Monday, February 28, 2011
"Bagi sesetengah umat Islam, daya tarikan ini kelihatan seperti biasa, namun bagi masyarakat lain, itu adalah sesuatu yang perlu diketahui secara mendalam dan sewajarnya umat Islam mengambil peluang ini memperluaskan pengetahuan mengenai Islam dalam seni pelancongan.
"Pendekatan dakwah yang unik, sistematik dan terancang melalui pelbagai metodologi yang tersusun adalah dimensi baru yang perlu diketengahkan,” katanya ketika berucap merasmikan majlis penyampaian sijil dan anugerah kepada pemenang peraduan mereka bentuk masjid Persatuan Cina Muslim Malaysia (Macma) dan Kompleks Kebudayaan Islam di sini, hari ini.
Turut hadir isteri kepada Menteri Wilayah Persekutuan dan Kesejahteraan Bandar Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, Datin Nafesah Raja Nong Chik dan Presiden Macma Datuk Dr Mustapha Ma.
Sebanyak 58 penyertaan diterima tetapi hanya 11 syarikat layak ke pusingan akhir dan dari jumlah tersebut dua syarikat telah dipilih menerima anugerah khas rekaan terbaik. Dua syarikat tersebut ialah Zon Design Rekabina Sdn. Bhd. dan Ang Wen Hsia dan Ang Boo Chung. Masjid tersebut merupakan masjid pertama di Kuala Lumpur bercirikan konsep seni bina Cina. Rosmah berkata masjid dan kompleks kebudayaan Islam itu bakal mengaplikasikan idea-idea segar menerusi penceritaan dan penerangan sejarah Islam terdahulu, bermula dengan pengembaraan Laksamana Muhammad Cheng Ho ke nusantara.
Katanya, banyak masjid di negara ini dilihat berpotensi besar menjadi tarikan pelancong seperti Masjid Negara, Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan, Masjid Putra di Putrajaya, Masjid Terapung Tengku Tengah Zaharah dan Masjid Kristal di Terengganu. Sementara itu, Dr Mustapha berkata kos pembinaan masjid itu dianggarkan RM100 juta. "Sebelum ini, kerajaan ada umumkan untuk beri wang suntikan RM1 juta bagi projek ini...pada masa sama, kami harap majlis agama Islam terutamanya Wilayah Persekutuan serta syarikat swasta datang membantu kami,” katanya.
“Initially, the service was to resume at the end of March,” he said when contacted yesterday.
Under the upgraded system, the new air-conditioned coaches, which can carry 50 people each, will travel non-stop between the base station and the hilltop station — unlike the old system where passengers have to change trains at the middle station. Lim said that with the new service, commuting time would be about 10 minutes one way, compared to 30 minutes under the previous system.
“The new train is equipped with sensors and can detect obstacles like a fallen tree on the track.
“A multi-story car park, which can accommodate up to 120 vehicles, has also been built at the base station. The ground floor parking is for bus coaches while three levels are for cars,” he added. He said ticket prices remained the same — RM4 for adults and RM2 for children.
Time: 9am ~ 5pm (daily)
Venue: Pusat Sains Negara, Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur
Organiser: Pusat Sains Negara & Total Sports Asia
Tel: 03-2092-1150, 03-7665-1977
Kids (4~17 yrs) - RM 5.00
Students (students ID) - RM 5.00
Adult (18yrs & above) - RM 10.00
Family (2adults+2kids) - RM 25.00
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen had said that the Finance Ministry had decided to do away with the presentation process as the submissions were “good enough”. “I don’t know the quality of the presentations but it is conventional to see final presentations, also to have a question-and-answer session between the clients and the agencies,” Savarimuthu told theSun recently. He was responding to allegations by Integrated Strategic Communications (ISC) chairman and group president Austen Zecha who withdrew from the controversial Tourism Malaysia tender bid on Jan 26 for “ambiguous” reasons.
One of them was that the ministry was not going to hold presentations by the shortlisted agencies.“How do you explain something on advertising without a presentation? No marketer worth his salt would pick an agency without a presentation,” Zecha said. Savarimuthu said to ensure no disputes arose and for greater transparency, the services of pitch consultants or independent parties should be roped in to oversee the pitching process. He said among steps that can be taken to improve the process are having a clear assessment criteria and to communicate them clearly, a set timeline to announce who the winners and losers are and for independent parties like senior marketers to oversee pitches to prevent disputes. “The best way to see a due process is to apply tools that allow you to operate better and have the best possible results,” he said adding that this was not the first time the pitching process had caused controversy.
ISC backed out of the race between 34 agencies for contracts worth RM314 million, following claims of abuse by Zecha who has since lodged reports with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Zecha claimed that supporting evidence included then Tourism Ministry director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab being charged for criminal breach of trust, hours after tenders closed on Aug 16, 2010. “In all previous occasions, the director-general – whoever that is – is the chairman or head of the Tender Selection Committee. And they didn’t even name an acting director-general for a bit of time!” Zecha said when met recently.
However, ISC too has been accused of having a “privileged run” for 12 years in the ministry. Zecha claims otherwise, saying it was in 1999 when then minister Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir called for a re-pitch between the ministry’s panel agencies and ISC. “He wanted the agency responsible for the ‘To Know Malaysia is To Love Malaysia’ brand and gave us three weeks to come back with a presentation and with no clients’ brief. “When we came back, I told him don’t go into shopping, or night life but to stand above it all.“Because Malaysia is the only one who can justify demographically, statistically that you have more Malays, Chinese and Indians than any other countries in the world and you truly represent the great three Asian civilisations and hence 'Malaysia: Truly Asia' won the tender,” Zecha said.
Under the 12-year-old 'Malaysia: Truly Asia' brand, he said the country saw growth in tourism receipts between RM10 million in the first year and RM54 million last year.“Every single year was a record year but now, truthfully, the brand can be destroyed in a moment,” Zecha said, adding that the worst part is watching the brand custodians who are supposed to be safeguarding it becoming the “brand destroyers.”
Sunday, February 27, 2011
PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz is expected to be appointed as AirAsia X Sdn Bhd’s new non-executive independent chairman this week. The former International Trade and Industry Minister, will take over the reins from current chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun. “It is an honour and privilege for me to hand over and make way for someone of Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz’s stature, and we are confident that under her chairmanship, AirAsia X will continue to grow into a Malaysian global champion in aviation,” said Kamarudin, who is AirAsia Bhd deputy group chief executive officer.
The Board of Directors will convene on Mar 3 to formalise the appointment for the post, which had been earlier accepted by Rafidah. The current Board of Directors of AirAsia X Sdn Bhd comprises seven directors representing the shareholders of the companies, namely AeroVentures Sdn Bhd (52%), AirAsia Bhd (16%), Corvina Holdings (10%), Orix Corp (11%), and Manara Consortium Ltd (11%).
TEMERLOH 25 Feb. - Nama Kerdau tidak mungkin sehebat Pulau Tioman yang diiktiraf antara 10 pulau tercantik di dunia atau Pulau Langkawi yang popular di persada antarabangsa. Pada pandangan mata kasar, Kerdau tidak memiliki sebarang keistimewaan seperti Pulau Tioman yang menjadi pilihan penyelam dari seluruh dunia. Kerdau hanya sebuah perkampungan yang penduduknya bergantung kepada sektor pertanian seperti komoditi kelapa sawit dan getah selain kebun buah-buahan dan aktiviti nelayan di Sungai Pahang.
Namun begitu, nama kawasan itu yang terletak dalam Daerah Temerloh semakin dikenali apabila ia menjadi tumpuan kehadiran pelancong tempatan dan luar negara. Program inap desa adalah produk pelancongan yang mempopularkan nama Kerdau dengan kehadiran pelancong luar negara dan tempatan. Konsep pelancongan inap desa semakin popular apabila pelancong berpeluang menikmati keunikan hidup masyarakat desa secara langsung. Inap desa di kawasan itu menawarkan pelbagai pakej kebudayaan, kemasyarakatan, ecopelancongan, agropelancongan dan lain-lain.
Aktiviti inap desa antara lain menawarkan kehidupan sebenar masyarakat kampung termasuk peneroka yang menjalankan kegiatan menuai kelapa sawit, menyusuri Sungai Pahang, memancing ikan, membuat kuih tradisional, majlis perkahwinan dan sebagainya. Terdapat tiga pusat inap desa di kawasan itu iaitu di Kampung Desa Murni, Kampung Rumpun Makmur dan Felda Jengka 25 dengan penglibatan lebih 160 penduduk bagi menjayakannya. Penduduk Kampung Desa Murni paling ramai menceburi sektor tersebut manakala bakinya ialah 20 pengusaha di Kampung Rumpun Makmur dan 44 pengusaha di Felda Jengka 25. Kampung itu adalah antara kampung terawal dipilih melaksanakan program tersebut di negeri ini yang diperkenalkan sekitar awal 80-an.
Kampung Desa Murni terletak kira-kira 13 kilometer dari Bandar Temerloh atau satu jam 30 minit perjalanan dari Kuala Lumpur melalui Lebuh Raya Pantai Timur (LPT) menawarkan produk pelancongan kehidupan masyarakat kampung. Selain merasai sendiri pengalaman kehidupan masyarakat desa, pelancong juga melihat kebudayaan dan cara hidup penduduk setempat, makanan tempatan dan menghadiri majlis perkahwinan. Mereka juga dibawa melawat perkampungan Orang Asli suku kaum Jakun, pengalaman menoreh getah, ternakan ikan sangkar dan pusat Santuari Gajah Kebangsaan Kuala Gandah dekat Lanchang di sini. Di Santuari Gajah Kebangsaan, pelancong berpeluang memberi makanan, menunggang dan mandi bersama haiwan berkenaan yang menjadi kegemaran kepada pelancongan tempatan dan asing.
Kampung Rumpun Makmur pula menawarkan pakej menarik seperti melawat ladang kelapa sawit dan getah serta meneroka keindahan Gunung Senyum. Pelancong juga akan menikmati hidangan yang disediakan oleh penduduk kampung itu seperti masakan gulai asam rom, selain mencuba tarian joget Pahang dan sesumpah serta melawat pusat kraf tangan Temin.
Felda Jengka 25 tidak kurang hebatnya apabila terkenal dengan produk pelancongannya iaitu Gua Kota Gelanggi, Taman Negara, Jerantut dan Pusat Penyelidikan Pertanian Sungai Tekam (PPPTR). Hasil pembangunan pelancongan yang dibawakan kepada masyarakat di kampung terbabit memberi limpahan kepada mereka, sekali gus menjana pendapatan dalam menampung kehidupan seharian.
KUALA LUMPUR: Passengers can now book and check in flights via the newly-launched Malaysia Airlines Facebook application, MHbuddy. MAS executive vice-president (commercial strategy) Dr Amin Khan said customers would also be able to share trip details with their Facebook friends. “With MHbuddy, customers who book a flight are reminded of their friends who live at the destination they are headed for. They are also prompted if any of their friends on Facebook are also planning to travel to the same destination,” he said, adding that it was also possible for passengers to share their itinerary with their friends on Facebook.
MHbuddy users can select their seats as well as view the seats of their friends travelling on the same flight. The application, which can be accessed from the Malaysia Airlines Facebook page, was developed jointly with Sita Lab, an air transport communications and IT solutions company. MAS also launched its “I MAS Travel” competition for bloggers last night where three winners will be awarded a page each at the Yahoo! Travel website to share their holiday experiences as well as an all-expense paid trip to two popular international holiday destinations.
MAS executive vice-president (communications) Raja Zamilia Raja Datuk Seri Mansur said the website www.mastraveller.com was been set up to inspire travel and provide a platform for travellers to share tips and travel experiences. “Register as a MAStraveller member, submit a travel-related blog post and a one-minute video introduction of yourself telling the judges why you deserve to win,” she said, adding that participants had to promote their entries to their friends and readers. Voting will be conducted using the Facebook “like” button, which will accompany each entry on MAStraveller website.
Blogger Wilson Lai, 40, also known as Wingz on his blogwww.rojaks.blogspot.com said the MAStraveller site was a good resource for those going to a new place. “Travelling takes lots of planning. Now with personal reviews from other passengers, we’ll know where to visit and eat when we arrive in a new country,” he said. Another blogger, Ng Mei Yee, 29, of www.iamthewitch.com, was happy that MAS was reaching out to online media. “This will encourage many to become bloggers as well, and broaden the online social media group in Malaysia,” said the food and travel blogger. More information about the contest is available atwww.mastraveller.com.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Yesterday’s charm, today’s hotel — that’s the Lone Pine in Batu Ferringhi, Penang.
Few establishments, if any, can lay claim to being the oldest and newest all at once. One such exception sits proudly on Penang’s famed Batu Ferringhi beach — the Lone Pine Hotel. An idyllic haven where opposing elements come together in perfect symphony, the Lone Pine was built in 1948 amidst casuarinas, sandy beaches and sprawling greens, making it the oldest hotel along the stretch. Now, after a multi-million ringgit refurbishment and expansion process that spanned 1½ years, it has been rejuvenated and can now lay claim to the title of newest kid on the block. Following the makeover, including a new block and a poolside area specially designed to blend in with the original structures and setting, Batu Ferringhi’s only luxury boutique hotel still maintains the colonial charm for which it has always been known.
It remains a wonderful getaway where one finds tranquillity and peace.
An intimate touch
Step into the lobby, and you will find a minimalist and airy set-up befitting the hotel’s laid-back ambience. At the check-in counters, guests are greeted by name — the warmth and intimacy making one feel like a family member who just came home. The welcome cocktails are a nice touch, as you lounge on the lobby’s plush sofas while taking in panoramic views of the hotel grounds through the ceiling-high glass windows. Depending on your choice of accommodation, you either take a short elevator ride or stroll along gravel-lined pathways to your room.
Upon stepping inside my sanctuary for the day, a spanking new Deluxe room on the top floor of the new block, I am taken aback by its size and spaciousness. The management tells me they are the largest of its class at 45sq m. Pristine white walls, punctuated by dashes of pastel tones, imbue it with a breezy, tropical feel. The bathroom is equally spacious, nicely done up with tiny tiles in a style that harks back to the yesteryears. I couldn’t help but spend most of my time in the balcony, making myself comfortable on a giant sofa whilst enjoying a gentle sea breeze. If that’s not enough, there’s always the plunge pool for relaxing bubble baths with splendid views of the beach.
There’s an additional day bed area for the Super Deluxe rooms (55sq m). The Premier rooms (50sq m) and Premier Garden rooms (52sq m), on the other hand, are ideal for families, with the latter even having its own patio or courtyard. For added luxury, opt for the Deluxe Suite (63sq m), Premier Suite (77sq m) or Grand Deluxe Suite (89sq m), all of which face the sea and have separate living areas. The crème-de-la-crème of the hotel’s 90 rooms is the Grand Premier Suite which, at 118sq m, is essentially a two-bedroom condo unit by itself. Those with some spare cash lying around should find it the epitome of luxury. It boasts two immaculate bedrooms with attached bathroom, a spacious living area, dining area, kitchenette and balcony from which prime sea views can be had.
All the rooms come equipped with 32-inch, flat-screen TVs and DVD players, and free WiFi is available throughout the hotel. Though I am tempted to remain cocooned in the comforts of my room, I eventually decide to do a bit of exploration. Amongst the amenities found in the new block are boardrooms for corporate meetings, a well-equipped gymnasium for the workout junkies and a games room that kids will happily while their time away.
Dip and unwind
The pristine poolside is an ideal place to relax. After a dip in the main pool, I head over to the Jacuzzi where I literally feel myself floating away to paradise, with all city worries seemingly a million miles away. Being a native of the tropics who’s had enough sun to last a lifetime, I naturally am not too keen on sunbathing, but those from cooler climes might find stretching out on the beach chairs with a good book in hand a welcome way to spend those lazy afternoons. If a significant other is around, the cabanas by the pool are a great place to cuddle up.
After drying up, I find myself wandering to the hammocks tied between shady casuarinas trees, whose swaying motion literally rocks me off to slumberland. The shaded area regularly sees intimate garden weddings with many a happy couple having exchanged their vows, surrounded by smiling loved ones. I am unable to find the time but apparently, the hotel’s Pure Energy Spa offers a whole range of rejuvenating treatments that pamper tired muscles and weary faces. The spa is a partner in charity for PAWS, a shelter for abandoned and abused animals, so a percentage of its turnover is channelled there.
The much-loved Bungalow has also been spruced up, and still offers its signature Hainanese specialities as well as traditional Western and Asian menu items. Situated just by the pool side, the all-day dining coffee house also serves up some mouth-watering buffet spreads. Whether dining indoors or al-fresco, one definitely feels the Old World colonial charm of the majestic building. The gift shop sits on the Bungalow’s upper floor.
New F&B additions are the Batubar, an elegantly furnished yet laid-back lounge, as well as Matsu, a Japanese restaurant offering cuisine from the Land of the Rising Sun with a unique twist. All in all, a stay at the hotel is definitely something that leaves a lasting impression, not to mention lots of sweet memories. You’ll probably find yourself wishing for a return trip before too long.
> Ongoing promotional rates start from RM440++ for a Deluxe room inclusive of breakfast for two. For bookings or inquiries, visitwww.lonepinehotel.com, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 04-886 8686.
PETALING JAYA: Air travellers are facing the possibility of paying higher fares as airlines struggle with escalating fuel prices in view of the turmoil in the Arab world. “Depending on the continuation of the Middle East crisis, we may adjust our all-in fares over the next seven days,” MAS executive vice-president (sales and marketing) Datuk Bernard Francis said. Hinting that air fares might see an increase very soon, he pointed out that “minor adjustments” to the fuel surcharge had already been implemented two weeks ago.
On Wednesday, CNNMoney reported that US oil prices momentarily hit US$100 a barrel for the first time in two years amid reports that Libyan oil production was shutting down. The price was at the highest level since 2008. At a briefing to announce its full results for 2010, MAS managing director and CEO Tengku Datuk Seri Azmil Zahruddin said the airline was monitoring fuel prices and the crisis in the Middle East before determining if there was a need for an increase. “The possibility of an increase will depend on the direction the crisis takes,” he said. MAS has been imposing a fuel surcharge on its passengers since 2008.
Many international airlines, including Australia’s Qantas Airways and British Airways, have already increased their fuel surcharge. The International Herald Tribune reported yesterday that US airlines had raised their fares four times since last month, compared with just three price revisions last year. Even low-cost carriers in the United States were not spared although they had always tried to beat their rivals in terms of pricing.
Low-budget airline AirAsia, which does not impose a fuel surcharge, has indicated that it might have to introduce the additional charge to cope with escalating fuel prices. On Thursday, its group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the low-cost carrier would keep tabs on oil price movements. He conceded that “the introduction of a fuel surcharge cannot be discounted if the current price is sustained or rises further.” “We will be able to implement a fuel surcharge within 24 hours of the decision should fuel prices climb and stay high,” he was quoted as saying. During an interview yesterday, AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said it was “too early to tell” but confirmed that they were studying the possibility of increasing air fares.
Friday, February 25, 2011
"Also in the blueprint is a plan to develop a botanical park. We want tourists to enjoy many activities besides the cool fresh air and natural surroundings of Gunung Jerai. "We want Gunung Jerai to be a major spot for holiday-makers among both local and foreign tourists," Dr Ng said recently.Gunung Jerai, located about 45km from here, is accessible through a 12-kilometre winding but picturesque road leading to the peak.
The Regency Jerai Hill Resort is the main accommodation facilities, offering 75 chalets of varying sizes. The major attractions in Gunung Jerai included an organic mushroom and vegetable farm, a forestry museum, and picnic sites at the Sungai Teroi Forest Recreation Park. A popular spot among visitors to the peak is the Telaga Tok Sheikh, built by Sheikh Abdullah, who is said to be a learned Arab who had converted Sultan Muzaffar Shah to Islam in the 12th century. Tales have it that a huge rock near the peak was a ship that had shipwrecked when Gunung Jerai was many centuries ago an island in the middle of the ocean.
Legend has it that more than 10 centuries ago, Gunung Jerai was a "beacon" that guided ancient Arab and Indian seafarers safely towards the harbour in nearby Lembah Bujang.Gunung Jerai was also considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists then that they built temples from the foothills right to the top. The nearby Bujang Valley was then a collecting centre for products of the Malay peninsula and transit trading point for ships awaiting changes in the currents and monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean.
An estimated 690,000 Indians visited Malaysia last year, clocking a 17 percent growth over 2009, and bullish tourism officials are trying to attain 720,000 visitors this year. The influx of Indian tourists to Malaysia has put India as the second largest source market for the country outside Asean, after China, which sends close to a million tourists. India, with its rising purchasing power, has been listed as one of the fastest growing outbound tourist markets in the world and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) predicts India would record a whopping 50 million outbound tourists by 2020.
"India is a growing market and Indians enjoy high income now. They come to Malaysia for shopping, city and country-side sightseeing," said Mamit. On the main challenges facing the Indian market, he said issues related to getting visa was the common grouse voiced by industry players. "Everyone has mainly raised the visa issue, transit visa and visa on arrival. We have to look into this and find a creative way to solve this," he added.
The Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board is actively organising a four-city sales mission, namely to Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Delhi. Mamit, who is leading the mission, will also visit Dhaka in Bangladesh, after Delhi. Over 40 leading tour operators and hoteliers from Malaysia are taking part in the sales mission to India and Bangladesh. Last year, a total of 24.6 million international tourists landed on Malaysian shores, which contributed to a staggering RM56.5bil in revenue for the government.
For those from George Town, the southern parts of the island and the mainland, getting there may entail a fair bit of driving — which probably explains why many locals aren’t even aware of its existence. But it’s all worth it, for an experience unlike any other awaits. Dining here is a two-fold feast — one for the taste buds, the other for the eyes. While tucking into delicious food, one can also gaze upon stunning vistas of the Andaman Sea afforded by the restaurant’s lofty perch roughly 30m above sea level. The restaurant’s pork-free menu is a mixture of Asian, Thai and Western offerings, many of which incorporate fresh aromatics from the adjacent spice gardens. From snacks to hearty meals, there’s quite a variety to be had.
A recent addition is the Western Tapas, a combination platter of bite-sized snacks. Simply pick the items you want, in combinations of eight or 12, from a preset list. The platter comes with two bowls of soup, a salad, french fries and a trio of dips. This complements their already popular Thai Tapas and Asian Tapas menu, a favourite with those seeking something to chew on and while the time away with good company. For something a little more substantial, go for the Kaeng Kari Tiger Prawns served with Pasta or Tumeric Rice. The pair of huge, succulent prawns dressed in a slightly spicy but aromatic gravy goes equally well with either of the neutral-flavoured side dishes.
Another new dish, the Sizzling Spicy Seafood, packs a rather more fiery punch, thanks in part to the bunches of green peppercorns that it is cooked with. Other great items to try are the interestingly-named creations — Son-in-Law Eggs (deep fried boiled eggs in sweet tamarind sauce), Weeping Tiger (sizzling beef) and Waterfall Beef (beef salad). Besides food, the restaurant also has great selection of tantalising cocktails and mocktails, should you just want to sit back and take in the gorgeous views — especially at sunset, when vivid orange skies contrast the silhouettes of Teluk Bahang’s jagged coastline.
Signature creations include the Tom-yum Martini and Monkey Jump Over the Tree, both of which pack quite a kick. It’s also worth checking out the Absolute Thai and Cosmopolitan.
During the Sunset Hour promotion from 6pm to 7pm daily, the Sunset Paradise Mocktail is available for a special price of just RM10. Formerly a colonial hillside villa, the Tree Monkey now exudes a rustic, kampung-style ambience with its hardwood and attap decor. And as its name may allude to, one may also catch a glimpse of monkeys swinging from tree to tree — such is its proximity to nature. As the restaurant is open to the public and operates independently from the spice gardens, no entry fee is required and diners may enter via a separate entrance.
Its unique ambience, combined with its secluded location far from the city, also makes it an exclusive venue to hold private parties, functions and celebrations for up to 50 pax.
The Tree Monkey is open daily from 9am to 11pm (up to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays). For more information or reservations, visit www.treemonkey.com.my or call 04-8813494.
“Malaysia has not woken up to the potential of bird watching as tourism although it is one of the top 12 megadiversity countries with some 700 species of bird,” he said in Ipoh recently. Lim said high bird diversity could be found in the lowland forest at Royal Belum Park, mangroves at Kuala Gula, montane forest in Bukit Larut and the wetlands at Kinta Nature Park. He said Royal Belum had all 10 species of hornbills, which were much sought after by foreign bird watchers while Kuala Gula was known for its shore birds flying in during winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Lim said Bukit Larut had birds found only in the mountain and Kinta Nature Park, with its 150 species, was a good place for foreign bird watchers to start on local bird life. The Malaysian Nature Society (Perak Branch) recently organised a photography exhibition on bird life at Kinta Valley with the Kinta Heritage Group and the Perak government. Lim said the exhibition of 60 photographs was to show the eco-tourism potential of many bird-watching sites in the state.
The photographs were taken by bird-watcher Ooi Beng Yean, mainly in the Kinta Nature Park in Batu Gajah and the Kek Look Tong temple in Ipoh. “Many of the birds are found in freshwater ponds on ex-tin mining land, gardens and at the edge of secondary forests. “Birdwatching is a healthy hobby and you get to go outdoors to enjoy the fresh air,” said Ooi, 58. The exhibition, at the Garden Villa in Jalan Raja Nazrin Shah, is until Feb 28.
Only golfers, who are club champions, with handicaps of 16 and below for men and 18 and below for women are eligible. For the seniors, each golfer must be born on or before 1 January 1952 and hold a 18-handicap or below. Last year, the winners were Mohd Shanizam Mohagi (men) and Janice Lim (women) while Datuk A. S. Khamis triumphed in the senior category. Berjaya Hills Golf and Country Club general manager S. A. Nathan said it was a honour for the Berjaya Hills to host this national level championship. “A championship like this draws competitors from clubs around the country and also from Singapore and speaks well for us. So we are all excited,’’ said Nathan.
ISG Asia teamed up with MNS to help rehabilitate the mangrove habitat of KSNP as they are one of the most threatened ecosystem in Malaysia. The increasingly rapid economic growth such as industrial development, urbanisation, infrastructure and agriculture are some of the causes for the depletion of mangrove forests.
Malaysia had an estimated 564, 971ha of mangroves and this number has drastically declined over the past five decades — from 800,000ha in the 1950s to 575,000ha in 2010. In addition to the planting day, a total of RM36,550 was also raised by ISG Asia for MNS through generous donations by ISG clients, partners and members of staff. MNS thanked ISG Asia, their clients, partners and staff for participating, and donating to the campaign. They also called upon more corporate organisations to get involved in nature activities, due to this year being designated as the International Year of the Forests.
Industry partners will benefit from a cooperative sales and marketing platform under the MyCEB banner, access to sales leads and business referrals, and professional development opportunities. The programme will also facilitate sharing of knowledge, expertise and quality of service delivery.
MyCEB CEO, Zulkefli Sharif, said: “The programme will act as a platform for MyCEB to engage with industry players and to encourage cooperation in order to increase Malaysia’s success rate in securing international business events and to grow overall business tourism arrivals from the current five per cent to eight per cent by 2020.”
Putrajaya Lake Cruise director, planning and business development, Syamsani Mansor said: “Networking with members nationwide will allow us to know what is happening in other cities and states, and we will be able to tap each other’s strengths.”
Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel managing director Yap Sook Ling added that the IPP will encourage greater synergy between the industry and government.
When asked if visitors would get “theme park fatigue”, Zainal believed there was “no saturation in this region”. “If you travel to Orlando, you don't just go to Disney. You'd want to maximise your time there,” he said. Isma Ezwan Safri, vice president, strategy and implementation, strategic communications, Iskandar Regional Development Authority, also noted that while many were visiting Singapore but staying overnight in Johor Baru (JB) due to cheaper rooms in the latter, Legoland and other upcoming leisure developments in the Iskandar Malaysia region would allow travel agents to come up with new packages that combined both destinations.
“Legoland will be a game-changer from 2012, a tipping point. People will then start to stay in JB and enjoy JB products.” Mohammed Izuddin Bin Rosli, vice president of communications and external relations, added that while Singapore had casinos for the adults, Johor's attractions would be more “family-oriented”. Added Isma: “Legoland and Universal Studios are complementing each other rather than competing.”
In his speech, Salleh said the walkway was in line with the government’s effort to attract more tourists to the iconic location. He hoped the upgraded walkway would bring more comfort to the people and open up more business opportunities. “We look forward to the collaboration with corporate bodies in developing Kuala Lumpur. “We consider this opening as commitment from Central Market in giving comfort to customers and tourists,” he said.
Central Market managing director Bernard Bond said the company had invested RM8mil to build Kasturi Walk. He said the lane had not only been upgraded but also equipped with closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTVs) and in-house Rela security. “As owners of Central Market, it is important to retain and promote culture in the area, so we decided to use the wau design as a symbol of Malay heritage. “The idea behind the walkway is simple; like a marriage of what Malaysians and tourists like to do — eat and shop,” he said.
The celebration continued with the Chap Goh Mei 2011 festivity at Central Market, organised with the Federal Territory Wanita MCA and Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Zhong Hua Cultural Association. The festival was officiated by Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Heng Seai Kie. The objective of the event was to gather Malaysians of different races to join the festival and experience Chap Goh Mei. Visitors to the event were treated to cultural and lion dances and diabolo performances. They also received mandarin oranges.
Spread over 31 hectares and built at a cost of RM720 million (US$236 million), Legoland's first park in Asia will feature over 40 rides, shows and attractions targeting children from two to 12 years old. Of the million visitors it expects to attract in the first year, some 60 per cent are likely to be domestic travellers, said Muhammad Zainal Ashikin, CEO of IDR Resorts, a member of IIB. Siegfried Boerst, senior director of operations, said the priority was to hire 50 pre-operation staff this year, out of which 13 would focus on coming up with a detailed marketing plan to reach out to the trade and general public. “We hope to be able to talk to the trade and bring them here by summer,” Boerst told TTG Asia e-Daily, adding that promotions by agents may involve “some cost-sharing”.
Meanwhile, sites next to Legoland have been earmarked for a themed hotel and a business hotel, with incentives such as a 10-year corporate tax exemption and the ability to source capital globally being dangled. Work on a smaller indoor theme park nearby that will feature characters such as Bob the Builder and Barney has also started. Puteri Harbour, near Medini, will also be developed to allow cruiseliners to berth, providing a new source of visitors future attractions can tap. IIB oversees the development of approximately two per cent of land in Iskandar Malaysia, which includes Medini and a 14.5km coastal highway that will connect Johor city centre to Medini in 15 minutes when it opens this year.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Paradise Travel & Tours CEO, Mumtaz Ali, is not worried about losing business to the new website. “In the short term, this might create some excitement among travellers, but people will still want after-sales service and the human touch in the long run,” he said. Sri Sutra Travel managing director Syed Razif Al Yahya said MAS should consider allowing its appointed agents to earn commission from online sales via its website. “What is the point of becoming an MAS-appointed agent if there are no benefits?” he questioned.
Monday, February 21, 2011
THE Muslim tourism industry is growing rapidly in both Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries around the world. Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) vice-president (outbound) Jeffri Sulaiman said there was a huge potential market for the Muslim tourism industry. “Even in non-Muslim countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia, Muslim tourism is largely promoted.
“Muslim travel is not restricted only for Muslims. Non-Muslim travel companies can learn the Muslim way of travel and how the packages are planned,” he said at a press conference during the launch of the 5th International Conference on Muslim Tourism, Haj & Umrah (InCOMTHU 2011) recently.
The conference will be held on April 14, 2011 at Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, Putra World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur. The full-day conference aims to address issues concerning the Muslim tourism industry. InCOMTHU 2011 chairman Noor Zaleha Baharuddin encouraged people from various sectors of the tourism industry such as bumiputra entrepreneurs, airline agencies, government agencies and national tourism agencies to attend InCOMTHU 2011. “Participants will learn how to create opportunities and overcome obstacles in Muslim travel,” she said.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad will be the guest of honour and keynote speaker. Guest speakers such as the mayor of Mecca and representatives from Tourism Australia and Ministry of Tourism and Sport Republic of Kazakhstan will also be at the conference. For more information, log on to http://incomthu.matta.org.my or contact Shaidah at 03-9222 1155.
KUALA LUMPUR: Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin launched an elevated pedestrian walkway over Jalan Pinang and Jalan Kia Peng in the central business district of Kuala Lumpur recently. The air-conditioned walkway spans 142m and has disabled-friendly tact tiles, elevators and escalators. The project was funded with Petronas’ RM100mil contribution for the city’s development.
The walkway is the first of a total of 12km of walkways that will be constructed to connect major roads in the city to public transport terminals and are expected to be completed before the end of 2011. Raja Nong Chik said the walkways are part of the Government’s efforts to improve the city’s public transportation system under the Urban Public Transport National Key Results Area (NKRA). He said the links between strategic locations would also boost economic activities in their vicinity. Raja Nong Chik also said the walkways would help promote walking and help reduce obesity. The walkways can also be used to reach the monorail and light rail transit (LRT) services.
PETALING JAYA: AirAsia is offering one-way low fares for 1 million seats to various domestic and international destinations. The seats are up for grabs on its website from Tuesday until Feb 27 for travel between Sept 13 this year to Feb 29 next year, AirAsia said in a statement on Monday. In its Big Sale promotion, the airline is offering fares as low as RM5 (excluding airport tax and other applicable fees). The airline said the promotion fares were also available via mobile onmobile.airasia.com.
AirAsia will also launch a ‘Bargain Hunters 101’ on Tuesday - a self-help and how-to-book check list, that will assist guests to acquire their flights efficiently. Common issues are identified and will be explained in the simple guide, which includes solutions and useful tips. Guests just need to ‘Like” AirAsia’s Facebook page,facebook.com/AirAsia, to enjoy the feature.
February 21st. an initiative of WFTGA, the International Tourist Guide Day is held on 21st February each year. In 1990, Mrs. Titina Loizides, president of the WFTGA was involved when it was held for the first time, 15 countries participated. Since then, tourist guides in an ever growing number of countries have been giving help to their local communities, conducting tours for disabled persons, disadvantaged persons, for children, industry partners, officials and the general public. Events are also held for local tourist guides including presentations and retraining courses. It is a public relations event par excellence, drawing the attention of local authorities, fellow citizens and the media to the quality and value of the work of professional tourist guides. Each member country contributes to the success of the day in its own way; coach companies have contributed complimentary coaches, attractions and museums have opened their doors without charge. Each year, awareness grows and there is an increasing contribution by both regional and national governments to the International Tourist Guide Day. The Day is coordinated by the World Federation.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Train maker Mrails International Sdn Bhd expects its RM272 million Melaka Tram, the first natural gas vehicle (NGV) powered tram in the world, to open to the public in May next year. Its president and managing director, Datuk Jeya Kumar said, the implementation and application of the environmentally friendly "Next Generation Tram" will revolutionise the locomotive industry. "We will be using this technology to add convenience to culture and enhance heritage without affecting the environment in compliance with Melaka's status as a Unesco World Heritage Site," he told a media briefing in Ayer Keroh today.
Kumar said the tram would scrap the traditional "pantograph" system in keeping with the times and also in line with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to combat global warming. "This also represents our vision to take part in Melaka's growth as an ultimate destination centre for tourism, and marks our commitment to creating sustainable transport systems," he added. The ground breaking ceremony was performed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak. Also present was Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said.
Melaka Tram was made official via an agreement between the Chief Minister Incorporation (CMI) and Mrails in March last year. Under the agreement, the company has agreed to design, construct and finance, manage, maintain and supervise the road tramway and tramcar operations for 25 years, while the financing of the project worth RM272 million is borne by Mrails as well. The company has also been charged with managing ticket collections for 25 years, with CMI taking 20 per cent in terms of ticket collection and the balance by Mrails, Kumar said.
He highlighted that the Melaka Tram Corridor would begin from its depot adjacent to the Ayer Keroh Toll Plaza heading to the heritage town of Melaka with a distance of 40 kilometres covering 11 of fourteen major tourist spots. "We will work hand-in-hand with our partners, CNR Tangshan Railway Vehicles Co Ltd, a Chinese-based locomotive manufacturer," he said. The tram is a rail borne vehicle, lighter than a train and differs from other forms of locomotion, as the tracks are embedded in the street.
It is able to accommodate 120 passengers at one time, caters to the disabled because its ground-level design and will operate at speeds of 40 km/h. Kumar said Mrails, which is expecting at least a 40,000 ridership daily, would make commuting affordable, with a fare charge of RM2. It is free for the disabled and students. Moving forward, the company intends to export its train to other cities in the country as well as overseas, namely to ndia and Africa next year, he said.
JOHOR BAHRU 18 Feb. – Kagum dengan keunikan layang- layang tempatan merupakan antara faktor utama bagi peserta luar negara menyertai Festival Layang-layang Sedunia Pasir Gudang ke-16 di Bukit Layang-layang, Pasir Gudang dekat sini. Menurut mereka, layang-layang tempatan sama ada bermotifkan tradisional atau moden amat berbeza selain mempunyai ciri tersendiri berbanding negara lain.
Peserta Britain, George Webster, 75, mengakui amat teruja dengan layang- layang tempatan yang berbentuk ketupat, petai termasuk bermotifkan haiwan seperti harimau, burung helang dan sotong. Menurutnya, ia sesuatu yang unik dan kelainan itu membuatkan festival tersebut begitu istimewa di mata pelayang luar negara. “Ini menunjukkan kreativiti pelayang tempatan amat tinggi, kita tidak pernah terfikir motif sedemikian boleh dijadikan layang-layang malah dalam bentuk layang-layang gergasi. “Pada masa sama, pelayang dari Eropah seperti kami mendapat satu pengalaman baru dalam festival kali ini,” katanya semasa ditemui di sini hari ini.
Festival anjuran kerajaan negeri itu diadakan selama lima hari berturut-turut bermula kelmarin dengan melibatkan lebih 221 peserta dari 30 buah negara. Webster berkata, selain layang-layang dan wau tempatan, peserta luar juga dapat melihat layang-layang dari Jepun, Korea, Kemboja dan Thailand yang turut mempunyai keunikan tersendiri. Rasa kagum itu turut dikongsi rakan senegaranya, Malcolm Goodman, 66, yang menampilkan layang-layangnya dengan gambar dan motif pahlawan samurai dan naga. Menurutnya, motif dari negara Jepun itu amat disukainya kerana dia meminati kisah samurai dan mitos naga.
“Saya ambil masa yang lama untuk mencorakkan layang-layang dengan motif ini dan ia memerlukan kira-kira 30 minit untuk memasang seluruh bahagiannya,” katanya. Warga emas itu mengakui faktor usia tidak pernah menghalangnya untuk terus meminati permainan layang-layang termasuk menyertai festival tersebut. Yoon Kim, 57, dari Korea, yang telah empat kali menyertai festival itu berkata, dapat berkongsi minat dengan rakan dari negara lain adalah satu pengalaman paling bermakna baginya. Menurutnya, semua peserta mempunyai cerita dan pengalaman masing-masing kerana kebanyakan mereka pernah menyertai festival seumpama itu di negara lain.
Peserta tempatan, Mohd. Hamzah Jumat, 59, pula berkongsi minat dengan ahli keluarganya yang turut datang ke festival itu bagi menyaksikan beraneka jenis layang-layang. Mohd. Hamzah yang berasal dari Permas Jaya berkata, permainan itu membuatkannya merasa tenang sekali gus melupakan segala masalah atau kerja hariannya. Dia yang merupakan pengurus di sebuah syarikat di sini memberitahu, dia mempunyai lebih 30 koleksi layang-layang dengan pelbagai bentuk dan motif.
KUALA LUMPUR 18 Feb. - Sekolah Sri Garden hari ini melancarkan program pertukaran pelajar yang bertujuan mengharumkan nama negara di peringkat antarabangsa melalui nilai-nilai unik masyarakat Malaysia yang ditonjolkan peserta program itu.
Pengetuanya, Peter Wells berkata, pelajar dari negara ini yang mengikuti program itu berperanan bagaikan seorang duta bagi memberi penerangan kepada penduduk negara luar mengenai negara ini.
Katanya, program pertukaran pelajar juga berpotensi untuk mendidik golongan muda supaya mempunyai semangat patriotisme yang tinggi sekali gus melahirkan bangsa yang mampu bersaing di peringkat antarabangsa.
"Tujuan utama sesebuah program pertukaran pelajar adalah mewujudkan persefahaman di antara rakyat negara ini dan negara luar yang saya yakin mampu dicapai melalui program ini.
"Mempelajari budaya negara asing merupakan cara yang baik untuk memahami bagaimana suatu bangsa itu berfikir, serta menjadikan kita lebih menghargai tempat asal usul kita," katanya.
Beliau berkata demikian ketika merasmikan Program Pertukaran Budaya dan Pendidikan kali kelapan di antara sekolah itu dan Sekolah Tinggi Hokuryo dari Jepun di sini hari ini.
Hadir sama Timbalan Pengetua Sekolah Tinggi Hokuryo, Toshihiko Kono.
Program pertukaran pelajar yang bermula sejak 2004 itu merupakan program tahunan kedua-dua sekolah tersebut dan turut merupakan silibus wajib bagi pelajar tahun akhir sekolah dari Jepun itu.
Pelajar-pelajar dari Jepun itu juga akan tinggal bersama keluarga angkat masing-masing yang terdiri daripada keluarga pelajar Sekolah Sri Garden tersebut.
Sementera itu, Ketua Bahagian Menengah Sri Garden, Datin Christine Chiu berkata, pelajar sekolah itu yang berminat menyertai program tersebut harus melepasi ujian kelayakan yang diwajibkan pihak sekolah.
Jelasnya, pelajar yang lulus kemudian perlu mengikuti kurikulum khas sebagai persediaan ke negara matahari terbit tersebut.
"Sekurang-kurangnya 35 orang pelajar daripada sekolah ini akan dipilih bagi menyertai program pertukaran pelajar dan mereka merupakan pelajar yang menunjukkan prestasi cemerlang di sekolah," katanya.
Dalam pada itu, wakil pelajar, Desmond Yip, 17, berkata, pelajar harus merebut peluang menyertai program itu kerana ia tidak terdapat di semua sekolah di negara ini.
Katanya, program tersebut amat baik kerana mampu mematangkan diri seseorang melalui pengalaman berinteraksi serta mempelajari budaya baru.
WHILE most locals will probably view the Segway as a novelty and toy, the two-wheeled personal transporter (PT) has a more serious side to it as it can enhance many types of service or business such as security, operations, sports, tourism and advertising. Custom Lifestyles Sdn Bhd — the exclusive Segway distributor in Malaysia — managing director Gordon Cheah said one of the key selling points of using the machine is that it is eco-friendly and uses electricity rather than petrol.
“One can charge the batteries of the Segway PT anywhere as it uses the same power cable as most other electronic products. Each fully- charged machine can travel up to 40km,” he said, adding that the first charge takes 12 hours while subsequent ones take between four and eight hours.
The machine utilises the LeanSteer technology which means that the rider controls the PT’s steering by holding on to the handlebar and moving with it in the desired direction. Leaning either forward or backward will accelerate the machine in the respective direction. A Segway does not have a brake and balances itself using five micro-machined angular rate sensors and two accelerometers that sense the changing terrain and body position thus standing straight will stop the PT. “Learning how to ride a Segway PT takes only a few minutes as it is very user-friendly,” Cheah said.
Its compact size also enables the PT to be used in many narrow locations that other vehicles cannot travel on such as sideways and footpaths as well as in places like shopping malls, small lanes and airports. “The Segway can enhance advertising and promotional activities as it is a relatively new item here, causing people to be attracted to it. Advertisement panels can be wrapped around the PT without hindering its movement,” Cheah said. He also said that in Europe, the PT was frequently used in sports such as the Segway polo that is basically a regular polo game with players mounted on the machine.
“Building a sports facility, including futsal courts, takes a lot of money and we have many of them locally. Introducing a Segway into an activity can boost business and become an additional revenue source,” he said. The tourism and entertainment industry can also utilise the PT for activities such as tours, fun rides and more — something already done in some 50 countries all over the world including Thailand and Singapore.
Lastly, the Segway also comes in a special patrolling model that includes the siren and blinking lights that makes it ideal for security purposes including the police or even companies providing security services. “We have had both organisations and individuals purchasing the PT. Currently, we are in talks with various resort locations all over Malaysia to provide them with the machine for recreational purposes as well as a local council and the police,” Cheah said. He also said that the company which completed its restructuring six months ago after it was bought over from the second owner supplied the machine to Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines as well.
“There are eight Segway models including a golf and off-road one. The price ranges from RM32,800 for a basic i2 unit to RM39,800 for the patrolling unit,” Cheah said, adding that for the commercial units, an extra RM2,000 is charged and an easy payment scheme is available. The machine comes with a built-in anti-theft system which is activated at the press of the security button on the InfoKey controller that flashes a visual alert when someone attempts to move the PT. Such an incident will trigger the Segway alarm and the machine will start vibrating and locks its wheels.
Transporting the Segway is also easy as it can be dismantled and the weight ranges from 47kg to 54kg. For more information on the Segway PT, visit www.segway.my