Sunday, July 31, 2011


Hotel operators which have yet to obtain halal certificates from the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) have been urged to get their certifications to ensure that the food and drinks they served not only during Ramadan are halal.

Jakim director-general Othman Mustapha said the department had simplified the certification process and it can now be obtained within a day.

"We have sent out letters to them and about 80 per cent of hotels in the Federal Territories have obtained their certifications.

"There are also special officers to process the certifications should an urgent approval is needed," he said.

He added that hotel operators who failed to display the halal certificate can be fined under the Trade Descriptions Act 1972.

JAKIM will carry out operations from time to time and will also act based on complaints from the public

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Although the Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri is confident that the ongoing Transport Ministers meeting of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Filipina-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), at Cagayan De Oro in the Philippines, will result in some form of regional cooperation in the area of transportation and communications the industry feel that it would result in nothing.

Just as in the tourism sector, nothing material has resulted from th various meetings so far.

However he said cooperation in the sector would be necessary and timely as it would be in line with present efforts to create an Asean community by 2015.

"I hope the meeting today will raise the level of cooperation in the transportation and communication sector as it would be beneficial for member nations of BIMP EAGA," he added.

Abdul Rahim said the growth triangle could become a driving force to establish cooperation and facilitating the venture into the various economic areas of BIMP EAGA which has a market potential of 60 million people where transportation and communications were the major drivers.

Abdul Rahim, who is leading the Malaysian delegation to the meeting, said that Malaysia would also give its commitment towards making a success of the group's plans including its call to Malaysia Airlines' subsidiary, MASwings to expand its services to several destinations in BIMP-EAGA.

These services would provide a convenient way to facilitate trade and tourism in the region, he said.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Calls For Review Of New Zoning Policy For Tourist Guides

There should not be such a policy in the first place. However Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has called for a review of the federal Tourism Ministry's new zoning policy, saying it affects the livelihood of blue badge or seasoned tourist guides in Sabah.

He said the ministry had also expressed its support to the Sabah Tourist Guides Association's (STGA) move in bringing up the matter for consideration of the relevant authority at the federal level. Masidi further requested the Tourism Ministry for a thorough study on the practicality of the policy, taking into consideration the unique situation of Sabah as one of the world class eco-tourism destinations.

"If tourist guides with blue badges can only guide or are limited to picking up tourists to and from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and hotels (which is less than five kilometres away) do they survive? Sabah is basically promoting eco-tourism, and so realistically, a tourist guide could conduct tours all over the state; that's why I am asking them to visit Sabah or the ground and consider their grouses," he told reporters after attending Yayasan Sabah College convocation ceremony at Tun Raffae Auditorium in Likas, here Thursday.

Masidi was asked to comment on yesterday's statement by STGA honorary disciplinary officer Lillian Agama that the new zoning policy, implemented by the Tourism Ministry, has direly impacted the livelihood of blue badge tourist guides in Sabah. Lillian was quoted as saying that they were no longer allowed to take the guests out of the city and this has led the 300-odd blue badge guides to consider surrendering their badges in protest of the new policy, which they felt was highly restrictive and impractical in Sabah.

In the past, licensed tourist guides after completing their course, were issued a yellow badge for a two-year probationary period. After this they were required to undergo a confirmation examination to qualify for the blue badge, which enabled them to conduct tours all over the state, even in Peninsular Malaysia. However, few years back, the Tourism Ministry introduced the green badge to legalise mountain guides who took tourists on nature tours.

Meanwhile, Masidi said if the appeal for a review of the policy failed, his ministry would study those provisions of the law or ordinance which are related to the guides, to help the affected Sabah tourist guides.

Even tour guides are treated like taxi cabs, you can only take passengers from point A to be B etc. Are we barking at the wrong tree.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Malaysia wants to attract more high yield international business travellers to the country as they spent three times more than leisure tourists, says Zulkefli Hj Sharif, Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB).

In a media briefing recently, Zulkefli said international business tourism visitors spent an average of RM7,418 per trip in Malaysia compared with RM2,257 for leisure visitors.

International business travellers also spent an average of RM1,268 per day compared with RM337 for other travellers.

MyCEB was established by the Ministry of Tourism in 2009 to further strengthen Malaysia's business tourism brand and position for the international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) market.

Zulkefli said 1,278,014 international business travellers visited Malaysia in 2010, an increase of two per cent from 2009.

They were estimated to have spent RM10.6 billion in 2010 and the economic impact value of their spending was estimated at RM17.6 billion, he said.

Given that the average length of international conventions is 3.9 days, the length of stay for international business tourism visitors including pre- and post-touring is 5.85 days.

An estimated 46 per cent of international delegates extend their stay for pre and post travel providing benefits to regional communities and that an estimated 25 per cent of all international participants have an accompanying partner or spouse with them.

Last year, Malaysia leapt three notches to 28th position in the latest International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) country rankings and the government is pushing for the country to be one of the top five destinations in the world by 2020.

In 2010, MyCEB supported 28 convention bids representing 38,500 delegates and an economic value of RM438 million. It also assisted 124 meetings and conventions, 16 exhibitions and 49 corporate incentive groups, which contributed an estimated economic impact of RM775 million to the country.

Zulkefli said the latest ICCA rankings reflected growth by Malaysia's association meetings business amidst competition from other countries.

Key developments include the expansion of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre by an additional 10,000 sq metres by end-2013, the Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre by 2014 and the proposed development of the MATRADE Centre (93,000 sq metres) by 2014.

Other new infrastructure to support the growing industry include the upcoming Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the integrated urban mass rapid transit system and the construction of a series of pedestrian walkways throughout the capital city as part of the Greater Kuala Lumpur plan.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board or Tourism Malaysia is mobilising representatives of Malaysian hotels operating in Europe to promote Malaysia as an attractive destination. Last week, Tourism Malaysia organised a successful meeting with 16 representatives of Malaysian hotels in Europe.

Syed Yahya Syed Othman, Director of Tourism Malaysia in Frankfurt, told Bernama that he was "extremely pleased" with the response from the representatives.

"We will organise roadshows in Germany this October. Most of the hotel representatives are in Germany, the biggest source of tourism traffic in continental Europe, though there were also others from other European countries. I am going to organise a meeting for the hotel representatives with tour operators," Syed Yahya added.

Tourism Malaysia has also invited representatives to partner hotels to organise familiarisation tours for journalists to participate in the International Press Treasure Hunt in Malaysia. Syed Yahya also said his office was launching a three-month "tactical campaign" in conjunction with Singapore Airlines in Switzerland.

"This will also attract Swiss tourists to visit Malaysia via Singapore," he said adding that in September, a similar campaign would be held in Germany with the collaboration of Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines," he added.

Another trend in the tourism field is the growing number of tourists interested in camping and caravan tourism, a trend that could benefit Malaysia if it uses this trend to its advantage by offering similar facilities and effectively highlighting them in major foreign markets. Oliver Waidelich, Managing Director, German Association for the Caravanning Industry, said:"CMT was an attractive showcase for the industry, which created desire for mobile leisure time and holidays with its displays.

Both suppliers and exhibitors of accessories and camp sites are delighted with the high standard of visitors," he added.

Syed Yahya said Malaysia would organise a big gala dinner for the tourism trade, accompanied by entertainment to be provided by a dance troupe from Malaysia and Malaysian culinary specialties that will be prepared by Malaysian chefs. "We will also organise a travel mart which will bring Malaysian tour operators and hoteliers together with their counterparts from Germany and neighbouring European countries," he said, emphasising that this was the most important consumer tourism show in Europe.

He also said the show afforded good opportunities for Malaysian tour operators, hoteliers and others to showcase their services at a venue that would attract a wide spectrum of buyers from the travel and tourism field.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Finally the big news has come. Loss-making Malaysia Airlines said Wednesday that its chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Munir Abdul Majid will leave the flag carrier as it restructures its top team in an effort to return to profit.

In a statement to the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange the airline said Dr Munir will leave his post on July 31 when his contract expires but did not provide reasons. He joined the board in August 2004.

The chairman's departure comes almost three weeks after Datuk Bernard Francis, a senior general manager quit the airline. Francis, who had been at the carrier for nearly six years, handed in his resignation letter on July 3 about five months ahead of the expiry of his contract.

The pair's departure comes after Malaysia Airlines posted a first quarter net loss due to rising fuel prices and a strengthening ringgit.

Tengku Azmil Zahruddin Raja Abdul Aziz, the airline's managing director had sent an e-mail to the management team informing them a restructure was in the offing.

Tengku Azmil recently told AFP that Malaysia Airlines aims to claw its way back into profit with a $8.4 billion fleet renewal plan to hold off as competition from budget and high-end rivals.

MTF wishes MAS the very best for a successful years ahead.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Many hotels have launched a new, comprehensive digital strategy that includes social media, e-commerce and a brand new website.

Concorde,for example, a brand within the French hotel company Groupe du Louvre, will launch a mobile version of its new website, an initiative that is part of a three-tier e-commerce plan that includes mobile reservations and special offers, harmonized Facebook pages for all the brand’s owned hotels and a new Concorde website will include integrated videos and photos of the hotel property’s interiors and exteriors to “bring the brand experience to life.”

The company is spending a total of US$568,000 (€400,000) on the new digital strategy with an expected return on investment of 13% to 20% within 18 months.

“Our e-commerce strategy has gained momentum over the first six months of 2011, beginning with the launch of individual Facebook pages for our owned hotels in March. This new phase with our website continues to optimize the multiple communication channels that enable us to create web-based interactions,” the hotel said.

Concorde anticipates an increase in bookings via mobile and the Concorde smartphone application of 20% to 30% over the next five years.

In addition to e-commerce, the digital strategy’s social media changes include harmonizing all the Concorde pages on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter with the help of the Paris-based social media marketing agency Influence Digitale.

“Guidelines and SOP manuals have been distributed to every hotel. Training and on-going communication meetings are being organized between the head office and the hotels to keep the momentum going and to share best practices,

“We monitor our presence through a dedicated person at each hotel level. All of these new job profiles have been recruited during this year and, by the end of the year, each property will have its own e-commerce/community manager.”

Since their launch in March, the individual Facebook pages of Concorde’s owned hotels had an average following of about 1,040 users with the two largest being Hotel Concorde La Fayette, located in Paris with 2,717 “likes” and Hôtel de Crillon Paris with 3,899 as of Wednesday. The Concorde Hotels & Resorts brand fan page had 4,632 “likes.”

Concorde’s digital strategy continues to be refined with new marketing and sales initiatives. “Our digital strategy is an ongoing process. Concorde’s new web-booking engine will be launched by the end of this year.

An online self check-in/check-out app is to be launched by the end of this year, as well,” he said. “An ongoing project with Influence Digitale is launching special initiatives dedicated to our social media followers and fans, such as the ‘Summer Private Sale’ that will launch July 21 for Facebook fans only

Saturday, July 23, 2011


It's not just the amenities guests pay for, but also the complimentary offerings they don't that influence consumers' selection of one hotel over another.

A study indicates that when choosing a hotel, consumers say complimentary offerings such as breakfast and in-room coffee are more important to them than other amenities.
Overall, 40% of business and leisure guests say that foodservice offerings are very important to their choice of hotel.

They prefer hotels with a casual-dining restaurant, a bar or lounge, and an extensive room service menu. For many midscale, economy and extended-stay hotels, foodservice is largely defined by the complimentary breakfast.

Complimentary breakfast is often viewed as a drain on revenues,However, it's an offering consumers are seeking out when they look over hotel options. It drives traffic and enhances the guest experience.

Hotel and foodservice executives must understand consumer preferences associated with hotel foodservice.

24% of business travelers order room service while only 12% of leisure travelers do, and that 34% of business travelers and 25% of leisure travelers are traveling more this year than two years ago. The latter figure was driven by an increased amount of younger travelers.

Understanding the needs and preferences of consumers between the ages of 25 and 34, while also being mindful of the expectations of the older, more established customer base will be important in driving future business and building brand loyalty,

Appealing to younger consumers may require offering expanded amenities and foodservice options that go beyond the mainstream, such as healthy grab-n-go or ethnic cuisine that boasts unique and bold flavor profiles.”

Tapas-style food offerings in hotel lobbies and lounges are on the increase. In addition, hotel catering programs are differentiating themselves through themed carts and on-site food preparation.

While the location of a hotel is the leading consideration for consumers when deciding where to stay for leisure and business travel, many consumers, especially females, also cite amenities as an important consideration in their choice of hotel.

Consumers today are increasingly value-conscious and expect more from a hotel than just a place to spend the night; they look to hotels to provide them with a unique experience from check-in to check-out.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Sia Siew Chin, Executive Director of The Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled, wants to highlight the fact that even people with disabilities want to travel like the rest of the population. It is no longer about the lack of proper toilets or facilities for the disabled, but more about the lack of opportunities for this group, especially those with limited mobility, to travel or visit places.

"There is a 'market of millions' of people whose mobility has been reduced and yet they want to travel if the product, service and destination are adequately adapted to their needs," said Sia whose mobility has been impaired since childhood due to a genetic disorder.

She pointed out to the writer that this market has been emerging in various parts of the world since the last decade, but unfortunately the tourism industry in this country has yet to tap on this market.

'Accessible tourism' as the world knows must be seen from an economic perspective where disabled friendly facilities woo more disabled travelers and in turn more income from the tourism industry. "By promoting accessible tourism, we wish to change the public perception that the provision of disabled friendly facilities is no longer an extra cost but part of the future investment," she said.

Sia further said that the foundation has embarked on an effort to create awareness on accessible tourism in the country by coordinating a regional photography contest with the theme 'Exploring Life Through Lens of Equality'.

The contest, with participation open to the Asia Pacific region, welcomes photo entries that portray tourists with disabilities in a disabled friendly environment or people championing for the needs of the disabled tourist. Sia noted that the contest also aims to draw the attention of the tourism sector to the issue as well as encourage the Tourism Ministry to do more research on promoting accessible tourism.

The winning entry will receive RM3,000 while the second and third positions will get RM2,000 and RM1,000 respectively. Those coming in fourth to 10th position will receive RM500 each. The contest acts as a curtain raiser for the two-day Accessible Tourism For All Convention this November.

The contest will also advocate the removal of architectural and transportation barriers preventing the disabled persons from enjoying the environment.

"The photography contest held by the foundation is a great way for people to see this. For me, it is just like lending one's own eyes for the disabled," she said.

As the writer was conversing with Sia, the President of Malaysia Confederation of Disabled, Datuk Mah Hassan was led in to the room. Dressed in a black suit complete with dark glasses, he made for a strong presence in the room. Mah, a lawyer with visual disability, has championed for the cause of those visually challenged and was also involved in the drafting of the Persons With Disability Act 2008.

Mah concurred with Sia that accessible tourism is yet to be recognised here. "Promoting accessible tourism is not a job of the Tourism Ministry alone. Every government agency must play their part. Nowadays, we (disabled persons) do not depend on sympathy; it is the question of our rights. We have the right to have equal access to the environment," he said.

Mah said physical barriers have been one of the main problem preventing the disabled from enjoying the environment. This includes landscapes like flower pots that prevent access to wheelchair bound people and buildings without ramps which prevent the disabled from going up or down. Providing more disabled friendly facilities will help persons with disabilities to live independently in the community and contribute to the nation building.

He said people with disabilities were appreciative of what the government has done for them, but hoped that the government would provide them with more jobs in the civil services. "Only a few government agencies like the Social Welfare Department meet the one per cent employment quota for disabled persons. I appeal to the other government agencies to improve on this," he said. Mah further stressed that providing facilities for the disabled is not solely the responsibility of the government, it is the responsibility of all, including the private sector.

For more information on the subject, please visit

Thursday, July 21, 2011


(+) Travel to Europe continued to exhibit strong growth through May as indicated by industry and arrivals data. Nearly all destinations report growth in arrivals for the first three to five months of the year.

(+) However, the heady growth numbers are due in part to a rebound effect resulting from comparison to data during the air space closures in April 2010. This effect will become less pronounced as the year carries forward.

(+) The most recent lodging and arrivals data are showing signs of moderating growth while data for European airlines shows a modest expansion in recent weeks. Available (and continually added) capacity should allow for competitive fares which could provide some added support to travel demand over the near term.

(+) Hotel occupancy slowed in Southern and Eastern Europe in May while the rest of Europe held relatively steady. Average Daily Rates continue to push up across Europe in response to demand and have displaced demand as the primary driver of hotel revenue growth.

(+) We expect the overall growth trend to slow in the remainder of 2011 as comparisons are made to stronger performance in 2010 and fight against the headwinds of an anaemic global economy.

(+) Only two years into the recovery and incoming data indicate that the global economy has weakened anew, raising doubts about whether the expansion in the advanced economies is sustainable.

(+) However, the softening of growth in Q2 likely reflected a number of temporary factors that are already fading. The recovery in the developed nations has now reached a stage where it is self- sustaining, particularly when set in the context of continued rapid growth in the Emerging Markets. Fears of a ‘lost decade’ resembling Japan in the 1990s are thus overplayed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The Southern Thai Tourism Office hopes to work together with its Malaysian counterpart to revive tourism in Southern Thailand which had been compromised by strife and bloodshed.

Kelantan-based Thai Consul-General Surapon Petch-Vra said both sides could take advantage of their similar lifestyle and culture to promote tourism for mutual benefit.

In his speech at a roadshow, "Tourism: Thailand-Malaysia Together" hereTuesday, he said they could work jointly to woo tourists that came to Kelantan to also visit Southern Thailand.

Surapon said he was amazed at the strides that Kelantan had made in tourism.

"It has developed to such an extent that hotels and homestays are mushrooming to accommodate visitors," he noted.

He said existing bilateral relations needed to be accentuated with more joint programmes to boost tourism in that part of Thailand.

In this regard, he urged tourism agencies in Southern Thailand to strive harder.

"We will be able to manage problems at the border and ensure that the tourism industry will continue to flourish," he added.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The Terengganu government has declared 2013 as Visit Terengganu Year (VTY), aimed at increasing tourist arrivals in the state by 20 per cent from the previous VTY in 2008.

State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Rahin Mohd Said said the state received three million visitors during the VTY 2008 campaign.

"We will step up efforts to develop the state's tourism industry and enhance the current attractions," he said after the launching of the Mount Berembun Green Challenge 2011, here, today.

Rahin said Hulu Terengganu's Tasik Kenyir with its 10 small islands being developed for tourism would be the main attraction for visitors to the state.

The state government, he said, was working at turning the untouched natural splendour of Gunung Berembun and Chemerong Waterfalls, which is among the highest in Southeast Asia, into places of interest as well.

"I also intend to turn Hulu Dungun as a tourist draw for the VTY 2013 and make the Mount Berembun Green Challenge an annual event," he said.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Formule 1, Accor’s true budget brand, has introduced its new Cocoon room concept into Australia, with F1 hotels in Canberra, Campbelltown and Wentworthville the first to showcase the new rooms.

F1 Campbelltown was the very first Formule 1 in Australia, and its refurbishment is well timed as Accor celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.

The Cocoon Room provides a more stylish, with soft colours, rounded edges and soothing lighting, as well as extra storage space.With wood-look floors, flat screen TVs with extra channels and internet connections the Cocoon Room won Best Interior Design at the European Hotels Design Awards and represents a real metamorphosis for the brand, which was first introduced in 1984.

The new rooms have strong environmental credentials, with water-efficient showers and toilets, recyclable materials used throughout and energy efficient lighting.

“The Formule 1 brand really revolutionised budget travel by offering ensuite rooms that could comfortably sleep one, two or three people at an affordable price,” said Simon McGrath, Vice President Accor Australia. “The introduction of the Cocoon Room concept is another revolution for the brand and highlights how much the brand has upgraded to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of today’s travellers. With these new rooms, we believe Formule 1 offers the best value for money sleep in the market.

”The Cocoon Rooms will be rolled out to all 20 Formule 1 hotels in Australia over the next few years. Popular with families, sporting groups and couples on a budget, Formule 1 hotels are typically located near airports or key transport hubs and increasingly in major cities, with more than 80 hotels across five continents including Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan and South Africa. In Europe, the Formule 1 brand concept comes under the ETAP brand, which includes a network of 420 hotels.

To have an idea what the cocoon concept is all about try going to the Gardens of Midvalley City in Kuala Lumpur.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Fifteen local and foreign participants showcased their flower decorated and lighted boats in 1Malaysia International Night Floral Parade 2011 (1MITNF 2011) at Putrajaya Lakeside,Precint 3, last night.

Participants including Tourism Malaysia, Melaka state government,
Terengganu state government, AirAsia, Sunway Group, i-City, Resort World
Genting, Brunei and Cambodia are vying for awards in four categories - Overall
Best Boat, Most Creative Boat, Best Lighted Boat and Most Popular Boat.

1MITNF 2011 with the theme ''Magic of the Night'' is held in conjuction with
Putrajaya Flower and Garden Festival 2011 (Floria Putrajaya 2011) from
July 9-17,

Among activities organised are night floral boats photography contest,
fireworks display, musical and cultural group performances and 20 tourism
related booths offering various tourism products and packages to the public.

Tourism Malaysia''s boat showcased various tourism elements which
comprise four logos such as 1Malaysia, Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia, Malaysia Truly
Asia, 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean.

"Apart from the logos, the boat also presented Malaysia''s other tourist
attractions like Petronas Twin Towers, Traditional House, Wau, Rafflesia,
Hisbiscus, Orang Utan, diving, fishes and corals which reflect beautiful islands
and rich marine life,"

The Tourism Malaysia boat sails across Putrajaya Lake nightly before
dropping anchor for a static display at the end of each day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


While the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and Mount Fuji may be the first images that come to mind when we picture beautiful landmarks, the truth is that there are numerous dazzling sights—both natural and man-made—right here in the Malaysia.

The past couple of decades has seen the creation of many organizations that work together to protect Malaysia’s national treasures. After the first national park, Taman Negara, was established in 1972 to protect the natural beauty of its world-famous tropical rain forest, the Badan Warisan was founded in 1980—and now oversees the preservation of built heritage around the country. Later, the National Antiquity Act of 1990 was created to protect landmarks that specifically illustrate the heritage of the Malaysia.

Not all of the Malaysian landmarks have been officially designated as state parks or National Historic Places. And, on their surface, many of them may seem dissimilar: one is an extraordinary landscape, while another is a lighthouse; one is a mighty waterfall, while another is a centuries-old settlement. But what’s amazing is that these landmarks, disparate though they are, share a home right here on Malaysian soil. And all of them have played a part, however small, in our national history.

Friday, July 15, 2011


In her usual style of making sweeping statements, Tourism Minister Dato Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen said because of the illegal street demonstrations, her ministry now had to do extra work to ensure tourist arrivals were not affected.

What she is trying to say here is that more money is needed to do this.

"For us, our job now is to immediately address all concerns as well as negative comments and ensure that Malaysia's tourism industry will continue to flourish," she told reporters after launching the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism (MCAT) 2011, here today. "You cannot deny that there is definitely an economic impact for all sectors, for us, we need to ensure the tourism industry is not affected and that the world is not thinking that demonstrations are part of our daily lives," she said.

Thus, she believed that with appropriate campaigning, international tourist arrivals would stabilize in a short period.

Meanwhile, on the MCAT which will last three months, Ng said it was organised for the second time after receiving an overwhelming response when it was first held last year. "We recorded 42,000 visitors and about RM14 million in art sales last year," she said, adding that the event will also give local artists and painters much exposure.

Compared to last year, she said this year's event was bigger with 16 events being organised in seven states namely Kedah, Penang, Melaka, Johor, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak. Other than that, she said it was also participated by several shopping complexes in the city besides 100 art galleries.

"It is our hope that Malaysia will be widely recognised as a reputable destination for art enthusiasts in the region soon," she added.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Even our Youth and Sports Minister is talking about tourism these days. He said Sabah has the potentials to become Malaysia's number one youth tourism destination.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that Sabah had the means to become a promoter through its state ministry headed by Datuk Peter Pang En Yin.

"Sabah has a lot of potentials in organising great events for youths.

"It clearly showed in the One Million Youth gathering in Putrajaya. We expected a few hundreds to turn up from Sabah. But the state government had flown 1,200 youths to take part in the gathering," he said when closing the State Youth Convention 2011 here.

He also said Sabah had active youths involving in various fields such as sports and social work as well as adequate facilities for youth activities.

Instead of talking about dreams, why not talk about the development of backpacking for youths and the development of youth hostels in Malaysia. That would be most fitting to his portfolio.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The overwhelming demand from foreign tourists for handicraft products to take home as souvenirs has helped to expand the handicraft industry, said Malaysian Handicrafts director-general Mohd Kamil Mohd Ali.

He said statistics showed that domestic sales increased by RM26.3mil, from RM243.7mil in 2007 to RM270mil in 2009.

Batik craft was the biggest contributor at 51.4% or RM138.7mil involving handicraft sales in 2009, he said at the launch of the Premier Craft Interactive Programme by Langkawi MP Datuk Abu Bakar Taib at the handicraft complex here yesterday.

About 300 trainees and staff of the Langkawi National Service Training Camp took part in the programme which involved batik making.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Access to the Internet should be seen as a fundamental human right and respected as much as freedom of expression, the transatlantic security body OSCE said in a report Friday.

"Everyone should have a right to participate in the information society and states have a responsibility to ensure citizens’ access to the Internet is guaranteed," the report, presented in Vienna, said.

The analysis was the first ever of state regulations on Internet access within the 56-member OSCE.

"Some governments already recognise access to the Internet as a human right. This trend should be supported as a crucial element of media freedom in the 21st century," the OSCE's media representative Dunja Mijatovic told journalists upon presentation of the report.

And since last year, Finnish citizens have a legal right to Internet access, the first country to lay down such a rule, while Norway had also taken steps in that direction, it noted.

However, seven other states admitted they had regulations allowing them to limit access to the Internet in cases of state emergencies, to defend national security and to protect public health.

"Legislation in many countries does not recognise that freedom of expression and freedom of the media equally apply to Internet as a modern means of exercising these rights," Mijatovic noted.

As a result, the organisation offered guidelines to ensure that citizens' access to the Web was guaranteed, such as clearly wording laws, refraining from blocking content and generally respecting freedom of expression and of the media.

"We will use the study as an advocacy tool to promote speech-friendly Internet regulation in the OSCE participating States," Mijatovic said.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Malaysia is known among the citizens of USA as a low cost of living and highly subsidised economy in Asia That is probably the reason why the New York office of Tourism Malaysia is aggressively pushing the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme in the United States.

Its vice-president Salahuddin Mohd Arifin said it is now trying to partner with magazines, tour operators, airlines and others to promote Malaysia and its MM2H programme.

He foresees good prospects of increasing traffic from the US to Malaysia for specific business segments such as MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), MM2H, medical tourism and others.

"Though the MICE segment is directly promoted by a dedicated office in Kuala Lumpur called MyCEB (Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau), we try to help whenever we can," he told Bernama.

Tourism Malaysia New York is currently upgrading its website to have a "new look" to make it more attractive to Americans who may want to have detailed information about various aspects of tourism to Malaysia.

He said although many Americans were unwilling to undertake long-haul travel these days, he was confident that the MM2H programme would change their mind because it provided all kinds of facilities connected with good lifestyle in an attractive destination.

The programme is also attractive for both retirees and non-retirees, and offers a first-class amenities at affordable prices, he added.

Although it has been receiving lukewarm response from the Americans in the past, among others due to the huge geographical distance between both countries, now it has been getting enquiries from Americans of Asian origin, particularly applicants from Bangladesh, China and others.

"Bangladeshis living here probably have friends who are well-settled in Malaysia. They hear about their lifestyle in Malaysia and are naturally inclined to make enquiries about the MM2H.

"The Chinese ethnic group is also interested in the MM2H.

"Americans who show interest in the MM2H usually have relatives, business associates and friends in Malaysia. But I can tell you for sure that once an American visits Malaysia, he becomes a repeat visitor," said Salahuddin.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

MATTA plans to promote Kashmir to Malaysians

Instead of promoting Kashimiris to come to Malaysia,MATTA plans to do just the opposite: promote Kashmir to Malaysians

According to MATTA: When people think of Kashmir in north India, it is usually about unrest due to the overlapping claims on the disputed region between India and Pakistan.

However, the area is actually peaceful and filled with beautiful landscapes. It even has three world-class golf courses to boot.Therefore, (MATTA) hopes to change the perception of Malaysians about Kashmir in an effort to lure more tourists to the region.

“We hope to work together with the Jammu and Kashmir tourism authorities for this purpose,” said MATTA president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun at the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department roadshow here yesterday. “Malaysians, in general, will not find it a problem to visit Kashmir as it shares similarities with our country such as the presence of halal food and a large Muslim community there,” he said.

He added that Jammu attracts Hindu devotees for its numerous temples and shrines. Mohd Khalid said nature lovers would also enjoy taking in the sights of the area’s green valleys and lakes.

Jammu and Kashmir minister of tourism and culture Nawang Rigzin Jora assured Malaysian tourists that Kashmir was as peaceful as any place in India and dismissed media reports which had painted it as unsafe. “Kashmir is to Asia what Switzerland is to Europe with its beautiful natural landscapes,” he said
He added that Jammu and Kashmir would send its team to the MATTA Fair from Aug 12 to 14 at the Putra World Trade Centre here so that Malaysians could learn more about the state. “We believe Malaysia would be a good market to tap. We hope to receive an intitial batch of about 3,000 Malaysian visitors to Jammu and Kashmir,” Nawang said.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


The 6th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) to be held from July 17 to 26 this year will feature 18 international cultural dance troupes. The festival is an international event to promote cultural tourism, organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment through the Sabah Cultural Board.

"Sabah will be hosting delegates from India, Slovakia, Indonesia, Latvia, Namibia, Taiwan, Belgium, Estonia, Philippines, Egypt, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Korea and Turkey," said Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, Datuk Bolkiah Ismail. It will be held at the Penampang Cultural Centre.

New elements will be introduced in this year's festival, namely the "Bal-bal" mascot, which is derived from the ethnic Iranun folklore, exhibition and selling of traditional Sabah food and also a cultural parade, he said at the sponsorship cheque handing over here, Wednesday. "Art enthusiasts will also be able to attend the International Folk Art Festival with participating artists from Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Russia and Malaysia," said Bolkiah, who is also the festival's organising chairman.

The festival has raised a total of RM33,500 in sponsorship from Malakun Holdings Sdn Bhd, Tung-E Enterprise Sdn Bhd, Hotel Juta Sdn Bhd, Progressive Insurance Bhd, Sabah Tea Sdn Bhd, Pantai Dalit Resort, Malaysian Timber Industry Board, Perkasa Tenom, Sabah Softwood Berhad, Saujana Environment and Montis Sdn Bhd.

"This is a yearly event and we hope more agencies and companies will come forward to give their support," he said. The main objectives of the festival are to promote understanding and harmony through culture; promoting brotherhood through culture; promoting cultural tourism among participating nations; and promoting the State as a tourist destination in Asia in accordance with the "Malaysia Truly Asia" slogan.

The festival will hold events such as Sabah Folkdance Competition which will be held from July 20 to 21 at the Penampang Cultural Centre, followed by the "Prime Show" on July 22 at Magellan Sutera Harbour and the International Folkdance Competition from July 23 to 24 at the cultural centre.

Also present was Sabah Cultural Board Chairman, Datuk Wences Anggang.

For further information, the public can contact the Sabah Cultural Board at Tel: 088-268 851, Fax: 088-264 235, e-mail: or browse their website at

Sunday, July 3, 2011


A group of women NGOs is outraged over the rising number of massage parlours in Selangor, saying these vice dens have caused much heartbreak to many families.

They said innocent lives had been affected when husbands, fathers and even sons became regulars of the illicit services offered at some of the outlets.

“Many families have been affected by the mushrooming of these massage centres.

“Money that is meant for the family is spent on unnecessary activities,” beautician and Malaysian Beauty Therapy Association president Datin Clara Chee said.

Teenagers, she said, were also being lured to such places.

“Family values are affected and this is bad for the moral fibre of society,” she said yesterday.

Chee was joined by representatives from the Federation of Kwang Tung Associations (Women Section), Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong), the Malaysian Chinese Women Entrepreneurs Foundation, Malaysia Hindu Sangam and several other groups.

The Federation of Kwang Tung Associations (Women Section), which was represented by Chong Moi Heong, said it was high time the state government drew the line and regulate the licence holders and clamp down on illegal operators.

“If this does not happen, it may lead to serious social problems,” she said.

It was reported that massage centres and reflexology outlets were just a front for masseuses who offered sexual favours for between RM50 and RM150.

However, many operators of these places had set up business complete with signboards to advertise their supposedly legitimate services.

State Local Government Committee chairman Ronnie Liu said only 60 massage and foot reflexology centres in Selangor had been issued licences, with most of them in Ampang Jaya.

However, Wanita MCA secretary-general Senator Chew Lee Giok claimed last week that there were about 220 massage centres in Petaling Jaya alone.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


MASholidays, the travel arm of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), aims to fly 200,000 medical tourists here to seek treatment in the next two years.

MAS executive vice president, commercial strategy, Datuk Dr Amin Khan, said Malaysia has emerged as the most popular destination for medical tourism in Association of South-East Asian Nations due to competitive prices offered by the sector.

"Malaysia boasts a high number of specialists with extensive international qualifications," he told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Tropicana Medical Centre (TMC) here Thursday.

He said under the MOU, TMC would offer MASholidays customers different types of executive health screening packages such as basic, wellness, elite and premier at attractive rates.

"The airline will then incorporate the programmes into an all-inclusive travel, accommodation and tour packages to be introduced to international holidaymakers," he said.

Group chief executive officer of TMC Life Sciences Bhd, Francis Lim Poon Thoo, said the first-of-its-kind partnership between the private hospital and the airline marked a significant development in TMC's effort to reach out to medical tourists from around the globe.

"This is in line with the government's effort to develop Malaysia into a global medical tourism hub. We are confident that international holidaymakers would take this opportunity to experience Malaysia while ensuring that their health is well taken care," he said.

Lim said the 180-bed TMC would focus on patients from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

Currently, there are at least 35 hospitals in Malaysia that are being geared towards medical tourism. All are accredited locally by the Malaysian Medical Society for Quality of Health and are licensed by the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

According to Malaysia Medical Tourism Outlook 2012 research report, the Malaysian medical tourism industry's revenue was anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 16 per cent during 2011-2014.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I think this issue is only seen from one side of the fence. Yes I do acknowledge Melaka should preserve it historical sites for the future generation and to showcase to the world what we have. However it should also know how to balance it’s self to exist between past and present.

We must understand tourist that goes to any destination in the world, needs to unwind after a long day and this is lacking in our country. Due to this we are loosing out to others especially to our immediate neighbors like Singapore. Which are able to balance itself between preserving it historical sites and modern building including many establishments that tourist can patronize.

Why we need to be negative on anything that is originated from America? Whether we like it or not we can’t live or ignore them – that is reality! Instead we should look into positive effect that Hard Rock will bring to Melaka in term of tourist arrival.

Thank you.

Ganneesh Ramaa