Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Despite objections from the industry, the Tourism Ministry will go ahead with its plans to introduce a Travel And Tours Management Course (TTMC and TTEC). A launch will be held today at 10.00 am. at Saloma Restaurant. MATIC, Kuala Lumpur.

A joint memorandum signed by the Presidents of Bumitra, MCTA, MITA, MITTA and CRAM was forwarded to the Minister on 11 May 2011 made several reservations to the introduction of this course. All existing travel and tours agencies be eligible to renew their licences as in the past and be fully exempted from participating in this management course was highlighted in the memorandum.

However, if the course be made mandatory by the Ministry, the industry proposed that the course be conducted annually and on a complementary basis.

Industry players are urged to attend this launch in large numbers not so much to care about it but more to enjoy the fellowship and makan that will follow.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Since last Friday, five of London's iconic red double-decker buses were fully wrapped with Malaysian themes including eco, nature and underwater. These buses will be plying certain London routes as part of an advertising campaign by Tourism Malaysia to attract British tourists to visit Malaysia.

The bus campaign was launched by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen at a special reception at the Malaysian High Commission in Belgrave Square, London Thursday.

In her speech text emailed to the local Malaysian media here Friday, Dr Ng said besides taking over the five buses, Tourism Malaysia was also participating in the Chelsea Flower Show 2011 from May 24 until Saturday. It is not known how many London based media were present at this event.

She said the advertising campaign would run for 12 weeks from this week to Aug 15.

"The buses will ply routes 414 (Battersea), 19 (Brixton) and 11 (Stockwell) and the hope is to capture the interest of British tourists and other international tourists to visit Malaysia.

"We are excited about the working partnership with Transport for London to promote our fantastic destination on the most recognised public transport system and the world's most iconic city that presents a great opportunity for Tourism Malaysia.

"Londoners will be able to see giant exotic jungle and aquatic images of Malaysia as part of a drive to promote the country's hugely diverse nature, fantastic diving and growing ecotourism industry," she added.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


The industry is of the opinion that the government should not restrict low cost carriers, Malaysian homegrown especially, from flying to new destinations. Afterall expansion is a commercial consideration and not determined by government policy.

Datuk Seri Dr Tony Fernandes CEO of Air Asia has warned that with Singapore Airlines jumping into the long-haul budget carrier business, holding back routes for AirAsia X will only put the country at a disadvantage, despite Malaysia being the pioneer in this business.

The island-state flag carrier, Singapore Airlines Ltd has announced on Wednesday that it would establish a budget airline catering to cost-conscious travellers on longer-distance routes.

The new carrier will likely compete with Jetstar Airways, the low-cost unit of Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd, and AirAsiaX, the longer-haul unit of Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd, for routes beyond the reach of traditional low-cost airlines that don't fly for more than five hours.

"If the Malaysian government does not give the route rights, Singapore will gain advantage in building a hub because now they have a long haul (budget) airline and a short haul airline," said Fernandes, who is the Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia and founder of AirAsia X.

Hence, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and the Ministry of Transport must provide the necessary support for AirAsia X to grow and not to lose out, he told reporters at the inaugural Malaysia Investor Relation Awards 2011 ceremony here Thursday.

Currently AirAsia X, the country's first long haul budget carrier is awaiting government approval for its new routes to Beijing, Shanghai, Osaka and Jeddah.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Singapore Airlines (SIA)a five-star premium airlines has surprised the aviation industry by announcing plans to set up a wholly-owned low-cost carrier that will ply medium and long-haul routes in a year's time.

SIA said it had intentions to set up a new no-frills low-fare airline operating wide-body aircraft which will be operated independently and managed separately from SIA.

The Singapore carrier like other premium airlines in the region is facing intense competition, including from budget carriers, and the move may be its way of positioning itself to take advantage of the growth in air passenger traffic expected in Asia in the coming years.

In a statement issued yesterday, SIA said the new airline was being established following extensive review and analysis and it would enable the SIA group to serve a largely untapped new market and cater to the growing demand among consumers for low-fare travel.

SIA is not new in the low-cost game as it already owns a third of Singapore-based budget carrier Tiger Airways. It also owns regional carrier SilkAir. Tiger mostly flies within five hours of Singapore 's Changi airport while SilkAir flies to a slightly more upmarket set of regional destinations.

Analysts are saying the new airline will compete with Asia's largest low-cost carrier, AirAsia, and its long-haul low-cost sister airline, AirAsia X, besides Australia 's Qantas low-cost unit, JetstarAsia.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fresh funds to win major events

A fresh funding of RM10 million (US$3.26 million) to support international and homegrown sporting, arts and culture and lifestyle events has been set up.

This comes on top of its recent RM25 million funding to support business tourism, which saw 16 international association meetings approved for subsidies in the last five months.

The new directive to attract international events is part of the Prime Minister's Economic Transformation Programme and is under the charge of the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), which has set up an International Events Unit. The division currently has two staff, a general manager and a project manager, reporting to MyCEB's CEO Zulkefli Hj Sharif. Both are "events specialists".

Criteria for an event to receive support include the number of international participants it can draw, length of stay, the event's publicity value and opportunities to package and promote extended stays.

MyCEB is targeting to rope in two major events by 2015, and another three by 2020, Ho said.

Peter Brokenshire, general manager of Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, said a firmer events calendar was an added bonus to draw meetings delegates and extend their length of stay. He said giving the charge to MyCEB would not dilute MyCEB's focus to increase business tourism, pointing to the two specialists appointed to identify and support events.

With MyCEB and subvention in place, along with the new bid for international events, Malaysia appears to be gaining traction in business tourism. Last year saw a two per cent increase in tourism business arrivals to 1.28 million.

Capping it all will be the launch of a separate business tourism branding, targeted for July. "Malaysia Truly Asia is well-known as a tourism brand. Business tourism needs to be treated differently. The brand needs to address the high-yield aspects of business tourism, for example," Ho said.

A new website, an association development programme and a CRM system are also being worked on.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


With Malaysia making its mark as an affordable and sophisticated healthcare hub, the Health Ministry is aiming to attract more than 437,000 tourists to experience what the local healthcare industry has to offer. Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said the sector would generate an income of about RM431 million this year.

The number of healthcare travellers seeking medical care in the country last year stood at 392,956. Between January and March this year, the number of tourists seeking medical care was 112,951 generating an income totalling RM105 million. The number of such tourist arrivals almost doubled for the same period last year.

For the whole of last year, the sector made about RM379 million.
Rosnah told the New Straits Times that the rising trend was an indication that the number of tourists arriving in Malaysia for medical care would increase this year. To further boost the healthcare travel industry, the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) would bring significant players to galvanise efforts to drive the industry to a higher level.

Asked about the benchmark set for medical payments charged by private hospitals, Rosnah said that medical fees were regulated by a fee schedule set by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and the ministry.

"There is also a single paying system whereby any healthcare traveller coming to Malaysia for treatment will be charged the same fees as any Malaysian would as there is no double standards in terms of pricing," Rosnah said, adding that among the comparative advantages the country had was the competitive costs of care and a favourable exchange rate.

Rosnah also said private hospitals were encouraged to expand their capacity in support of promoting the nation as a healthcare travel hub of choice. As an incentive, the government would provide tax exemptions equivalent to 100 per cent of qualifying capital expenditure incurred for the construction of new hospitals or for the modernisation or expansion of existing hospitals in the country.

Healthcare travel is a global phenomenon with the industry anticipated to attain a 35 per cent growth in the coming years. Research conducted by Frost and Sullivan in 2008, indicated that the global healthcare travel market would reach between US$40 billion (RM119.3 billion) and US$60 billion by next year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


The Malaysia Tourism Federation Executive Committee together with its industry members will be holding a lunch meeting on Monday 30/05/2011 at 12 noon at the Chinese Restaurant of theRoyal Selangor Club, Dataran Merdeka,Kuala Lumpur.

Dato' Setia Dr. Joshua Peter Tan,President of MTF said that the meeting will discuss the following issues which is of great importance to the tourism industry.

1. Proposed Visit Malaysia Year 2013
2. Proposed TTEC / TTMC training courses

A meeting has been called by the Ministry of Tourism last week to discuss plans to hold VMY in 2013 which the industry feels that it is a non-event and will not generate any additional arrival other than that already forecasted by the Minsitry.

A memorandum has been sent to the Minister of Tourism a couple of days ago signed by Presidents of Bumitra, MITA, MCTA, MITTA and CRAM objecting to the introduction of TTEC/TTMC training programs which will be made mandatory to all practitioners of the tourism industry.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Tourism Ministry licensing department assistant secretary Firna Azura Eka Putri said the licence of travel agencies which arranged for their female tour guides to share hotel rooms with male drivers could be revoked following an incident of a tour bus driver who tried to force himself on a tour guide when the two were out on an assignment recently.

The travel agency had apparently arranged for the two to share a room. The daily reported that the man, in his 50s, asked the 29-year-old victim if he could have sex with her at a hotel room in Malacca on Monday night.

“I shouted no' and tried to use the blanket to cover myself but the driver, who was only wearing his underwear, still tried to sexually harass me and even kiss me,” the victim claimed. Eventually, when the victim tried to struggle and leave the room, the driver promised not to harass her any more.

The next day, when the victim related the story to other tour guides, she was told that similar incidents had happened before. The victim said she did not lodge any police report because she was afraid of losing her job.

Malaysian Women Tourist Guide Association president Erina Loo Siew Ming, who had been a tour guide for 18 years, said she also had a similar experience. She urged victims to lodge reports with the association, which would help female tour guides who face similar problems and to prevent them from being sexually harassed or assaulted by their male colleagues. Loo said the association had yet to receive any report since its establishment five years ago because many victims did not dare to lodge any complaint.

Tourism Ministry licensing department will act accordingly when receiving such reports from victims.

Monday, May 23, 2011


By Tasnim Hadi

Looking for a quiet day out? Go back to nature at the Agricultural Heritage Park, Putrajaya.

Remember the days when your grandparents would invite you over during durian season to their orchards back in your kampong, and you would sit underneath a durian tree, eating the flesh of the freshly picked fruit? The days when you would laze around groggily in the heat, durian, mangosteen or jackfruit flesh in hand, contentedly savoring the fruit while enjoying the blissful idleness of it all.

Orchards like these with the taller trees would not normally be found so close to the city, but as Perbadanan Putrajaya would have it, there is a place where you can recreate and in a way re-live your childhood memories without having to travel all the way to your grandparents’ place. You have Perbadanan Putrajaya to thank for the Taman Warisan Pertanian, one of the visit-worthy parks in Putrajaya.

The Taman Warisan Pertanian roughly translates into the Agricultural Heritage Park, and is definitely one of the more interesting parks in Putrajaya. I’m not a person with particularly green fingers nor do I care much about agriculture (although I enjoy reaping the benefits, like eating fruits, vegetables and the like), but this park is one of those that can be enjoyed by anyone, not just people who enjoy planting things. The decision-making process to visit this park was simple – I saw the road sign, shrugged “Wwhy not?” and headed there.

Getting to the park is fairly simple – if you’re driving in Putrajaya, you won’t miss the big brown signs that list out the parks in Putrajaya, and the directions to get there. Make sure you keep an eye out for the entrance – a tall sign that vertically spells out the name of the park. I really can’t help you out much if you miss the sign.

If you’re not driving, you can take the ERL from KL Sentral station, and take a cab to the park from the Putrajaya ERL station.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


The inaugural Open House Kuala Lumpur organised by Badan Warisan Malaysia this weekend, is an architectural festival which aims to create greater public awareness of our heritage. It is a showcase of architecture for all to experience and to help understand architecture. Most of the buildings participating in this programme are not open to the general public. This festival provides a fantastic opportunity for residents as well as visitors of Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley to learn about the city’s heritage.

Eight National Heritage monuments and award winning conservation and restoration projects will be open to the public free of charge. Visitors can go behind the scenes and explore places which are normally off-limits to the general public. All tours will be led by architects and owners.

Many major cities throughout the world have held Open House festivals where owners of hundreds of buildings of all types and periods open up their doors to the public, completely for free. Entry times and conditions are controlled by individual owners. Participants benefiting from this festival are asked to respect the building owners and their privacy, and to be mindful of photo-taking.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


For the Pakistani hoteliers in the now notorious town where Osama bin Laden was killed by elite US forces, the views and balmy weather here still reel in bumper tourist numbers this year.

Considered one of the quietest towns in the northwest, nestled in pine-dotted hills and popular with day-trippers from the capital, Abbottabad is listed on Pakistan's official tourism website as a "popular summer resort".

The breezy language employed by the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation promoting a "charming town" gives no hint of forces that -- according to a widow of bin Laden -- housed the world's most-wanted terrorist for five years.

Instead it says the town is a staging point for trips to the beautiful Kaghan valley and recommends as "places worth visiting in and around Abbottabad" the Ilyasi mosque with its water spring, the Shimla view point and Thandiani hill resort.

Officials say the bin Laden episode might not dampen the inflow of tourists, since the peace of the city was barely disturbed and business has continued as usual. Indeed, said one, it might even be a bonus.

"I believe that tourism will not be impacted -- rather, more people are coming to see the place where the incident happened," provincial secretary for tourism and culture Azam Khan told AFP.

"Abbottabad is a normal, peaceful city today as it was before."

The town is famous for its military training centres including the elite Pakistan Military Academy, but the surrounding hills attract people on short breaks from Islamabad and tourists escaping to cooler climes.

Hoteliers were upbeat, saying prospects for this summer were good.

"Praise be to God, we are doing good business and expect a full season," Hummayun Khan, manager of the Alpine hotel, told AFP.

"I don't think the recent incident will have a negative impact, because the city is still normal and peaceful and people are doing business without any fear."

Jibran Mirza, a manager at Gilani's guest house, said some people may this year prefer to go to Murree, another resort town north of Islamabad, but he did "not see any downslide" in business.

"Murree is overcrowded, so families prefer Abbottabad," he added.

Locals suspect that the comings and goings of tourists and migrants are exactly what enabled bin Laden to live there for so long undetected.

"It's a quiet town and gateway to northern areas and Kashmir," said another Pakistani security official when asked why Al-Qaeda might have considered Abbottabad as a hiding place.

"The transit nature of the city and the fact that a lot of people come from other towns and cities to escape the summer heat for a few months allow all kinds of people to stay in the city and leave without any footprints," he said.

Abbottabad is popular not just with visitors but with those looking to relocate. Its weather, peaceful reputation and the perceived security of a garrison have drawn many from other cities to work or educate their children.

There was an influx of migrants from Kashmir after the 2005 earthquake, and another from the northwestern tribal belt bordering Afghanistan after the army launched major operations against the Taliban in Waziristan and Swat in 2009.

And though it may be mainly tranquil, it is close to more interesting areas. This ia what being creative is all about.

Friday, May 20, 2011


The current practice by tour operators to accomodate tours guides and drivers of opposite sex in a room has caused many problems including rape. An official announcement on the various issues will be made at a press conference today:

Date : Friday 20 May 2011
Time : 1030 hours
Venue : Precious Cafe, Central Market, Kuala Lumpur

Organised by the Malaysian Women Tourist Guide Association, an affiliate of the Malaysia Tourism Federation, this conference will be attended by journalists from major newspapers and TV station. Key issues will be high lighted by its president Erina Loo especially those abuses which has taken place during these times.

The purpose of this conference is to ensure a safer and conducive working environment for tour guides in Malaysia.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) has been voted for the second consecutive year as one of the Top 25 Best International Festivals by renowned world music magazine, Songlines. This most recent award adds yet another feather to its cap and elevates its status in the international music scene as a festival which has well and truly put Sarawak on the world tourism map.

According to the editorial team at Songlines, “This year’s selection of festivals is a broad representation of the quality and scope of music festivals around the world, from city-based events to ones in remote locations such as the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak and the Festival in the Desert in Mali. The selection represents some personal favourites of Songlines staff and contributors as we feel that what these festivals are doing complements what we’re interested in at Songlines”.

Amongst the festivals lauded are Ulsan World Music Festival, Korea, WOMADAdelaide Australia,
Chicago World Music Festival, USA, Essaouira Gnawa & World Music Festival, Morocco, Forde
Folk Festival, Norway to name but a few.

The line-up for this year’s Rainforest World Music Festival, held annually in Kuching, Sarawak (Malaysia), has now been finalised. Now well into its second decade, the Rainforest Festival, attracts more than 20,000 international and local music fans to three magical days of daytime music workshops and action-packed nightly shows. The event will be held from July 8 to 10 at the Cultural Village, which is located 35km outside Kuching and set against the magnificent backdrop of the legendary Mount Santubong.

Music is not all about sound; music is an art, and with it comes culture, diversity, creativity, talent, and spellbinding performances. All this and more can be found at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2011. As one foreign journalist puts it, the festival is “one of the most extraordinary festivals I have attended in terms of the camaraderie amongst the performers, the lakeside setting under Mount Santubong and the warm welcome of the hosts.”

If you have not purchased your tickets to the festival, now is the time to do so as promotional tickets are now available online and selling fast. Limited tickets for a 3 day pass to the festival will only cost RM260 during the promotional period whilst daily tickets for Friday and Sunday are going for RM85. All these promotional offers are limited and are available on-line until April 15, 2011 and on a first-come-first-served basis. These offers will be a great way to experience a truly memorable musical extravaganza amidst the lush green paradise that is Sarawak.

For purchase/booking/enquiries please call the TicketCharge Hotline: +6 03-9222 8811 or at TicketCharge @ No 42A-1, Jalan Metro Pudu, Fraser Business Park, Off Jalan Yew, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or check online at www.ticketcharge.com.my.

For more details, kindly visit: www.rainforestmusic-borneo.com.

or contact
T : +6 082 423600
F : +6 082 416700
E : stb@sarawaktourism.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Based on the Immigration Department's record, 779, 058 tourists entered the state of Perlis last year, an increase of 13.7 per cent from 672,393 people in 2009.

Various programme had been lined-up to attract more tourists to Perlis and they included the "D' Bendang" festival last month and the Herbs and Spices Royal Garden Tea to be held at the Sungai Batu Pahat Herbal Park on June 5.

The government had allocated RM71 million under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for the implementation of 39 tourism development projects in Perlis.

For the Tenth Malaysia Plan, the Tourism ministry had approved four tourism infrastructure projects for Perlis, involving an allocation of RM17 million.

They included upgrading of the Kuala Perlis jetty, costing RM5 million, upgrading of infrastructure at Gua Kelam (RM3 million), improving infrastructure at Kuala Perlis (RM5 million) and beautification of Sungai Perlis and Kuala Sungai Baru (RM4 million).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The two-day Travel Malaysia 2011 fair, now into its eight edition ended yesterday. Comprehensive tourism packages were up for grab for Singaporeans who welcome exploring everything that Malaysia has to offer.

This includes exquisite million-year-old rainforests, home to amazing biodiversity of wildlife and plants species, magnificient caves and mountains, pristine beaches, idllic tropical islands and a wide choice of diving sites.

"Travel Malaysia is specially dedicated to promote Malaysia as a holiday destination and to give tourism industry players the opportunity to re-introduce their products and services, both old and new.

"They are also to take advantage of the school holiday which is just round the corner in Malaysia and Singapore," said Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Mohd Hussin Nayan at the launch of the travel fair here Saturday.

The highlight of the fair is the homestay programme which is increasingly popular among Singaporeans who make up 52.5 per cent of total foreign homestay participants.

In Travel Malaysia 2011, participants from 16 different homestays are participating to provide keen travellers with a better understanding of Homestay experience.

Other exhibitors include Desaru Fruit Farm, Malacca Tourism and Resorts World Genting, which would showcase a unique melange of attractions and holiday destinations.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Whyen we talk of overseas promotion, we are talking about promoting Malaysia abroad. But MATTA is doing just the opposite. They are promoting overseas trips to Malaysians.

In their latest promotion efforts they are asking Malaysians to visit the Gaza Strip via Egypt when the Egyptian authorities reopens the Rafah border crossing next month.

President of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said this was told to him by Egyptian tourism operators' representative and chairman of Star Gold Travel Mohamed El Banna during a meeting here.

"This is also an opportunity for Malaysians to visit Jerusalem. For Muslims performing the Umrah, they will be able to do this, while the Christians can also do the same," he told Malaysian journalists at the end of a MATTA delegation visit to Egypt, here. Jerusalem is a holy site for Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Mohd Khalid is leading the 28-member MATTA delegation on a seven-day visit to Egypt since May 6 to see for themselves the situation in the North African country following the political unrest which broke out on Jan 25.

Mohd Khalid said with the reopening of the Rafah border crossing to Gaza, he expected many Malaysian travel agents to be organising package tours to Egypt. Only Jordan has been offering the opportunity to visit Gaza through that country.

Mohd Khalid said the MATTA visit to Egypt had opened up a lot of opportunities for cooperation between Malaysian tourism operators and their Egyptian counterparts for mutual benefit. "We took the opportunity to promote Malaysia to them. Imagine the returns if 10 per cent of the Egyptian population from the middle-income group visit Malaysia," he added.

Egypt has a population of 82 million, with half of them being middle-income earners.

Mohd Khalid said a MATTA delegation would also be visiting Japan to look at the situation and channel correct information to Malaysians planning to visit that country after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that hit Japan in March. "We are awaiting feedback on our planned visit from the Japan National Tourism Organisation. This is important as many travel packages to Japan had been cancelled following the calamities."

He said MATTA had also received invitations from tourism operators' associations in Turkey, China, Cambodia, Czech Republic and Uzbekistan to establish bilateral cooperation in tourism.

MATTA is bad news for Malaysian tourism.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


TOURISM Malaysia's survey of the high-spending Middle East market has revealed that tourists from the region prefer nature over other attractions.

Malaysia Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen said at the recently concluded Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai that 57 per cent of survey respondents picked ecotourism as their activity-of-choice, above shopping, spa and wellness programmes, diving and golfing.

“Ecotourism is high on their list, as people in the Middle East enjoy the greenery they do not have, which can be found in abundance in Malaysia,” she explained. “It makes sense that they want to indulge in activities associated with nature when they go on vacation.”

Beyond well-loved destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi, Ng said that Arab travellers were becoming increasingly keen on exploring Malaysia's resort islands such as Redang, Perhentian and Tioman.

She added that Arab tourists would also like to experience Malaysian culture, as well as areas combining adventure with nature, like Sabah and Sarawak.

Meanwhile, family-oriented theme parks such as Genting Highlands, Sunway Lagoon and A'Famosa Resort are expected to continue generating interest among Middle East tourists. “This is because the Arabs are more likely to go on vacation with their families than go on a group tour,” Ng said.

With Arab tourists spending an average of RM7,500 (US$2,505) per stay compared to RM2,300 for tourists from other markets, Ng said visitors from the Middle East were integral to Tourism Malaysia’s targets, as the country aims to encourage more long-stay high-yield visitors.

The Minister has not mention the fact that the present bunch of Middle Easterners are in Malaysia on a budget. Although travelling with the family, they usually stay cramped up in a room to save money and bargain in shops until the cows come home.

The higher end ones prefer to spend their holidays in Europe or in the USA. This is the reality of this market.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Infrastructure upgrading in the city will be the basis for the promotion of Sarawak as an adventure tourism destination. Tourism and Heritage Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the upgrading works would involve infrastructure related to culture and nature.

Johari said tourism players in the state had been informed of the Kuching Heritage Trail upgrading which involved the extension of the Kuching Esplanade to Sungai Bintangor. The project, he said, would involve a cost of RM25mil and was expected to be completed either at the end of this year or first quarter of next year.

“We will also transform Kampung Boyan from a traditional Malay kampung into a modern kampung with modern facilities.

“We also want to turn our river into a mode of transportation where the people, including the tourists, can use it to travel, for instance, from Pasar Satok right up to the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching,” he told a press conference after a meeting and dialogue session with tourism players here yesterday.

The Brooke Dockyard, which is along the Kuching Heritage Trail, would also be turned into a cultural centre while three electronic billboards costing RM1mil each would be installed at the riverbank, Johari added. He said the idea of introducing perahu bandung could also be an attraction and to showcase the vibrancy of the Sarawak River .

“For us to attract tourists, we need strategic marketing approach which involves branding our tourism based on adventure. We have to market our product and link it with history as tourists are interested with our history and they will explore it,” he said.

On air connectivity, Johari said discussions would be held with Malaysia Airlines to bring in more tourists from certain routes like Australia and Europe . “The airport runway has been extended to accommodate aircrafts like Airbus A380.MAS needs the passenger load and on our side, we need to create the attraction for the tourists to come. So it is a bread and butter issue,” he said.

On the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF), Johari said the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) had only decided to postpone it to next year.

“I have consulted Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and SMC. This is due to the state election last month where they were busy with its preparation. They do not mean to cancel it. If we want to do it, we might as well do it properly and put up a good performance for the festival,” Johari said.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Citrawarna is back with more colour

The Colours of 1Malaysia, the new version of CITRAWARNA is back and set to dazzle crowds with an array of shows on May 21.

Tourism Minister Dato Seri Dr Ng was showing reporters a preview of what visitors can expect at Citrawarna during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The annual event, which will take place at Dataran Merdeka from 5pm, is expected to attract over 100,000 visitors including foreign tourists and overseas media, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. This figure can be a bit of a bull if the venue set at Dataran Merdeka.

“We have a dynamic show planned for this year’s event which will be graced by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. This is our signature tourism event. We want to show tourists our products including our parks and flower gardens, which is our newest tourism product, our fabulous food, eco-tourism and arts.

“Our iconic event is one of our biggest and will attract lots of tourists from overseas. There will also be local art shows and activities,” she said at a press conference at her office here yesterday.

“We have about 5,000 participants including school children and members of the public. Tourism packages are also being sold by various travel agencies for this event.”

She added that the ministry would also bring in over 200 MegaFam participants from several overseas countries.

Last year’s Citrawarna event, she said, was broadcast internationally to about 45 million people.

The Minister can say what she likes but she will not be able to say that this event is not even in the calender of events of Tourism Malaysia.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


With the completion of the main terminal building, international flights are to resume from the Senai Airport here after a lapse of almost a year.

Firefly Sdn Bhd, the low cost carrier, has confirmed that it will introduce it's maiden flight to the Indonesian cities of Surabaya and Bandung on Aug 12 and Aug 16 respectively.

It will also fly to Bangkok, at the end of the year.

The Senai Airport used to be the southern hub of budget airline AirAsia's international operations, with flights to Macau, Bangkok and Jakarta until it halted the services in the middle of last year.

Sriwijaya, the Indonesia-based airline, also operated a flight to Surabaya from Senai but stopped doing so in August last year.

Since then, the Senai Airport has only catered to domestic flights but with Firefly's latest confirmation, the Johor state government's efforts to turn it into an international destination, is picking up pace.

The Johor Tourism Department Director, Dr Shaari Mohd Nooh said that Firefly, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, is serious in wanting to make the Senai Airport its southern hub.

"Firefly will have two planes for the international flights and a set of crew permanently stationed here," he added.

He was speaking after launching the Johor Travel Fair 2011 at the Sutera Mall here on Friday.

Shaari also said that China Airlines is interested in flying to Senai from the southern city of Guangzhou and is now in talks with the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation for landing rights.

"Many Chinese citizens apply for visas at the Malaysian Consulate in Guangzhou. So, it's natural, that they want to fly out from Guangzhou airport.

"Having more international flights into Senai Airport will only increase tourist arrivals into Johor," he added.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


In an effort to retain market share, Malaysia Airlines has launched a marketing offensive. An online promotion similar to Air Asia, a low cost carrier is ongoing.

MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) expects to sell some six million seats – two million for travel within Malaysia and four million on international routes – during its Global Deals, Dream Getaway sale, which previewed last week in Jakarta (TTG Asia e-Daily, April 26).

MAS regional vice president Azman Ahmad told TTG Asia: “It is still early to derive the numbers, but the response so far has been very encouraging. We are targeting an estimated RM108 million (US$36 million) in revenue for the 16-day campaign period from May 3 to 18.”

The promotion, offering discounts of up to 95 per cent on economy-class seats and up to 75 per cent on business-class seats until May 18, is valid for travel from May 3 to March 31 next year to destinations in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

Hot seats on routes to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Ho Chih Minh City and London are being snapped up quickly.

Bookings made under MASHolidays’ Free and Easy programme are entitled to the discounts.

For the passengers, MAS is offering a better deal in the sense that all premium items remain intact. Free baggage allowance of 20 kilos and meals on board remains the order of the day. Offer remain until 18th of May.

So what are you waiting for?

Monday, May 9, 2011


Private hospitals involved in the healthcare tourism industry will be given 100% tax exemption for several initiatives that they take up.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said these included the construction of new hospitals and for the expansion, modernisation and refurbishment of existing ones.

He added that the Government was finalising the provision for tax exemption equivalent to 100% of qualifying capital expenditure.

Liow announced this at a press conference after opening HSC Medical Centre here yesterday.

The Government has also made provisions for expenses incurred by private hospitals to obtain domestic or internationally recognised accreditation to be eligible for double deduction incentive under the Income Tax Act 1967.

The accreditation includes those conferred by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health or Joint Commission International.

Liow said 400,000 health tourists visited Malaysia last year and the industry was expected to attract 40,000 more this year.

“Last year, the industry generated RM380mil in revenue and the amount is expected to increase by at least 10% to RM430mil,” he said.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Tourism Malaysia will intensify programmes to promote Malaysian food and culture abroad to get more foreigners to visit Malaysia.

Datuk Azizan Noordin,Ag Director General said food and culture were Tourism Malaysia's promotion strategy since the 1970s and they had contributed a lot to the country's tourism industry. He said programmes were carried out almost every month by Tourism Malaysia to promote Malaysian food and culture overseas.

"Our markets are the Asean region, West Asia, Europe, Japan and Korea," he told Bernama here after opening the Malaysian Food and Culture Week at the Shangri-la Hotel here.

The programme, held from May 3 to 9, is organised by Tourism Malaysia and Shangri-la Hotel, with the cooperation of the Malaysia Airlines.

Among the Malaysian food being promoted there are nasi lemak, nasi goreng, rendang, laksa, mee rebus, roti canai and satay.

Azizan said that Malaysia was a food haven for foreign tourists because of the variety and uniqueness of the food found in the country. "We have Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes," he added.

On cultural promotion, Azizan said cultural troupes, like from Istana Budaya, would be specially brought to perform.

He said besides food and culture, handicraft products, like batik, weaving and pewter, where the masters in the respective fields were brought to demonstrate their skills and promote their products.

Last year, Malaysia attracted 24.6 million tourists. This year, Malaysia is hoping to get 25 million tourists.

Meanwhile, chefs Zalizam Mohamad Rasidi and Zaidi Rajimen are proud to have been selected to prepare the Malaysian food in Dubai. "The menu includes satay, rendang, laksa, mee goreng, nasi lemak, kerabu mangga and rojak buah," said Zalizam, 41. Another crowd-puller at the Malaysian booth is a demonstration on making teh tarik by Mior Sazali Ali.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Several major issues concerning the safety and well-being of tourists were discussed at a dialogue session between Kontinjen Polis Kuala Lumpur on 5th May 2011 at the Royal Selangor Club.

The dialogue which was chaired by Ketua Polis Kuala Lumpur, Dato’ Pahlawan Zulkifli Bin Abdullah was also told of the formation of a liaison committee for tourists headed by ASP Rosli, Chief of Tourist Police who can be contacted directly at 03-21159999 for all cases that require his immediate attention.

The dialogue which started at 3.00 p.m. also discussed various issues concerning snatch theft at tourist sites, safety at hotels, safety of guests using various transportations in Malaysia and heard recommendation from the tourism industry.

The CPO in his opening address appreciated the efforts taken by the Malaysia Tourism Federation (MTF) to organise the dialogue session and thanked our attendance, contributions and participation to bring about greater awareness on the role of the police to ensure safety to the tourism industry. To show this appreciation the police was represented by 18 senior police officers which included SAC Zulkifli Abdullah , SAC Khoo Chin Wah, Traffic Police Chief, Ketua Pengurusan Dato Razali and all the OCPDs of the Kuala Lumpur Contigent.

The CPO was surprised when told of the fact that some police officers were not taking reports of incidents made by tourist. It was decided then that the police will not only take reports but also do that at the place of incidents or at the hotels of the tourists. The public can also reach the Police by email address at poliskl@rmp.gov.my.

The Police Volunteer Reserves (PVR) will be selected from individual proficient in foreign languages such as Arabic, Mandarin and English.

Dato Setia Dr Joshua Peter Tan, President of MTF said the dialogue was a good event as it was never done before and has completely removed the misconception on the role the police force. The participants from the industry were extremely happy with the outcome of the dialogue and looked forward to a monthly session until most the issues were resolved.

"The setting up of the liaison committee a good step forward and will be used a good platform to iron out all issues with the police," he added. He thanked the Kuala Lumpur Police Contigent for attending in a large number and also the 18 journalist from the various local media.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Business News reported that Malaysia needs a boost in tourists from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to reach its target of 36 million visitors per year by 2020.

Dato Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen who was quoted at the Malaysian Foreign Minister said on Tuesday Arab tourists spend an average of 7,500 ringgit (Dh9,258) per stay, compared to an average of 2,300 ringgit by others.

Dr Ng Yen Yen said GCC visitors were integral to meeting government targets of $55 billion (Dh202.3 billion) per year from tourism in ten years. "We are moving towards encouraging more long-stay high-yield visitors, which is something this region provides," she told Gulf News.

Figures from 2010 show 320,000 GCC tourists visited last year, mostly from Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This makes the region Malaysia's third biggest market after China and India.

Malaysia's popularity has increased in the wake of unrest that affected many Middle East and North African countries in the first half of 2011, said Yen Yen.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


If we want 1 million Indian tourists to Malaysia just give them the visas. No big deal. However the Ministry of Tourism expects tourist arrivals from India to increase from 689,000 last year to 700,000 this year while that of West Asian countries from 228,668 to 235,000, said its minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. She said the ministry also expected tourist arrivals from South Africa, which at present stood at about 20,000 yearly, to rise.

The ministry has set a target of tourist arrivals to increase from 24.6 million last year to 25 million this year, she told Bernama after chairing a meeting of directors of tourism from Malaysia, India, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Saudi Arabia here Tuesday.

Datuk Seri Dr Ng is leading a Malaysian delegation to the three-day Arabian Travel Market 2011 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition, starting today. Eighty-seven private and public agencies from Malaysia are taking part in the exhibition.

On the Indian and West Asian markets, Dr Ng said Tourism Malaysia would collaborate with tourism authorities in the countries and create products that would suit the preferences of the tourists.

She said Tourism Malaysia would collaborate with Indian tourism agencies to promote wedding packages, which have captivated Indian tourists, who liked Malaysian scenic natural beauty and multiracial harmony.

"We already have a rich couple planning to hold a fabulous wedding in Malaysia in November. They are expected to spend more than USD1.5 million (RM4.45 million) for the wedding, including flying their guests into Malaysia," she said.

On Dubai tourists, Dr Ng said they were interested in Malaysian cultures and diverse products, especially those arrayed at the Petaling Street and night markets.

She said tourism promotions would also be intensified in Saudi Arabia, including in cities like Dammam, Al-Khobar and Dhahran for the Saudis would love to come to Malaysia following turmoil in Egypt and Syria.

Dr Ng said Tourism Malaysia also urged tour and travel agencies from Iran to set up offices in Kuala Lumpur for there had been cases of tourists from the country being cheated by Iranians tourist guides in Malaysia.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


THE MALACCA state government’s plan to impose a five per cent heritage fee on hotel guests from September 1 has drawn flak from the local travel trade.

“The heritage tax is unreasonable and irrelevant,” said Stadhuys Tours and Travel managing director William Chan. “It makes no sense to impose a tax, especially with the current economic situation. The state had already raised the water tariff recently, so an additional tax is a burden for the industry.

Malacca Budget Hotels Association chairman Hendon Puteh said that as many members were already charging six per cent government tax, with some charging an additional 10 per cent service charge on hotel bills, the total 21 per cent fee imposed on guests would be too much of a disincentive for overnight stays.

Chan said that representatives from tour operators, hotels and the Malaysian Association of Hotels and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents were planning to present a memorandum to the Chief Minister to hold a discussion to review the tax.

According to Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, the estimated RM12.0 million (US$4.04 million) generated annually from the new tax will enable the state government to conduct maintenance and conservation of heritage sites and beautification programmes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Nature lovers can watch tigers roaming in their natural habitat when the Pahang government opens its Tiger Valley' at the Klau Forest Reserve in Temerloh at the end of the year.

State Tourism, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Shafiq Fauzan Sharif said the project would be an open-zoo concept using facilities that were already available "with some new twists for added value."

The state government received RM3.2mil from the Tourism Ministry to roll out the project under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

"Although it is based on an open-zoo concept, there is still a need for it to be fenced. But it will be huge enough for the wild animals to roam freely. It will be back to nature for the animals as that is where they are supposed to be, not living in a cages,'' Shafiq told The Star yesterday.

He added that the "Tiger Valley" would have facilities for visitors to watch the animals from a safe distance, such as a viewing tower and specially-built walkways.

Shafiq said the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) would be roped in to work with the state on the project and to provide proposals on the tigers' habitat.

He said some tigers in zoos nationwide have lived in cages for more than 20 years. "These animals should be allowed to move about in their natural habitat," he said, adding that an open zoo is good and healthy for wild animals and a niche area that can be developed for the tourism industry.

Shafiq hoped the planned "Tiger Valley" would be integrated with the popular Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary located in the same forest reserve.

Monday, May 2, 2011


The Malacca government will impose a 5% “heritage charge” on hotel guests from Sept 1. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the decision to impose the new tax on hotel rooms was reached at the weekly state executive council meeting yesterday. There are 193 hotels and resorts in the state.

The tax was crucial for the state to carry out its beautification programmes as well as to maintain cleanliness, conservation and promotion of heritage sites, he said.

“The state has no source of tax collection for the maintenance of heritage sites. The assessment tax and quit rent collected in the city are insufficient to upkeep these sites. Hence, it is necessary to make the heritage fee compulsory. The heritage charge will be based on the rental rates of hotels, resorts, chalets, apartments and other tourism facilities that provide lodging,” he said.

Mohd Ali said about RM12mil was expected to be collected annually.

Asked if the ruling would have a negative effect on tourism in the state, Mohd Ali claimed that it would offer better prospects for growth to the industry.

However, Malacca Budget Hotels Association chairman Hendon Puteh begged to differ, saying the total 21% charge was too high. “Most of our members are already charging their guests the 6% government tax, with some charging another 10% service charge.

Hang Out Hotel manager and State Tourism Association committee member Tan Lee Lee also questioned the need to impose such a charge, especially after the Tourism Ministry had said that more than 70% of its allocation would be channelled to Malacca under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

The big question is how was this money spent. There has been many instances where money was spent for the wrong purpose and heritage would be the last on the list.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


The biggest royal wedding for 30 years struck a balance between time-honoured tradition and youthful exuberance, the British press and newspapers across the world said Saturday.

Front pages from Warsaw to Sydney were emblazoned with pictures of Prince William and Kate at their spectacular wedding in Westminster Abbey on Friday, followed by their procession to Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn carriage.

The Times in Britain summed up the lighter mood of the day with a wraparound front-page photograph of the couple as they made their impromptu drive down The Mall in an open-top Aston Martin sportscar.

"Every element of the wedding reflected the couple's shared humour and taste, and a determination to remain as anchored as possible in their own normality," the newspaper said.

For us in Malaysia, the Royal Wedding in was indeed very refreshing to watch over the various channel on Astro. Everyone was glued on the TVs after lunch last Friday to watch an event of the decade and to see for themselves what a royal wedding and British tradition is all about.

What this event has done for British tourism is beyond everyone's imagination.