Friday, September 30, 2011


Malaysia Airlines' (MAS) new short-haul premium carrier will take off by January. However, it is not likely to be named Sapphire, as indicated earlier. Instead, said a source, the Firefly brand might be retained or there would be a new brand incorporating the MAS name.

The short-haul premium airline would also compete with AirAsia because there will be route overlaps in the market segment.

It is learnt that there would be no duplication of routes between MAS' long-haul premium operations and those of the short-haul premium airline. “Sapphire is definitely out, but it's not certain if the Firefly name would be used. The entire product offering has to be changed because it would be a full-service airline that offers business class seating. It would also be a feeder service for MAS' long-haul operations. It has to have the right branding and product offering to attract both the business and leisure travellers,” said the source.

“Eventually, we are talking about a product that offers value for money. Naturally, the business model has to change,” he added.

It is learnt that the MAS board approved both the long-haul premium and short-haul premium structures yesterday, paving the way for planning and implementation.

Firefly is a community airline that operates from Subang, using turboprops. It also flies jets from the KL International Airport (KLIA) but this will cease by end-October.

MAS' transformation stems from the share swap between MAS and AirAsia's founding members, who now own 20% of MAS. As part of the change, the interior of the aircraft for the short-haul services will be changed to include business-class seats for both the turboprop and jet operations.

The turboprops will continue to fly from Subang, while the jet operations from KLIA will serve short-haul routes within a three to four-hour flying radius. Since the new airline would be premium short-haul carrier, the Firefly operating model will change and so will the service quality and branding. The cost of the change, according to the source, would be minimal because the “structure is already there”.

Still, there be may room for airfares to go up because the new short-haul airline will be a premium product. Another source said “we would like to think it is value for money”.

It is also learnt that the MAS board had approved a new organisational structure, which was proposed by new managing director Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. The source said the number of heads now reporting to Ahmad Jauhari would be reduced from 14 to eight, and with that, “we are seeing a leaner structure for better coordination”.

The board is also said to have reaffirmed MAS' entry into the oneworld alliance as it saw “more upside” to such a move than otherwise.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Half a million more. This is the number of jobs expected to be created by the tourism industry by 2020, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. The sector has so far helped create some 1.2 million jobs.

Underscoring the importance of the industry to the economy, Dr Ng said besides increasing the inflow of foreign exchange, tourism helped boost economic and socio-economic development, as well as create direct and indirect employment opportunities.

"Additional jobs can easily be created in this industry, considering its deep and wide linkages with other related industries."

These industries include agriculture, handicraft, hotel, transport, arts and culture, wellness, food and beverages, entertainment, construction and finance.

"Tourism protects and conserves every aspect, be it history, culture, heritage or environment. We are looking at sustainable development, including in the job market," Dr Ng said, adding that tourism benefited everyone.

To achieve a target of RM94 billion in gross national income by 2020 compared with RM34 billion now, the ministry has identified 12 high-impact projects across five themes.

The first theme -- "affordable luxury" -- includes three projects, namely imposing duty-free status on a wider range of goods, turning Bukit Bintang and KLCC into premier shopping districts and introducing at least three new premium outlets.

The second theme -- "nature adventure" -- aims to transform Malaysia into a pre-eminent global biodiversity hub, while the third theme -- "family fun" -- will introduce new integrated resorts and increase competitiveness in high-end cruises via the Straits Riviera projects.

The fourth theme -- "events, entertainment, spas and sports" -- targets the staging of more international events and establishing dedicated entertainment zones, and promote spa and sports products.

The fifth theme -- "business tourism" -- aims to establish the country as a leading business tourism destination.

Under the Malaysian Tourism Transformation Plan, the ministry aims to achieve RM168 billion in revenue and 36 million tourists by 2020.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Twenty-eight restaurants in Kuala Lumpur will roll up their sleeves to prepare promotional menus made up of cuisine from the three major races in Malaysia at discounted price for a month starting October 1.

They are the participating restaurants in the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Campaign (FF1M), organised by the Tourism Ministry, under the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) theme.

The Fabulous Food 1Malaysia campaign, which was introduced in 2009 and aimed at promoting Malaysia as a country enriched with variety of food, is held for three months starting from October and features a different theme on each month.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said MIGF would be the theme for October, Asean Heritage Food Trail with Chef Wan in November and Street and Restaurant Food Festival in December.

"We want to introduce our local food to tourists so that they will remember our country not only for the beautiful places but also our cuisine," she told a news conference here Thursday.

Popular local dishes rendang, nasi briani and char kueh teow would be compulsory menu this year. Last year, they were satay, roti canai and chicken rice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Terengganu will ban large tourism projects on Pulau Bidong and its surrounding islands and only allow day trippers, in a bid to to protect the corals and preserve it as a marine heritage island. The Pulau Bidong group of islands, comprising a main island and five smaller ones, must be protected as they were the last uninhabited islands in Terengganu.

State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Rahin Mohd Said said the state government did not want the islands to be turned into other resort islands such as Perhentian and Redang to minimise environmental damage to marine life.

"We want to promote the islands of Pulau Bidong in a such a way that will still protect its environment hence the idea of opening it only to day trippers. Visitors can still come and enjoy the beauty of the corals and marine life but they must leave by end of the day.

"We will need to build the amenities for day-trippers, but it will be on a much smaller scale compared with large-scale construction for resorts," he said after taking part in an underwater signing ceremony of a pledge to safeguard the islands' marine heritage yesterday.

Sixty divers took part and it was certified by the Malaysia Book of Records as the first in Malaysia. The event was organised by the Malaysia Coral Reef Conservation Society (Coral Malaysia) with the cooperation of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and the Terengganu government.

UMT vice chancellor Prof Datuk Aziz Deraman, who welcomed the move to protect the islands, said the university would make Pulau Bidong its research island. "Currently, we have a research facility with four laboratories on the island and we will conduct more research on the Pulau Bidong archipelago."

He said research to harness the power of tidal currents, solar and wind would also be conducted on the island, beside marine biology studies. "We will build a windmill at our research centre on the island to supply electricity and at the same time be a subject of green energy research. UMT has conducted research into ways to restore dying corals but what is more important is to preserve what we still have."

Coral Malaysia president Jamhariah Jaafar said artificial reefs, known as the Underwater Gallery, around Pulau Bidong had become healthy grounds for coral growth. "The waters around Pulau Bidong have many fascinating diving sites which can be promoted to create public awareness about our marine heritage."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rhetoric not enough to move tourism industry

The tourism sector, which is the second largest industry in the country, needs more “action”, not just “rhetoric”, to move it forward.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk James Dawos Mamit said while branding exercises were necessary, follow-up actions were necessary to make any proposed project work. “Creative strategies for implementation is a must … otherwise everything will end up as mere rhetoric,” he said at the closing of the state-level ‘Student Tourism Programme (3P) Carnival 2011’ and speech competition on ‘1Malaysia Green 1Malaysia Clean’ at Sarawak Cultural Village here on Sunday.

On the 3P programme, Dawos commended the organising committee for successfully holding it in two languages — Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Fifty six students and 21 teachers from 16 schools attended the three-day event which was organised by the Ministry of Tourism and State Education Department.

Dawos called for more 3P programmes to be organised in order to expose the students on the importance of the tourism industry, with the hope that they would one day be tourism ambassadors. “We need activities that are more practical so that the student will understand more about the tourism industry,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia state director Esther Douglas Udam said the 3P programme was meant to educate the students about cleanliness and the need to preserve the environment. “It is hoped that once the participants stepped out from the programme, they will bring the experience with them and hopefully share it with their friends at school. In short, they would be our young tourism ambassador,” she said.

In the speech competition, Shafizan Suhaili from SMK Bintulu emerged champion in the Bahasa Malaysia category while Noor Hanisa Hanapi from SMK Matu came in second, Raffaela Cheau Mei of SMK Muara Tuang, Samarahan (third). For the English category, Aiman Nabila Alwi from SMB St Theresa won the first place, Edmund Pan Ing Shien from SMK St Columba, Miri (second) and Brandon Ling Kie Chai from SMK Methodist Sibu (third).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Can our cities be named as the ‘best’ city in the world, compared to neighbouring Singapore, Bangkok or Jakarta?

Compared to 2009, very little has changed in Kuala Lumpur in terms of traffic congestion and cleanlinss.

Which means that we need to carry out direct trend comparison until 2011.

Can we identify our cities with the best eco-ranking based on water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewage systems, air pollution and traffic congestion.

A high-ranking eco-city optimised its use of renewable energy sources and generated the lowest possible quantity of pollution (air, water, noise, etc). A city’s eco-status or attitude toward sustainability can have significant impact on the quality of living of its inhabitants.

As a consequence these are also pertinent issues for companies that send employees and their families on long-term assignments abroad, especially considering the vast majority of expatriates are relocated to urban areas. Last but not least issues that determine the numbers of tourist arrival into the country must also be looked into.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Homestay operators in Malaysia have been urged to offer more Hari Raya Aidilfitri-themed packages during Syawal to lure foreign tourists here.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said such packages would see foreign tourists wanting to experience the celebration.

He said operators have to be creative in incorporating the Hari Raya theme in their respective packages by promoting traditional food and games.

“The ministry is always supportive of the operators' efforts to diversify tourism products offered in order to boost the industry,” he said before opening the Mai Beraya Homestay 1Malaysia 2011 programme at the National Park Square (Dataran Taman Negara) in Teluk Bahang.

The programme, which started last year, is in conjunction with the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration last month.

Organised by the state Tourism Ministry Office and the Penang Homestay Operators Association, the programme is aimed at promoting elements of Hari Raya, such as food and culture as tourism products.

Dawos also said that between January and July there were more than 120,000 tourists who took part in the homestay programme compared to 92,000 last year. He said that as of this year, more than 100 villages in the country were involved in the homestay programme and nine were in Penang.

Association president Rohaizat Othman said homestay operators would be able to lure more tourists if they focused on their specialities such as offering kampung-style environment for the tourists. “In fact, we are planning to introduce kampung stays in the future which will offer tourists a chance to stay in kampung houses and experience the lifestyles of the locals,” he said.

Guests to the event were treated to a scrumptious Hari Raya food spread such as ketupat, rendang and satay and were also entertained to dance performances.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


One of the most silliest remarks about Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is that it will need to focus more on rebranding exercise as one of the ways for the national carrier to turnaround.

AirAsia Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sir Tony Fernandes is the one behind this remarks.

Citing the success stories of AirAsia and Emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in terms of branding, he said, there were huge opportunities for MAS to invest in brands, especially getting people to know more about the airline.

MAS is our national carrier, period. It has remained so until Air Asia came into the picture and offered cheap tickets.

MAS is a good airline. There's no cost problems in MAS. The problem is revenue and the need to rationalise routes.

Tan Sir Tony said AirAsia has invested substantially in building up its brand by sponsoring in sports and cultural activities and it has been proven with the recognition it has gained overseas.

However, it was up to the new chief executive officer to take up the challenge and to deal with the challenges within the company, said Tony, who is also a non-independent non-executive director of MAS.

Despite scepticism from the public and vested interest on MAS-AirAsia collaboration, Tony was optimistic with the future outcome from the partnership.

"I think put in the right management in place, put in the right model in place, focus model. The collaboration between Airasia and MAS, I think MAS has a very rosy future because we are blessed to be in the right part of the world, where there are a lot of people who want to travel," he said on the contrary.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

MALAYSIA'S Tune Hotels

Home grown Tune Hotels will welcome guests in Thailand and India by next year, as part of the low-cost brand’s expansion across Asia.

Hat Yai will get Thailand’s first Tune Hotel in December, followed by Pattaya next February.

Giving the update during a presentation at Economy Hotels World Asia 2011 yesterday, Thai AirAsia spokesperson Topaz Subunruk said: “Economy hotels have grown in line with low-cost carriers and we are open to supporting our sister hotels."

At least two more Tune Hotels are slated to open in Thailand, she added. AirAsia and Tune Hotels are both part of Tune Group.

Other countries with Tune projects in development include China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, India’s first Tune will open by next July, said Umesh Luthria, executive director of Apodis Hospitality Group, which has a joint venture with Tune to develop 20 hotels in India by 2013/2014.

Luthria said the group still had “some homework to do” before rolling out the brand. This includes finalising the design of the hotels, as the current version of Tune is undergoing a revamp, starting with the downtown Kuala Lumpur property.

Said Luthria: “We think we will compete quite well in this segment, as there are not that many big names within India.”

Friday, September 16, 2011


Unfamiliar places including destinations in the East Coast and Perak are being promoted by Tourism Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia is seeing more and more Singaporean tourists visiting new destinations in Malaysia with a good number heading to Sabah and Sarawak, said Tourism Malaysia's Singapore Office Director Zalizam Zakaria.

"The momentum for this year is not bad as Tourism Malaysia continues to promote many more unknown destinations which offer a totally new experience for them. Besides, homestay is getting popular day by day as it offers something new and special experience they can no longer have in Singapore. A three-day, two-night stay will be perfect to gain some good experience in the kampong," he said at the Tourism Malaysia Hari Raya Gathering here today.

Some 13 million Singaporeans visited Malaysia last year, spending about RM28.4 billion during their stay. They accounted for 53 per cent of total tourist arrivals to Malaysia.

In a speech, Zalizam thanked all Singaporean industry players especially travel agents for their undivided support, commitment and tireless effort to promote Malaysia to their clients. He also thanked the media for their effort in producing articles in their publications about new destinations and experiences to their readers.

Next year, Tourism Malaysia would like to bring Singaporean students to experience the kampong life homestay-style in collaboration with Singapore's Education Ministry.

This month, it has launched an outdoor campaign by having 40 single and five double decker buses wrapped with nice visuals projecting homestay, shopping and the islands and beaches, among others.

"The public will see this frequently everywhere in Singapore," Zalizam said. "For the very first time, we are also bringing a few airlines to take part in the Travel Malaysia exhibition (on Nov 4-6) and offer special airfares and packages to all parts of Malaysia."

Besides, he said: "We are also working closely with Malaysian Immigration to open a booth at Travel Malaysia to process MACS (Malaysia Automated Clearance System) to all Singaporean and permanent residents. MACS holders are no longer required to fill the white card and have their passports stamped, thus making it much easier for them to travel to Malaysia as they like," he said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Tour operators here have been urged to design exciting inbound tour packages in order to tap into the vast eco-tourism potential of Malaysia.This would provide the niche factor to entice tourists, making up for its lack of places of interest.

Sibu divisional tourism task group (STTG) chairman Sim Kok Kee said“Thus far, there is only one tour operator who is actively providing inbound tour packages. We hope other operators will jump onto the band wagon to creatively come up with inbound tour packages.He believes that eco-tourism will appeal to a particular segment of tourists who have no qualms about spending money just to experience the attractions.

At a ‘Majlis Ramah Tamah Aidilfitri’ held here last Monday, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said eco-tourism was poised to become the most important economic sector for the state to generate wealth. CM Taib said this was because it would open up the interiors such as Belaga and Ulu Baram to the outside world, and showcase the state’s rich natural heritage and cultures.

Citing bird-watching, Sim, who is also Sibu Resident, said: “There are tourists who would love to spend hours watching a particular species of birds while enjoying the panoramic view of nature.”

To this, he hoped that Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) would help to identify possible sites for the unique activity, adding that he had heard positive comments from some animal lovers that they sighted rare species of birds at Bukit Lima Nature Park.

Echoing Sim’s view, Sarawak Central Region Hoteliers Association chairman Johnny Wong Sie Lee recalled that some years ago a group of Japanese scholars visited Kanowit just to view the mystical pitcher plants there.

Wong, who used to operate inbound tours, believes that it is vital that Sibu come up with eco-tourism products to attract tourists.
“Mind you, people will not visit Sibu just for the sake of tasting ‘Kampua mee’ or ‘Kompia’. The mighty Rajang River is no stranger to tourists but we need to come up with packages to get the ball rolling,” he suggested.

He believes that even a mini zoo similar to that in Bintulu would be a crowd puller.
“There are tourists who are not interested in anything else except animals or nature, including jungle trekking. They would travel round the globe for that,” he said.

But for the industry to takeoff, he said it was crucial to ensure good air connectivity.
“If the airfare costs a ‘bomb’, it is likely to spook off tourists,” he chuckled.

Noting the wide market for eco-tourism, Sarawak Tourism Board Sibu executive Rudy Anoi said: “I believe exciting eco-tourism products will definitely help complement the places of interest here and pull in tourists.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Malaysia will host the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations' (UFTAA) Congress next year as part of the effort to promote Visit Malaysia Year 2013.

UFTAA board member, Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun JP, said the event was expected to attract over 1,500 participants.

Mohd Khalid, who is also president of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, said the congress would discuss issues related to the tourism industry, including harmonisation of visas, health, safety and security regulations and common issues to assist industry players.

He said holding the congress here was in line with the Tourism Ministry's effort to transform the tourism industry and to attract more tourists.

"This is a good opportunity to promote Malaysia as the participants will be people who are going to 'sell' Malaysia globally and it will be held in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2013," he told a media briefing here Tuesday.

Mohd Khalid said the congress would also promote Malaysia as one of the region's preferred venues for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

"It will also showcase Malaysia's latest tourism products to the participants as we plan to organise pre- and post-tour to let them see the other parts of Malaysia, including the Sabah and Sarawak," he said.

He said UFTAA board of directors met on Sept 11, 2011 and picked Malaysia to host the congress, tentatively scheduled from Nov 17-22 next year. The last time Malaysia organised the congress was in 2002, he said.

"I'm confident the congress here will be a success with more programmes for to cater to a bigger crowd as we have the experience and expertise to organise the event," he said. The venue, he said, has yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, UFTAA president, Dr Mario Bevacqua, said this year's congress would be held on the "Victoria" cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea from Nov 10-24.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


In case you want to know where this MAS/Airasia share swop deal is leading to, try this latest news about the Queens Park Rangers Football Club announcing a multi-million pound shirt sponsorship deal with Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia.

Under this deal Malaysia Airlines will sponsor QPR’s home shirt for the next two seasons, whilst AirAsia will take pride of place on the R’s away and third jerseys for the same period.

QPR CEO Philip Beard expressed his delight at the new deal, commenting: "This is a unique and exciting venture for the Football Club.Attracting two major Asian companies to come on board shows the global appeal QPR has as a brand."

Of course we know that this deal will dig very deep in the pockets of MAS and Airasia.

"We are extremely positive about building a thriving relationship with both businesses in a bid to broaden our exposure in Southeast Asia and further afield.

"This is a remarkable deal for the Club and brings further positive news following a highly successful few weeks since the takeover was finalised." he added

The new home shirt, adorned with the Malaysia Airlines logo, will be worn for the first time in tonight’s live Sky Sports showdown against Newcastle United at Loftus Road.

Malaysia Airlines' Executive Director, Mohammed Rashdan Yusof, said: "Malaysia Airlines, or more commonly known by our acronym MAS, is elated to be associated with QPR's ascendancy to the Premier League.

"Our sponsorship of the home jersey of QPR, together with Air Asia's sponsorship of the away jersey, is a first for the Premier League. It also celebrates MAS's recent collaboration framework with Air Asia.

"This sponsorship enables MAS to reinforce its global full-service presence and premium franchise via football fans and lovers from all over Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Australia and all the four corners of the world.

"This sponsorship is the first major initiative of our new brand and marketing strategy, that would see important advertising money spent on boosting our top line. This is a key component in our drive to regain global market share, profitability and pride for the people of MAS."

AirAsia's Regional Head of Commercial, Kathleen Tan, added: "We are absolutely thrilled with this partnership with QPR.

"This is a timely and significant relationship between two brands which are keen in taking on any challenges for the taste of success.

"Our logo on QPR’s away shirt does not only symbolise our energetic partnership, but also a joint-representation of the hard work and challenges that we went through - for AirAsia to be the world’s best low cost airline for three consecutive years and QPR to make a comeback into top-flight football for the first time in 15 years.

"This is a very meaningful moment for all of us, and we are very excited to jointly associate ourselves with a Club like QPR, as they have a remarkable history in English football and their unrelenting spirit reflects our own Asian endeavour for success.

"Collaboratively, AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines can certainly build a very strong following for the QPR brand in a very passionate football audience in Asia."

Monday, September 12, 2011


Adverts by Malaysian Airlines for cheap flights from London to Malaysia have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority following four complaints that they were misleading.

The ASA told Malaysian Airlines that not enough flights were available at the discounted prices for it to justify advertising fares from £305 to Kuala Lumpur and from £333 to Penang and Langkawi on its website.

The ASA said as the airline could not provide adequate evidence that at least 10% of flights were available or sold at the lowest prices it had been ordered not to repeat the ad.

It also ruled that Malaysian's claims in a newspaper advert that the fares were 'all inclusive' was misleading as there was not adequate evidence that taxes were included for all of the advertised flights. The airline has been ordered not to repeat the advert in its current form.

ASA should not just pinpoint at Malaysia Airlines. Other low cost carriers are also famous for misleading passengers.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


After a lapse of a decade, Malaysia will host the tourism industry's premier event, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) annual conference, next year. Malaysia hosted the 50th PATA Annual Conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.

"For a long time, we did not bring the big players from the PATA fraternity to Malaysia. This will be a good platform to promote our new products to the world," Tourism Malaysia acting director-general Datuk Azizan Noordin told Bernama here.

About 600 delegates from 60 countries, mostly doyens of the international travel and tourism industry, are likely to attend the conference in Putrajaya from April 20 to 22.

Malaysia has been in the forefront of the global tourism industry, with its impeccable record, steadily wooing millions of foreign tourists to its shores. Last year, Malaysia registered a record 24.5 million tourist arrivals with a staggering RM56.5 billion in revenue, second only to the manufacturing sector.

"In Putrajaya, we will focus on green tourism, youth tourism and the use of technology, especially on how to engage the social media. We are also planning to organise an expo during the conference," Azizan said.

Azizan is leading a Malaysian delegation to the 2011 PATA Travel Mart in New Delhi where over 1,000 delegates are attending the three-day trade event.

Friday, September 9, 2011


The Balai Seni Lukis Negara has always been the hub of Malaysian art. Exhibitions are being held throughout the year featuring many local artists, many of whom are still crawling to the international art scene. Much work has to be done here.

On the other hand the Tourism Ministry of Malaysia has kicked start an initiative to bring in world renowned art works in hopes of making the country an international hub for contemporary art tourism.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said she had started discussions with international art agencies to bring in major pieces of art to be exhibited here and certainly not at the Balai Seni Luki Negara.

"We are having discussions with some government agencies and some museums to bring all those art work to be exhibited here in order to boost our tourism sector," she said after launching the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism festival (1MCAT) here today.

But the Minister said so far no commitment could be made as those art pieces were expensive with insurance very costly and this is an understatement as far as Malaysia art is concerned.

"Many people travel around the world just to look at one piece of art work from international artists such as Van Gogh, Menay, Vanie and we want to part of their stops," she said.

However, she said the organising of the 1MCAT festival from July to September, would showcase the most explosive, dynamic and provocative art produced by internationally acclaimed Malaysian-born artists through a series of exhibitions and seminars nationwide.

We will have to see about that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Although most of the touristic items are already duty free in Malaysia, Langkawi remain the regional shopping hub for duty-free goods, offering both international and local products. Most of the island’s shopping opportunities are found in its central commercial area – the town of Kuah. Here, you will find many stores and malls dedicated to providing the lowest prices of tax-free goods.

Other than Kuan town, Pantai Cenang is a haven for tourist shopping as the entire beach road is lined with shops and stalls on both sides. These shops sell mostly souvenirs in the form of fashion accessories, beads, handicrafts and merchandise but there are also many convenience stores.

Pantai Tengah is close to several shopping opportunities. Besides the souvenir shops along the beach itself, one can head to the Zon Duty-Free Shopping Complex in Underwater World Langkawi or Padang Mat Sirat which is more vibrant and has a good selection of concept stores.

Langkawi is a shopping paradise for duty-free goods from around the world. Kuah Town has the highest concentration of shopping centers and shop lots that retail duty-free goods and souvenirs. From the jetty to the town center, visitors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the right place to shop.

You can read more: Langkawi Shopping - Where to Shop and What to Buy in Langkawi

Wednesday, September 7, 2011



For those of you unfamiliar with Langkawi, it is a cluster of islands off the coast of northern Peninsular Malaysia near the state of Perlis and the Thailand border.
If you decide to take a long weekend away from home this little tropical island of Langkawi would be worth the visit.

Most of the 99 islands of Langkawi are uninhabited by people and home to a huge variety of plant and animal life. The ocean around Langkawi is known for it's coral reefs, and generally good diving and snorkelling conditions in which to view them.

Langkawi is, in short, a natural paradise. It's a favorite destination for Japanese and Middle Eastern tourists, who seem to make up about 50% of the tourists today.
Arriving from KLIA by plane takes all of an hour, and most hotels and resorts can provided you transport from the airport.

Life on Langkawi is noticably more laid back that that of other places in Malaysia, or even Kuala Lumpur. The people of Langkawi are friendly and helpful. They are very conscious of the fact that the island survives on tourism and duty free shopping.

A great deal of promotion has been carried out by Tourism Malaysia to promote this island and today we can see the results of all the campaigns carried out. However the local government need to ensure that local amenities are constantly upgraded and maintained.

There is no doubt that Langkawi will be a major tourist destination in the years to come.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The ferry ride to the island of Langkawi takes about 1 hour. Could be a little longer when the ferry is full of passengers. The view from the ferry is awesome as it gets closer to the islands. To welcome arriving passengers is the Langkawi Island Resort on the right which used to be owned by the Tourist Development Corporation followed by Langkawi Yatch Club.

It would about 15 minutes to clear passengers out of the ferry when it is full and special walkways lead passengers to the terminal building which is now called Jetty Point built by a private developer who leases retails outlets to several operators including ticket counters and tours agents.

A long line of taxis usually wait for the arriving passengers who will be needing them to travel to their final destination. It would cost RM6 just to take a five minutes ride to the town of Kuah and RM 24 to the airport which will take about 20 minutes. There are two kinds of taxis available, the normal five seater sedan or the mini van that can accomodate seven people.

Jetty Point has all the retail outlets needed by a visitor to the island. In fact you do not need to bring anything along with you to spend a couple of days on the island. Everything from toileteries, T shirts, swimming suits and sanitary pads are available. One can spend several hours at the jetty to browse around or hang around Starbuck coffee to use your computers.

The planning concept of the Jetty is excellent and allow a free flow of passengers arriving into the island and those leaving in a hurry. Most of the duty free items are also available here ranging from cigarettes and liquors to tablewares and perfumes. There are also a couple of branded stores for the discerning visitors ready to flash their credit cards when the prices of the items are no object. In short the jetty is a showcase of what is available on the duty free island of Langkawi.

You need to spend at least Rm 1,000 to make your trip to the island worth the while but you need to stay more than 48 hours to qualify for the duty free purchases. You will need to show the customs officer when leaving the island your arrival ferry ticket or hotel receipts. If shopping is not your cup of tea you can spend time as Dataran Lang just walking distance from the Jetty

Monday, September 5, 2011


This jetty has a potential of becoming a major Legal Landing Place ( LLP) for tourists arriving from Thailand although it is originally meant for passengers going and coming from the island of Langkawi. It has recorded a total of 3 million passengers leaving and arrriving into the Kuala Perlis last year.

The passenger terminal building is capable of handling the present traffic but needed some improvement if it is to provide a better service. It is understood that the terminal services charged has been incorporated into the ticket price of the ferry to Langkawi which used to be RM 15 previously but now it is RM18.

No PA system was available or probably has broken down, so boarding instruction were done by shouting to the top of their voices by manning personnel who were looking like they were passengers themselves. So only tough and mean looking personnel are employed to do this job so that passengers will not question their authority. By and large they get their job done without much fuss.

Safety for passengers alongside the ferry is much to be desired as the ramp or bridge has to be manually placed and has to be adjusted as and when the ferry shifted to another position. Passengers has to be very careful when they leap on to the ferry and mothers would have to be extra careful with their children held on both hands. So male helpers got some extra cheap thrill helping out young mothers with their husbands looking helplessly as their hands were full of luggage.

Other than the departure and arrival halls there is nothing in the terminal building itself as other amenities are available just outside the terminal. A row of budget hotels and restaurants are awaiting the arriving passengers who wants to spend another day at Kuala Perlis and for passengers who has arrived after the last ferry to Langkawi at 7.00 pm.

Kuala Perlis is a small quaint town with a beautiful seafront and a mosque being constructed on the cape side. It would be a deal place for muslims to pray and rest before and after the journey to the island of Langkawi.

If you really have nothing to do just spend RM 42.00 for a one way ticket to Kuala Perlis from Puduraya on a night express bus and spend the whole day there and also in Kangar just 15 minutes away by commuter bus operated by Maraliner. It will be worth it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


To get to the island of Langkawi you need to catch a bus to Kuala Perlis. The bus ride took only 7 hours to reach the jetty with only one stop at Sungai Perak. All Trans National buses stop here for 30 minutes for refreshments etc. Here a new driver took the wheels and arrived at nearly 6 a.m.

The bus terminal at Kuala Perlis is nothing to write home about but serve its purpose for the time being.Except that the shaded walkway need replacement due to its poor construction. There are many eating stalls around the jetty with every single one offering " Laksa Kuala Perlis. " This is a must try dish if you were here.

There a couple of good hotels around the jetty and most of them are budget ones starting room rates of RM 40.00 and a bautiful is being constructed by the sea front. The traffic system around the jetty seems workable but this cannot be proven at the wee hours of the morning.

The first ferry, Coral Island 1,was at 7.00 a.m but left at 7.20 a.m. with carrying capacity of 300 passengers but was only filled with about 100 people including me. I got the upper deck with 49 other empty seats. Ever so often I would run to the back of the ferry to catch the astounding view of the sea and enjoy the fresh air which you cannot get in Kuala Lumpur.

Exactly 1 hour later the Coral Island 1 found its way into pier no 10 at Jetty Point of Kuah. From here began my one day tour of the legendary island I last visited 5 years ago.

Friday, September 2, 2011


AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes lambasted the Transport Ministry for announcing an increase in airport tax, or passenger service charge, without prior consultation with players in the industry. He said AirAsia will appeal against the hike in order to lessen the burden on passengers and to encourage more people to fly.

On Aug 11, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha confirmed a report in theSun that airport tax would be increased soon. He said Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), the operator of Malaysia’s 39 airports, would make an announcement on the hike in due course.

In an interview with China Press published today, Fernandes express disappointment that AirAsia, as the biggest client of MAHB, was not given prior notice or consulted on the impending hike. He said the authorities concerned should have sought the views of players in the aviation industry or at least informed AirAsia.

“I have spent so much time fighting for lower charges, the Transport Ministry instead raised the airport tax … How would it help the people?” he lamented.

Fernandes, who has turned rival Malaysia Airlines into a partner early this month, said he believed the national carrier would also not be happy with an airport tax hike.
He felt that the ministry should help airports attract higher passenger flow but it is doing the opposite.

He opined that it would be better to levy RM50 service charge to attract 20 million passengers than to charge RM100 but get only 10 million passengers, as passengers also spend at the airports’ fast-food outlets and duty-free shops. “If I own airports, I would charge only RM5 (in airport tax), to attract 30 million, (or even) 40 million passengers,” he told the paper.

On another note, Fernandes brushed off the view expressed by many that the partnership forged between AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines would see an end to low-fare flights, saying “this is not our principle”. “The AirAsia DNA is to make airfares cheaper so that more people can fly.”

And to fight to maintain the lower fares, he reiterated, the low-cost carrier will appeal against the impending airport tax hike. He explained that fewer people would fly once airfares go up as a result of higher airport tax, which goes against the government’s aim of promoting tourism to attract more tourist arrivals, as well as its vision of turning Malaysia into a regional aviation hub.

Asked if the AirAsia-MAS tie-up is the prelude to a merger, Fernandes discounted such a possibility, saying it would be a “disaster” to do so.

On the possibility of him infusing the “AirAsia” culture in MAS following the tie-up, Fernandes said there is no need for AirAsia to bring in anything to MAS. However the two companies would clearly be "closer” and would learn from each other from now on.

Meanwhile, contacted by the daily for comment on Fernandes’ remark, Kong said it is MAHB’s right to increase airport tax, and it is not a decision of the ministry. Earlier, he said MAHB was given the green light to increase airport tax in 2009 but did not implement it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


With most people taking off on Monday and Friday, this week was the best time report for domestic tourism. People were seen all over our tourism cities and seaside spots.

Meanwhile Bernama reported: The number of vehicles on the North-South Expressway (PLUS) is expected to increase Thursday as motorists begin to make their way back to the city.

A PLUS officer said there was an increase in the number of vehicles on the expressway but the situation remained under control.

"At the Juru Toll Plaza heading towards Kuala Lumpur, there has been a long queue since this morning. We expect this to go on until in the evening," he said.

There were no serious accidents on the expressway, except for a bumper-to-bumper mishap at KM62.9 of the Simpang Renggam-Machap road involving three cars Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, 17 road accident deaths were recorded on the ninth day of Ops Sikap Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 166.

Fourteen of those who died were motorcyclists.

There were 1,036 accidents recorded nationwide Wednesday. A total of 4,832 summonses were issued for various offences, police said.