Thursday, March 31, 2011

LAUNCH OF “365 DAYS CELEBRATION WITH SABAH HOMESTAY” BROCHURE

Tourism Malaysia Sabah has collaborated with Homestay Association, Sabah to produce “365 Days Celebration With Sabah Homestay” – a brochure highlighting Homestay packages and its 2011 events. Launching “365 Days Celebration With Sabah Homestay” was Yang Mulia Datuk Seri Dr. Tengku Zainal Adlin, a member of Tourism Malaysia Board of Directors and also Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board. The launch took place on 29 March 2011 at the Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu. According to Yang Mulia Datuk Seri Dr. Tengku Zainal Adlin, the brochure promotes the unique Sabah Homestay programme. Under the programme, tourists live with local famililies in kampung (village) houses and learn about close-knit family relationships, enjoy sumptuous home-cooked dishes and discover the simple kampung lifestyle. It offers a chance for visitors to experience the daily life outside of bustling capital cities and brings them closer to our natural “assets,” the culture and friendly people of Sabah. There are 16 villages participating in the homestay programme covering almost every district in Sabah. Each homestay village has its own unique products and this brochure serves as is a guide for the main activities and special packages. “I hope that this brochure will help to promote Sabah Homestay. From the west coast to the interior, around the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, to the East Coast and along the banks of the Kinabatangan River, one can experience any of the different lifestyles of the local families living there,” said Yang Mulia Datuk Seri Dr. Tengku Zainal Adlin. “365 Days Celebration With Sabah Homestay” is available free from Tourism Malaysia’s office in Kota Kinabalu at Lot 1-0-7, Ground Floor, Block 1, Lorong Api Api 1, Api Api Centre, 88000, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Additional information on homestay in Sabah: In 2009, 14,272 tourists, both local and foreign had their taste of the kampung lifestyle through the Sabah Homestay Programme, generating receipts of RM2,130,305. In 2010 there were 17,558 participants, recording receipts of RM2,464,995. For more information contact Mr. Cobra @ Jeffry Yahya, President of Homestay Association, Sabah at +06 013 872 1765 or email: cobramisompuru@live.com or jyrcobra@hotmail.com -Tourism Malaysia, Sabah office

AirAsia Philippines flights to begin soon

AIRASIA Incorporated, the Philippine-based affiliate of AirAsia Group, will have its first aircraft arriving at its Clark base in August. Speaking on the sidelines of an Expedia-AirAsia event yesterday, Group CEO, Tony Fernandes, said existing routes from Clark would be operated by AirAsia, Inc. while four new routes were also being considered. Singapore and South Korea were cited as possibilities. Flights would be operated by an all-Airbus fleet, which would comprise around two aircraft to start. In addition, Fernandes said AirAsia's Vietnam affiliate would be launched shortly after its Philippine venture gets off the ground, adding that announcements will be made soon. He also reaffirmed expansion plans in Japan despite the bleak situation there, sharing that Osaka was next on the list. Said Fernandes: “We're very very committed towards Japan and looking to open routes to more cities. We're not cutting back flights, we're not cutting any expenditure. “Travel is a great way to get away from some of the reality of what's going on. We've actually seen bookings increase...In terms of people going back to Japan, that's only a matter of time.” -TTG Asia.

Apple launches KL-Busan charter for the first time

APPLE Vacations & Conventions will organise a charter service from Kuala Lumpur to Busan to coincide with the Hari Raya Puasa festive period beginning in August. This is the company's first charter to South Korea. Departing on August 27 and returning September 2, the 288-seat flight will utilise Malaysia Airlines' (MAS) A330-300 aircraft. Senior manager, procurement & marketing, Ellyza Lee said hot demand on the Kuala Lumpur-Incheon sector made it difficult to get seats on MAS and Korean Air during the peak outbound travel period. Last year, during the same one-week Hari Raya period, the company managed to sell 20 series group departures to Incheon. Its all-inclusive package will include tours to Busan, Seoul and Jeju Island. -TTG Asia.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Legoland to showcase iconic buildings

JOHOR BARU: Iconic buildings such as the Petronas Twin Towers, Putrajaya Mosque and Johor Baru's Holy Light Church are among the 15,000 miniature replicas that will be on display at Legoland Malaysia in Nusajaya, near here. Inspired by Lego plastic bricks introduced by a Danish toy maker in the 1940s the first Legoland opened in Denmark in 1968. Similar parks have since opened in England, the United States and Germany. The world's largest Legoland is currently being built in Florida in the United States. IDR Resorts Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Zainal Ashikin is banking on the popularity of the little plastic building blocks to draw families to the Nusajaya park, which is slated to open at the end of next year. The 31ha park will have about 40 rides and attractions besides thousands of buildings, along with cars, people, trees and animals. He said that from over 1,000 applicants, 32 local workers had been hired as builders. The miniature buildings and the other models are being constructed at a factory in an industrial area in Nusajaya that has been turned into a model shop, which started off with just six workers. Shop manager Lau Chin Fatt said that some models were being done in Germany, England, Denmark and the United States. “In creating a miniature building, we have to be sure that it is 90% to 95% like the real thing. “As we do not have building plans, we rely on about 50 to 100 photographs of various angles of the actual building and use that to scale down and build the model. “Sometimes, the builders rely on Google Map to get a bird's eye view of the building from the top,” he quipped. Giving the example of the Putrajaya Mosque, Lau said it took about 4,600 hours or three months to finish the building, which weighs about 200kg. “We are also building some structures for Legoland Florida,” he said, adding that the features include famous hotel buildings and the sensational Daytona 500 circuit, where the most important and prestigious race on the Nascar calendar runs yearly. -thestar online.

Work with ministry to promote events, NGOs told

KUALA LUMPUR: Non-governmental organisations must work with travel agencies and the Tourism Ministry to promote tourism products abroad, said minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. She said NGOs organised many cultural events and activities that could be promoted at international level but the ministry was not informed about them. “We need to know six months ahead to promote it to the world through the media like television or radio,” she said. Dr Ng added that the cooperation would enable the ministry and tour agencies to strengthen the country's tourism products and include the activities in the tourism calendar. She also suggested that organisations compile data and statistics on local and foreign tourists who attend the events. “The data will give an indication on how strong these tourism products are,” she said, adding that the ministry was looking forward to such a collaboration. She also urged tour and travel agencies to improve the variety of packages offered to foreign tourists. “We hope these agencies will be more creative, innovative and aggressive to introduce and offer new packages,” she said. Earlier, Dr Ng witnessed the Thean Hou temple successfully making its way into the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) for setting up the “biggest outdoor silk lantern and highest iron tower” during Chinese New Year. Also present were Selangor and Federal Territory Hainan Association president Datuk Woo Ser Chai and MBR founder Datuk Danny Ooi. -thestar online.

MACC widens probe in tourism contract award

PETALING JAYA (March 27, 2011): The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has extended its investigations into allegations of corruption in the Tourism Malaysia advertising and promotions contracts, to the five winning agencies. It is learnt that in the past two weeks, the MACC investigations team visited the offices of some of the five agencies which were named as winners of the tender in early February. On Feb 9, Tourism Malaysia announced them to be Naga DDB Sdn Bhd, Smascom & Designs Sdn Bhd, Sen Media Sdn Bhd, M & C Saatchi Sdn Bhd and Impact Creations (M) Sdn Bhd. The agencies, working with a cumulative budget of some RM400 million between the 2011 and 2013 time frame, is tasked to look after the account globally. MACC Investigations Director Datuk Mustafar Ali confirmed that investigations into the case were still ongoing. He told theSun that the investigations will go to great lengths to ensure that all parties would be questioned. "We are recording statements from witnesses and gathering all the information we can as evidence on this case," he said, declining to comment further. Prior to the early February announcement, Integrated Strategic Communications (ISC) pulled out of the race citing ambiguous tender procedures and implying corrupt practices. The move, along with a report by ISC’s CEO Austen Zecha, opened MACC’s investigations into the matter. Earlier this month, Mustafar confirmed that MACC paid the Tourism Malaysia office a visit for a routine procedure in gathering evidence on March 11. - theSun

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tourism Ministry unveils anti-littering campaign

PETALING JAYA: In an effort to fight littering, the Tourism Ministry will implement the 1Malaysia Green 1Malaysia Clean campaign after each of its major tourism events this yearTourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the campaign was aimed at creating greater awareness on the problem which followed major public events, with trash strewn across the venue. “Our campaign carries the tagline ‘Think Tourism, Act Tourism’ and this is what we want to inculcate in the mind of every Malaysian,” she said at the launching of the campaign for Selangor at Sunway Pyramid here yesterday.

Stay clean: Mohd Nabil Nufail, eight, posing for a photo with the campaign mascot Mr Bin at Sunway Pyramid yesterday.

The text of her speech was read by ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng. Through the campaign, the ministry hoped to change the mindset, habit and attitude of Malaysians toward cleanliness. Dr Ng said the campaign went well with the ministry’s aim of promoting Malaysia as a high-class tourist destination, adding that it was everyone’s responsibility to keep the country clean and green.

She said Malaysia had achieved a record number of tourist arrivals of 24.6 million last year, up from 23.7 million in 2009. The tourist arrivals generated a total of RM56.5bil in receipts last year compared with RM53.4bil the previous year. “The future of our tourism industry is bright, as long as we work together in preserving our surroundings. Our goal is not just to have a clean environment, but also an environment that could be sustained for future generations,” Dr Ng added.

The campaign for Selangor is a collaborative effort with the Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association and plastic product manufacturerSekoplas Industries Sdn Bhd. Association president Lim Kok Boon said its role in the campaign was to encourage the public to practise the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. He said litter was not just an eyesore that showed Malaysia in a bad light to foreign tourists, but it also affected the environment.

-thestar online.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

KL GRAND PRIX CITY 2011 – THE HEAT IS ON!

Kuala LumpurThe F1 race enthusiasts coming to Kuala Lumpur for the Formula One Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix 2011 in April will not only get to see the world’s hottest race but they will also experience the city’s hottest event – KL Grand Prix City 2011.  The 8th edition of Kuala Lumpur Grand Prix City will feature concerts, race-theme events, F1 racing exhibitions, street racing show car run, exclusive parties, fashion extravaganzas, dining and great shopping experience leading up to race day on the 10th April 2011.  

And for the first time, KL Grand Prix City is proud to announce the 1st International Mega Concert – “Twin Towers @live 2011”. This international open air mega music concert will be held at the iconic Twin Towers of KL and is open to public for 2 nights on 8th and 9th April 2011 from 6pm to 1am and it is absolutely FREE! Special seating area will be made available for F1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix grandstand ticket holders.

List of international headliners at the Twin Towers @live 2011 on 8th April are The Fray – an American Rock Band that has been nominated for a Grammy Award – category best Pop Vocal Album in 2010 and a performance by another American rock band - Hoobastank best known for their hits “The Reason” and “Crawling in the Dark”. On 9th April the line-up will include Colby O’ Donis – a grammy nominated pop and R&B singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer and actor. Earth, Wind and Fire Experience will wrap the Twin Towers @live 2011 and their last song will be synchronized with a spectacular fireworks display. Malaysian hot artists including Yuna, The Azenders, Bunkface, Mizz Nina and Joe Flizzow will showcase their acts at this free concert as well. Also performing in KL on 10th April at Putra World Trade Centre is Bruno Marsthe recent winner of the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Performance.

For the fashion followers, The STYLO Fashion Grand Prix with the theme ‘Fashion Theatre’, will run from the 2nd to the 10th of April and will feature fashion shows, fashion awards, fashion ball and fashion grand prix themed parties. All events are taking place at an historical building within an older part of the city. More fashion shows will be staged at the Pavilion Pitstop including the Spring Summer MaxMara Red Carpet Fashion Showcase on 3rd April.

Variety of stylish shoes will be on display including Rihanna’s Stuart Weitzman Swarovski Boot Display from 1st to 30th April at the Pavilion KL in celebration of the International Shoe Festival. Adorned with over 22,000 Swarovski clear crystal stones, this boot is Stuart Weitzman’s unique take on fashion footwear hot trend, the thigh-high boot. Each stone was set by hand, which took over 200 hours of labour. The first pair created was displayed in the Stuart Weitzman Awards Suite and worn by music superstar and fashion icon Rihanna at the 2010 Academy Awards.

Another regular feature of the Kuala Lumpur Grand Prix City is the Malaysian Grand Prix Sale happening now till the 15th of April 2011. For a month, enjoy great savings up to 70% discount on almost everything all over KL. Spend & Win contests at selected malls offer exciting prizes, F1 tickets, invitation to the red carpet fashion shows and even business class tickets to Italy to the winners. Check out the latest mall at Bukit Bintang – “Fahrenheit 88” a new leading retail destination for mid-range fashion, food and lifestyle.

Formula One enthusiast in the city will feel the heat of F1 even before the race day. At the Red Bull Speed Street KL on 3rd April at 3pm, the Red Bull team driver will drive an F1 car up the iconic shopping strip of Jalan Bukit Bintang to give a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the energy of F1 in the heart of the city. Catch the special appearance by Team Lotus drivers, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli and the F1 cars of the team, on display from 4th to 10th April and another appearance by Williams F1 drivers on 6th April at 5pm at the Pavilion KL. At Fahrenheit 88 shoppers can view the F1 cars of the Merdeces GP Petronas team and take photos at the winner podium to feel the adrenaline of the race.

Back to the race track at Sepang, tickets for the 13th Formula One Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix 2011 start at just USD25 (the cheapest F1 tickets as compared to any other Formula 1 venues around the world) and fans will get to enjoy the hottest race of the year and the F1 post-race excitements at the circuit’s Helipad area.  

The F1 post-race concert would start immediately after the F1 race podium ceremony with a fashion show by STYLO and featuring the finalists of Malaysia’s Ford Model Search Supermodel of the World. It would then be followed by a top local artist before Korean superstar; Rain would take the centre stage.

Born to the name Jun-Ji Hoon, Rain is a multi-talented artist whose musical career included seven albums. In 2004, he won the KBS excellence award in acting for his role in a drama series Full House, which is screened outside Korea. He acted in American films Speed Racer in 2008 and Ninja Assassin in 2009 and is the first Korean to win an MTV award. Rain would be bringing his own dance team and fans can expect a sensational show by the pop star. The F1 post-race event is free for those holding grandstand tickets and spectators with hill stand ticket just need to top up another RM138 (USD55).

Visit Kuala Lumpur’s hottest season and you can look forward to a world class sporting event that offers spectacular Formula One race action and great weekend festival at the 8th edition of KL Grand Prix City 2011. 

-Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

 www.visitkl.gov.my 

A birdy affair

The Asian Bird Fair will be held in Malaysia for the first time in 2013 and plans are under way to make it a chirping success, writes Low Mei May. 

You stay in good hotels and the birds come to you! Michael Lu of the Wildlife Bird Club of Philippines says it with a smile, but there’s no mistaking that sense of envy. He was addressing Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) members and volunteers at Raptor Watch Week in Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson, recently. He shared about his country’s experience hosting the first Asian Bird Festival last year in Davao. Malaysia will host the 2013 edition. Lu says with good facilities such as hotels and access roads to bird-watching sites in Malaysia, he thinks the country is in a good position to take bird-watching to greater heights.


“Last year, we had 200 local and international participants from bird clubs, wild bird conservation and bird programme organisations, companies, sponsors, eco-tourism and cultural heritage promoters. About 6,000 students visited our two-day festival. We expect Malaysia to do better.” Lu’s optimism is based on the success of the annual Raptor Watch Week, which he has never failed to attend. “You work closely with the local government, Tourism Ministry and local and international media for awareness and publicity. Busloads of students come for Raptor Watch Week. So you have the experience.” MNS communications head Andrew J. Sebastian is excited about hosting the 4th Malaysia Asian Bird Fair in 2013. “I’m happy to be part of the MNS team in charge of hosting the event in Malaysia. The fair will be similar to Raptor Watch Week, but it’s not going to take over Raptor Watch Week in March. Instead, it will be called Raptor Watch in conjunction with Asian Bird Fair 2013,” he says.

He adds that the fair will be a good platform to rope in more sponsors as it is internationally branded, with promotions in five other Asian countries, their embassies and local and international media. MNS is also working on a conservation message to go with the fair. Tainan, Taiwan, will host this year’s festival, followed by Thailand next year.


About MNS MNS is the country’s largest and oldest non-government environmental organisation, with over 4,000 members and 13 branches nationwide. From a core group of society volunteers, the society’s Kuala Lumpur-based headquarters now has a team of 30 full-time employees who see to the day-to-day running of its activities. It has pioneered conservation in the country for the last seven decades, making a difference through habitat conservation and environmental education.

-NST Online.

Pesta Sungai Melaka 1 Jun

MELAKA 25 Mac - Pelbagai acara menarik diatur bagi memeriahkan Pesta Sungai Melaka 2011 Edisi Kelima yang berlangsung sebulan bermula 1 Jun depan. Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Perbadanan Pembangunan Sungai dan Pantai Melaka (PPSPM), Baharom Majid berkata, pesta sungai kali ini akan dimeriahkan dengan 52 acara menarik membabitkan penyertaan pelbagai jabatan dan agensi kerajaan.

Menurutnya, kira-kira 500,000 pengunjung dijangka hadir berikutan cuti sekolah yang bermula dari 28 Mei hingga 12 Jun. "Berdasarkan pelbagai acara menarik yang diatur di sekitar muara Sungai Melaka, PPSPM menjangka ramai pengunjung hadir untuk sama-sama memeriahkan pesta ini," katanya ketika ditemui, di sini hari ini. Sehubungan itu, beliau turut mengumumkan Kumpulan Utusan menerusi akhbar Utusan Malaysia dilantik sebagai media rasmi Pesta Sungai 2011.

-Utusan Online.

Water sports licences issued Move by council aimed at monitoring beach activities and protecting tourists

GEORGE TOWN: Water sports activities in Batu Ferringhi are finally being regulated. Twenty-four water scooter operators received their licences from the Penang Municipal Council yesterday. Penang Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said that by issuing licences to the operators, the council would be able to ensure the safety of tourists.

“The state government has received many complaints from hoteliers and tourists on errant water scooter operators. We want Batu Ferringhi to regain its shine as a popular tourist destination. “We recognise the contribution of these operators who have been here for a long time and we hope they can give visitors a positive impression of the place,” Chow said at a ceremony at the beachfront to hand over the licences to the 24 operators. He said the council would continue monitoring the operators to ensure their water scooters were in safe working condition.

“Buoys will also be placed along the waterfront to mark the designated zones for the water scooters,” he said, adding that a non-governmental organisation had volunteered to send lifeguards to patrol the beaches every Sunday. An age limit of 16 and above for riders and a 12-hour operation from 7am to 7pm are among the licence guidelines. Operators must also ensure that they operate at least 75m from shore.

A two-knot speed limit when launching and returning to shore has also been imposed. The operators will also be required to undergo first aid courses and have first aid kits available. Water scooter operator Edward Davies said he was happy to finally have his operation legalised. “I’ve been operating here for 30 years. I will definitely remind my staff to give good, thorough instructions to holidaymakers,” he said.

Seventeen foot reflexology operators also received their licences during the ceremony yesterday. Foot reflexology operator Julie Goh appealed to the council to allow them to provide body massage services. “I am happy to move into the gazebo built for us but I hope the council can also allow us to do body massages to increase our income,” she said.

Meanwhile, horse riding operators have urged the council to lift the ban on the activity. Mohd Salim Ismon, who represented these operators, said they were asking for just a 700m stretch on a non-crowded area. “Since the ban in January, some 40 of us have lost our source of income,” he said, adding that many tourists enjoyed the activity. Also banned from the beach are quad bikes.

-thestar online.

Mobile way to book hotel rooms

Business, corporate figures, avid travellers and the public are now able to book hotel rooms under Cititel Hotel Management (CHM) through smartphones. Customers can use iPhone, iPod, Blackberry, Java and even iPad to book rooms on a specific date, check for rates, look at promotions and get their booking confirmation numbers withoutleaving their homes. In just under three minutes, guests can use their credits cards to do bookings on a secured line and get their booking confirmation.

At the push of a button: (from left) BE Lim, Fletcher, Jeane Lim and Low showing the iPad and smartphones that can be used to book hotel rooms under CHM.

On the screen that was demonstrated at the launch, it also showed the best rates for the rooms and promotional rates at www.mobilechmhotels.com. CHM, a subsidiary of IGB Corporation Berhad Malaysia, launched this innovative idea at The Gardens Hotel and Residences in Mid Valley on Tuesday. According to The Gardens Hotel and Residences general manager Gavin Fletcher, customers can do their bookings to eight hotels under CHM.

“The eight hotels under the group are The Gardens Hotel and Residences, Cititel Mid Valley, Boulevard Hotel, MiCasa All Suite Hotel in KL. St Giles Hotel Makati in Manila, Cititel Penang, Pangkor Island Beach Resort and MiCasa Hotel Apartments Yangon. “Soon, this method of mobile booking can be done for other hotels under CHM like St Giles Hotel, The Tuscany and St Giles Hotel, The Court both in New York and St Giles Hotel in Central London and St Giles Hotel in Heathrow, United Kingdom,’’ he said. Cititel Hotel Management Sdn Bhd marketing and rooms director Jeane Lim, Boulevard Hotel Mid Valley general manager BE Lim and Cititel Hotel Management Sdn Bhd general manager Edwin Low were also present at the launch.

Jeane said that by next year, mobile bookings would be incorporated into more hotels in Malaysia and abroad. “We want to ensure that our customers and guests are satisfied with our service and also want to improve on it. “In line with this, we also incorporated the My Passion programme that will create a totally fulfilling experience for all our guests at all times. “The programmes will have staff members being trained on a five-day intensive workshop. “It will focus on the importance of service delivery to all customers emphasising six key attitudinal traits — anticipating guest needs, providing guest recognition, friendliness, exercising flexibility, being courteous and having the right attitude,’’ she said.

-thestar online.

Qatar Airways to fly to two more destinations

Flying twice daily from Kuala Lumpur, Qatar Airways has added two more destinations to their growing network — Brussels and Stuttgart, via Doha. An extra three weekly services from Kuala Lumpur will be added from tomorrow onwards, connecting the Malaysian capital to Doha twice a day, marking the airline’s 10th year of operations in Malaysia. As one of the airline’s most popular and oldest routes in South-East Asia, the airline’s Kuala Lumpur route has continually grown since the airline launched its services in 2001.

New routes: Qatar Airways will be flying to Brussels and Stuttgart.

Qatar Airways launched scheduled flights to Europe’s capital city of Brussels in January and Stuttgart in March, establishing the airline’s 98th and 99th international destination and marking the Gulf carrier’s third new European route to open in as many weeks. Qatar Airways began operating flights to both Bucharest and Budapest from its Doha hub in January. “By adding Brussels to the Qatar Airways network, it has opened up a myriad of connections through other hubs in Doha to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific regions. These new additions also enhance the airline’s presence in Brussels further as demand for the service grows and promises an increased capacity by the end of the year,” said Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker.

-thestar online.

Do more to ‘sell’ Putrajaya

Although Putrajaya has scenic bridges and parks which makes it a popular filming location for local and foreign movies, it needs more than that to make it a major tourist destination. One should be able to spend at least a day there sight-seeing and doing other worthwhile activities. For shopaholics, the only shopping mall is Alamanda Putrajaya. Those who like nature and the outdoors can explore the Botanical Park, Putra Perdana Park, Wawasan Park, Taman Rimba Alam and Taman Wetlands.

More information needed: The new tourist information centre in Dataran Putra does not have ample supply of brochures.

Now, visitors go to Putrajaya during events such as water sports competitions and the recently held Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. But if Putrajaya were to be a tourist destination, there should be visitors on other days as well. From the Putrajaya Corporation website, one could see there are quite a few events every month such as an agro bazaar and workshops but the point is are these enough to draw the crowd?

The tourist information centre has relocated from the parking lot in front of the Prime Minister’s Department to Dataran Putra in Precinct 1. This relocation is apt as it is now situated near the Putra Mosque where tourists throng. However, only a few brochures in English and Chinese are available at the new information centre at Dataran Putra. When asked for other brochures, I was told it was taken by the many tourists who visited the centre. This should not be an excuse as there should be enough to cater to visitors.

There should also be brochures in other languages such as Arabic, Japanese and Korean. It pales in comparison to information centres in Japan and South Korea where plenty of brochures are available with information on must-see places and the recommended routes to take. There should also be public transport with punctual schedules for people to get from one tourist attraction to another.

While there are signboards directing motorists, some could lead you on a longer route. My colleague who wanted to go to one of the government complexes in Precinct 1 found it confusing and ended up driving around the place a few times. Many are not familiar with the Federal Government Administrative Centre. The moment I mention I work in Putrajaya, my peers would exclaim, “Wow, that is far away!”

That is the perception of many about Putrajaya. It seems far away from the city centre and a hassle to travel there. It takes 20 to 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur city centre via the Maju Expressway (MEX), 15 to 20 minutes from Kajang via the Silk Kajang Expressway (SKVE) and 20 to 30 minutes from Subang Jaya via the Damansara-Puchong Highway to Putrajaya. Given it is less congested than the KL city centre, it takes less time for me to get there than to travel around KL during peak hours.

But its distance from KL is not the main reason some are reluctant to make their way there. I know some Klang Valley residents who would drive all the way to Port Dickson or Genting Highlands for a domestic getaway or just for a day tour. Existing places of interests should be promoted and new activities should be developed to draw visitors and mark Putrajaya as a must-see place when visiting Malaysia. Being a planned city gives it an edge and coupled with natural landscapes and green areas, Putrajaya does have a potential in becoming a tourist destination. The question lies in whether there is enough effort put in to make it a tourist destination in the long run and not a flash in the pan.

-thestar online.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

State can set council to boost Terengganu tourism

KUALA TERENGGANU: The Terengganu Tourism Association (PPNT) hoped that the state would form the Terengganu Tourism Development Council (MPPNT) to strengthen and coordinate Terenggnau’s tourism industry. PPNT chairman Wan Supian Wan Ishak said the setting up the council would enable a more complete focus on the tourism industry.

“With the MPPNT, all tourism related activities can be coordinated under one roof,” he said at the launch of the Terengganu Tourism Forum by State Tourism, Culture, Art and Heritage deputy committee chairman Wan Abdul Hakim Wan Mokhtar here. He added that although the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board or Tourism Ministry Office in Terengganu exists, its role was not complete. “When the council is established we can invite representatives from Sabah or Johor to help us boost the industry here,” he added. 

Bernama.

Three jungles gazetted as tiger habitat

TEMERLOH: Taman Negara and the jungles of Merapoh, Lipis have been gazetted as tiger habitat research areas in Pahang. State Department of Wildlife and National Parks director Khairiah Mohd Sharif said Taman Negara, the Main Range and several forests in Perak, Terengganu and Johor are home to the Malayan tigers (Pantera tigris). “Tigers like cool wetland areas which offer them sufficient food sources,” she added.

Green surrounds: Accommodation facilities at Sg Relau, Merapoh.

Based on Perhilitan’s study, the current population count is at 500 cats in the jungles of peninsula Malaysia. “They are totally protected and cannot be hunted or kept,” she said. In the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, which took affect this year, those who kill, posses the meat, nails, skin or other parts of the tiger can be charged under Section 68 of the Act, which carries a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to RM500,000.

– Bernama.

MASwings to offer 48-hour sale for Sabah, Sarawak

KUCHING: MASwings will be offering its first 48 Hours Sale special fare promotion on its network in Sabah and Sarawak from as low as RM16 for one-way travel from Miri to Mulu. This 48-hour sales promotion will be made available online on March 26 and 27 for travel period from March 29 to September 30. The promotion represents a discount of up to 85% off the normal full fares with a two-day minimum advance purchase.

Under the promotion, passengers from Kota Kinabalu will get to enjoy fares from RM26 to Lahad Datu, RM25 to Sandakan, RM39 to Bintulu, RM40 to Sibu, RM33 to Mulu, RM23 to Labuan, RM28 to Tawau and RM30 to Miri. Those from Sandakan and Miri will also enjoy fares from RM19 to Tawau and Bintulu, respectively. From Miri, passengers will be able to enjoy fares from RM19 to Bintulu, Limbang and Labuan whereas from RM26 to Sibu. From Kuching, the fares offered are from RM39 to Bintulu and Miri, RM25 to Sibu and RM40 to Mulu.

“Being a wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, MASwings is obligated to offer these promotional fares over the two days period to encourage customers to take advantage of the offers and plan ahead for their intended holidays. “ It will also be an ideal option for tourists who wish to explore the wonders and unique tourist attractions in Borneo,” said MASwings Commercial head Azlan Awang Tanjong. More information on the above fares and flight schedules will be available on MASwings website www.maswings.com.my.

-thestar online.

Tram to service tourists at KL Lake Gardens

Plans to connect attractions surrounding the KL Lake Gardens via tram service is in the works, said Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail. “The plan is to utilise it to ferry tourists from one attraction to another within the area. “We are talking to the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to see if the trams can be used for such a purpose,” he said after closing the “10,000 Expressions of Green KL” campaign at the Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

He said there were many things to see in the area such as the National Museum, National Planetarium, National Mosque and National Monument. “There are many good ‘products’ in the area that are quite unknown to the public, such as the police museum,” he said

Green touch: Fuad adding his mark to the canvas at the campaign’s closing ceremony accompanied by Federal Hotels International regional sales and business development marketing director Ooi Lee Ping.

He said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had communicated with the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) who have agreed with the concept. Fuad hinted at a new multi-storey carpark could be built in the area. He also said phase two would start in June. It has been reported phase two will see the construction of a cafe, souvenir shop and a playground featuring the Kampung Boy series by Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, better known as Lat.

The first phase has been completed, involving the planting of more than 1,500 trees and plants, lake clean-up, building of waterfalls, the creation of additional car parks, introduction of buggy service and installation of a new lighting system. “A total of RM17mil has been spent in the first phase with about RM11mil provided by the private sector,” said Fuad. The mayor said in his speech at the campaign closing ceremony that tree-planting and keeping the environment clean should not only be done during such periods but at all times.

“DBKL will support all corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities by the private sector in terms of logistics, charge exemptions and waiver of certain conditions like deposit payment within the context of CSR commmitment,” he added. The two-month campaign was organised by Federal Hotel and Hotel Capitol Kuala Lumpur partnering the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry, Local Agenda 21 DBKL, Yayasan Anak Warisan Alam (Yawa), Yayasan Muamalat Belia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, ICI Paints Sdn Bhd, Aeon AU2 Setiawangsa, Jusco Metro Prima Shopping Centre, Plaza Low Yat and Plaza Sungei Wang. Raising RM12,101.95 for Yawa, the campaign also exceeded its objective of collecting 10,000 brush strokes on 10 canvases, showing public support for Mother Nature.

-thestar online.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Airlines to refund Japan flights

KUALA LUMPUR: Airline companies have agreed to refund passengers for the flights to Japan that they had missed following the strong earthquake and tsunami there last week, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. Tour package operators have decided to charge an administrative cost of a maximum RM200 per passenger and return the balance, she added. Both the airlines and travel operators, she said, arrived at the decision during a meeting with the ministry three days after the disaster struck Japan.

Among those who attended the meeting were representatives from AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Singa­­­­­­­­pore Airlines, Japan Airlines and Malay­sian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA). “Airline companies have agreed to give a full refund without any penalty or customers may convert the charges into credit for their next flight,” she told reporters after attending the FIA Conference Week 2011 at Mandarin Oriental yesterday. Dr Ng added that the refund was applicable for flights from March 11, the day the massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, until next month but the time period varied according to different airline companies.

On March 16, The Star reported that the ministry will meet with the respective operators after receiving several complaints from the public about losing their deposits after purchasing tour packages to Japan. “We will meet again early next month to discuss the situation in Japan and see if there is a need to extend the time period,” she added.

On allegations by Integrated Strategic Communications (ISC) that Tourism Malaysia’s tender process was ambiguous based on complaints by several individuals, Dr Ng challenged the body to reveal the names of the individuals. If ISC provided the names, she said, the ministry would be able to investigate and take the necessary action.
-thestar.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sabah Fest 2011 promises to be a compelling cultural affair

KOTA KINABALU: Six exotic cultural dances which have never been showcased in previous shows, will be among the highlights of this year’s Sabah Fest here from April 30 to May 1. The dances are Dindang Dusun from Ranau, Sumarikayau from the Orang Sungai in Pitas, Manaradan from the Rungus in Kudat, Pokudinding from the Dusun Tindal in Kota Belud, Pangalai Dayang from the Suluk in Sandakan and Gabiluk from the Dusun Subpan in Lahad Datu.

In a statement issue by Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd, other popular dances that would also be featured in the festival includes the Sumazau Pisasavan from the Kadazan in Penampang and Anggalang or Magunatip from Tenom. Themed Pa’pa’kang, ‘the Odyssey of Seven Brothers’, the highly-anticipated show is a tantalising and compelling legend behind the origins of the largest ethnic community in Sabah, the Kadazandusun, as told through the journey and experience of a young boy, Aki Lintobon.

Apart from the show, visitors can also watch handicraft-making demonstrations by the respective ethnic groups and try out traditional food from 10am to 10pm at the Magellan Grand Ballroom, Sutera Harbour.
-thestar online.
http://www.sabahtourism.com/

Resort to restore rainforest

Restoration of 32 hectares of the 500 million-year-old rainforest in Langkawi is now under way. Berjaya Langkawi Resort has launched a three-pronged Green Project at its resort hotel on March 11, which is aimed at sustaining its surrounding rainforest. The three-pronged plan started with the planting of 80 trees at the resort. All the plans were launched together at the same time.

The second plan involved an educational conservation project, whereby 11 students from a special class of SMK Tunku Putra Langkawi planted the trees. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the school for a tree planting workshop and a nature conservation holiday camp (The Langkawi Hornbill Project) was also held at the launching.

The third involved an eco-tourism project where five special repeat guests of Berjaya Langkawi Resort were invited to plant a tree each while other resort guests were invited to adopt a tree for RM200 each. “The guests will have their names engraved in a plaque placed beside the tree,” the resort’s general manager Graeme L. Dwyer said. “Of the RM200 sponsored by a guest to plant a tree at the resort, 40% will go to the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) for nature conservation, 30% for the JungleWalla’s Langkawi Hornbill Project and 30% retained by the resort to purchase a tree for our guests to sustain our rainforest.”

JungleWalla is a company set up in 1994 mainly to educate and inspire people to experience the island resort’s rich natural history. Dwyer said that the resort was earlier forced to cut down 30 trees due to various reasons such as termite attacks and decaying trees, which were on the brink of falling over its chalets. “Each tree felled would be replaced with two new trees in an effort to green the resort’s environment,” he said. Among those trees that will be planted are Cempaka tree (Michelia Alba), Cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum Verum), Senegal Mahogany (Khaya Senegalencis), Fern-Leaf tree (Filicium Decipients) and Keday Bungor (Lagerstromia Florbunda).
-thestar online.
http://www.berjayahotel.com/langkawi/index.asp

Taiwanese group lauds visa waiver

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s move to waive visas for Taiwanese can attract more tourists, said Taipei Investors Association in Malaysia (TIAM) honorary president Datuk Dr Ting Chung Cheng. “I believe the move is very favourable to our cooperation, especially in economy, trade and tourism,” said the Taiwanese.

Dr Ting added that the trade value between the two countries was RM14bil last year, while tourist arrivals from Taiwan were more than 210,000. “Such figures show that Malaysia is one of Taiwan’s important trading partners and we are thankful to the Malaysian government for the new measure,” he said.

On Friday, Taiwan Foreign Minister Timothy Yang Chin-Tien announced that Malaysia had agreed to give visa-free travel with immediate effect to the Republic. Those who hold a Republic of China (ROC) passport, valid for at least six months with a return or onward airline ticket, will be able to stay in Malaysia for up to 15 days without a visa. Malaysia had offered visa-on-arrival (VOA) to Taiwanese citizens since 2009.

However, the country stopped issuing all landing visas across the board in August last year to curb problems of illegal immigrants from China, India and Bangladesh. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen recently said the granting of visa-free status would have very positive impact on tourism arrivals. She said the decision to grant visa-free entry for Taiwanese was a reflection of the Government’s trust in frequent travellers from Taiwan. Dr Ng added that the visa exemption took effect from March 14 and was only for Taiwanese businessmen and tourists.
-thestar online.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Munich Airport beckons AirAsia X

BERLIN: Munich Airport, Germany’s second largest airport after Frankfurt, is interested to get Malaysian budget long-haul carrier AirAsia X to fly to Munich. In an interview with Bernama at the just-concluded International Tourism Bourse of Berlin, Michael Kerkloh, chairman of the board of management of Flughafen Muenchen GmbH which manages the Munich airport, expressed interest to attract airlines from Asia to fly to Munich which he said was of great strategic importance for airlines flying to Europe. 

"Yes, we are interested to get AirAsia X to fly to Munich airport which offers good facilities and is an excellent choice for both regular and low-cost carriers," he said. AirAsia X does not fly to Germany as of now. Its European network includes flights to the United Kingdom and France, though the airline had recently said that it would also serve other destinations worldwide. 


AirAsia has a fleet of 105 aircraft, including AirAsia X’s nine Airbus A330s and two Airbus A340s. AirAsia X has placed an order with Airbus for a total of 25 A330s until 2015 and 10 (+five optional) next generation Airbus A350s which are expected to be delivered between 2016 and 2018. German aviation experts familiar with Asia’s airlines reckon that with additional aircraft available, AirAsia X may seek new destinations on the European continent. 

Munich could also come up for consideration if AirAsia were to seek new destinations on continental Europe. Munich airport's strategic planners have realised that Asia as the world’s fastest growing region could be a driver for future growth. China and India are of course the two big markets but Indonesia is also becoming increasingly attractive. "In the years to come, Asia will be more dynamic than Europe. We already have a number of low-cost carriers operating from Munich," Kerklow said. 

"Low-cost carriers use Munich because it is a high-quality airport and can offer high yields too. Our interest in Asia is high. We are a Star Alliance hub. Traffic to Munich by airlines outside the Star Alliance is also very high. Munich offers excellent connectivity and has the best air network in Europe. All Nippon Airways and Singapore Air were, initially, skeptical about Munich but now they are happy with it," he said. 

Asked if Munich’s costs were lower than those of Frankfurt, Kerkloh responded: "The yields as well as connectivity are as good here as in Frankfurt. If the yields are good, then I would not worry about airport costs." Underscoring the importance of Asia, Kerkloh said that he was planning to visit a number of countries in the near future. He would be stopping in India, Singapore and Japan and, later, also China. "There is always the possibility of other countries being visited later," he said. 
- Bernama

50 program sempena Pesta Sungai Melaka

MELAKA 18 Mac - Pesta Sungai Melaka yang bakal berlangsung selama sebulan pada Jun ini menyediakan lebih 50 acara bagi menghiburkan kira-kira 500,000 pengunjung ke program tahunan tersebut. Ketua Menteri, Datuk Seri Mohd. Ali Rustam berkata, antara acara yang diadakan adalah pertandingan bot berhias, memancing, fotografi, larian Sungai Melaka, persembahan kebudayaan, forum perdana dan pertunjukan fesyen.

Menurutnya, kerajaan negeri menyasarkan perolehan pendapatan RM250 juta sekiranya setiap pengunjung membelanjakan RM500 di Pesta Sungai Melaka. ''Apa yang penting, kita mahu penganjuran pesta ini sentiasa dinaik taraf dan diperbaharui bagi memastikan pengunjung, khususnya pelancong asing tidak jemu memandangkan ia diadakan setiap tahun sejak diperkenalkan pada 2007," katanya pada majlis Hi-Tea Pesta Sungai Melaka 2011 di sini semalam. Kerajaan negeri telah membelanjakan lebih RM300 juta bagi memperindah dan meningkatkan kebersihan Sungai Melaka dan sehingga ia kini menjadi antara produk pelancongan popular di negeri ini.

Menurut Mohd. Ali, penganjuran Pesta Sungai Melaka turut mendapat pengiktirafan Kementerian Pelancongan dengan memasukkannya dalam kalendar acara kementerian berkenaan. Katanya, seramai 87,000 orang berkunjung ke pesta itu pada 2009 dan jumlah tersebut meningkat kepada 330,000 orang tahun lalu. ''Tujuan penganjuran pesta ini selain untuk mempopularkan lagi keindahan Sungai Melaka, kita mahu ia membantu memperkenalkan produk pelancongan seperti Melaka Taming Sari, Muzium, Zoo dan Melaka Wonderland. ''Saya berharap acara yang dirancang sepanjang pesta sungai ini dapat mempromosikan Melaka amnya dan Sungai Melaka khasnya," ujarnya.

Mohd Ali berkata, kini terdapat lebih satu juta pelancong melawat sungai berkenaan sebulan, sekali gus meletakkan sungai tersebut setanding dengan Sungai San Antonio, Texas, Amerika Syarikat yang terkenal dengan keindahan dan kebersihannya. Katanya, berdasarkan statistik, pelancong yang berkunjung ke Sungai Melaka sepanjang 2009 seramai 708,660 orang, manakala setakat Jun tahun lalu pula seramai 1.04 juta pelancong. Kata beliau, satu lagi daya tarikan terbaru yang baru sahaja beroperasi di sepanjang Sungai Melaka ialah Aerorail yang boleh membawa 24 orang bagi setiap perjalanan sejauh dua kilometer dari Taman Rempah ke Dataran Hang Tuah.

-Utusan Online.