Wednesday, 28 February 2018

MATTA throws support behind Visit Malaysia Year 2020

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has set up a working committee to lend greater focus and momentum in line with Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2020, acknowledging the importance of industry support for the campaign’s success.

The working committee will look into overseas promotion, partnering overseas agents on packages, and working with online marketing influencers to create awareness on local destinations. Such efforts would also include collaboration with airlines and hoteliers to value-add holiday packages in the country.

MATTA president Tan Kok Liang said: “For a start, we are providing a pavilion for 29 of our members to participate in ITB Berlin Trade Show in Germany from March 7 to 11, leading sales missions to Xian and Zheng Zhou in China from March 12 to 16, and to Dhaka, Kolkata and Bhubaneswar in India and Bangladesh from March 18 to 24.”

Moreover, MATTA will facilitate the meeting of the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Associations (ECTAA) in Malaysia come May 2018, and and the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) in August.

“In line with the call by deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to make VMY2020 a national mission, MATTA has stepped up another gear in collaboration with major international markets and lined up sales missions to China, India and UK/Europe, and cooperation with Asean countries.”

According to Tan, Visit Malaysia Years “had always recorded a tremendous boost in visitor arrivals, starting from 1990 and followed by those in 1994, 2007 and 2014”. He opined that VMY2020 will be no exception, while acknowledging that this would be “particularly challenging under the current business environment”.

Tan further remarked: “Making 2020 as the next Visit Malaysia Year has energised the local tourism industry. It is necessary to get all industry players to come on board to attract tourists and receive visitors.”
-TTG Asia.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Firefly to reward all customers next month

The 'FY for You' campaign was unveiled to the media today by Firefly’s vice president for marketing and communications Izra Izzuddin (right). — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

SUBANG, Feb 26 — Premium short haul airline Firefly will be rewarding all its customers with a prize over the next month as part of its customer appreciation programme.

The “Everyone Gets a Prize” campaign, which was officially launched today and will run until March 31, will see every Firefly customer who purchases a ticket in the campaign period receive a virtual gift box.

The campaign is part of Firefly’s larger year-long “FY for You” campaign concerning both corporate partners and consumers.

Those who receive the “virtual gift box” will have a chance to receive either a free one-way flight ticket, an RM50 e-wallet voucher, an RM50 Firefly online store voucher, or a Firefly Holiday online voucher.

All customers are required to be Firefly members in order to receive the gift box.
The “FY for You” campaign was unveiled to the media today by Firefly’s vice president for marketing and communications Izra Izzuddin.

The campaign will include partnerships with ride hailing company Grab Malaysia in order boost both corporate and consumer relations.

“Passengers that purchase return flight tickets would get a free unique Grab voucher code valued at RM10 which can be used to and from domestic airports in which Firefly operates,” the airline said.

Firefly, which operates domestic routes as well as selected overseas routes to Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, is on its 11th year of operations.

As of 2017, it served around 1.6 million passengers annually.
-malaymail online.

FAO 'syurga' membeli-belah baharu

Melaka yang sebelum ini telah disahkan tapak warisan Dunia oleh UNESCO. “Terletak bersebelahan dengan pintu masuk utama A’ Famosa Resort di Alor Gajah, FAO adalah sebuah mercu tanda yang direka oleh arkitek terkemuka Australia.

"Direka sebagai pusat beli-belah terbuka, landskap ini merangkumi lima ciri air, tasik, empat taman dan rumput, kincir angin dan karusel. Ini semua adalah sesuatu yang cukup berharga dan istimewa menyambut kehadiran pengunjung-pengunjung kami dari dalam dan luar negara,” jelas Nick Lim lagi.

Tidak hanya pada ‘solekan’ wajahnya yang luar biasa megah, lebih menarik lagi, FAO adalah pusat outlet berjenama yang menawarkan lebih dari 100 jenama antarabangsa yang luar biasa hebatnya. Bayangkan sahajalah, kalau kebanyakan diskaun yang disediakan adalah sebanyak 80 peratus daripada harga biasa di lokasi lain. Puas hati?

Rasmi dibuka pada 28 Januari 2016 oleh Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi dan Ketua Menteri Melaka, Datuk Seri Ir. Idris Haron, tidak hairanlah kenapa FAO telah menerima lebih daripada 2.5 juta pelawat setakat ini.

Ia adalah kunjungan tetamu yang cukup memberangsangkan selama dua tahun beroperasi. Bahkan, untuk tahun 2018 pula, dijangkakan premis ini akan dihujani kehadiran tetamu lebih 3.5 juta orang.

Freeport Retail merupakan jenama yang cukup dikenali sebagai salah satu perintis industri outlet di Eropah. Ia menjadi syarikat pertama yang membawa konsep outlet ke Eropah dari Amerika Syarikat.

Chris Miliken adalah Pengarah Komersial Freeport Retail dan mengetuai program pembangunannya dengan membuka outlet pertama pada 1994. Sejak itu Freeport telah membuka 12 outlet sama ada sebagai pemaju tunggal dan pelabur atau usaha sama dengan pihak ketiga.

Freeport telah membuka lima cawangan di United Kingdom dan yang lain di Portugal, Sweden, Itali, Republik Czech dan Slovakia dan kini sedang membangun sebuah outlet baru utama di Lyon, Perancis.

Menariknya, FAO ini adalah projek pertama Freeport di Asia Tenggara dalam usaha mengembangkan kegiatannya di rantau ini.
-utusan online.

Malaysia lays out Middle East charm offensive to tackle visitor decline

Malaysia concerned about the decline of some of its top spending source markets

After seeing a double-digit decline in visitor arrivals from its high-spending source markets of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Malaysia will this year ramp up promotions to reestablish its presence in the Middle East.

Arrivals from Saudi Arabia had declined 16.6 per cent to 92,789 tourists for the first 10 months of 2017, whereas arrivals from the UAE were down 38.9 per cent to 7,255.

Tourism Malaysia’s reduced promotional budgets in 2016 and 2017, which resulted in a weaker presence in the UAE compared to competing destinations such as Thailand and Indonesia, was part of the reason for the decline, said a source from the NTO.

The source added: “There is also increased competition from other countries to attract Middle Eastern travellers. Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan have become hot destinations for Middle Eastern travellers due to affordable airfares offered by LCCs and short flight time of between three to four hours.

“Also, the decline in tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia was partly due to the austerity measures taken by the Saudi Arabian government to save money after tumbling oil prices. This included cutting minister’ salaries by 20 per cent and scaling back perks for public sector employees from September 2016 until March 2017. The uncertainty in the economy led some travellers to hold back on their longhaul holiday plans.”

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and its promotional arm, Tourism Malaysia, are understandably concerned as Middle Eastern travellers are the top spenders in Malaysia and spend between seven to 10 nights, depending on their country of origin.

A tourist from Kuwait spends an average of RM1,185 (US$303) per day, while UAE tourists spend RM1,046 per day and Saudis RM943.

In comparison, Singaporeans, who make up close to half of total arrivals to Malaysia, spend an average of RM720 per day with an average length of stay of four nights.

From this year, Tourism Malaysia is ramping up international promotions to all major markets, including the GCC countries in a lead up to Visit Malaysia Year 2020. It will, for example, promote the campaign at the Arabian Travel Mart this year.

At the same time, Tourism Malaysia will work with various partners including airlines and travel agents in the UAE on targeted marketing campaigns, which will use traditional media as well as social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

“We also maintain constant engagement with frontliners by updating them with new products and destinations such as Ipoh and Desaru Coast to attract repeat visitors and avoid product fatigue,” said the Tourism Malaysia source.

In Saudi Arabia, Tourism Malaysia will participate in major tourism fairs such as Jeddah International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (February 28 to March 2) and Riyadh Travel Fair (April 10 to 13), and emphasise more on e-marketing and social media to target millennials and independent travellers.

Malaysia’s mid-year mega sales period has been specially timed to coincide with the summer holidays, which is also the peak arrival period of Middle Eastern travellers to Malaysia. Known as Carnival Mega Sale, it will run from June 15 to August 31 as part of the government’s efforts to promote Malaysia as a shopping paradise to the Middle Eastern traveller.
-TTG Asia.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

BCL, Anuar Zain & Yuka Kharisma Live In Concert @ Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre ( 28 April 2018 )

Malaysia has seen many concert collaborations between Malaysian and Indonesian performers throughout the years as a testament of friendship and unity of both countries. However, it is different this time around as this concert will showcase three names whom have never shared a stage before and will be united on the “BCL, Anuar Zain & Yuka Kharisma Live in Concert” stage which is set to take place on the 28th of April 2018. Adding to the grandeur of this collaboration, all three performers will be serenading to their fans at the prestigious Plenary Hall in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. This is also BCL and Yuka's 1st appearance on a big stage in Kuala Lumpur.

As one of the organiser of this concert, Yuka believes that this concert is not only special for her but it will be a special gift for the fans out there. Yuka who is the singer of the song ‘Hati Berbisik’ which is the original soundtrack of the film Love Supermoon and also the owner of Kharisma Entertainment Sdn Bhd quoted that “This concert will be meaningful to me as apart from it being a platform for my company to be known as an event organiser, this concert will allow me to share a stage with two of the biggest names in their respective countries. I definitely felt honoured and privileged when both of them agreed to perform on the same stage with me.”

This 2 and a half hours concert is also a joint venture effort with DTA Fashion Art Performance Sdn Bhd. Bunga Citra Lestari who is specially flown in from Indonesia will be performing with her band which comprises of 6 band members while Anuar Zain and Yuka both will be performing accompanied by 8 local musicians and 3 back up singers with Sze Wan as the music director. 

Inconjunction with the launching of this concert, Yuka took the opportunity to also launch her latest album titled #1. The album which consists of 8 songs also portrays Yuka’s joint effort with Pay, who is a music composer from Indonesia and also the co-producer of this album. Yuka stated that she took a year to complete the album which also highlights a song titled ‘Mati Rasa’ as her first single that was written and composed by Yuka herself.

Good news for all concert ticket buyers. They will not only be entertainmented by their favourite singers but they will also stand a chance to win prizes from a lucky draw at the end of the show. 5 lucky ticket buyers will be walking away with an Iphone 8 each. And ultimately, a lucky ticket buyer will go back with a scooter as the grand prize.

For the intimate ticket buyers, they will receive an invitation to the cocktail/pre-party, concert merchandise, photo opportunity with the artists at the post party and VIP access. As for the Platinum ticket buyers, they will also receive an invitation to the cocktail/pre-party, concert merchandise and VIP access.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

MAEPS tarikan pelancong kota

WARGA kota yang tidak pernah melihat suasana bendang bolehlah datang
berkunjung ke laman padi yang terdapat di MAEPS. - S2/ ZULHILMI ZAINI

BAGI warga kota yang tinggal di kawasan Lembah Klang, anda tidak perlu pergi jauh untuk menikmati pelancongan berkonsepkan agro kerana di Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), Serdang, terdapat Agro Tourism Park yang boleh dilawati.

Menurut Ketua Pegawai Operasinya, Norafizah Rahman, MAEPS bukan sahaja menjadi lokasi penganjuran pameran dan acara terbesar di Malaysia, malah menjadi pusat kegiatan dan aktiviti berasaskan pertanian.

“MAEPS mempunyai keluasan 130 hektar yang terbahagi kepada dua kawasan iaitu indoor dan outdoor.

“Selain menjadi tapak penganjuran Pameran Pertanian, Hortikultur dan Agro Pelancongan Malaysia (MAHA) dan pelbagai acara yang bertujuan mempromosikan industri pertanian, di sini juga terdapat lapan laman agro iaitu laman padi, laman sayur, laman herba, laman nanas, laman ternakan, laman perikanan, laman florikultur, dan pavillion negeri yang boleh dikunjungi.

“Pengunjung boleh menjelajah secara santai dan mendapat pelbagai maklumat berkaitan pertanian sepanjang berada di MAEPS Agro Tourism Park,” katanya.

Selain melawat laman, pengunjung juga boleh melakukan pelbagai aktiviti riadah dan rekreasi bersama rakan atau keluarga.

“Di sini, terdapat dua pusat ekuin iaitu Majlis Ekuin Malaysia dan Rubinga Heritage yang boleh dikunjungi mereka yang menggemari aktiviti menunggang kuda. Di pusat tersebut juga ada menawarkan kelas bagi mereka yang mahu mempelajari cara menunggang kuda.

“Jika mahu merasai keseronokan yang mencabar, bolehlah mencuba aktiviti di Orbing@maeps dengan merasai pengalaman berada di dalam orbing ball bersaiz besar dan bergolek menuruni bukit.

“Pengunjung juga boleh menikmati aktiviti berjalan kaki atau berlari di sepanjang tasik, di samping menikmati pemandangan pokok di Palm Park dan herba di laman herba.

“Selain itu, MAEPS juga membuka Pasar Tani yang menjual pelbagai hasil pertanian segar dan produk berasaskan agro pada setiap hari Sabtu,” katanya.

Tidak hanya terhad kepada pelbagai jenis tanaman, di MAEPS juga terdapat taman haiwan iaitu G2G Animal Garden yang mempamerkan pelbagai jenis spesies haiwan.

Di taman ini, pengunjung diberi peluang memegang, memberi makan dan bergambar bersama haiwan-haiwan yang dijaga dengan rapi termasuk ular, iguana, rakun, arnab, kura-kura, pelbagai spesies burung dan ayam.

Berhampiran dengan taman tersebut, terdapat TeknoKafe Goat2Go Farm yang menyediakan sajian berasaskan kambing yang disembelih terus dari ladang. Di sini, tidak ada istilah daging disejuk beku. Semuanya segar dari ladang.

Pengunjung boleh melawat kandang kambing sebelum membuat pilihan yang mana satu hendak disembelih dan menikmatinya mengikut cita rasa menu masing-masing. Bagi mereka yang ingin mendapatkan bekalan kambing golek atau majlis aqiqah, bolehlah datang ke sini.

Selain itu, House of Kambing juga menyediakan sajian berasaskan kambing. Menariknya di sini, anda bukan sahaja dapat merasai kambing segar, malah dapat menyaksikan pemandangan indah ladang, bergambar dan bermain dengan kambing.

Tidak perlu pergi ke padang pasir kerana di ladang bersebelahan kafe itu juga terdapat unta berbonggol satu yang berasal dari Australia.

Bagi penggemar ikan sungai dan makanan laut, bolehlah singgah ke MAEPS Ikan Sungai & Seafood Restaurant. Di situ, hanya ikan segar ditawarkan untuk dinikmati.

Jika pengunjung mahukan kelainan suasana menikmati hidangan, laman padi ada menawarkan menu istimewa bagi mereka yang berminat merasai nasi bendang. Pakej yang ditawarkan hanya RM45 satu set untuk dua hingga tiga orang.

Di situ juga, anda boleh menikmati juadah sambil melihat pemandangan indah sawah padi.
-utusan online.

Terengganu finally gets delivery of Amphicoach

Floating bus: The Amphicoach being parked near Sungai Terengganu
for public viewing in Kuala Terengganu. — Bernama

KUALA TERENGGANU: After about a four-year wait, the Malta-made amphibious bus (Amphicoach) ordered by the Terengganu state government has finally arrived.

Videos of the amphicoach being test-driven on the banks of Sungai Terengganu on Thursday have gone viral.

Those who witnessed the test were clearly impressed and were seen knocking on the vehicle’s body.

The 12m-long Amphicoach has a 300 horsepower engine and is equipped with twin marine jets.

Stephen Morrison Smith, general manager of Ultimate Technology Ltd and maker of the Amphicoach, said the vehicle has the full comfort of a normal bus.
“We’re proud because it is the first in Malaysia,” he said after the 45-minute test drive.

The Amphicoach was driven from the Kampung Losong ferry jetty, passing the Crystal Mosque, and back.

While it has made a good first impression on the local folk, the bus’ journey to Terengganu was a bit of a bumpy ride.

The state government had purchased the bus for about RM3mil in 2014 and it was supposed to be delivered by May 2015 to boost tourism and for flood relief operations.

The state government had issued an ultimatum for the Amphicoach to be delivered by November 2017.

It finally arrived on Feb 18 and was parked at the Public Works Department depot.

The bus will be exhibited at Expo Terengganu 2018 from Feb 25 to March 3.
-thestar online.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Tourism Selangor ups its cruising game with new cruise unit

More cruise passengers wanted; Boustead Cruise Centre pictured

Tourism Selangor has recently set up a cruise unit within its event department, with the vision to further develop the cruise business and reclaim Port Klang’s position as the top cruise port in the country.

Headed by Hafeezuddin Abdul Razak, the unit will work towards repositioning Boustead Cruise Centre in Port Klang as the country’s busiest cruise terminal.
Up to 2017, when it was overtaken by Penang in terms of cruise calls, Port Klang had for years been the top cruise terminal in Malaysia.

The unit’s role, Hafeezuddin shared, will be to promote Selangor as the preferred destination for shore excursions by promoting tourist spots and attractions within an hour’s drive from the port. This includes Royal Klang Heritage Walk, Carey Island, i-City, Sunway City, Shah Alam City Centre and the Blue Mosque in Shah Alam.

Hafeezuddin highlighted that Tourism Selangor has, on request, been providing welcome receptions with traditional dance performances at the terminal’s arrival hall since 2015, but admitted that more awareness of this service must be made.

He added: “We are also looking at the feasibility of opening an information centre at the cruise terminal building.”

The unit also plans to be part of International promotions and jointly exhibit with Tourism Malaysia at international cruise shows, together with Port Klang Authority. This would be a new strategy for the NTO, which has yet to participate in any foreign cruise trade shows.

In January, Boustead Cruise Centre received 27 cruise calls from 10 cruise ships, bringing some 50,895 cruise passengers to Selangor.
-TTG Asia.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Monster Yamaha Tech3 to compete the 2018 MotoGP season with Hafizh Syahrin

Following Jonas Folger’s declaration not to contest in 2018, the entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 was trying to find the best solution to replace the German, thereby evaluating available riders. Finally, the French-based squad is very happy and proud to announce, that Hafizh Syahrin will be their second MotoGP rider this season, alongside Johann Zarco.

After having impressed everyone with his rapid progress, his high motivation and his extraordinary learning curve during his first ever test aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 last week in Buriram, Thailand, Monster Yamaha Tech3 is eager to continue the great work together with the talented Malaysian youngster.

“I’m incredibly delighted after receiving the good news, that I will ride with Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2018. Following three very interesting and great days of testing in Buriram, where I learned a lot, I want to thank my crew again, especially Nico and Maxime, but also Johann and Laurent for their advices. In just a short time, I really learned to fully control a MotoGP bike, which is still unbelievable for me. I’ll try to do my best and will give all I have this year. I want to thank Hervé, Yamaha Motor Corporation, Monster and the entire Tech3 team to believe in me and giving me this fantastic opportunity to compete full season in MotoGP. Thank you to my family, that always supported me to make this dream come true, especially my father, plus thanks to my fans and of course to Razlan. I’m looking forward to test again in Qatar and I’ll be even more motivated. Honestly, I can’t wait for the season to start. I’m just overwhelmed!”

SIC Chief Executive Officer
“The recent test in Buriram was already history made for Hafizh. This official announcement of Hafizh competing the full season with Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is the biggest announcement and achievement for a Malaysian rider after more than 26 years of Malaysia hosting MotoGP. It is also a fantastic news for the Asian region. I must thank Hervé Poncharal for this opportunity, his faith and confidence in Hafizh. We will now hand over Hafizh in his good care for him to be developed into a better, competitive and complete MotoGP rider.”

Team Manager

“I’m really happy to announce that Hafizh Syahrin will be the second Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider alongside Johann Zarco. It’s been a tough time since we heard from Jonas Folger, that unfortunately he decided not to race in 2018 in order to look after his health and try to fully recover. It has been a long process to find somebody, who could be the one. In Sepang I met Razlan Razali, we were just chatting and now and then you have crazy ideas, which are sometimes the ones that bring the best result. I would like to thank Razlan Razali for his passion, his contagious energy and the involvement he has for MotoGP racing and for the sport in general, plus to support Hafizh Syahrin to climb the last step to the premier class. We had to convince all the people around us, that Hafizh is going to be a good MotoGP rider. Therefore, we had to give him a tough task during the three days of testing in Buriram. In the end, he did a tremendous job, he fulfilled the mission. Yamaha was more than happy with his performance and the whole Tech3 team was delighted. I am very honored and proud to give him this chance and I know this is going to be something historical, because it’s the first time that a Malaysian rider is racing a full season on a MotoGP bike and we know how popular our sport in this part of the world is. I want to tell Hafizh: Welcome in our family! We will take care of you like our son and I’m quite sure we can have a great season. You can learn from the team, from Johann. Thank you for your enthusiasm and for your involvement. I can’t wait to be in Qatar with you on our bike.” 
-Monster Yamaha Tech3 facebook.

DPM: Fewer Asean visitors caused slight drop in tourists here last year

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi chairs the 14th Tourism Cabinet Committee Meeting at Perdana Putra Building in Putrajaya February 20, 2018.
— Picture by Razak Ghazali

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 20 — Tourist arrivals in Malaysia dropped by 3 per cent in 2017 compared to the previous year, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

Zahid said there were 25.9 million tourists last year, and the drop was largely due to a reduced number of visitors from the South-east Asian market which dropped by 3.9 per cent.

“The Asean market continued to dominate our tourist arrivals to Malaysia, with a 75.1 per cent share,” he said in a statement after chairing the Cabinet committee on tourism here.

The tourism industry remains the third biggest contributor to the Gross National 
Income at RM73.3 billion.

The industry’s manpower was 3.2 million people in 2016, which was 22.7 per cent of the total manpower in the country, he said.

Zahid also announced that a Visit Malaysia Year 2020 secretariat has been formed under Tourism Malaysia to coordinate all programmes regarding the campaign.
-malaymail online.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Tahun Melawat Malaysia 2020 misi nasional

PUTRAJAYA 20 Feb. - Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi berkata, Tahun Melawat Malaysia 2020 (VMY2020) merupakan satu misi nasional yang mana pelaksanaannya akan memastikan Malaysia kekal kompetitif dalam industri pelancongan.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri memberitahu, kempen yang menggunakan tema ‘Travel. Enjoy. Respect’ (Kembara, Gembira, Hormat) itu bakal menjadi pemangkin untuk mencapai sasaran-sasaran di bawah Pelan Transformasi Pelancongan Malaysia (MTTP).  

"Sekretariat VMY2020 telah ditubuhkan di bawah Tourism Malaysia yang akan menyelaraskan dan melaksanakan semua program dan aktiviti yang berkaitan dengan kempen tersebut.

"Semua kementerian serta agensi dan jabatan yang terlibat telah bersiap-sedia memberikan komitmen sepenuhnya bagi merealisasikan kempen VMY2020," katanya dalam satu kenyataan selepas mempengerusikan Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Kabinet Pelancongan di Bangunan Perdana Putra di sini hari ini.

Hadir sama Menteri Pelancongan dan Kebudayaan, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz serta Timbalannya, Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.
-utusan online.

Sabah – last haven of the orang utan

Suspicious glances: A female orang utan and her young hiding in the trees in Kinabatangan.

KOTA KINABALU: A new study in the scientific journal Current Biology has found that 100,000 orang utan have died in the past 16 years, with Sabah likely to be the last haven for the critically endangered species.

Two Sabah-based co-authors of the study, Dr Marc Ancrenaz and Dr Benoit Goossens believe that steps taken by the Sabah government would see the survival of the orang ­utan in the wild.

“We sincerely believe that the major orang utan populations in Sabah are secure thanks to the commitment from the Sabah government to protect 30% of the state’s land mass.

“Moreover, hunting is not a big issue here, compared to some other parts of Borneo island.

“Sabah might, in the future, be the last place where it would be possible to find wild orang utan,” the two scientists said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Ancrenaz, who is co-director of the NGO Hutan, said the study found that the rate of decline in orang utan on the island of Borneo was more rapid than they had initially thought.

“If we cannot stop this decline, many more are going to disappear in the next few decades.

“It also means that there were more orang utan in the past than we thought, and this illustrates how difficult it is to know exactly how many wild orang utan survive in Borneo,” he said.

The major reason for the decline, said Dr Ancrenaz, is the killing that happens in unprotected and protected areas.

Forest conversion for agriculture explains less than 50% of the decline.
“This also means that it is urgent to change our approach to conserve orang utan,” Dr Ancrenaz said.

For Sabah, Dr Goossens who is director of Danau Girang Field Centre said most large orang utan populations have been relatively stable for the past 20 years due to the state government’s efforts to create new fully protected forests and also set aside 30% of its forests as totally protected areas.

“The efforts by the Sabah government increases the chance of survival of orang utan in Sabah,” he added.

Dr Goosens said that there were still ways to improve the long-term survival of the iconic species in Sabah.

They include creating more forest corridors that will allow the orang utan to move across the landscape and find new areas where they can set up their own territories.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Augustine Tuuga had earlier refuted the findings of the study led by Maria Voigt from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

Tuuga had said that the study had misguided the world community into believing that 6,100 orang utan were killed between 1999 and 2016 and failed to show the efforts by Sabah to protect its biodiversity.
-thestar online.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Pitas Poise To Be Sabah's Emerging Tourism Industrial Growth

PITAS, Feb 18 (Bernama) -- With untapped beaches and other tourist attraction spots, Pitas is set to be Sabah's new tourism growth centre.

State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said there would be a focus given to the district for the implementation of tourism infrastructure.

"I will call Pitas Assemblyman Datuk Bolkiah Ismail, and Datuk Seri Dr Ruddy Awah, who is the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Pitas chairman, for a discussion soon on how we can turn Pitas to be Sabah's northern region new tourism growth area," he said at the Chinese New Year 1 Malaysia Fiesta Pitas Level, here Saturday night.

He said his ministry would play its role in ensuring the tourism development in the district especially at Kg Solimpodon Laut would take place.

"Sabah is moving in tandem with national development in the area of tourism due to its attraction and the people's friendliness as well as the leadership unity," he said.

Masidi disclosed some 3.7 million tourist arrivals were recorded last year, contributing to tourism receipts amounting to almost RM7.8 billion.

"With the increase in tourist arrivals, the number of hotel also increased but still could not cope with the demand which led to the emergence of the rural tourism sector through the development of homestay and hotels," he said.

He said the state's booming tourism industry has turned Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) becoming the second busiest airport in the country after KL International Airport (KLIA).

"We recorded at least 184 international flights landed at KKIA every week, 410 domestic flights and we have 86 direct flights from China, which is more than the figure recorded in KLIA," Masidi said.

He said the part of the Pan-Borneo Highway Sabah projects which is from Tuaran to Kudat would commence soon and that would give economic benefits to Pitas and its surroundings.

"We hope the local business community would take advantage of the ongoing development projects and my advice to landlords is not to sell their land as their property value will increase," he said.