Friday, 28 September 2018

China Southern Airlines introduces KK-Shenzhen route

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said they hoped to achieve State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said they hoped to achieve 500,000 China arrivals by the end of this year. The number of tourist arrivals from China totalled 358,000 as of July. Last year, there were 431,026 arrivals from China. NSTP/Khairull Azry Bidin.

KOTA KINABALU: Asia’s largest carrier, China Southern Airlines (CSA), is now flying from Shenzhen to this city, its second direct flight here after Guangzhou.
The inaugural flight is expected to arrive at Kota Kinabalu International Airport at 1.40am tomorrow.

This means there are now 98 weekly flights connecting Sabah and 10 Chinese cities.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said they hoped to achieve 500,000 China arrivals by the end of this year. The number of tourist arrivals from China totalled 358,000 as of July. Last year, there were 431,026 arrivals from China.

Consul-General of China in Kota Kinabalu Liang Caide said the number of tourists from China had grown over the years as Sabah was an attractive destination.

CSA general manager for Malaysia Eric Xu Wang said: “Today, we will launch our new route from with 7 flights per week with Airbus 320, by providing full services on board,” he said.

“We believe that these new direct flights will give an additional lift to commercial trade and tourism between both countries, and covering a wide range of tourism and cultural exchanges between Shenzhen and Sabah.”

Asked whether the carrier was looking to link other destinations in China with Sabah, Wang said CSA was confident there would be opportunities to open more new routes in the future with tourism developing fast in the state.

On whether the airline would divert some of the Guangzhou or Shenzhen direct flights to east coast cities like Sandakan and Tawau, he said they would have to do market research before making such a move.
-nst online.

Petronas to partner MotoGP™ for three years

Petronas is set to extend their presence in MotoGP™ even further having reached an agreement with Dorna Sports that will see the Malaysian company have trackside advertising at their home track, Sepang International Circuit, and Chang International Circuit – hosts to the Malaysia and Thailand Grands Prix respectively.

Having been involved in the sport in the early 2000s, Petronas’ commitment to the MotoGP™  World Championship continues to grow. Not only is the company currently involved in the Moto3™ Junior World Championship, Moto3™ and Moto2™ World Championship, recently Petronas announced it will step in as title sponsor to the newly formed Petronas Yamaha SRT team – the first fully-fledged Malaysian outfit to line-up on the MotoGP™ grid starting next year.

“Petronas is proud to collaborate with Dorna Sports and sponsor trackside branding in Thailand and Malaysia. We look forward to the brand awareness this partnership will drive as MotoGP is a leading motorsports event with a massive following worldwide, complementing our projects in Moto3™, Moto2™ and MotoGP™,“ said Zahariah (Liza) Abdul Rahman, Senior General Manager, Group Strategic Communications, Petronas.

“We’re delighted to welcome Petronas on board as a sponsor and to see them extend their presence in the MotoGP World Championship,” said Pau Serracanta, Managing Director – Dorna Sports. “Petronas is one of the biggest brands in Asia and we’re thrilled to have them as a partner for two of the biggest events of the year, underlining their commitment to the sport and in such an important market. This new agreement, alongside their newly announced racing projects, makes for a bright future for both Petronas and MotoGP.”

Petronas will be a headline act at two of the biggest and busiest events of the season when MotoGP™ goes racing at Buriram for the first time ever from the 5th to 7th October, before returning to Malaysia from the 2nd to 4th November for another sellout event at Sepang.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Pelancongan perlu beralih kepada digital

Mohammadin Ketapi. Image: MOTAC

KUALA LUMPUR 27 Sept. - Industri pelancongan berjaya menjana pendapatan negara sehingga RM82.2 bilion pada tahun lalu dengan kehadiran seramai 25.9 juta pelancong ke negara ini.

Menteri Pelancongan, Seni dan Kebudayaan Mohammadin Ketapi berkata, ini menjadikan industri ini merupakan antara penyumbang utama, iaitu 14.9 peratus kepada pendapatan negara.

“Di peringkat dunia, sebanyak 1.32 bilion pengembara telah menyeberangi pelbagai sempadan negara untuk melancong dan mengembara, yang membawa pulangan sehingga RM5.54 trilion.

“Di jangka pada 2030 jumlah ini akan meningkat sehingga 1.8 bilion pengembara dan Malaysia antara yang menjadi tumpuan kehadiran para pengembara ini, “ katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika merasmikan Hari Pelancongan Sedunia (WTD) 2018 yang bertemakan “Pelancongan Dan Era Transformasi Digital” di Pusat Pelancongan Malaysia (Matic), Jalan Ampang di sini hari ini.

Mohammadin berkata, industri ini antara yang menerima ledakan yang hebat akibat penggunaan dan perkembangan digital kerana para pelancong akan guna segala kemudahan dan perkhidmatan pelancongan melalui platform digital dan integrasi dari media sosial.

“Jadi saya berharap semua pengusaha dan pemain dalam industri ini segeralah beralih kepada era digital, tinggalkan kaedah lama untuk menarik kehadiran para pelancong,” katanya.
-utusan online.

Happy World Tourism Day 2018! ( 27 September 2018 )

Digital advances are transforming how we connect and inform ourselves, transforming our behaviour, and encouraging innovation and sustainable, responsible growth strategies.

We must better understand the growing economic, societal and environmental impacts of technology and innovation in tourism if our sector is to sustain continuous and inclusive growth in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

“Tourism and the Digital Transformation” is the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD).

We know that a digitally advanced tourism sector can improve entrepreneurship, inclusion, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other important development objectives. This year’s WTD will help us to further explore the opportunities provided to tourism by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms.

In June 2018, in anticipation of WTD and to give visibility to innovative ideas capable of revolutionizing the way we travel and enjoy tourism, the World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) and Globalia launched the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition. The startups with the best projects will be announced as semi-finalists during the WTD official celebration in Budapest.

World Tourism Day 2018 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the potential contribution of digital technologies to sustainable tourism development, while providing a platform for investment, partnerships and collaboration towards a more responsible and inclusive tourism sector.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Malaysia beckons foreign airlines its way

MAH is trying to get more Middle Eastern airlines to fly to Langkawi;
Langkawi International Airport pictured

Now in hot pursuit of foreign carriers, Malaysia Airports Holdings (MAH) is offering financial support for overseas airlines, as well as negotiating for the launch of flights along strategic routes.

Mohamed Sallauddin Mat Sah, general manager, airline marketing at Malaysia Airports, expressed hopes for Qatar Airways and one unnamed Indian airline to commence flights to Malaysia by this year-end.

MAH is in talks with Qatar Airways on launching flights to Langkawi, although the return route to Doha has not yet been decided. For now, Qatar Airways could either fly direct from Langkawi to Doha, or via Penang (Langkawi-Penang-Doha).

Enticing Middle Eastern airlines to fly direct to the island destination of Langkawi is in line with Langkawi Development Authority’s ambitions of growing foreign arrivals and attracting more high-yield tourists from the Middle East.

Currently, foreign airlines flying to Langkawi are limited to only five cities – Singapore, Chengdu, Kunming, Guiyang, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Despite the lack of international air connectivity, Langkawi has proven a popular choice with travellers. In 2017, Langkawi International Airport registered 2.7 million passenger traffic movements with a 14.6 per cent increase in international passengers. From January to June 2018, international passenger traffic movements increased by 23.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2017.

There is also untapped potential in the Indian market. At present, no India-based airline flies to Malaysia, with existing routes served only by Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and Malindo Air.

K Thangavelu, Grandlotus Travel Agencies managing director, believes that the destination as well as Indian travellers stand to benefit from having an Indian airline, with its strong domestic network, fly to Malaysia.

He said: “Passengers will benefit from better airfares if they take a connecting flight from the same airline. Currently, the Malaysia–India route is served by scheduled airlines from Malaysia flying to the main cities in India. Indians travelling from smaller cities will have to travel to metro cities and the main capitals of India to take these flights.”

To sweeten the deal for new foreign airlines, MAH has a support programme for new airlines flying to Malaysia which includes landing fee waiver for a year.

Furthermore, Malaysia Airports together with Tourism Malaysia will continue to offer funds supporting airlines’ promotion of Malaysia in overseas markets through the Joint International Tourism Development Programme. The programme, which was introduced this year, will be extended into 2019.
-TTG Asia.

World's most thrilling zipride proposed in Langkawi

LANGKAWI, Sept 24 (Bernama) -- A new height will be carved in Langkawi's tourism achievements if a South Korean company's interest to invest in a new tourism product in Langkawi becomes a reality.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the company, based in Nami Island, had indicated its interest to invest about RM30 million to start a zipline adventure from over 700 metre high, which could make it among the most thrilling ziplines in the world.

“At Nami Island, the highest point structure is about 20 metres,  but here at over 708 metres (at the summit of Mount Machinchang), it could easily go as the highest in Malaysia… if not the world.

“If it comes true, Langkawi will be top in the world map, especially among the millennial travellers who are looking for thrilling adventures,” he told Bernama  during a visit here recently.

Muhammad Bakhtiar said  the project, if implemented, would benefit the people especially in generating technology transfer to create more employment and business opportunities for Malaysians.

During the visit, he also witnessed the signing of a partnership agreement between two companies to manage a premium residence at Pantai Tengah and also visited several tourism destinations on the island.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

PPHG expands resort footprint in Malaysia

Rendering of Parkroyal Langkawi Resort

Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG) is on its way to open two more resorts in Malaysia, after seeing success at its Penang property.

Lothar Nessmann, CEO, PPHG, said: “Parkroyal is an established brand in Malaysia, where we already operate a hotel, serviced suite and resort in the key cities of Kuala Lumpur and Penang. We are expanding our portfolio of resorts in this market after seeing the popularity of Parkroyal Penang Resort, which underwent an RM55 million (US$13.3 million) transformation recently.”

Parkroyal A’Famosa Resort will open in 2019 within a resort precinct located 40 minutes from the Malacca town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The resort will offer dining options including a lobby lounge, all-day dining restaurant, Chinese specialty restaurant, club lounge and pool café.

For corporate retreats, teambuilding and other events, the resort offers seven meeting rooms, an outdoor garden, an open rooftop and a grand ballroom that can accommodate up to 700 pax.

Guests will also have access to a range of facilities and activities in the A’Famosa integrated resort, such as a water theme park, animal safari, bowling, horse riding, fishing, tennis, BBQ, in addition to a kids’ club, activity centre, outdoor swimming pools and playgrounds.

A five-minute stroll from the resort are the A’Famosa Resort Golf Course, a 27-hole international championship golf course and the Freeport A’Famosa Outlet, which offers more than 70 fashion, sports and lifestyle brands.

Opening in 2020, Parkroyal Langkawi Resort is nestled at a beachfront location on Pantai Tengah Beach, the longest stretch of beach in Langkawi.

It will offer 294 guestrooms, including premium suites complete with “sky dipping pools” and seven villas.

Facilities include an all-day dining restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, a beach bar, and multi-tier outdoor swimming pools.

The resort is a 20-minute drive from Langkawi International Airport and 18 km from the nearest town centre, Kuah Town.
-TTG Asia.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Festival Sayangi Lahad Datu @ Silam 2018 ( 28 ~ 29 September 2018)

YAB Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, Ketua Menteri Sabah dan YB Tuan Mohamaddin bin Ketapi, Menteri Pelancongan, Seni & Budaya Malaysia akan menghadiri dan merasmikan Festival Sayangi Lahad Datu @Silam.

Tujuan festival ini diadakan adalah untuk menyemarakkan aktiviti seni dan budaya tempatan di kalangan komuniti Lahad Datu. Selain itu, festival ini dapat meningkatkan kefahaman dan aprisiasi seni kepada masyarakat ke arah pembentukan sebuah bangsa yang harmoni. Semangat gotong royong dan kerjasama antara penduduk tempatan dengan agensi Kerajaan dapat dipupuk melalui festival ini.

Antara aktiviti utama Festival Sayangi Lahad Datu@Silam 2018 ini adalah:

-Perkampungan Kraf
-Food Truck
-Pameran Agensi Kerajaan
-Jualan Produk Tempatan

-Persembahan oleh ASWARA
-Persembahan BBK Setempat
-Peragaan Busana Kanak-Kanak
-Lukisan Grafiti

-Segmen 1: Dramatari Gua Madai
-Segmen 2: Warna Warni Lahad Datu
-Sayangi Lahad Datu
-Persembahan Rakyat

-Pertandingan Sukan Rakyat
-Pertandingan Menyumpit
-Gusti Lengan

-Karnival Kerjaya
-Kaunter Bergerak
-Kenduri Rakyat
-Jom Belajar

-Pertandingan Melukis dan Mewarna
-Pertandingan Karaoke
-Bengkel Tari
-Pertandingan Muzik Akustik

Untuk sebarang maklumat lanjut mengenai Festival Sayangi Lahad Datu @Silam sila hubungi terus di talian 088-237052 / 051.

Connectivity a challenge in Malaysia’s push for more tourist arrivals

Tourists at Tanjung Aru Beach in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Malaysia is working on improving tourist arrivals from its core markets, with air connectivity a major factor in Asia and marketing key to keeping its hold of visitors from the region.

Abdul Khani Daud, deputy director-general (promotion), Tourism Malaysia, said the organisation is working with Malaysia Airports to attract airlines from Thailand, the Philippines, India and Hong Kong, among others, to fly to secondary destinations in Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak.

Quezon City’s Thousand Miles Travel general manager, Cassey Antoinette Ruiz, opined that air connectivity from the Philippines to secondary cities in Malaysia such as Langkawi, Sabah and Sarawak will make it easier to push the destinations, which are limited to Kuala Lumpur combination packages as there are no direct flights.

Abdul Khani shared that the government was also trying to attract India-based airlines as this was key to arrest year-on-year decline in arrivals from India since 2012. Currently, the India-Malaysia route is served by Malaysia-based carriers, namely Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo Air.

DoView Holidays India director, Srinivas Vemuri, said: “Indian airlines would improve air connectivity with B Class Cities such as Pune, Gujerat, Lucknow, places where there are currently no flights to Malaysia.

“Most Malaysia-based airline routes between Kuala Lumpur and India are to the main metro cities in India, making it inconvenient for Indians living outside these cities to travel to Malaysia. Also, there is a lack of awareness about the e-visa facility offered to Indians.”

Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia is sensing a greater urgency to intensify promotions in the Middle East, as arrivals from traditional top performer Saudi Arabia fell nine per cent in the first four months of 2018.

Abdul Khani said: “The promotional budget for the (region) has been reduced while our competitors, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and others are working to (gain) market share. We need to increase our promotional campaigns in the Middle East or risk losing share.”

Ghaleb Hayek, branch manager at Sazat, based in Lebanon, said there is a general lack of awareness about the destination and that the capital, with its Pretronas Twin Towers, is too similar with more accessible Dubai. He commented: “Malaysia has to promote its unique cultures and heritage outside the city areas.”
-TTG Asia.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Malaysia Promotes Sustainable And Inclusive Tourism At Tourism Expo Japan 2018

TOKYO, JAPAN, 21 SEPTEMBER 2018: Tourism Malaysia’s participation in Tourism Expo Japan 2018 from 20 to 23 September 2018 in Tokyo, a major trade and consumer travel fair in Japan, underscores its efforts towards promoting sustainable and inclusive tourism.

During the expo, YB Tuan Mohamaddin Ketapi, the Hon. Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, participated in the 2nd Ministerial Round Table Session, an event jointly organised by Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

He touched on Malaysia’s efforts towards promoting sustainable tourism through initiatives outlined in the National Ecotourism Plan (2016-2025) and the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (2016-2020).

He also highlighted another segment of sustainable tourism that encouraged socially and culturally responsible tourism, which is Muslim-Friendly Tourism. He said, “The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, through its agency the Islamic Tourism Centre, has developed a set of guidelines for tourism industry players and investors to develop business and services that cater to and meet the needs of the lucrative Muslim tourist market.”

“Malaysia is the first country in the world to produce such a standard and this has become a document referred to by many countries who are interested in developing this segment,” he added.

The Minister also officiated the Tourism Malaysia booth at the expo on 21 September, and launched Tourism Selangor’s latest tourism packages.

In addressing the local travel trade and media there, he said, “Malaysia has all the attractions that appeal to travellers from Japan. Our diverse tourism offerings range from million-year-old rainforests and islands and beaches to shopping and luxury holidays.”

He added, “I take this opportunity to promote to the Japanese market regarding Malaysia’s sustainable tourism. One of our most successful of such programmes is the community-based tourism programme which we call the Malaysia Homestay Experience. It offers participants the opportunity to experience the authentic Malaysian way of life through our food, culture and festivals, and daily life activities. I urge you to introduce this programme to a larger Japanese market here.”

Other key examples of Malaysia’s sustainable tourism products include Danum Valley, Tabin Wildlife Resort and Mount Kinabalu.

The Minister was confident of tourist arrival growth from Japan as the two countries are well-connected. Major airports in Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo offer a total of 62 weekly direct flights to Malaysia with 18,373 seats, via Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia X, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways.

“I welcome all Japanese to our shores to experience the Malaysia Truly Asia hospitality and enjoy our islands and beaches, food, culture, history, nature and more,” he said.

Malaysia’s presence at the expo this year underlines its 40th year of participation, symbolizing the country’s continued interest in this market and support for the Japanese travel trade. The trip to Japan is also an opportunity for the Minister to emphasise Malaysia’s intention to maintain good relations with Japan. The Minister will make courtesy calls to Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, and the Chairman of JATA, Mr. Hiromi Tagawa.
-Tourism Malaysia.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Selangor coming into its own

Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque in Selangor’s Shah Alam
is known to be the largest mosque in Malaysia

While Kuala Lumpur remains a firm favourite in Malaysia thanks to its mature branding and iconic structures, agents are seeing neighbouring Selangor rising in popularity among tourists, fuelling demand for twin-destination programmes.

Yap Sook Ling, managing director, Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel, said new products in Selangor are driving interest for family travel from India, China, Hong Kong and the Middle East.

Itineraries span attractions such as Selangor Fruits Valley, Sekinchan paddy fields, Sky Mirror in Kuala Selangor and Sunway Lagoon, the oldest and largest theme park in Selangor.

She added: “We have seen demand for Selangor rising over the last two years, some from repeat visitors to Kuala Lumpur, and others who have heard about Selangor and were keen to explore beyond Kuala Lumpur.

“Selangor appeals to special interest groups as well as families with children because of its ecotourism attractions and educational experiences such as rice planting and harvesting and mangrove ecosystem in Kuala Selangor.”

In the past, Selangor was offered as a day trip component, but combination packages now include overnight stays both in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, she shared.

Cherry Lee, executive director, World Express Tours, said: “Selangor’s appeal lies in its greenery and there are a number of resort hotels with green landscaping and space, which appeals to the leisure segment, unlike Kuala Lumpur which has more business class hotels.”

Lee added that hotels in Selangor are priced very competitively, with new hotels coming up in locations near shopping malls and theme parks. Sunway Clio Hotel, for example, is located within walking distance of Sunway Lagoon and Sunway Pyramid Mall, whereas New World Hotel in Petaling Jaya is adjacent to Paradigm Mall.

“We see growing demand for Selangor from the Middle East market, who in the past used to want to stay only in Kuala Lumpur and do day trips to Selangor,” shared Lee.

“(Seeing the changing trends), we have asked hotels in Selangor to give us bigger allotments to add into our distribution channels,” she added.

For Abdul Rashid Asari, Selangor state government chairman of standing committees for cultural and tourism, Malay tradition and heritage, however, “travel agents unforunately still tend to sell the same old tours emphasising Kuala Lumpur”, despite the abundance of ecotourism, culture and heritage offerings in Selangor.

To change this, there are plans to step up product briefings and fam tours for travel agents from 4Q2018 onwards, showcasing offerings in and around the big cities of Petaling Jaya, Subang, Shah Alam and Klang, he told TTG Asia.

A chief focus is to “develop the tourism infrastructure outside the main cities by building three- and four-star hotels in places such as Sabak Bernam, Sekinchan, Hulu Selangor and Kuala Selangor”.

“This year, we also initiated the Selangor Community Host Programme to train local communities to be local guides in the areas they live,” said Abdul Rashid.
Nazri Tashriq Rahmat, corporate communications manager, Tourism Selangor, said Selangor continues to be a day-trip option for many Asian tourists, but the state tourism board hopes to increase this to a few nights’ stay over time.

Another challenge lies in Selangor lacking recall as a geographically distinct destination.

Said Nazri: “Many travellers doing Selangor-Kuala Lumpur combination tours are unaware that some (attractions they visited) are in Selangor, as the guides don’t point this out. We are now educating inbound agents to (make the distinction clear).”
-TTG Asia.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Ipoh now rivalling Penang as a tourist attraction

Tourist attractions also include miniature figurines depicting a Song Dynasty banquet at Miniature Wonders Art Gallery in downtown Ipoh. — Photos: LO TERN CHERN/The Star

THIS is a heads-up for tourism players in Penang. Nothing good lasts eternally and neither will our appeal as a tourism hotspot.
Your neighbour, Perak, is doing mighty well.

I went to Ipoh, and the once dull city is now bustling with tourists from all over.
It too has beautiful murals on century-old shops, on par with those in George Town and certainly livelier than those in Seberang Prai.
Like Penang’s many museums and art galleries, Ipoh has a growing number of them.

Penang has a few remaining beaches, while Ipoh has loads of limestone caves to stay in the race of natural wonders.

Recently, I brought up the topic of Ipoh tourism to friends from Alor Setar and to my surprise, many of them would rather drive three hours there than to Penang because of two main reasons — cost and transportation.

They say Ipoh has wider roads, which I found to be true during my visit.
There were noticeably fewer cars parking illegally, and the main roads are wider with roundabouts instead of traffic lights.

Attractions are inexpensive in Ipoh. I wonder how many Penangites would call our attractions affordable.

I visited Kek Look Tong Cave Temple in Gunung Rapat, at the southern end of town. To my surprise, entry is free with ample parking lots, also free.
Inside the cave, it’s a natural wonder of ancient stalagmites and stalactites, with awesome golden statues of rarely seen Chinese deities.

At lunch in one of Ipoh’s bean sprout chicken restaurants, I spoke with a local tour guide who had a group of 20 Japanese tourists.
“Ipoh used to be a dead town. People only came here to work, or else we would just drive past it on the highway.
“But look at the heritage enclave now. Many Asian tourists have been to Penang and now they want Ipoh,” he said.

I would say Penang food still leads, but not by much more. Seafood here is no longer cheap.
While I find Ipoh offers fewer varieties of flavours, food elsewhere in Perak, such as in Tapah and Tanjong Tualang, are far cheaper than in Penang, and these places are only about 30 minutes’ drive from Ipoh city.
Penang needs to look for alternatives to continue attracting visitors.

As a mainland boy, driving 90 minutes to Ipoh is almost the same as inching into jam-packed George Town, so why not? It’s the nature and local food that we seek on vacations.
-thestar online.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Industry-first API launched to allow digital distribution of Umrah packages

Raudhah app now offers the Umrah package feature with the API connection,
which is also available to third party OTAs

With the introduction of an industry-first Umrah API, Muslim-friendly hotel booking portal Tripfez and Malaysian digital marketing specialist Media Prima Digital have launched a new Umrah package booking feature on Islamic app Raudhah.

The API connection gives third-party travel sites access to an Umrah feed and enable them to more easily access and digitally package Umrah travel.

Raudhah’s over 250,000 existing users can search for flights and hotels for Umrah travel according to multiple criteria, including date of travel and the number of travellers in their group, thanks to live supplier feeds facilitated by Tripfez. Once they have selected each component of their Umrah package, bookings can made via an online order form.

“This new Raudhah app feature marks an exciting development in the Islamic travel and marketing space, with two dynamic Malaysian-headquartered companies working together to pioneer the digital distribution of Umrah packages, which until now, has been a traditional, non-digital business,” said Tripfez founder & CEO, Faeez Fadhlillah.

“Our collaboration with Media Prima Digital will not only make it easier than ever for Muslim travellers – in just a few taps of their smartphones or devices – but also facilitate the future growth of the Umrah travel sector, catering to pent-up demand for digital Umrah solutions, which today is driven by tech-savvy Muslim millennials.”

Raudhah provides users with easy access to exclusive videos from popular religious programmes such as Al- Kulliyyah, Tanyalah Ustaz and Halaqah, as well as prayer times based on location, azan notifications and listings of nearby mosques and restaurants.

The app has 14 features in total and is designed to cater to the religious needs of Muslims in Malaysia and around the world, providing them with accurate and verified lifestyle- and education-driven content.

The introduction of Raudhah’s Umrah feature is timely, with the number of Umrah visas issued to Malaysian travellers via official agents reaching an all-time high of 248,117 between 2016 and 2017, according to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. This compares to 188,487 between 2013-2014.

Of the estimated 18 million visitors to Saudi Arabia in 2017, around 6.8 million performed Umrah during the Hijri year 1438 (October 2, 2016 to September 20, 2017), according to figures released by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics. The kingdom aims to increase total Umrah visitor numbers to 30 million by 2030.
-TTG Asia.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Swiss-Garden International hotels get revamp

Oriental Room at Swiss-Inn Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia-based Swiss-Garden International Hotels, Resorts & Inns will roll out extensive refurbishments to the tune of RM50 million (US$12 million) at six of its managed properties in the country.

COO Peter Gan shared in a press statement that the refurbishment would be be conducted in stages, and is expected to be completed early 2019.

Swiss-Garden Hotel & Residences Kuala Lumpur
The 320 guestrooms and suites will be remodelled from floor to ceiling, and will sport a grey and warm green colour palette. The lobby will be transformed as well.

Swiss-Inn Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur
Preserving and restoring the old architecture of this 150-room hotel in mind, the refurbishment will include a refreshment of its lobby – where Chinese motif design-inspired panelling will be installed – as well as the meeting facility. On the F&B front, a Coffee Bar will be included adjoining to the reception area.

Swiss-Garden Beach Resort Damai Laut, Lumut
Situated off Pangkor Island, the resort will see significant upgrades in its lobby as well as 291 rooms and suites, in addition to a facelift of supporting facilities such as the Coffee House, Ballroom and function rooms.

Swiss-Garden Beach Resort Kuantan, Pahang
The 304-room resort on Balok Beach will see an overhaul of its lobby area to feature widened spaces, innovative lighting and soft furnishings. As well, the rooms are also expected to undergo enhancements in the form of new fittings and fixtures.

Swiss-Inn Sungai Petani, Kedah
A revamp of the inn is already underway, which will see the refurbishment of the bathrooms alongside new carpeting and furniture pieces in the guestrooms.

Swiss-Inn Johor Bahru, Johor
The upcoming renovation plan for the inn has been designed to maximise the available space within the hotel. The present meeting space will undergo a transformation while one level of its carpark will be turned into a new ballroom that offers direct access to the swimming pool.
-TTG Asia.

Percutian kampung di Keriang Hill

photo: Keriang Hill facebook

KUALA LUMPUR 28 Sept. - Tanpa memiliki laut dan pantai yang putih serta halus pasirnya, Keriang Hill yang terletak di kaki Gunung Keriang, Mukim Gunung, Alor Setar, Kedah merupakan destinasi pelancongan yang dicadangkan kepada pelancong dalam dan luar negara.

Keriang Hill yang menawarkan suasana aman, tenang dan damai dalam aura hidup di kampung boleh terus dibangunkan dan sekali gus mewujudkan sebuah ‘Wilayah Pelancongan’ bagi negeri Kedah.

Perjalanan dari Kuala Lumpur ke Alor Setar dengan berkereta tidaklah jauh mana pun. Pemanduan hanya mengambil masa lima jam sahaja dan jika itu dirasakan panjang masanya, perasaan penat dalam perjalanan akan hilang sebaik sahaja tiba di Keriang Hill.

Untuk rekod, Keriang Hill yang dibangunkan di atas sebidang tanah seluas 15 hektar adalah destinasi percutian berkonsepkan perkampungan.

Di sini, terdapat 17 rumah kayu yang didirikan dalam suasana kampung dan 
rumah-rumah ini digelar sebagai pondok manakala setiap pondok dinamakan mengikut mukim-mukim yang terdapat di negeri Kedah.

Pemilihan nama bagi setiap pondok di Keriang Hill ini mendapat pekenan Tunku Temenggong Kedah, Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah selepas Pelancongan Malaysia (Tourism Malaysia) bersetuju menyerahkan pengurusan Keriang Hill kepada Keriang Hill Resort Sdn. Bhd.

Dibangun dan diuruskan oleh Keriang Hill Resort Sdn. Bhd., Ketua Pegawai Eksekutifnya, Datuk Wan Ahmad Muazzam Wan Ismail berkata, Keriang Hill yang bertaraf tiga bintang perlu mengikis stigma dalam kalangan pelancong tempatan yang takut untuk menginap di situ kerana mereka beranggapan, harga yang perlu dibayar adalah setaraf dengan harga bilik di resort bertaraf lima bintang.

“Di sini sesiapa sahaja boleh datang dan menginap di rumah-rumah atau digelar pondok kerana harga yang perlu dibayar amatlah berpatutan dan dalam kemampuan kita.

“Apatah lagi bermula Oktober sehingga Disember ini, kita menawarkan potongan harga iaitu bagi pondok single, hanya RM120 satu malam manakala bagi pondok famili atau keluarga, hanya perlu membayar RM180 satu malam.

“Harga yang kita tawarkan ini jauh lebih murah berbanding dengan harga penginapan di negeri-negeri lain,” katanya kepada Utusan Online ketika ditemui di Keriang Hill, Jitra, baru-baru ini.

Terdapat enam pondok single dan lapan pondok famili di Keriang Hill, ujar Wan Ahmad Muazzam. Manakala terdapat dua lagi pondok yang dikhaskan untuk menyimpan replika dan dijadikan muzium mini yang menyimpan sebahagian kecil khazanah milik almarhum Sultan Kedah, Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Sultan Badlishah.

Pondok ini boleh dilawati oleh tetamu yang menginap di Keriang Hill dan orang ramai yang ingin melihat khazanah yang disimpan di situ, boleh berbuat demikian tetapi dengan syarat, mendapat kebenaran terlebih dahulu daripada pihak pengurusan Keriang Hill.

Menurut Wan Ahmad Muzzam lagi, untuk menggamit pelancong tempatan, pihaknya sedang berusaha untuk menggunakan segenap ruang dan pelosok di Keriang Hill ini dengan mewujudkan aktiviti yang menarik.

“Terletak bersebelahan dengan Restoran Puteri, kita ada tasik yang penuh dengan ikan. Pengunjung boleh memberi makan ikan-ikan ini kerana saya secara peribadi merasakan, memberi ikan-ikan makan adalah satu terapi.

“Restoran Puteri bukan tertutup untuk tetamu yang menginap di Keriang Hill tetapi kita buka kepada orang ramai yang ingin menikmati makanan yang insya-Allah, enak dan lazat.

“Selain daripada itu, di tasik ini juga terdapat sepasang angsa berwarna hitam. Mungkin pada hari ini, jarang dapat dilihat angsa berwarna hitam,” katanya sambil menambah, di dalam kawasan Keriang Hill juga terdapat sepasang burung merak berwarna putih yang dibela di dalam kandang.

Tarikan baharu yang akan diperkenalkan kepada pengunjung yang menginap di Keriang Hill, kata Wan Ahmad Muazzam ialah aktiviti berkayak.
“Ini idea baharu yang dilontarkan kepada saya dan kami sedang rancak membersihkan tali air yang terletak bertentangan dengan Keriang Hill. Kiranya seberang jalan sahaja.

“Tali air sepanjang 195 meter itu akan digunakan untuk aktiviti berkayak dan setakat ini, pihak kami telah pun menyediakan tiga buah kayak penghuni yang menginap di Keriang Hill,” katanya sambil menekankan, pihak pengurusan tidak berkompromi dari aspek keselamatan pengkayak yang mana turut disediakan jaket keselamatan yang wajib dipakai oleh penginap Keriang Hill yang memilih untuk mencuba aktiviti berkayak.

Sejajar dengan pelaburan yang dikeluarkan oleh syarikat iaitu sebanyak RM4 juta, Wan Ahmad Muazzam berkata, terdapat 15 ekar lagi tanah yang masih belum dibangunkan di sekitar Keriang Hill.

“Itu kita simpan dahulu kerana sekarang, pihak pengurusan sedang berkira-kira untuk membina pondok di atas sawah. Konsep pondok di atas sawah ini akan mengambil sedikit masa.

“Lagipun mengambil kira pengalaman yang lalu, projek membangunkan Keriang Hill ini pernah terbengkalai dan syarikat membuat keputusan untuk mengambil alih projek pembangunan hartanah pada Mei tahun lepas. Oleh itu, segalanya perlu dirancang dengan teliti,” jelas Wan Ahmad Muazzam.

Kata Wan Ahmad Muazzam lagi, Keriang Hill adalah destinasi percutian bertemakan “Kembali kepada Kehidupan Kampung” yang hari ini, tidak lagi dapat dirasai dan dinikmati oleh generasi muda disebabkan oleh arus pemodenan yang tidak terkawal.

Dalam erti kata lain, generasi muda hari ini, rata-ratanya hanya kenal kepada kehidupan hutan batu.
“Kenyataan saya di atas ada kebenarannya dan berasas. Maka itulah, Keriang Hill yang terletak di kaki Gunung Keriang ini adalah bukit batu kapur yang boleh dilihat di depan mata.

“Di Keriang Hill ini juga kakitangan kita terdiri daripada penduduk kampung. Kita ambil makcik-makcik kampung untuk mengemas pondok, yang menjadi tukang kebun dan mandur pula adalah pakcik, anak tempatan.
“Apabila dibangunkan Keriang Hill, dicipta peluang pekerjaan dan ditawarkan peluang-peluang pekerjaan itu kepada penduduk setempat.
“Pemuda dan pemudi kampung tidak perlu berpindah ke bandar-bandar besar untuk bekerja. Kita cipta peluang pekerjaan kepada masyarakat setempat kerana itulah hasrat yang dinyatakan oleh pemilik Keriang Hill, Tunku Temenggong Kedah, Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz untuk rakyat negeri Kedah,” katanya.

Menurut Wan Ahmad Muazzam lagi, jangan terkejut sekiranya tetamu yang menginap di Keriang Hill, boleh mendapatkan khidmat tukang urut Melayu dan tradisional untuk membetulkan segala urat yang tersimpul dan berselirat di dalam badan.

“Insya-Allah. Jika diizinkan Tuhan, banyak perancangan yang akan dilakukan untuk Keriang Hill. Itulah sebabnya, saya pentingkan aspek hospitaliti yang bertaraf lima bintang.

“Tidak perlu fikir panjang ataupun teragak-agak untuk menginap di Keriang Hill kerana inilah destinasi pelancongan untuk semua penat bekerja, ingin berehat dan melarikan diri daripada kehidupan di bandar-bandar besar yang hiruk-pikuk,” katanya. 
-utusan online.