Thursday, June 30, 2011


The Malaysian Tourism Expo 2011 scheduled from Sept 25-28 by the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agencies (Matta) has been cancelled due to financial reasons.

MTEX co-chairman Pishol Ishak said the event was cancelled due to lack of cooperation from a number of airlines that had increased the cost of flights for participating travel agencies although the matter had been discussed a few times.

"Apart from airlines, the Lembaga Pembangunan Langkawi (LADA) is also not able to provide support and cooperation to ensure the success of the event because the agency does not have a budget," he told Bernama here today.

Pishol who is also chairman of the Kedah Matta said the Exco members of Matta who met on June 25 in Kuala Lumpur had made the decision to cancel the event this year and probably hold it in Kuala Lumpur next year.

Matta had chosen Langkawi as the MTEX destination for the past three years as an effort to promote and boost the tourism industry in Langkawi.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Tourism Minister Dato Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen announced yesterday that her Ministry has been asked by the Dept of Immigration to handle all matters concerning the recruitment of foreign workers in the hospitality industry.

She said this at a session with all national NGOs at Restaurant Saloma yesterday morning attended by about 20 representatives such as MATTA, MITA, MAH, MBHA and the Malaysia Tourism Federation.

This arrangement does not include recruitment for the shopping complexes as they will be dealth with by another agency.

It is the mission of her Ministry to increase the number of local workforce in the hospitality and NGOs plya an important role towards achieving this end.

Dato Setia Dr Joshua Tan, President of the Malaysia Tourism Federation said that foreign workers are not suitable for the tourism industry workforce as many of them cannot speak the national language and Bahasa Malaysia. In order to reflect the truly Malaysia hospitality we need more Malaysian frontliners.


AGRO-TOURISM is expected to boom with the deployment of artificial reefs.

The Department of Fisheries has placed some recreational reefs to woo coastal-fishing lovers. Recreational reefs have been deployed in Sanglang (Perlis), Pulau Sembilan (Perak) and Labuan.

Kampung Sungai Yu fisheries resources enterprise deputy chairman Dimyati Tualo said this was a grassroots and government partnership.

Many fishermen are anticipating the business opportunities that come with the reef plan. In the villages, locals plan to operate chalets for anglers by next year. They will also offer holiday packages of homestays in a fishing village.

"Our wives and children can help with the catering and crackers business," said Dimyati. Visitors can even dine on a sampan.

On a trip out to the Straits of Malacca, the breathtaking sight of eagles gathering before sunset greeted us. Around reef areas, divers will benefit the most from the seaweed and numerous schools of fish.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts in Denham, England is field-testing a special guestroom at nine hotels that is designed to reduce the sound of snoring

Dubbed the “snore absorption room,” the concept is being trialed this week at Crowne Plaza London The City and eight other Crowne Plaza hotels across Europe and the Middle East.

The special guestrooms feature soundproofing on the walls to absorb the loud frequencies, deflect the sound waves and minimize the impact of snoring. A specially-designed sound-absorbing headboard that will work together with the soundproofing to muffle the echo within the room.

An anti-snoring bed wedge acts as a body pillow, encouraging snoring guests to sleep on their sides or upright; lying flat on one’s back makes the base of the tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of the throat, which causes snoring. An anti-snoring pillow uses neodymium magnets to create a natural magnetic field, opening the airways and stiffening the upper palate, which vibrates during snoring.

Finally, a white noise machine, which is proven to help drown out the droning snoring noise and help sleep and relaxation, will be provided in the rooms.

Monday, June 27, 2011


The Tourism Ministry takes the issue of forced sharing of rooms between opposite sexes in the tourism industry seriously, says Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

But since the ban was imposed in 2009, the ministry has not received a single official complaint from tourist guides or drivers on this.

“I appeal to all, especially tour guide associations, to report to us any cases. We are here to help. We are here to work with them. If the tour guides dare not report, the association has a duty to report to us. We want to know what's going on,” she says after a meeting with tour guide associations, travel agencies and tour operators.

Dr Ng reveals that the ministry has set up a task force headed by its deputy secretary-general with representatives from the tourism industry to review the issue of room-sharing and find effective ways to ensure a healthy tourism industry. The issue of room-sharing became a hot topic recently when a female tour guide claimed she was forced to share a room with the male driver who sexually harassed her.

The ministry carried out an inquiry but found that the female tour guide had not been forced into sharing the room. However, Dr Ng adds that if the female guide was not happy with the finding, she could appeal for the case to be reviewed.

As for the alleged sexual harassment, Dr Ng says the guide showed the ministry's inquiry team a letter of apology from the driver concerned.

She adds that the ministry would file a police report unless the guide, who has not lodged a report, asks the ministry in writing not to do so. Sexual harassment is a criminal offence and thus a police case.

Meanwhile, the ministry's legal department will review the possibility of amending article 13 of the Tourism Act to make it the responsibility of tour operators and travel agencies to make sure that employees of different genders are not forced to share a room, she says.

On the Malaysian Women's Tour Guide Association's call for an assurance that female tour guides and female bus drivers would not be penalised for reporting on room-sharing, Dr Ng says that although the Federal Constitution already protects against gender discrimination, she has no problems allowing this to be reflected in the Tourism Act “if it brings better comfort and confidence” to tour guides.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


The Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) has launched a specialist unit that focuses primarily on identifying and supporting international event bids including sports, ‘art and culture’ and lifestyle events.

Known as the International Events Unit (IEU), the unit is in line with the prime minister’s Economic Transformation Program, which has earmarked business tourism and international events as key segments aiding the nation’s economic growth by attracting international visitors.

The new unit is expected to contribute RMB427 million in gross national income and provide 8,036 job opportunities to Malaysia by year 2020.

“Besides identifying and supporting bids for international events with high economic value to Malaysia, the IEU is also responsible for assisting homegrown and hosted events to maximise the potential for international publicity and attendances through strategic alliances," said Zulkefli Hj Sharif, chief executive MyCEB. "This includes identifying and supporting ‘cluster’ events designed to strengthen the global appeal of existing major events."

A specific set of criteria will evaluate proposed events on their direct and indirect economic value and the level of support they require in order to maximise their overall economic value.

The criteria include the number of international participants, length of stay, publicity value plus other qualitative factors including opportunities to package and promote extended stays plus benefits for the business and local community.

Zulkefli added: “The IEU will collaborate with various private and government entities including the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Youth and Sports and Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage to attract and develop international events. The government’s commitment to the business tourism industry has significantly improved our position in a highly-competitive market. The opening of the IEU is a positive step towards achieving another key milestone for the country.”
MyCEB - through IEU - will assist local event organisers to bid for and secure major events for Malaysia. The IEU also wants to hire event specialists in sports, art, culture and lifestyle business development positions who have experience in event management, marketing and sponsorship.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Full service airlines and the aviation industry must transform if they want to succeed and not be driven into oblivion, says Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid .

While information technology was a strong tool and enabler which could drive strong benefits, it would be foolhardy to think of it as an end in itself.

"Unless the software is internally developed and proprietary, the first-mover advantages from its adaptation do not last long enough before the enablers are commoditised and we are back to square one insofar as the competitive terrain is concerned," he said in a statement Thursday.

He said with as many as 230 companies in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) membership globally excluding the formidable low cost carriers, there is such a waste of resources in terms of duplication of costs.

He said full service airline industry has become too dependent on protection and closed skies, riding on a nationalistic credo out of place in a globalised and competitive world. The industry needs to embrace change more fundamental than the adaptation of enabling technology which is necessary but not sufficient, Munir said.

"Internal strengthening alone would not work. A full-scale reappraisal, a strategic clean slate transformation of organisation and business activities, was necessary," he said.

He said full service carriers must have their low cost arm as this was where business growth was greatest. He said they must develop and diversify ancillary activities to boost revenue and profits, such as in maintenance, repair and overhaul activities, the cargo business and training.

Most of all, he said there must be consolidation of the industry across boundaries and businesses. "There have to be big time mergers and acquisitions, significant joint ventures. "The airline alliances were only half-way houses which stopped far too short of their full promise," Munir said, adding that the consolidation must be made fast otherwise many airlines will be driven into oblivion.

He also called for a bigger and more interactive role for the function of chief information officers, both with the chief executive and with colleagues across the business organisation whose structure has too many silos.


Friday, June 24, 2011


Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam has ordered the State River and Coastline Development Authority to prepare a comprehensive calendar of events for next year’s Malacca River Fest. The Chief Minister said the move to detail-out activities for the fest could attract more foreign tourists.

“We could globalise the river fest as tourists from other countries can plan their travel here particularly to participate in the event,” he told reporters after flagging-off a dragon boat race that was organised in-conjunction with the one month Malacca River Fest.

Mohd Ali said it was disappointing to note that only Indonesia had sent participants for the dragon boat race as such an event could attract enthusiasts from as far as China, Taiwan and Macaa. Some 29 teams, mostly locals took part in the race that was held to extensively promote the fest to the masses.

He said by detailing out the activities for the river fest, the state could promote the event as one of its main tourism products.

Mohd Ali hoped the authorities could outline interesting side-events for the 2012 fest and post it into websites so it could be accessed by foreign tourists.

“My aim is to turn the fest into the equivalent to the scale organised during the San Antonio River Festival in the United States, hence we have to emulate the approach taken by the organisers there. Therefore, I hope the calendar will be prepared in the next two weeks so I can instruct my officers to embark on the overseas promotion blitz, at once,” he added.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


From: Badan Warisan Malaysia

17 June 2011

Melaka’s new tourism offering, the Hard Rock Cafe, is going to be built within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, on Jalan Hang Jebat, beside Sungei Melaka, and immediately facing the iconic Stadhuys (built 1650) and Christchurch (built 1753), both of which are gazetted National Heritage buildings. Directly opposite, close to these two buildings, is the collapsed embankment of the river which happened in late May 2011, and which is still in need of repair.

The restaurant is touted to become a new landmark, a focus for tourists from all over the world. The signboard at the site announces this as a single storey structure, with one level of sub-basement car-parking facilities. In most instances, a single storey new building in a historic site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, would not raise any red flags.

How well do Melaka’s cultural history with its built environment, and a cafe expressing an American rock ‘n’ roll sensibility, mix?

How well will the design and proportions sub-basement car parking facility and the single storey building which will obviously be elevated above the upper part of the car-park, coalesce with the existing historic environment? This is an issue for a Heritage Impact Assessment.

Will the presence of a Hard Rock Cafe draw larger numbers of visitors to this already congested area?

Recent media reports put these estimates at between 360,000 to 480,000 a year; daily 1,000 to 1,300 patrons a day, only a modest proportion of the daily visitors already coming to the area. Earlier reports had stated it would attract between 700,000 to one million patrons monthly, a daily patronage of 25,000 visitors.

Badan Warisan Malaysia has reservations that even if the presence of the Hard Rock Cafe Melaka draws in large numbers, both in terms of visitors and revenue generation, the authenticity of this unique historical city will be surely compromised. To achieve sustainability, is not limited to large profit margins; the sustainability of Melaka’s future is based on its ability continuing to draw visitors because of its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its heritage values and cultural authenticity. Will visitors continue to flock to Melaka, seeking to experience its unique living cultural heritage, or instead for its well-rated, modestly priced, casual American fare and rock ‘n’ roll music and memorabilia?

Tun Ahmad Sarji bin Abdul Hamid
President, Badan Warisan Malaysia

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The real issue is why was so much money was spent on facebook and the job was given to a particular company instead of asking the IT department of Tourism Malaysia to do it. The Tourism Ministry instead has invited the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to check on its RM1.8 million allocation for a promotional campaign and branding through the social media.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said yesterday that secretary general of the ministry Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng, on her directive, called on the MACC yesterday to invite it to investigate the spending on the campaign.

"Come and check please. There's nothing to hide. We are absolutely transparent. As far as we are concerned, we are very upright," she told reporters after the launch here of the coffee table book "Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside: The Jewel in the Crown of Putrajaya".

Dr Ng said that she was disappointed and hurt by the insinuations made on the RM1.8 million allocation which the opposition seemed to have convinced people was solely for creating a Facebook.

She reiterated that the allocation was to run, manage and monitor a tourism campaign in the social media, including RM360,000 for advertising and over RM500,000 for prizes for the contests organised.

Dr Ng said that she was committed to diversifying the channels for tourism promotion instead of depending only on the traditional print and electronic media.

"There are 700 million people in the social media, and if you do not believe that the social media can boost marketing you are not with the current crowd," she said.

If she so believe on the power of the new media how come only less that 40,000 people has visited her facebook site so far.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Nilai 3 is, indeed, a paradise for those who love to shop wholesale.

The largest wholesale shopping centre in the country attracts nearly 150,000 visitors every weekend, and even greater numbers during school holidays.

It is reported that over one million people visited Nilai 3, Negeri Sembian in the past three years. The main attraction of this shopping centre are the absurdly low prices. For instance, traders offer sales during school holidays, when clothes are sold for as little as RM4.

Nilai 3 traders operate in warehouses, which are built in what used to be a light industrial area in 1999. It was then turned into a retail and wholesale centre. The products and wholesale concept of Nilai 3 are unique and popular, not only among customers, but also local and overseas traders.

The area’s potential to be developed into a prime shopping centre for tourism is high. Investors and owners of major shopping mall chains from the Klang Valley to set up their business networks in Nilai 3. The establishment of well-known shopping malls in Nilai 3 is expected to further develop the infrastructure, roads, and public amenities in the area. While the infrastructure in Nilai 3 is less than ideal, it does not seem to deter visitors.

Nilai 3, developed by Pemaju Perumahan Sungai Ramal (Negeri Sembilan) Sdn Bhd, with its management is under Nilai 3 Wholesale Centre Management Sdn Bhd. have 171 hectares of land and about 30 per cent of it has yet to be developed. A trendy shopping mall can be built on this land with the government helping to attract big investors in major malls like Ikano and Courts.

An on going joint promotion with the government would help attract more visitors, including foreign tourists, given that the wholesale centre is a mere 12km from the KL International Airport (KLIA) and can be reached by the North-South Highway.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Protest Against Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen rages on following a spontaneous Facebook campaign started by critics of Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen has drawn the support of nearly 120,000 Malaysians, almost a four times of those who follow her ministry’s official page.

The campaign kicked off on Tuesday evening, shortly after it was revealed that the ministry had spent a whopping RM1.8 million to manage its Facebook accounts.

While the ministry’s following in its official Facebook page “Tourism Malaysia – Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia” barely grew over the week, a protest page entitled “Curi-curi Wang Malaysia” saw its numbers soar in the thousands.

The debacle began when Deputy Tourism Minister James Dawos Mamit revealed in Parliament to DAP’s Rasah MP Anthony Loke that RM1,758,432 was spent on developing six Facebook pages to promote Malaysia’s tourism.

As at 11.50pm last night, “Curi-curi Wang Malaysia”, which was started anonymously at 6.04pm on Tuesday, drew 120,809 fans. The ministry’s page, which was started in May, had only drawn 35,042 fans.

This latest public uprising via the popular social networking site joins a host of other online protests, including one against the government’s plan to build a RM5 billion mega-tower, another to protest the Lynas refinery plant and one against the proposed 1 Malaysia email.

According to a note posted by Curi-curi Wang Malaysia’s administrators yesterday, the page attracted 19,705 fans within 24 hours of its launch, then leapt to 65,870 fans in 48 hours, as dissent began to grow.

“Bravo! Malaysians. We need to gather more voice and put our hands together to fight for our money,” the page’s administrators said.

They also urged Facebook users to click “like” on their page, saying this would prove to the government that managing such an account does not require such a high sum.

“LIKE this page. We can prove to government we no need to spend RM1.8M for a success fan page. We want our mismanaged money back! This page created with purpose to voice against Malaysia Tourism Ministry who spent RM1,758,432 for a simple facebook fan page with 6-simple apps (cost RM293,072 each).“Facebook is FREE. Don’t cheat our money in such stupid way and treat us like idiots. Suspend the contract and RETURN OUR MONEY!” it said.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said on Friday that the Cabinet would seek an explanation from her over the matter and if herexplanation was not satisfactory, the government might investigate the matter.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


by Clara

Already facing growing public discontent, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen was confronted with a hostile Cabinet today when she tried to explain her ministry’s controversial RM1.8 million outlay on six Facebook pages and was even told by some colleagues not to waste their time.

The Malaysian Insider understands several ministers also insisted against announcing that Cabinet had officially accepted Ng’s explanation, preferring instead to say they had taken note of it.

A source who was familiar with what transpired said this was because the ministers did not want Ng to publicly declare that she had been cleared of guilt by the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The source told The Malaysian Insider that rather than addressing the root cause of the allegations against her, the Tourism Minister had chosen to beat around the bush in defending herself.

Ng, who is also MCA vice-president, was scheduled to explain to the Cabinet today her ministry’s RM1.8 million expense bill for developing six Facebook pages to promote tourism in Malaysia.

“She did not explain [the] cost, not the cost or bill. Only the importance of cyber advertising and other [nonsense],” said the source.The source said when it grew clear that Ng had no plans to divulge further details or provide a breakdown of her expenses, several ministers cut her short.

“She was trying to explain but she did not finish because people asked her to stop. They said she was just wasting their time. She was not talking about the main thing — the cost and why she spent so much,” said the source.

But the source noted that it was unclear if the prime minister considered Ng’s explanation satisfactory or planned to pursue the matter further.

“The PM was silent on that part. What is clear is that the ministers only want to say that Cabinet has taken note of her explanation and that she should not go and say that Cabinet has accepted it,” said the source.

The debacle over the Tourism Ministry’s Facebook expenses first began on Tuesday when Ng’s deputy, James Dawos Mamit, revealed in Parliament that RM1,758,432 was spent on developing six Facebook pages for Malaysia’s tourism.

He had said each of the six pages — Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia, Citrawarna 1Malaysia, Karnival Jualan Mega 1 Malaysia, Festival Pelancongan Seni Kontemporari 1 Malaysia, Kempen 1 Malaysia Bersih and Fabulous Food 1 Malaysia — costs RM293,072

The announcement drew condemnation from the online community and a spontaneous campaign was kicked off on Tuesday evening, inviting thousands to condemn Ng’s exorbitant spending.

Her ministry first entered the spotlight late last year when it was revealed in Parliament that while Ng had slashed her tourism promotional budget, she had spent more for her official trips abroad.

Dato Sri Dr Ng again came under fire after Tourism Malaysia’s former advertising agency alleged that the ministry had asked for bribes in exchange for a promotion contract.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said an investigation would be mooted if she failed explain satisfactorily.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visiting a city for the first time

As a travel expert, visiting a city for the first time can be as exciting but also a little overwhelming. You need to consider what types of activities that will allow you to explore beyond the tourist traps, see famous landmarks and sites, and also give you a taste of local culture. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation in a new city, add these five activities to your itinerary to make the most of your trip:

#1: Hit the Hiking Trails

Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some time in nature. Seek out some hiking and nature trails near the area and head out for a few hours of trekking and exploring. Hiking and nature walking can help you explore the area from a whole new perspective, and also give you a break from the busy city life -- at least for a few hours.

#2: Plan a Healthy Foodie Tour

Learning about a new city through a culinary tour can be a great way to meet new people and also try some new foods. Locate some of the healthy restaurants and eateries in the area and set out on your own foodie tour. Make a pit stop at vegan or vegetarian cafes for a smoothie and healthy baked goods, enjoy a healthy meal at a popular lunchtime destination, and find a vegan or vegetarian restaurant that serves a buffet or specialty meals for dinner.

#3: Take a Segway Tour

Many cities are home to a handful of Segway tour operators, and a Segway tour can be a fun alternative to exploring a city by bike or on foot. Segway tours usually begin with a brief training session where you learn how to operate the Segway and can have any questions about the tour answered. These tours may run a couple of hours, and will take you around major parks, city sights and attractions. Take a Segway tour around the city to see famous landmarks, attractions and venues.

#4: Attend a Community Festival

Pick up a local newspaper or go online to visit the city's main website to check for current events in the area. Plan to attend a community festival or celebration so that you can mingle with the locals and enjoy some local traditions. Whether it's a Fourth of July party or a neighborhood festival celebrating the change of the season, these types of events can be a great way to soak up some new experiences in a in a new city, and even make some new friends!

#5: Map Out a Self-Guided Walking Tour

Instead of paying a tour guide to take you around some of the popular sites in the city, take some time to map out a self-guided tour. This can be a fun way to see sites that you are most interested in, and will also give you a good workout. Put on your walking shoes and head off on your own adventure! Grab a camera and capture some postcard-worthy pictures to share with friends and family when you get home

Friday, June 17, 2011


By Asrul Hadi Abdulah Sani

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today that Cabinet would seek an explanation from Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen over the tourism ministry’s RM1.8 million expenditure to develop six Facebook pages.

Muhyiddin said that if the tourism minister’s explanation was not satisfactory, the government might investigate the matter.“I think the Cabinet will ask for a complete report from the (tourism) minister tomorrow and she can explain the basis of the expenditure,” he told reporters here today.

“The explanation has already been given in Parliament but if people are unsatisfied then we can ask for a detailed (report). We have nothing to hide especially when it involves public expenditure.”

Yesterday Dr Ng appeared to have contradicted her ministry’s detailed account of the cost for each page when she said that the Facebook pages were free. Her deputy, James Dawos Mamit, had told Parliament that each Facebook page had cost RM293,072.

Dr Ng said the RM1.8 million would cover the cost of six different campaigns over seven months, and included the cost of contests and advertising on Google and Facebook.

DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke had said that unless Dr Ng explained the reason behind the “exorbitant” costs for the “social media branding” exercise, he would lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Citrawarna 1 Malaysia, the most popular page, has so far attracted 20,292 Facebook fans since it was launched on May 21.The ministry had said that the RM1.8 million included costs for designing, flash programming and coding, testing and debugging, uploading and launching the application, system server deployment and campaign management.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


A liberalisation policy in tourism has managed to increase Malaysia's competitiveness in the tourism industry, making it today the ninth most travelled tourist destination in the world, the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia was told today.

Tourism is now the second largest foreign earner for Malaysia, contributing RM56.4 billion in revenue last year with 24.6 million tourist arrivals.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen who presented Malaysia's direction in the industry at the forum said the liberalisation policy in tourism was in line with the world trade philosophy.

It included visa free or special visa arrangements for tourists and 100 per cent equity for investors who intended to operate three-star and four-star hotels and theme parks in Malaysia.

Highly recognised foreign tourism companies could also now open their branches in Malaysia, she said when met after the forum here Monday.

"I feel that WEF recognises Malaysia's tourism success. I am the only tourism minister invited to the forum. It is very important that we tell the world that we are a very strong tourist destination and to share with them our liberalisation policy," she said.

Malaysia is targeting that by the year 2020, tourist arrivals will reach 36 million, bringing some RM168 billion in revenue for the country. Dr Ng said participants were impressed with Malaysia's success in the tourism industry and now becoming a lead player.

Currently there are only two Asian countries in the list of top 10 most travelled tourist destinations in the world, namely China at fourth placing and Malaysia at ninth placing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


A whopping RM1,758,432 was spent on developing six Facebook pages to promote Malaysian tourism, the Tourism Ministry said today.

Deputy Tourism Minister James Dawos Mamit said this today in Dewan Rakyat in reply to a question from Anthony Loke .

Each Facebook page cost RM293,072 — Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia, Citrawarna 1Malaysia, Karnival Jualan Mega 1 Malaysia, Festival Pelancongan Seni Kontemporari 1 Malaysia, Kempen 1 Malaysia Bersih and Fabulous Food 1 Malaysia.

The Citrawarna 1 Malaysia page has so far attracted 20,292 Facebook fans since it was launched on May 21.

James Dawos Mamit said that the RM1.8 million included costs for designing, flash programming and coding, testing and debugging, uploading and launching the application, system server deployment and campaign management.

“You need RM1.8 million to run Facebook pages and applications? A six-year-old can start a Facebook page, " asked Anthony Loke in Parliament yesterday.

“If Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen has problems getting people to help start Facebook pages, DAP headquarters can help her out, we have people who can develop these things at no cost,” he added.

Loke said that unless Ng explained the reasons behind the “exorbitant” costs for the “social media branding” exercise by her ministry, he would lodge a report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Monday, June 13, 2011


Small wonder what the Tourism Ministry has to do with beach sports. But it is drafting guidelines on beach sports, including horse riding, which are expected to be submitted within a month to the DAP-led Penang government for consideration.

The minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, said that the views of experts were being sought in preparing the guidelines which follow an accident at Batu Feringghi beach where a five-year-old girl was knocked down by a horse.

The guidelines would include safety considerations and suggestions to ensure that local tourism products are not affected by a ban on any sport activity, she said.

"We admit that the ministry has no power to intervene in the administration of any state government. After all, we do not have any land in Batu Feringghi. But we hope our effort can help develop tourism products," Dr Ng told reporters after launching the 1Malaysia Parks and Gardens Carnival at the Penang Botanical Gardens here.

In the accident on Tuesday, Azrina Kirana Azrin sustained a thigh injury and a fractured shoulder after being knocked down by a horse while playing with her 12-year-old sister at about 10am.

Dr Ng said that the guidelines would include proposed requirements for horse and horse keeper.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The country faces a critical shortage of tour guides able to speak foreign languages.There is nothing new about this.

Tourism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said only 744 out of the 8,701 tour guides registered with the ministry could communicate in foreign languages like French, Korean and Arabic.

Only 105 were conversant in German, 37 in French and 30 in Russian, while the rest knew other languages.

“Tour guides with such skills are in high demand and are paid about RM450 a day, compared with RM220 paid to other guides,” he added.

Dr Ong was speaking to reporters after presenting certificates to 333 tour guides, who completed their foreign language proficiency course, at a convocation ceremony at the Malaysia Tourism Centre here yesterday.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


The Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) held a gala dinner last night at the Corus Hotel, Kuala Lumpur to recognise and appreciate founders of the Association and individuals who has contributed to the development of the inbound business.

Guest-of-honour was Yang Berhormat Cik Elizabeth Wong, Exco for Tourism and Consumer Affairs of Selangor who was deeply honoured for being invited to the event. Also present was Encik Wan Zawawi, Director of Human Resource and Administration, Tourism Malaysia.

Several heads of Tourism NGOs including Dato Setia Dr Joshua Tan, President of the Malaysia Tourism Federation (MTF) also attended the gala dinner.

Dato Albert Tan, President of MITA said in his message that the success of organizing the event was nothing short of spectacular given the fact that it has been planned and executed within a span of two months.

"Tonight, we would like to give appreciation and recognize those who have struggled and help MITA to be be what it is today," he said.

Cindy Seow, Organizing Chair was overwhelmed by the response given by members of MITA. " Earlier we targeted to cater for 20 tables only but tonight we had to set up 36 tables instead," she said during the dinner.

The event paid special tribute to the late Encik Ahmad Kamil Abdullah, who founded the association and became its first President. He was represented at the dinner by his wife Puan Jamaliah Aris. His son Encik Adam Kamil is the Secretary General of the association.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Global tourism stakeholders can play a significant role in addressing climate change if the innovativeness and resources of this sector are fully mobilised and oriented towards mitigating its negative impacts, a Nepalese member of parliament said.

Mahalaxmi Upadhyay Dina told delegates to the 15th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians' Conference on Environment and Development (APPCED) here Tuesday that the tourism business and destinations also needed to adopt work ethics that exerted minimum impact on the environment and to capitalise on new opportunities in sustainable ways.

She said this was critical because despite having a huge potential in tourism development, climate change had caused a big setback for the sector as well as the socio-economy of the people at large.

Citing Nepal which is situated 60m above sea level, she said a recent report observed that the hot weather was rapidly shifting from a lower tropical climate to a higher range of alpine climate, causing serious impacts such as water sources drying up and warmer days in winter.

"Nepal, despite being a non-emission zone is directly or indirectly being affected by the global emission of greenhouse gases which causes temperature rise.

"It is observed that the people living there are finding it hard to adapt to the changing weather patterns, as they are traditionally unprepared to cope with extreme weather conditions such as frequent droughts and floods, breakout of crop and livestock diseases and conflicts over water-sharing," she said.

The Malaysian MP for Simpang Renggam Liang Teck Meng said that in Malaysia, the phenomenon had also disrupted functioning of the ecosystems, rendering low survival or extinction of some species of flora and fauna, and was also affecting the marine ecology.

"For instance, the problem of coral bleaching that happened in many diving spots in Malaysia in 2010 due to rising sea-water temperature to 30 degrees Celsius had deprived tourists of their favourite activities - scuba diving and snorkelling," he said.

Liang presented the country report titled, "Impact of Climate Change on the Tourism Sector in Malaysia", at the conference.

However, he said, despite the challenges, the tourism industry in Malaysia had managed to maintain its growth at nine per cent from 2000 to 2010.

"The number of international tourist arrivals had reached 24.6 million in 2010, while Malaysia was also ranked the ninth most visited destination in the world by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation," Liang said.

While climate change may bring about more adversities than advantages, a Canadian delegate said Canada to a certain extent was benefiting from the phenomenon as the longer spring and summer seasons also meant a longer tourist season.

"However, there will be other aspects of Canada's tourism sector which may suffer, so adaptation of the industry or community to the climate change impacts will be necessary," said Senator Paul J. Massicotte, pointing out that skiing was an obvious industry that might be adversely affected by climate change.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Smoke-free Malacca from June 15

The Malaysian world heritage city of Malacca will be smoke-free from June 15, a first for the country, the health minister said Monday.

The move was to bring in more tourists and help stamp out smoking in a country where the habit is widespread and it would also help preserve the city.

“The idea is to create fresh air and a clean environment for tourists and Malaysians alike to enjoy the historic city,” he said. “It will also aid in preserving the old monuments and buildings as the ban will reduce pollution in the area and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

The no-smoking area covers the entire 4.2 square kilometres (1.6 square miles) of the city and four other areas in the southern state of Malacca.

“These areas will be free from cigarette smoke and make Malacca city the first smoking-free city in the country,” said the minister. “Those caught will be hit with a fine of M$300 (US$100) although the maximum penalty is M$5,000.”

Malacca chief minister Dato Seri Mohamad Ali Rustam told the Star daily that the state was also serious about declaring more tourist destinations in the state smoke-free zones.

With more than 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West, Malacca’s multi-cultural heritage is seen its ornately designed government buildings, churches and forts. It is where the Malay sultanate originated in the 15th century, before being invaded by the Portuguese and Dutch in the early 16th century.

In 2008, UNESCO included Malacca and Georgetown, on the resort island of Penang, in its world heritage list but there have been recent concerns that the southern port city could be de-listed because of redevelopment in its historic quarter. Malaysia is hoping the heritage listing will boost tourism, which is a key foreign exchange earner.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Although a number of application has been introduced to obtain tourism information using the mobile phones,eight in 10 countries are using mobile phone technology to improve health services, from free emergency calls to appointment reminders, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

The global health body found that only 19 of 114 countries surveyed had no mobile health initiative, known as mHealth.

"Eighty three percent are actually saying, yes we are involved with a minimum of one mHealth project," said Misha Kay, who studies cell phone technology for the WHO.

But most of those countries have several projects running, he added.

"So what we're seeing is a fairly healthy groundswell of activity, also considering that we believe that a lot of the reports were understated," he said.

With more than five billion cell phone subscribers in the world, and 85 percent of the planet covered by a commercial wireless signal, mHealth is becoming a popular way to strengthen health services.

Speaking at a conference on mobile health in Cape Town, Kay said southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe had the most initiatives but around 75 percent of surveyed African countries were also using the technology.

Globally, the most common schemes for cell phones were call centres or help-lines, emergency toll-free numbers, and mobile telemedicine -- such as doctors consulting one another.

Among the biggest barriers worldwide were cost, a lack of knowledge and health policies that did not recognise mHealth, the study found.

In Africa, the biggest impediments were operating costs and infrastructure, while in Europe concerns centred on the absence of legal guidelines on privacy and confidentiality.

The survey was based on data from a 2009 study by the WHO. It is about time WTO did the same survey to determine the use of mobile phones for tourism information and not just worry about world tourism movement to ensure revenue for the organisation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dance fever hits Malaysian shores

Any performing art form has a tourism value. A dance show will be a great attraction to any tourist group arriving in Malaysia. Diner packages will have a dance performance included in the itinerary. The island of Bali has traditional dances at various locations to be featured in the visit to the island.

Incorporating elements from the successful franchise of So You Think You Can Dance and MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, Malaysia’s very own reality-based competition, Showdown 2011, returns to the local dance scene with their strongest group of dancers yet.

Showing off a varied spectrum of dance styles from hip-hop to breakdance, the competition has acted as a solid platform for local dancers, allowing them to spread their art form to a wider and more mainstream audience.

Since its inception, the competition has received a rapturous response from the Malaysian public with thousands of aspiring dancers flocking to auditions, which were held earlier in the year.

It’s really good to see young Malaysians looking at street dance from a whole new perspective now. It’s also great to see parents coming forth to support these youngsters in modern day form of art. It is even more better for the tourism industry.

Monday, June 6, 2011


The biometric system has been implemented at all immigration entry points to better monitor foreigners coming into the country. The National Foreigners Enforcement and Registration System was introduced yesterday without any major hiccups.

Foreigners entering the country would now have their thumbprints taken electronically.

The process went on smoothly and the department has not received any complaints so far. However, since the system is new and there are bound to be minor glitches.

The thumbprinting process would be improved to avoid inconveniencing visitors. Immigration officers have to take the thumbprints but ensure privacy and that there is no discrimination during the process.

The system, which had already been introduced in the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy and Brazil, was necessary to protect the security and sovereignty of the country.

Under the system, foreigners will have their thumbprints taken and processed within a short time upon their arrival. The system will monitor them and a warning slip will be issued should they overstay. This will allow immigration authorities to take the necessary action.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Singapore is largest tourist market

Malaysia saw about 13 million tourists from Singapore last year - an increase of 2.4 per cent compared to 2009.

Although most of them are day trippers entering Malaysia for the various consumer subsidies offered by the Malaysian government that makes Singapore their largest tourist market, generating about 28.4 billion ringgit in tourist receipts last year.

The Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board said that homestay programmes are getting more popular among Singaporeans.

Revealing this at the Islamic Fashion Festival Thursday morning, the Board also said Singaporeans account for almost half of all homestay tourists.

"We have quite a number of homestay kampongs with more than 140 villages in Malaysia that offer this - 3009 homes offer such accommodation and about 4023 rooms. What's important is that this homestay programme gives tourists something special," said Acting Director-General for the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Azizan Noordin.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Proliferation of budget airlines

The proliferation of budget airlines, and their new moves into intercontinental flights, spells good news for travelers. Increased competition will further drive down air fares as the line between low cost and full-service airlines becomes increasingly blurry.

But it will also mean an even tougher fight to stay profitable for both budget and regular carriers as they grapple with high fuel costs.

The International Air Transport Association has forecast Asia-Pacific Airlines to earn combined profits of $3.7 billion this year, down from $7.6 billion in 2010.

In Malaysia, budget airlines account for nearly half of seat capacity, in Singapore, they account for 22 percent and in Thailand about 17 percent, eating into the business of flag carriers in the three Southeast Asian countries.

Yet, it came as a surprise to the industry when Singapore Airlines Ltd. — one of the world's most profitable carriers — announced last month plans to set up a budget airline to operate medium and long-haul routes next year.
The move follows the appointment of new management this year and is a major gamble for the national airline, which relies heavily on business and first-class travelers who make up a small percentage of seats but account for up to 40 percent of revenue. It will be only the second flag carrier to launch a low-cost unit after Qantas Airways Ltd.

Singapore Airlines already owns a third of low-cost carrier Tiger Airways, which flies short-haul routes. It also owns SilkAir, which occupies a niche between premium and low cost for medium-haul flights. Singapore Airlines will be able to cater to travelers it currently doesn't reach by adding a budget long-haul airline.

Singapore Airlines hopes to echo the success of AirAsia X, which started in 2007 and became profitable just three years later with flights to 15 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East.

While route details are unknown, CAPA said Singapore Airlines could target fast growth markets in China, India and Europe in a direct challenge to AirAsia X, which is partly owned by AirAsia and Richard Branson's Virgin Group, and JetStar.

Elsewhere in Asia, other flag carriers are only just getting around to venturing into the low cost approach to short-haul routes.

Friday, June 3, 2011


According to a forecast by networking colossus Cisco, global online traffic will quadruple by 2015 as the number of gadgets linked to the Internet climbs to 15 billion.

Cisco's fifth annual Visual Networking Index Forecast, released Wednesday, predicted that nearly three billion people, more than 40 percent of the expected world population, will be using the Internet by the year 2015.

This simply means that the internet is the better way to reach out to the tourism market.

"The explosive growth in Internet data traffic, especially video, creates an opportunity in the years ahead for optimizing and monetizing visual, virtual and mobile Internet experiences," said Cisco.

Personal computers generated 97 percent of consumer Internet traffic last year, but the share will drop to 87 percent in the next four years as more people turn to smartphones, tablets, and Web-enabled televisions, Cisco said.

Online video traffic, including data rich 3-D and high-definition transmissions, was projected to be 14 times greater in 2015 compared to last year.

By then, a million minutes of video will traverse the Internet every second, according to the Cisco forecast.

Mobile data traffic was expected to increase by a magnitude of 26 times in the same period.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program

Despite all the controversies of the program Tourism Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, is targeting UK buyers to take part in the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program. The program gives foreigners who fulfill certain financial and other criteria a multiple-entry visa, allowing them to reside in Malaysia for 10 years.

At an event in London last week, organised by the Malaysian Tourism board. She said: “We know that many Brits buy homes in Spain an France, and now with globalisation and the ease of travelling with low-cost budget airlines people are going further away, seeking more diverse cultures and a more interesting and exciting destination.”

She added: “Our linkage with the UK is so strong. You left us education and legal systems and the civil service, and we have utilised it to the maximum. It’s always important to communicate easily, and English is very widely spoken in Malaysia. We have political stability too – our airports have never been closed, we achieved independence without a drop of blood, and have progressed tremendously.”

She went on to say: “China and India is another market with a big population that we are targeting. We want to attract a certain group of people, who can afford to live well, not necessarily luxuriously but comfortably. But the UK is always a frontrunner. I believe that the more awareness there is the more British will come.”

The country is streamlining the application process for the Malaysia My Second Home Program, to make it easier and quicker. Dr Ng said: “We’re sharpening the Malaysian second home product to make it better and tidier. Five months is a long time for processing, we are now aiming for 3 months.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Just as travel agents are going about their normal business after membership of MATTA became non-mandatory, a new requirement has been imposed by the Ministry of Tourism.

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) which requires all registered travel agents to take this course on an annual basis for a fee of RM 350.00.

A launch was held yesterday by the Tourism Minister and the TTMC has become effective. Registered travel agents now have to undergo a management training course before they can renew their licences.

Earlier a joint memorandum signed by the Presidents of Bumitra, MCTA, MITA, MITTA and CRAM was forwarded to the Minister which 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.

The Federation maintain that the introduction of this course is not necessary and it will burden the agents with additional cost and time. Already available in the market hundreds of training program for the management development of agents which is more focus particularly those offered by MATTA.