinjauan Bernama ke TBS-BTS mendapati ia dilengkapi kemudahan yang tidak terdapat di hentian lain seperti kaunter khidmat pelanggan yang beroperasi 24 jam dan kemudahan pembelian dan penempahan tiket secara online 'e-ticketing' melalui www.tbsbts.com.my. Penjualan tiket menggunakan skrin disediakan di hadapan kaunter dan terdapat mikrofon di dalam kaunter supaya penumpang dapat mendengar dengan jelas maklumat yang disampaikan pihak pentadbiran. Selain 19 kaunter tiket yang disediakan, penumpang yang tidak mahu menunggu lama atau beratur panjang untuk membeli tiket, terdapat juga enam mesin kiosk untuk membeli tiket secara tunai atau 'touch n go'. Selain itu, sistem siaran informasi pengunjung (PIDS) seperti jadual pelepasan bas diletakkan di setiap tingkat manakala balai ketibaan dan pelepasan di tingkat bawah disediakan khusus untuk penumpang sahaja.

Beberapa restoran dan kemudahan mesin juruwang automatik (ATM) juga disediakan selain bilik rehat VIP, surau, tandas, tempat menukar lampin bayi serta perkhidmatan WiFi. Kemudahan untuk orang kurang upaya (OKU) turut disediakan seperti lantai penunjuk arah, kaunter perkhidmatan dan tiket yang direndahkan, tandas, lif, laluan jalan istimewa serta petak letak kereta khas untuk mereka. Bangunan TBS-BTS, yang dibina di kawasan seluas 19.6 hektar, mengandungi enam tingkat termasuk 55 platform bas untuk 1,000 bas keluar dan masuk setiap hari, 150 perhentian teksi, 1,000 parkir kereta termasuk parkir khas untuk wanita.

Sebanyak 1,800 tempat duduk disediakan di aras tempat menunggu bersaiz 170,000 kaki persegi dan boleh memuatkan seramai 40,000 orang pada satu-satu masa. Pembinaan terminal itu merupakan usaha kerajaan ke arah meningkatkan pengggunaan pengangkutan awam di lembah Klang selaras dengan sasaran Kementerian Pengangkutan meningkatkannya daripada 16 peratus pada masa ini kepada 25 peratus pada 2012.
- BERNAMA

AirAsia bakal beroperasi di Terminal Satu KKIA tahun depan

KOTA KINABALU 29 Dis. - Kesesakan di Terminal Dua, Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kota Kinabalu (KKIA) bakal berakhir tahun depan. Menteri Pengangkutan, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha berkata, Terminal Dua tersebut yang digunakan oleh AirAsia Bhd. (AirAsia) ketika ini akan berpindah ke Terminal Satu KKIA di sini bagi mengatasi masalah kesesakan yang seringkali dihadapi oleh penumpang syarikat tambang murah tersebut. Katanya, mengambil kira permintaan daripada syarikat penerbangan tersebut, kementerian bersetuju memindahkan pusat operasi AirAsia ke Terminal Satu KKIA sekali gus dapat memberi kemudahan lebih sempurna kepada penumpang.

Menurutnya, tarikh sebenar bagi perpindahan ke Terminal Satu tersebut bagaimanapun masih belum dapat diputuskan dan ia berkemungkinan dilakukan pada penghujung tahun depan. "Tempoh melaksanakan perpindahan itu masih dalam jangka masa yang ditetapkan dan pihak AirAsia memahaminya. Proses tersebut tidak akan melibatkan masa yang lama atau bertahun-tahun. "Saya menjangkakan ia dapat dilaksanakan pada penghujung tahun depan berdasarkan keseluruhan Terminal Satu akan mula beroperasi sepenuhnya pada penghujung Januari depan," katanya kepada pemberita di Terminal Satu KKIA di sini hari ini.

Beliau kemudian meninjau kesan kebakaran kecil di Pusat Kawalan Trafik Udara Kota Kinabalu (KKATCC), Jabatan Penerbangan Awam (DCA) dan kemajuan projek menaik taraf KKIA. Ahad lalu, kebakaran kecil bilik bateri di KKATCC telah menyebabkan pusat kawalan tersebut terpaksa ditutup selama tiga jam dan mengakibatkan 19 penerbangan dilaporkan terjejas. Mengulas lanjut, Cho Ha berkata, keupayaan Terminal Satu KKIA untuk beroperasi sepenuhnya pada hujung Januari depan akan membolehkan AirAsia berpindah ke terminal tersebut. Katanya, perpindahan itu juga bertepatan dengan keupayaan terminal tersebut yang menjalani projek menaik taraf dan pembinaan tambahan landasan kapal terbang sedia ada. Menurutnya, jika landasan baru sebanyak tiga laluan di Terminal Satu siap beroperasi sepenuhnya, ia dijangka mampu menampung sehingga 18 penerbangan dan pendaratan dalam tempoh sejam.
Tambahnya, jika AirAsia telah berpindah ke Terminal Satu, lapangan terbang di Terminal Dua akan digunakan untuk operasi kapal terbang kargo.
-Utusan Online.

2010 tahun cemerlang sektor pelancongan negara

KUALA LUMPUR 29 Dis. - Sektor pelancongan negara mencatat rekod cemerlang sepanjang tahun ini apabila menerima pelbagai anugerah di peringkat antarabangsa di samping menyaksikan peningkatan jumlah kedatangan pelancong asing. Menteri Pelancongan, Datuk Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen berkata, perkembangan itu menjadikan sektor berkenaan antara penyumbang kepada pembangunan ekonomi negara biarpun berhadapan dengan cabaran ekonomi global. Menurut beliau, antara pencapaian cemerlang apabila buku panduan firma pelancongan Lonely Planet meletakkan Malaysia sebagai 10 destinasi pelancongan yang memiliki nilai terbaik dunia selain pelancongan terbaik 2010.

"Negara turut tersenarai dalam 10 negara teratas dalam destinasi pelancongan terbaik 2009 oleh Organisasi Pelancongan Dunia Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu . "Beberapa pengendali resort tempatan juga menggondol pelbagai anugerah dalam Anugerah Pelancongan Dunia 2010.
"Kita turut memperoleh pulangan ke atas pelaburan yang tinggi dengan purata setiap pelancong berbelanja RM2,260 bagi satu perjalanan," katanya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini. Menurut Yen Yen, berikutan kecemerlangan tersebut, kementerian itu terus komited dalam memajukan sektor pelancongan. Dalam pada itu, Pusat Pelancongan Malaysia (Matic) telah mengatur pelbagai acara menarik sempena sambutan tahun baru 2011. Persembahan bunga api akan diadakan pada malam 31 Disember diikuti acara mingguan KL Family Fair keesokan harinya. Karnival Homestay Malaysia 2010 pula berlangsung dari 30 Disember hingga 2 Januari 2011.
-Utusan Online.

Dive permit quota to stay

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will not increase its daily permits for diving at Sipadan island. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the move to maintain a 120 daily dive permit quota is to ensure preservation of Sipadan’s environment. He said Sipadan, which is part of the Semporna marine area, was only recently endorsed as the richest marine bio-diversity spot on Earth by a team of top scientists, remained a favourite tourist spot with a waiting list that stretches up to seven months. “If we do not protect and conserve our environment, the tourism industry will not be able to thrive because the environment is the asset for the tourism industry,” he said, in reiterating he state is taking the necessary steps to preserve its natural heritage.

He said similar measures to preserve the environment was also taken for Mount Kinabalu where the number of climbers are limited to 192 a day. “No matter how many visitors we have, we have to do something to prevent these flora and fauna from being affected,” he added. He said the Sabah government would not be implementing any physical development at internationally renowned rainforest research center in the Danum Valley and also the bio-diversity rich Maliau Basin which is also known as the ‘Lost World’. “Even the roads leading to Danum Valley which is not sealed, will not be repaired in order to slow down illegal hunters and poachers,” he said. A recently-concluded 17-day Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition 2010 by a team scientists from Malaysia, United States and Holland discovered Semporna and its 49 islands had the highest marine bio-diversity in the world.
-thestar online.
http://www.sabahtourism.com/

Miri to stage international hash run next year

As part of its campaign to put Sarawak on the world map, Miri will host an international hash run next year that would take the “harriers” through interesting jungle terrains, tourist sites, Borneo Rainforest Resort and hills. Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan has given the nod for the event and wants it to be truly an international event in terms of organisation and participation.

“Go big. Make sure you get the best runners from the hash clubs from as many foreign countries as possible. And get them to run through as many places of interest as possible so that they can see the beauty of our natural sites. “My ministry will get the Sarawak Tourism Board to help out in the organising and management of the event,’’ he told members of the Miri Hash Harriers Club during a meeting on the event. Dr Chan, who is also the Tourism and Heritage Minister, said he wanted the hash run in Miri to be on par with those runs organised in places like Britain, Europe and United States. He urged the organisers to make sure the participants get to sample the local food, drinks, culture and customs.

“Make sure the run is accompanied by other interesting events so that these international runners will get to see what Miri has to offer to the rest of the world,’’ he said. Dr Chan told the Miri Hash Harriers Club to stage the international run in June or July because the weather would be favourable during that time of the year. The organisers are planning to get at least 1,000 international runners to take part. The runners will get to run through the Canada Hill overlooking Miri, the jungle paths in the Borneo Rainforest Resort adjacent to the Lambir National Park and the interior parts of Marudi and Mulu.
-thestar online.

Budget airlines to move to main terminal in KK next year

KOTA KINABALU: Work on the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is due to be completed by the end of next year, at which time budget air carriers will relocate their operations to the main terminal. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the only work left as part of the RM1.4bil KKIA upgrade was the extension of the airport runway from 3km to 3.8km as well as resurfacing work. “The resurfacing will take about a year as the contractor has to do three layers and since it’s an operational runway, the work can only be done three to four hours every night. “The progress is only about 40m a day,” Kong said when visiting the site. The airport runway extension was supposed to have been completed by April last year.

He also visited the equipment room of the KKIA air traffic control (ATC) centre which was damaged in a small fire on Dec 26 that resulted in 19 flights being disrupted. Kong said the Transport Ministry had an understanding with budget carrier AirAsia that it, along with other low-cost carriers such as Cebu Pacific now using KKIA’s Terminal 2, would eventually shift to the main terminal. “We have a time frame in mind,” he said and when pressed further, Kong said his ministry was looking at 2011 for AirAsia to relocate to the main terminal.
AirAsia chief executive Datuk Tony Fernandes had said that the airline was fast outgrowing KKIA’s Terminal 2. On the ATC centre, he said his visit was also to assess and discuss with airport officials measures that could be taken to avert a recurrence of the incident.
“We do not want to see this happening again, more so at the peak of the travel season,” Kong added.
-thestar online.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Malaysian F1 GP discount on tickets extended to Jan 31

PETALING JAYA: The promotional period for the 50% discount on tickets for the 2011 Malaysian F1 Grand Prix has been extended to Jan 31. The promotional period, which was initially until this Friday, will give F1 fans the opportunity to buy tickets from as low as RM30 (Hillstand), arguably the cheapest F1 ticket in the world. The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer, Datuk Razlan Razali, said that the promotional period was extended due to high demand from the public. “I believe the strong interest generated for the event next year was due to the strong Malaysian flavour in the race, with Lotus Racing, Lotus Renault F1 and the Mercedes Petronas team in the fray,” he said.

“The extension of the promotional period would allow more fans to take the advantage of the discount on offer.’ With the discount, grandstands seats worth RM1,200 will be sold at only RM600 while seats at the Citrine, North Tower, South Tower and Tower 1 will be sold at RM250. Seats for Topaz, Garnet and Tower 2, are available for RM350, while seats for Jade area are available at RM400. Seats for Turquoise are being offered for RM450, while Crystal and Ruby seats are priced at RM550 and RM600 respectively. Grandstand F, which directly faces Turns 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 as well as part of the front straight, can be purchased at only RM200.
Tickets can be purchased via www.sepangcircuit.com or by calling the Ticket Hotline at +603-87782222.
-thestar online.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Geopark in Sarawak

Sarawak and Sabah will have a geopark each after the country’s first in Langkawi. “The proposed sites are the Sarawak River Delta covering the river from Bau to Santubong in Sarawak, and Mount Kinabalu in Sabah,” said Minerals and Geoscience director-general Datuk Yunus Abdul Razak.

Yunus: It is pivotal for these sites to be gazetted as geoparks for the conservation and sustainability of the environment and communities living in these areas.

It was pivotal for these sites to be gazetted as geoparks for the conservation and sustainability of the environment and communities living in these areas, he said.

“We want to create an awareness on conserving the areas and to have better local involvement towards the end. We’re also working for these sites to be part of the Unesco Global Network of Geoparks, and if accepted, officials from Unesco will be monitoring these sites from time to time.”

“Any site recognised by the Unesco Global Network of Geoparks will also enjoy socio-economic spinoffs.

“Since Langkawi was accepted (on June 1, 2007), the number of tourists have increased,” he told reporters after officiating at a technical talk in Kuching yesterday.

Geoparks are nature parks where emphasis is given to the geological features, biological diversity, management as well as socio-economic development for locals living in the designated parks. Yunus said the department had been working closely on the matter with the Sarawak government and was glad to note that it had received encouraging response from the latter. Sarawak Minerals and Geoscience director Dr Kamaludin Hassan said a workshop involving government agencies would be held next year to further deliberate on the proposed geopark site for the state. “We’re now at the stage of collecting data to make the Sarawak River Delta a geopark. The area is very interesting and significant in terms of geology, human habitat and culture as you have the Bidayuhs, Ibans, Malays and Chinese living along the river,” he explained.

On a separate matter, Yunus said the department had taken measures to address public complaints against quarries in the peninsula. Citing examples, he said quarries in Selangor had to carry out activities in more enclosed manners and install sprinklers 24 hours to reduce noise and air pollution. He said sometimes quarries were not solely to be blamed because housing developers and buyers were the ones moving in close to these quarries. “The quarries have been there a long time but without realising it, housing areas are encroaching into these areas,” he said. “There are between 300 and 350 quarries in the country but the ones in Sarawak and Sabah are small scale and short term, operating between five and six years only compared to the ones in the peninsula,” he added.

-thestar online.

Tune Hotels to launch budget wedding packages next year

The Tune Hotels Waterfront Kuching will launch wedding packages catering for small groups at a budget price in January. The “Te Amor” package is priced at RM1699.99 - a two-day, one-night stay at the hotel, a dinner for 20 people at the Food Gallery, a 1kg cake and 20 pieces of invitation cards. Also available is the “Sweet Memory” package at RM999. This includes a three-day, two-night stay, breakfast in bed on the second day and a choice of a half-day city tour or sunset cruise.

The hotel also offers early check-in at 11am and late check-out at 1pm during the stay. Also included in both packages are two pieces of bath towels, 24-hour air conditioning, floral petals on the bed on the first night, a bottle of sparkling juice, delicacies, T-shirts, 4R photos and one 5R photo with frame. The special promotion is only available for the first three months after the official launching. For more info, call the Tune Hotels Waterfront Kuching at 080-236221 or proceed to the customer service at the hotel.

-thestar online.

Joget at Christmas open house

MELAKA: Preparations for the 2010 National Christmas Open House to be held at the Portuguese Village in Ujung Pasir, here, Sunday are going smoothly. Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said everything was going as planned and the final rehearsal for the celebration would be held Sunday morning. “We expect over 10,000 guests at the event,” he said. The celebration is scheduled to be officiated by Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob.

The event will start at 8.30pm with Khalil and other dignitaries visiting houses in the village before heading to the main stage for the launching at 9pm. “We will also create a new record in the Malaysia Book of Records for the largest spontaneous dance, which is the Joget Ria 1Malaysia. “We aimed for 2,000 people to take part but we want all the 10,000-odd visitors to join in,” he said. He said 55 Miss Tourism International contestants from around the world would also be modelling Malaysian batik designs at the celebration.

The event, expected to end at 10.55pm, will see Khalil and other dignitaries make their way to a coffeeshop in the village to mingle with visitors before heading home. This is the second National Christmas Open House held at the same venue, the previous one in 2008, and the third time in Melaka whereby the first was held in 2002 at the Hang Tuah Mall here.

- Bernama

Saturday, December 25, 2010

38 want travel firm to refund money for overseas package

THIRTY-EIGHT Malaysians who have booked overseas vacation packages are taking a travel agent to the tribunal court for cheating their money. They said they had paid the full cost of the packages but their vacation did not take off. Some, who demanded for their money be refunded upon suspecting something amiss, said the cheques issued to them bounced. Their plight were brought to the attention of Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, who took them to the tribunal court at The Mall in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Vacation gone to dust: Some of the victims waiting inside the tribunal court with Tan (in white shirt, standing).

“This case has already been reported to the police and the travel agents had been arrested and released on bail. “Investigations are still ongoing but a decision has not been made by the Attorney-General on whether the operators will be charged,” he said. He said many of the victims had bought their packages at the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) fair in September and that the company was a member of the association. “This company does not have the licence to sell overseas packages. “Although the association found this out on the second day of the fair and cancelled its booth, it was too late because many people had already bought the packages. “Even with the booth’s cancellation, the public were not informed about this travel agent nor was there any assistance offered to those who have bought the packages,” he said.

Tribunal court president M. Suppiah only allowed the cases of two victims to proceed because the rest did not have the reply slips from the defendants to show as proof that the victims had served notice letters to make their claims. Suppiah adjourned the hearing for the remaining victims to either Jan 13 or 14 whereby they would have to produce proof that they had served letters to the defendants. One of the two victims who had his case heard was Phang Hooi Kiang, who said he had paid RM20,066 for his family of four for a trip to Japan. Suppiah ordered the defendant to pay RM20,066 to Phang within 14 days from the date the order was served.

The victims present said they had bought packages to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Europe. Tan said he would be going with the victims to meet the Matta council on Jan 7 to present their case. Matta president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said notification was already made in the papers as soon as the association took the company’s booth out on the second day of the fair.

-thestar online.