Saturday, 29 June 2019

Visit Malaysia Year 2020 logo to be launched next month - Mohamaddin

image: PelanconganKini

NARATHIWAT, June 29 (Bernama) -- The logo for the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 (VMY 2020is expected to be launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad next month, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi.

According to him, all preparations for VMY 2020 is being conducted both at home and abroad.

“To further boost the VMY 2020 campaign, we will be launching a logo soon... it can be said that 60 per cent of the preparations have been made, we have also participated in the World Travel Market and Arabian Travel Market," he said.

He was speaking to reporters after the Opening Ceremony of the Malaysia-Thailand Cultural and Sports Tourism Fair here on Friday night.

Also present was Narathiwat Governor, Ekkarat Leesen.

Earlier, Mohamaddin in his speech said the yearly event is the best platform for Malaysia and Thailand to promote the cultural diversity and many attractions in Narathiwat. 

“Malaysia and Thailand, both active members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), enjoy cordial diplomatic relations and share strong bilateral ties in areas such as sports, tourism, culture and connectivity and socio-economic developments in border areas,” he added. 

In the meantime, when asked about the proposed building of a 21-storey building at the Malaysian Tourism Center (MaTiC) in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, he said it had yet to be decided.

In the meantime, when asked about the proposal to build a 21-storey building at the Malaysian Tourism Centre (MaTiC) in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, he said it had yet to be decided, adding that it has also not been tabled and approved by the Cabinet.

A portal had previously reported that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture was planning to build an administrative building in the MaTiC area.

“The RM255 million ringgit worth 21-storey building project was seen to have affected MaTiC’s old building with Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman there, classified as a national heritage in 2018, according to the report.

It was approved by the previous government in 2017 but its status is still dependent upon Pakatan Harapan after the party’s victory in May 2018.


Sea Life Malaysia: unique, new attraction to draw tourists

ISKANDAR PUTERI, June 29 (Bernama) -- Legoland Malaysia Resort is confident that the opening of Sea Life Malaysia will be a new attraction here, contributing to tourist arrivals for Visit Malaysia Year and Visit Johor Year in 2020.

Its Sales and Marketing director, Thila Munusamy said that this is because the interactive aquarium which features an interesting learning concept has its own uniqueness.

“We are confident that Sea Life and Legoland Resort will be able to become a tourism icon and contribute to the tourism target of Visit Johor Year and Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

“Not only foreign tourists like Southeast Asia but also domestic,” she told reporters after the launch of Sea Life Malaysia at Legoland Malaysia Resort here, on Friday.

Also present was Johor Tourism, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung.

According to him, Sea Life Malaysia, which is in a two-story building with an area of 2,123 square metres, has 25 tanks with 13,000 sea creatures from 120 species and 11 different habitat zones.

Among the interesting sea life brought from the various countries are sea horses, Zebra Sharks, Black Tip Reef Sharks and jellyfish.

Sea Life Malaysia is also different and unique with rainforest elements.

RM92.6 billion in domestic tourism expenditure recorded in 2018

PUTRAJAYA, June 28 (Bernama) -- Domestic tourism recorded a total of RM92.6 billion in expenditure last year, an increase of 11.4 per cent compared to RM83.1 billion the year before.

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the growth was due to an increase in expenditure by tourists and day-trippers, with each spending a total of RM60.41 billion and RM32.15 billion respectively.

"Shopping recorded the highest percentage of contribution to the total expenditure by domestic tourists,” he said in a statement on a survey of domestic tourism in 2018.

He added that the number of domestic tourists increased to 221.3 million in 2018, an increase of 7.7 per cent.

Mohd Uzir also said domestic tourists made 302.4 million trips within the country with 40.6 per cent being trips to visit relatives and friends.

The trend, he said, was in line with the culture of Malaysians to return to their hometowns during festive seasons.

Mohd Uzir added that Selangor was the state with the highest number of domestic tourists in 2018, with 30.2 million tourists, followed by Sabah (20.4 million), Sarawak (19.4 million), Kuala Lumpur (19.2 million) and Pahang (18.1 million).

Tourism Malaysia organises food promotion in Chennai

NEW DELHI, June 28 (Bernama) -- Tourism Malaysia has organised a food promotion in Chennai, offering delectable Malaysian delicacies to diners in the south Indian metropolis.

The "Flavours of Malaysia" event, being held at the Courtyard by Marriott Chennai from June 24 to July 4, is aimed at wooing more Indian visitors keen to explore Malaysia's diverse cuisine.

"Malaysia is a melting pot of culture and multi-racial diversity with various signature dishes. This multi-racial diversity is where the culinary expertise comes into play as it has allowed people to blend together more than one cuisine to create Malaysian street foods," said Saravanan Karathihayan, Consul General of Malaysia in Chennai.

Chef Zainal Abidin Yahya from Malaysia, who has been in the business for 25 years, leads the local hotel team showcasing their skills in preparing authentic Malaysian dishes such as ‘Rendang Ayam’, ‘Ikan Masak Kari’, ‘Ayam Masak Merah, ‘Satay’, ‘Sambal Terong’ and ‘Dalca Sayur’.

"Many people in Chennai are familiar with Malaysian food because of strong travel between the two countries. Our event has received a good response from people in the business community and families," said Logi Dhasan Thanaraj, Tourism Malaysia's deputy director for south India and Sri Lanka.

About 50 women, representing the exclusive Duchess Club in Chennai, are expected to attend a Malaysian cooking workshop at the hotel on July 2.

"Tourism Malaysia is stepping up its promotions this year in preparation of Visit Malaysia 2020. The target is to bring in one million Indian tourists. After Chennai, we will be organising a food promotion event in Kochi in Kerala," Logi said.

"We have received support for the Flavours of Malaysia from Malindo Air, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI)," he said.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Guangzhou-Tawau direct flights to start January 2020

TAWAU, June 27 (Bernama) -- Direct flights between Guangzhou in China and Tawau, Sabah which are expected to start this July have been postponed to January next year.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad’s (MAHB) Tawau Airport manager, Hasbi Mohd Said said the postponement was due to several factors including the overseas approval process involving a government-to-government arrangement.

“It is also to correspond with the holidays in China, so starting the flights when there is a high demand,” he said when met by reporters at a Malaysia Airports Aidilfitri celebration held at the airport, here, today.

Hainan Airlines will be using B737-800 aircraft for the twice weekly flights from Guangzhou to Tawau.

Meanwhile, MAHB’s senior general manager (Commercial Services), Mohammad Nazli Abdul Aziz said Tawau was the main gateway for island holidays in Sabah, just like Langkawi for Kedah.

He said the approach for commercial tourism at Tawau Airport would be the same taken for Langkawi International Airport.

"We want to see the airport looking like a mall; we plan to bring in various branded products which could attract tourists and local residents like a magnet.

“We also want to promote some local brands involving traditional food and other products. We had tried doing this in Langkawi, selling local products with the cooperation of local entrepreneurs,” he shared.

Mohammad Nazli said MAHB provided funds for tourism industry players in Sabah that could come up with viable projects to promote tourism in the state.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

MAS offers 6.5 million promo seats

PETALING JAYA: From now until June 27, 2019, Malaysia Airlines is offering 20% off on fares for business and economy class flights to all its domestic destinations with departures from Kuala Lumpur. This promotion is valid for immediate travel until Jan 20 next year.

A total 6.5 million seats are available in this promotion and is applicable across all Malaysia Airlines' fare category – Lite, Basic and Flex.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines will be up-gauging its Airbus A330-300 to the Airbus A380-800 to Melbourne, Australia, for a limited time only. From now until June 28, 2019, the airline will be offering all-in return fares from as low as RM1,749 (economy class) and all-in return fares from RM5,499 (business class). This promotion is only limited to MH149 and MH148.

For more information on other promotions, go to Malaysia Airlines' website.
-thestar online.

Amal by Malaysia Airlines set to fly up to 20,000 pilgrims for this year’s Hajj season

KLIA, 25 June 2019: Amal, the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage arm of Malaysia Airlines, is set to transport up to 20,000 pilgrims for this year’s Hajj season. The first flight is scheduled to depart KL International Airport (KLIA) to Jeddah and Madinah on 4 July 2019.

To ensure comfort and a seamless journey for pilgrims, Amal will be mounting up to 40 flights between Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah, as well as Madinah, on the A380-800 for the first Hajj phase from 4 July until 5 August. The airline will also be operating up to 70 feeder flights, utilizing its B737-800 aircraft, to transport pilgrims from Alor Setar, Pulau Pinang, Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Kuala Terengganu to KLIA.

Chief Executive Officer of Amal by Malaysia Airlines, Hazman Hilmi said, "It is an absolute privilege to be able to transport pilgrims to perform their Hajj for the upcoming season. Amal by Malaysia Airlines will be utilising the spacious A380-800 aircraft, configured with unique pilgrim centric in-flight features such as Talbiyah, Doa Musaffir, Azan on board, Tazkirah on board and Miqat announcement to ensure that the pilgrimage experience begins the moment they step into the aircraft.

Our Hajj pilgrims are usually the more senior and elderly and 70% of them are flying for the first time. We are confident that our well trained crew and ground staff will be able to serve the pilgrims with highest level of service in line with Menyantuni Dhuyufurrahman.”

The second phase of the operations will commence on 18 August and will be completed on 12 September 2019.
-Malaysia Airlines.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

29 International Media And Tour Operators Celebrate Hari Raya Aidil Fitri In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 JUNE 2019: A total of 29 international media and tour operators from 13 countries are in Malaysia to experience what it’s like to celebrate Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in the traditional Malaysian-style of “open house.”

The group, here by Tourism Malaysia’s invitation on the Malaysia Mega Familiarisation Programme, will get a first-hand feel of the “merewang” tradition that typically sees communities working together hand-in-hand in preparation of a big event such as weddings and in this case, Hari Raya Aifil Fitri. 

They will be attending the Malaysia Open House: Hari Raya Aidil Fitri event, organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Ministry of Federal Territories, at the Royal Museum (former National Royal Palace) at 2 pm on 22 June. It will be officiated by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato’ Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Dr. Wan Ismail. Other VIPs in attendance are the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, YB Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi and Minister of Federal Territories, YB Tuan Khalid Abdul Samad.

The event is expected to see hundreds of Malaysians and tourists throng the Royal Museum to enjoy special traditional performances and typical Malaysian food.

Prior to the celebration, the participants of the Malaysia Mega Familiarisation Programme will attend a special destination seminar on 21 June at PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur to get the latest updates on Malaysia’s tourism industry including the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign and the developments of Desaru Coast in Johor and Encore Melaka. They will also have a chance to understand Malaysia Airlines’ future plans and learn more about PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur’s brand.

The group will be given a sightseeing tour of Kuala Lumpur, visiting iconic places such as the Malaysia Cartoon and Comic Museum, River of Life and the Helipad Lounge Bar. They will also travel to other parts of Malaysia such as Melaka, Ipoh and Genting Highlands in separate groups to explore attractions outside the Klang Valley. 

The Malaysia Mega Familiarisation Programme held in conjunction with the Malaysia Open House: Hari Raya Aidil Fitri sees a total of 29 international media and tour operators participating from 13 countries, i.e. Cambodia, China, India, Italy, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam. The programme is supported by partnerships with Malaysia Airlines, Turkish Airlines and PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysia Mega Familiarisation Programme is one of Tourism Malaysia’s key marketing initiatives. It is organised with the support from local and foreign airlines, Malaysian hotels, state governments, tourism products and shopping complexes. Through this programme, participants are given a personal experience of the myriad attractions, tourist destinations, and products and services in Malaysia and inspire and encourage them to package and write amazing stories on the country as a preferred destination for leisure and business.

In 2018, a total of 80 guests from 10 countries participated in seven Malaysia Mega Familiarisation Programmes. It generated RM3.7 million worth of commercial value from 30 published feature articles in international publications, 68 documentaries and online media broadcasts. It has been one the most successful publicity platforms and we couldn’t have done it without your support and contribution.
-Tourism Malaysia.

Pangolin santuary to be Sabah's new wildlife tourist attraction

Funded by Arizona Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute (Sapsari) with an initial start-up investment of RM1 million, the sanctuary is an effort by the state government to further protect arguably the world’s most poached and trafficked animal.

KOTA KINABALU: A pangolin sanctuary, to be established within the protected Tawau Hills National Park, is set to become Sabah’s new wildlife tourist attraction.

Funded by Arizona Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute (Sapsari) with an initial start-up investment of RM1 million, the sanctuary is an effort by the state government to further protect arguably the world’s most poached and trafficked animal.

Deputy Chief Minister cum state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said Tawau was picked as a suitable location for the pangolin sanctuary because it has a vast forest.

“It will be a suitable place for pangolins because there’s plenty of food supplies there in the form of insects such as termites and ants.

“The Tawau Hills cover an area of 20,000-hectare, and that’s plenty of land. I will ask Sabah Parks and the Wildlife Department to identify a location for the sanctuary that will be convenient for tourists to come and visit the sanctuary.

“We will be working together with our pangolin expert Elisa Panjang, so we can have a proper outfit there because the sanctuary will also serve as a research centre. It is expected to assist the wildlife department and researchers to have better data on pangolin population and behaviour,” she said today.

Earlier, Liew witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the sanctuary between Sapsari and Sabah Wildlife Department.
Sapsari was represented by its founder and chief executive officer Peter Chan, while Sabah Wildlife was represented by its director Augustine Tuuga.

According to Liew, Sabah needed such a sanctuary to educate the people on the need to protect pangolin as the species was the state’s asset.

“No one is allowed to kill and poach pangolins for whatever reason. In February this year, we discovered RM8 million worth of smuggled pangolins and body parts in Tuaran. We will increase enforcement to prevent this from recurring.

“With a proper sanctuary, we will be able to carry out more effective and efficient conservation efforts of the pangolins,” she added.

Chan meanwhile said the pangolins had been under-represented and that it was only right to gather like-minded individuals to bring conservation of the species to greater heights.

“Sabah has a vibrant eco-tourism industry and well-educated people. This (sanctuary) is not just a Sabah project but a global one. I am confident the state can take the lead in pangolin conservation efforts,” said the Penang-born retired engineer.

Chan, who resides in the United States and engages in philanthropic works, also said the sanctuary would be run by locals and Sabah Wildlife Department in particular.

In Sabah, it is estimated there are slightly more than 1,000 pangolins left in the wild. The animal is hunted for its meat (exotic food), scales (traditional medicine) and skin (accessories).
-nst online.

Over one million tourists visit Sabah in first five months

Datuk Christina Liew (File pic)

KOTA KINABALU, June 24 (Bernama) -- More than one million tourists visited Sabah from January to May this year, with 662,560 of them being local tourists and 371,311 million foreigners who arrived on flights via the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Sabah’s Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the state government had set a target for four million tourist arrivals this year, compared to 3.8 million last year.

Liew, who is also State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said the government believed the target was achievable with the cooperation of all industry players.

“In the tourism industry in Sabah, the support of MATTA (Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents) members is very important to the government’s efforts to develop the tourism industry,” she said during her speech at the MATTA Sabah Chapter Aidilfitri celebration here last night.

She said the government was also very sensitive to the various issues that need to be addressed, such as congestion problems in nearby islands, hygiene issues, the issue of unregistered tour operators, threats to endangered animal species, and poor customer service.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Dream come true for thrill seekers

Coming soon: An aerial view of the longest water slide in the world which is still under construction at Escape Theme Park in Teluk Bahang, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: From a height of 78m above sea level, it is going to take at least four minutes to ride down the world’s longest water slide at the Escape Theme Park in Teluk Bahang.

At 1,140m-long, the slide beginning from the hilltop will take thrill seekers through treetops and main roads before landing at the park’s swimming pool.
Escape Theme Park chief escape officer Sim Choo Kheng said construction work was now at 705m height.

Sim said upon completion, it will be officially the world’s longest water slide, breaking the record currently held by the 602m-long water slide in Water Park, New Jersey.

“As part of our Phase 3 development, a chairlift (cable car) is also being built to transport customers from the foot of the hill to the top.

“It will also serve as a transport vessel for Hill Rider and Tubby Racer, two new attractions that will open together with the water slide.” 

Sim said there were many challenges as heavy machinery was not used.
“Most of the materials were transported manually to the hilltop as we wanted to preserve the surrounding natural habitat,” he said.

Sim said the slide also uses a carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, supported by permanent steel structures. 

“To build a slide this long would require building a tower, about the height of a 20-storey apartment, which is not only cost prohibitive but also a disaster aesthetically.

“So we decided to use the highest point of our forested land with an elevation of 70m as the launch tower,” he said.

State Tourism, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, who was also present, said the feat would put Penang on the map and set the theme park apart from the rest.

“With this world record attraction, it will attract more tourists and visitors all over the world to Penang. 

“We need more world-class tourism products to put Penang on the map, especially as we usher in Experience Penang Year 2020,” he said.
-thestar online.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Ombak Festival @ Desaru Coast Malaysia ( 5 ~ 7 July 2019 )

Feel The Waves! @OMBAK Festival.

5-7 July, 10am-10pm.

3-days fun-filled activities of music, food, marketplace, workshops, family fun activities and water sports. Pentas Best FM concert - 5 July. FREE Admission.

Get your Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast tickets now with unlimited re-entry and FREE access to night time activities till 10pm.

-Desaru Coast Malaysia.

Malaysians should be country's tourism ambassadors - DPM

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 (Bernama) -- Malaysians should be the country’s tourism ambassadors and to work together to realise the mission of Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) by promoting the country to the international community, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She said Malaysians should give their full support to ensure success of the national mission, which is to record 30 million foreign tourist arrivals and RM100 billion in revenue to the country.

“The easiest way is to highlight our noble hospitality. When foreigners fall in love with our Eastern values, they will want to learn more about our national heritage and arts,” she said when opening the Malaysia Aidilfitri Open House here today.

Dr Wan Azizah said she is confident and optimistic that the government’s target of recording 30 million tourist arrivals for VM2020 could be achieved if all Malaysians are to unite and become Malaysia’s tourism ambassadors.

The diversity in arts, culture and heritage of Malaysians is actually the country’s strength, and thus the need for Malaysians to make the country an exemplary model for other countries, she added.

The deputy prime minister said through the implementation of the 2016-2025 National Eco-tourism Plan, which identified 60 eco-tourism clusters, other initiatives to be taken would focus on special interest tourism (SIT) such as scuba diving, sailing and homestay, as well as maximising Malaysia’s promotion as a destination for tourism, trade, investment, health education and film production.

Met by reporters after the event, Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said the government had yet to discuss in detail the proposal to provide three-day paternity leave for employees in the private sector.

She said this following a statement issued by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) opposing the proposal.

Meanwhile, Dr Wan Azizah said Aidilfitri feasts organised by government departments were held during office hours to save cost and time.

“They will still have staff at the counters because they take turns (to attend the feast),” she said in response to Perlis Mufti Associate Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin’s statement calling for the government to review the need for government departments to hold Aidilfitri feasts during the month of Syawal.

To a question on the bilateral trade between Malaysia and India, Dr Wan Azizah said Malaysia hoped to encourage more investments from India.

She said the total trade with India in 2018 amounted to RM62.76 billion (USD15.56 billion), an increase of 2.2 per cent from RM61.38 billion (USD14.29 billion) recorded in 2017.

“This is a positive development as we have already achieved our target of bilateral trade of USD15 billion by 2020 under the MICECA (The Malaysia India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement),” she added.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Local products, delicacies aplenty at Malaysia Fest 2019 in Bangkok

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre) holding a Plaited Art from the Borneo Rainforest book today while launched the inaugural Malaysia Fest 2019 that showcase best of Malaysia through food, products and cultural performance, today.-Bernama

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today launched the “first-of-its-kind” Malaysia Fest 2019 here, which features the very best of Malaysia’s rich multi-ethnic culture, traditions, products, food and tourist destinations.

The four-day event, which began Thursday at the Central World shopping complex, boasts more than 170 booths managed by companies and entrepreneurs from Malaysia, with each displaying their own unique items and services.

The cream of the crop of Malaysia’s rich culture, performances, food, travel, fashion, beauty, higher learning education opportunities, healthcare and homemade products are displayed to the Thai public as well as foreign visitors.

Held in conjunction with the 34th Asean Summit in Bangkok, visitors are spoilt for choice as a large array of products including frozen food, coffee, cereals, biscuits, confectionery, beauty products and handicrafts are being exhibited.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Sallehhuddin Hassan said the “Malaysia Street Food Lover” section comprises 24 operators offering 68 types of popular menus from various parts of the country, including Sabah and Sarawak.

“This is an effort by the ministry to promote the country through food. Many often describe Thailand as a food haven and we are trying to see what the response is like when we come here to promote our delicacies.

“We all know the Thai street food festival has been a hit in Malaysia, with the festival held at 16 locations throughout the country last year. So we also now have the potential to enter the market in Thailand and this is an attempt by us to capture local interest,” he said, adding that the operators were strictly vetted by agencies under the ministry, including the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (Fama) and the Kemubu Agriculture Development Authority (Kada).

Sallehhuddin described the street food festival as an effort to help promote Malaysia’s all-time favourite delicacies to the outside world.

Dr Mahathir spent some time visiting the booths and mingling with the operators at the festival.

Also present were Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darrel Leiking and Malaysia-Thai Chamber of Commerce (MTCC) chairman Dr Hwee Khim Boo.

Besides displaying products and services, the other highlights of the event are Malaysian street food and live cooking with ready-to-eat meals.

The event also serves as a one-stop festival allowing the business community in Thailand to learn more about Malaysian products and tap opportunities to distribute the products here by expanding their network.

Visitors also have an opportunity to win return air tickets to Malaysia, free hotel stays and other prizes by participating in various activities, including lucky draws, games and competitions.

Malaysia Fest 2019 is organised by MTCC and Conceptual Events Worldwide Co Ltd.

It is endorsed by the Malaysian embassy in Bangkok, and supported by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry and the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board.
-nst online.

BPMB launches RM1 billion Tourism Infrastructure Fund

KUCHING, June 21 (Bernama) -- Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd (BPMB) has launched a RM1 billion Tourism Infrastructure Fund to encourage industry operators to develop travel facilities as part of efforts to help the nation achieve a target of 30 million foreign tourists and generate RM100 billion in tourism income by 2020.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the tourism sector had been earmarked as one of the government’s focus areas and an enabler for the transformation of Malaysia into a high-income nation.

“We hope the fund will play a catalytic role to spur investment in the development of tourism facilities,” he said when launching the fund together with Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi here, today.

Lim said travel and tourism had a crucial role in stimulating economic sectors such as accommodation, transport, shopping, food and beverage, entertainment, handicrafts, spa, wellness, healthcare and education.

“Over the years, the industry has grown significantly both in tourist arrivals and economic contribution — from 10.2 million tourist arrivals in 2000 that brought in RM17.3 billion in tourism receipts, to 25.8 million visitors last year, contributing RM84.1 billion in tourism receipts,” he added.

Previously, the Ministry of Finance launched the RM3 billion Industry Digitalisation Transformation Fund and RM1 billion Sustainable Development Fund, both also facilitated through BPMB, as part of Budget 2019 initiatives.

Lim said the Federal Government had in March distributed half of the 2018 tourism tax revenue totalling RM67.74 million to all the state governments as promised.

“The amount distributed to state governments included RM2.58 million to Sarawak, RM12.67 million to Sabah, RM10.98 million to Penang, RM10.30 million to Selangor, and RM7.99 million to Johor,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mohamaddin pointed out that the tourism industry continued to be a significant contributor to the country’s economic growth, with tourist arrivals growing 2.7 per cent to some 6.7 million visitors in the first quarter of 2019 compared with 6.5 million during the same period last year.

“In terms of tourist expenditure, Malaysia also saw positive growth of 16.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2019,” he said in the speech at the launch.

Elaborating on the fund, Mohamaddin said BPMB was offering a competitive financing rate from 4.0 per cent to 5.5 per cent per annum and the facility is available through Dec 31, 2020 or until the fund has been fully utilised.

“The fund is available to all tourism infrastructure projects such as those that contribute to the development of the tourism industry and not limited to hotels, convention centres and facilities related to education, medical or agro tourism,” he added.

Friday, 21 June 2019

More fun rides on Penang Hop-On Hop-Off

One of the Penang Hop-On Hop-Off buses making a trip in George Town, Penang. — Filepic

THE operator of Penang Hop-On Hop-Off (HoHo) is introducing three new products starting July 1 following an increased demand for its services.

The public can hop on the semi-glass roofed double-decker bus with a partially open-air upper deck to enjoy the new routes — Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Shuttle, City Tour and Panoramic Tour.

Its sales and marketing manager Angeline Chen said the company — Elang Wah Sdn Bhd — decided to introduce the new routes after receiving a high number of enquiries from tourism players. “Many hotels called us up, saying tourists staying at their hotels wanted to go on the Penang Hop-On Hop-Off buses.

The bus service got off to a rousing start in November 2014, which created much excitement as similar services are found in Kuala Lumpur, London and big cities worldwide. But since October last year, the service is only available on alternate days and open to tour group bookings.

The Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Shuttle will be available daily with departure points at Chowrasta Market (10am, noon and 2pm) and Penang Hill (11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm).

The City Tour is available from 9am to 6pm from Friday to Sunday, public and school holidays with live English commentary on board.

There will be 11 designated stops in town area with Chowrasta Market being the interchange.

Those who want to try out the Panaromic Tour can board the bus at Chowrasta Market from Monday to Thursday at 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm.

Accompanied by a tour assistant, they will get to enjoy sightseeing along Gurney Drive, Esplanade, Clan Jetties, Karpal Singh Drive before returning to Chowrasta Market.

The fares for the three new tours are still being finalised.

“The new tours were carefully planned and we hope they can be continued for as long as possible. “Our promotional and marketing efforts are in full swing. We hope that together with the other tourism players, we can complement each other’s business,” Chen said.

Tourism Malaysia northern region deputy director Siti Hajar Mohd Yunus said she was looking forward to the new tours. “The introduction of new tours will help boost the tourism in Penang. If possible, there should also be tours in places like Balik Pulau,” she said.

Elang Wah is the operator of both the Penang HoHo and KL HoHo bus services.
At present, the Sightseeing Tours for Malaysians are RM50 (adult) and RM25 (child), while for foreigners are RM115 (adult) and RM50 (child).

The Sunset Tours for Malaysians are RM88 (adult) and RM33 (child); and for foreigners RM170 (adult) and RM110 (child).

For details, call 011-12305358 or visit
-thestar online.

Dr Mahathir launches Malaysia Fest 2019 in Bangkok

BANGKOK, June 21 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today launched the inaugural Malaysia Fest 2019 that showcases the best of Malaysia through food, products and cultural performance.

Despite his tight schedule, Dr Mahathir spent about an hour visiting booths and having a taste of some of the authentic Malaysian street food at CentralWorld Square in the heart of the Thai capital.

The festival kicked off yesterday in conjunction with the 34th ASEAN Summit, and will end on Sunday.

Also present were Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darrel Leiking, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand Datuk Jojie Samuel and Malaysia-Thai Chamber of Commerce (MTCC) chairman Dr Hwee Khim Boo.

More than 80 companies and entrepreneurs from Malaysia, each with their own unique products and services, including frozen food, coffee, cereals, biscuits, confectionery, beauty products and handicrafts, are participating in the fest.

The Malaysia Fest 2019 is co-organised by MTCC and Conceptual Events Worldwide Co Ltd.

It is endorsed by Embassy of Malaysia in Bangkok, supported by Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia (MITI), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), Malaysia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry (MOA) and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.

Tourism products, travel package, as well as educational opportunities, healthcare facilities and products are also being showcased at the event.

Meanwhile, MOA secretary-general Datuk Mohd Sallehhuddin Hassan said the Malaysia Street Food Lover programme featuring 24 food stalls serving more than 60 types of Malaysian street food was also being held as part of the Malaysia Fest 2019.

He said the programme was part of the efforts to promote Malaysia through food.

“Many people asked why the MOA chose Thailand, which is already a food heaven, to promote Malaysian street food. It is because we want to know the level of acceptance for our food among the locals here.

“It is also an attempt by Malaysia’s street food entrepreneurs to penetrate the Thai market,” he said.

So far, he said the locals’ response for Malaysian street food was very good.

“Yesterday, 10kg of Nasi Lemak was sold out. We expect more local and foreign tourists to flock to the Malaysia Street Food Lover programme this weekend,” he said.