Monday, October 31, 2011


Christie's and Sotheby's hold their big autumn art sales in New York starting next week, with both houses looking to Pablo Picasso to excite a robust market.

The prominence of important works by Picasso, Matisse and other modern masters in the impressionist and modern art sales at Christie's on Tuesday and Sotheby's on Wednesday reflects the healthy appetite this year for big-ticket works, auctioneers said.

A strong market is also expected the following week when the two houses hold their contemporary art auctions.

Simon Shaw, head of the modern and impressionist department at Sotheby's, said the offerings are "slightly bigger in the number of lots, (which) reflects perhaps an increased confidence."

A low estimate of $185 million is expected for the Wednesday sale, led by Picasso's playful and erotic "L'Aubade," estimated at $18-25 million, and Henri Matissse's monumental bronze sculpture of a woman seen from the back, "Nu de dos," estimated at $20-30 million.

In Malaysia, the market has always been a non-starter even with the existence of the Balai Seni Lukis Negara, which is not an auction house. With the involvement of the Ministry of Tourism in the promotion of art tourism, this effort has become quite meaningless to say the least. If art cannot be widely promoted by BSLN what makes MOT think they can. The only difference would be that they have " a lot " of money to spend.

The next question to ask is that will people come to Malaysia to see and art show. The answer will certainly be no.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


To make the point that Formula One is not an elite sport, it's a sport for the whole world with six hundred million people enjoying it and many many thousands of people participate is one thing. But to have the event in India is another.

Formula One is known for its high entry costs and glamorous lifestyle, while seven-time champion Michael Schumacher is estimated as one of the world's richest sportsmen.

The sport's lavish image has prompted some discomfort before Sunday's Indian Grand Prix, held at a brand new, $400 million racetrack in Uttar Pradesh, a state rated as one of the world's poorest regions.

"You can't forget the poverty in India. It's difficult coming here for the first time, you realise there's a big divide between the wealthy people and the poor people," said British driver Jenson Button.

But Force India chief Vijay Mallya said India should not be "bogged down" by the fact that more than a third of its 1.2 billion population live on less than a dollar a day.

"In every country there are the privileged and under-privileged. We have under-privileged people in our country but that doesn't mean the country must be bogged down," Mallya said.

"We must move forward. The Commonwealth Games were held here in India, now it's Formula One. I'm sure there will be several other global events in our country because this is a world-class country in many ways," he added.

Remember the same issues were raised when the Sepang F1 Circuit were being planned and until today incurring heavy loses.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Malaysia and Singapore have expressed commitment to further enhance cooperation in the fields of tourism, education and environment. Both countries noted this during a meeting between Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his Singapore counterpart Teo Chee Hean at the republic's Ministry of Home Affairs here today.

Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference, both leaders expressed the importance of greater cooperation between the two countries.

Muhyiddin said that today's meeting with Teo was fruitful, very enlightening and significant, particularly in terms of further enhancing bilateral relations. "It is very important for us to ensure that those commitment should continue," he said.

On the Singapore Tourism Board's presentation which he attended earlier, Muhyiddin said: "Singapore has achieved great strides in terms of promoting itself as a very important tourist destination. Malaysia is promoting itself to the rest of the world as well and this is an area that we agreed that we should explore further," he said.

He also spoke of projects by Malaysian government's investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Singapore government's investment arm Temasek Holdings, in Singapore and Johor, saying there was also a need to look into other projects such as in Desaru.

On education, Muhyiddin said among areas of cooperation were in vocational and technical education. "There is a need for us to transform our vocational education system and bring it to much a higher level in terms of qualification, for example at diploma level rather than certificate level," he said.

Muhyiddin said Singapore had good experience in this field and that there were "some models which we believe we can use for our own purpose of enhancing our vocational education."

Meanwhile, Teo said they discussed several issues including measures to improve the inflow of the people between the two countries, covering immigration matters and rapid transit link, as well as projects developed by the the investment arms of the respective countries.

Teo said these projects sent signals "about our commitment between our two countries to strengthen and developed relations between us. There are many things that we can do together in the field of education and of course tourism, environment and many other areas that we can move forward," he added.

Friday, October 28, 2011


The state government is appealing to all hotel operators in the state to comply with the gazetting of the five per cent heritage charge on tourists spending the night in the historical state effective from Sept 1.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the charge imposed would be borne by the tourists and not the hotel operators.

"I appeal to them to give an opportunity to the state government by imposing the charge because I know there are some hotels that are not doing so."

He said this when asked to comment on the report that three hotel associations in the state would not impose the heritage charge because it gave a negative impact as a whole to the state tourism sector, besides being burdensome.

The three associations -- Malaysian Association of Hotels, Malaysian Budget Hotels Association and the Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners -- claimed that the implementation of the charge was unreasonable.

"A charge of RM5 out of RM100 for each room is not a big burden because we know that tourists spend RM40 each to enjoy barbecued fish and RM10 at the Taming Sari Tower. They have no problem paying for those items."

The Chief Minister however said no action would be taken against hotels refusing to impose the charge at the moment and local authorities would hold negotiations with them on the matter. This is a kind gesture on the part of the CM and the industry association should consider allowing only hotels with daily room charge of over RM 100 impose this levy.

As we all know heritage charges are imposed in most part of the world designated as a heritage centre such as in China and Cambodia. Airport tax in Cambodia is the highest so far and most of it goes to pay for all the conseration work that are being carried out in Siem Reap and other places there.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Like most tourism facilities, they are not friendly to the physically challenged people especially at the KLIA. At the LCCT for example a passenger need to walk at least one kilometer to undergo CIQ process and board their plane.

A group of disabled persons has insisted that the aerobridges were essential at the new KL International Airport 2 (KLIA 2). About 150 of them gathered at the Taman Jaya Park to make known their stand that the aerobridges were essential for safe boarding and disembarkation of passengers with special needs.

Last month, the Cabinet deferred its decision on the installation of aerobridges at KLIA 2 pending further studies on the matter.

Group spokesman V. Muruges­waran said the long walking distance and ramps leading to the planes were difficult to use and unsafe during bad weather, especially for children, pregnant women and the elderly.

“We are willing to pay if there is an additional charge for the aerobridges. What we are angry about is that MAHB (Malaysia Airports Hol­dings Bhd) is not even offering the option. As an international airport, KLIA 2 surely must have international standard facilities,” said Muruges­waran, who is the president of the Selangor and Federal Territory Da­­mai Handicapped Association.

Beauty consultant Cheong Li Wem, 27, said in line with budget airlines’ “pay for what you use” approach, there should be an option on the use of aerobridges. “While able-bodied people should be given the option to board with or without an aerobridge, this facility should be made available to the disabled,” she said.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The number of tourists from China has risen from 516,160 during the first half of last year to more than 560,000 for the same period this year, Tourism Deputy Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said. Parliamentarian however hoped the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry could conduct a study on the matter of Chinese tourists misusing their social visit and student visas.

Answering Datuk Mohamed Aziz's (BN-Seri Gading) supplementary question at the Dewan Rakyat here today, he said Malaysia's success in promoting its tourism sector in China was evident from the RM2 billion to RM3.1 billion increase in spending by Chinese tourists between January and June of 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Mohamed had wanted to know the figures for the inflow of Chinese tourists and the ministry's efforts in promoting the sector.

"The Ministry is collaborating with the private sector to carry out the 'Malaysia Truly Asia-Luxury Malaysia' campaign to maintain the country as a preferred destination for Chinese tourists by offering quality tour products," he said.

In a related question Datuk Ibrahim Ali (Independent-Pasir Mas) wanted to know the average expenditure of the tourists during their visit and brought up the issue of social problems caused by some of them.

Dawos informed him a Chinese tourist spent an average of RM3,000 during their visit, almost on par with European nationals who spent RM3,500 per person.

Friday, October 21, 2011


The CIMB Asia-Pacific Classic golf championship, to be held at Seri Kembangan's Mines and Golf and Country Resort next week, will help promote Malaysia and its golf courses to the world, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said the championship, which offers US$6.1 million (RM19.52 million) in prize money, would be broadcast over United States' golf channels and was expected to yield returns in terms of promotions and advertisements investments worth more than a hundred times more. She said the tournament was also expected to attract more than 30,000 spectators both regionally and globally, as it featured an impressive line-up of 48 world class golfers.

"In order for the government to achieve its target of RM3 billion per week of revenue from the tourism industry by year 2020, the industry players have to move into new playing fields that offer higher yields and long-stay products. So golf naturally falls into that category. We have to let people know that Malaysia is the best place to play golf and that is why the ministry is in support of this championship as it involves the PGA, which is a world renowned brand in golf," she said during the championship's press conference here Thursday.

She said due to the tournament, 365 golf packages (to play golf in the country) had been sold by various operators in countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Australia. "It is RM1.2 million worth of packages sold and I am made to understand that the hotels nearby (the venue) are full," she said, adding that the tournament also gave an opportunity to local golfers to make their mark besides world class golf for local fans to savour .

Among the big names scheduled to compete in the event arer defending champion Ben Crane of the US, Jhonattan Vegas (Venezuela), Camilo Villegas Spain), Vijay Singh (Fiji), Angel Cabrera (Argentina) and Stewart Cink (US). Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Jeev Milka Singh (India) are among the top Asians in the fray.

Malaysia's challenge will be shouldered Danny Chia and Shaaban Husin, both of whom currently play on the Asian Tour. The tournament will be held from Oct 27 to 30.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Malaysia shines in world tourism, said United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general Dr Taleb Rifai.

“I say this without compliment but as a fact. It is now the eighth or ninth best receiving tourist destination in the world, and is likely to be in the top five as the largest and most important destinations by 2020,” he said after presenting Najib with an open letter for the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign yesterday.

The UNWTO is a specialised agency of the United Nations and the leading international organisation in the field of tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.

The body was impressed by the commitment shown by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak towards promoting and developing Malaysia's tourism sector.

He said the aim of UNWTO's campaign was to garner support and recognition of world leaders towards the proper growth of global tourism. He added that tourism was currently the third largest global industry responsible for one out of 12 jobs and revenue amounting to US$1.1tril (RM3.41tril) annually.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said UMWTO's initiative augured well in efforts to further develop and promote the nation's growing tourism sector. She added that Malaysia was chosen to chair the UNTWO Commission with regards to the East Asia and Pacific regions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


When a report says that Malaysia today generates 27,000 tonnes of solid waste a day, various questions arise. How bad is this for tourism ?

Is it possible that the initial estimate of 30,000 tonnes a day of solid waste generated in the country has to be revised based on the report?

Secondly, are there enough garbage disposal sites in the country to meet the increase in generated solid waste?

Some people may say this matter has no significant impact on the country's economy and tourism. To them, only activities that spur economic and technological growth deserve attention in the effort to achieve developed status for Malaysia.

However, the fact remains that every industrial activity -- and domestic ones -- contribute to the generation of solid waste.

The Malaysian population is reported to have reached 28.3 million (based on the Population and Housing Census in 2010), where more solid waste will be generated.

But there are still many who believe that the management of solid waste disposal has got nothing to do with them. We as tourism players know that if the country is not kept clean tourists will shy away to other cleaner environment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The Perak government will not demolish the traditional fish landing platforms in Pangkor but will turn them into a tourist attraction, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said today. ​

"The state government have no intention to demolish the platforms but to retain them as a tourist attraction," he told reporters after a meeting with the Pangkor Fishing Industry Association, here. Dr Zambry, who is the state assemblyman for Pangkor, said the meeting cleared the air over the misunderstanding and the platform owners welcomed the proposal.

He said he hoped that the local people would not be easily influenced by certain quarters which raised sensitive issues to find fault with the government.

Also at the meeting, Dr Zambry announced the state government's decision to write off the RM160,000 quit rent arrears of Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (SRJK) Cina Hwa Lian Pangkor and impose a token sum of only RM10.

Association chairman Beh Cho Huat thanked the menteri besar for resolving the platform and quit rent issues immediately. On another matter, Dr Zambry asked the Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) in Perak to immediately resolve the delayed landing of fish at the Kampung Aceh LKIM complex in Sitiawan which he said had jeopardised the livelihood of about 1,000 Pangkor fishermen.

He said it was regrettable that LKIM gave priority to fishing vessels from Kedah, Penang and Hutan Melintang (Perak), resulting in the fish wholesalers buying the fish landed first at higher prices than that brought in by the Pangkor fishermen.

LKIM should give priority to the local fishermen instead of the vessels from Kedah, Penang and Hutan Melintang which move to Pangkor waters during the season when fish prices are high and use the LKIM complex there to land their catch, he said.
Our favourite Bollywood picks

Monday, October 17, 2011


Sarawak aims to be the ‘Top of Mind’ name for visitors to Malaysia one day. This is the smartest tourist idea so far.

Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said this meant that the state wanted tourists to automatically think of Sarawak when they thought of having a holiday in Malaysia or Borneo. He said this was why the state was constantly looking into new ways of making vacation places more interesting and more attractive to everybody.

To ensure the state achieve this aim, he called on the public and private tourism players to pool their resources and work together to start creating new and innovative ways to promote Sarawak, especially the facilities that it had, the uniqueness in culture, adventure and nature that the players all bank on.

Johari, who is also Housing Minister, said given more tourists were looking for eco-friendly recreation, there was a need for all parties concerned to constantly enhance the state’s offerings by promoting environmentally friendly business practices and activities.

“We have the natural resources in our national parks, beaches and wildlife. What we need to do is to find creative ways to promote and preserve these resources while promoting them to attract more people to visit Sarawak,” he said at the launch of the Easturia Vacation Club at Grand Margherita Hotel here yesterday.

Johari said there was also a need to look into and explore other potential areas to promote the state as a tourist destination. He noted that one key growth area was health and medical tourism, whereby those coming to the state for medical reasons could also take their holiday breaks at the same time.

He added that it also critical that tourism players in both public and private sectors constantly upgrade and enhance the products and services in order to remain competitive in view of the stiff competition from other established destinations such as Phuket, Bali and Singapore.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Message by
Y.B. Dato' Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen
The Honorable Minister of Tourism Malaysia

As Malaysians we have much to be proud of, and thankful for. We share a rich cultural heritage, a peaceful existence, and a stable political and economic climate. But more importantly, we live in a beautiful land, endowed with a wealth of remarkable natural wonders that has become the source of awe, admiration and inspiration of people from all over the world. This land is truly blessed.

It is imperative that we do not take our blessings for granted. It is vital that we play an essential role as custodians of this land not only for the benefit of all mankind, but also for our children and future generation. It is time for us to take action. This is not the job for one person or organisation. We all have to take equal responsibility as Malaysians, in an equal and One Malaysia.

My Ministry has established this site with the aim of highlighting and hopefully addressing this decline. It is important that we keep our tourist sites clean, litter free and ever enchanting not only for our visitors, but also for our children. I call on you to help us in our endeavour. Please bring to light the areas that need cleaning by posting photographs on this site. Let us now stand together, with one aim, as One Malaysia, to clean up the mess. Let us “Think Tourism, Act Tourism” towards a clean and green Malaysia.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Tourism players in Sabah want the government to also focus on "eco-lodges", and not just five-star hotels, to attract tourists.

Describing the incentives given to hotel operators to invest in new 4- and 5- star hotels as good news, Sabah Tourism Association (STA) intermediate past chairman Len P Liew said similar incentives should be given to operators of eco-lodges.

"This is good news, but we need more resorts and eco-lodges for nature and outdoors lovers. We need more variety in the market to create a healthy competition, and to capture a more meaningful share of global market."

In the 2012 Budget tabled last Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the government would continue to assist the private sector in providing more accommodation to attract high-spending tourists.

The government had proposed that hotel operators in Peninsular Malaysia invest in 4- and 5-star hotels. These hotels would be given pioneer status, with income tax exemption of 70 per cent or investment tax allowance of 60 per cent for five years. Similar tax incentives had also been given to hotel operators in Sabah and Sarawak.

STA chairman Tony Chiew said the incentives would encourage hotel operators to invest in new hotels. "Upgrading of basic infrastructure and roads leading to tourist destinations must not be left out."

Friday, October 14, 2011


Budget hotels are mushrooming in the country due to rising demand. But to call these hotels budget boutique hotels are not very correct. Never heard of a budget hotel being a boutique one. A budget hotel is a low cost budget hotel. A good example is Tune Hotels which offer rooms at RM 9 if you book one year in advance. But a boutique should cost us not less than RM 500 a night. These are hotels with rooms less than 100 and built from old conservation buildings.

Malaysian Budget Hotel Association president Datuk Dr Muhammad Nasir Hamzah said: "They are becoming popular among foreign tourists, especially backpackers and locals, and they are becoming the trend of the future. Besides this, green hotels and Islamic concept hotels are also coming up to cater to the niche market."

With rates ranging from RM100 to RM120 per night, they offer an attractive alternative to pricey hotels or budget hotels, popularly called rumah tumpangan (lodging houses), which have poor security and low hygiene level.

There are about 6,000 budget hotels in the country, but only about 1,600 are registered with the association.

He said many budget boutique hotel operators were not registered with the Tourism Ministry. "The operators should get themselves registered to be rated."

Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong said domestic travellers and foreign backpackers were in favour of budget boutique hotels. He said the development of such hotels should be encouraged and monitored to ensure that they adhered to safety and health requirements.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The perennial issue of air connectivity have surfaced again and tourism players in Sarawak have urged the state government to invest or have a stake in the airline business to ensure Sarawakians have a say in the industry. Managing director of Equitorial Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd Robert Tan suggested yesterday that the government take up shares in either MAS (Malaysia Airlines) or FireFly as sitting in the board of directors will ensure the needs of Sarawakians are better served.

“This will help iron out the bottleneck of air connectivity and do wonders for the tourism industry in Sarawak. It is important that we have a say in the air travel business,” Tan asserted. He described the current scenario as going backward to some 10 years ago when the air travel needs of Sarawakians were served by a single airline.

“There should be no compromise in the airline industry, and the needs of Sarawakians should not be ignored. This is especially so when air travel is the only mode of travel to Peninsula. There needs to be a choice for the people here as some are more comfortable flying premium airlines. Not everyone prefers to fly with a low cost airline. There are still lots of premium air travellers around,” Tan told The Borneo Post.

He stressed that in the business world, time is of essence and air travel has the required speed.

MAS, he felt should not cancel flights, as there is a high load from the central region. As for AirAsia, he recalled when the low cost carrier spread its wings to Sarawak some years back, people were eagerly anticipating it competitive fare.

“But we have seen what they are capable of doing – they come in with full force, and leave at their whim and fancy,” Tan lamented. He recalled that when the Sibu-KK route was abruptly scrapped, holidaymakers and the business community were hard hit. He further grimaced that during peak seasons, a one-way ticket to KL or JB would cost more than RM600.

Asked his view on rumours of a regional airline in the offing, Tan said the idea was noble but servicing rural routes may be complicated. Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg was reported to have hinted that “one regional airline” might take to the skies soon in response to the air rationalisation anxiety caused by the recent swapping of shares between MAS and AirAsia.

Tan also revealed that he had been swarmed with calls from concerned long haul travellers as they had encountered problems in baggage connectivity from KL, and onward to overseas destinations.

Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong Sie Lee echoed Tan’s view but doubted if the state would be given any say in the business. “Sitting on the board without having any say is no better than window dressing. It is high time they do something for Sarawak, in particular Sibu, which has long been ignored,” Wong said.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


In the absence of additional funding for the ministry in the 2012 Budget, the Tourism Ministry will employ more creative and innovative ways to boost the country's tourism industry, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

She even consoled herself by saying that what was more important would be to assist the people who are facing the high cost of living. She even said, that the ministry understood the situation.

"We will have to strategise and relook our markets, for example our source market, which has moved from America and Europe, to China, India, the Middle East, Russia and Asian countries, including Vietnam.

"We will do it under the Malaysian Tourism Transformation Plan," she told reporters after opening the Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia travelogue, here yesterday.

Dr Ng said the ministry would also relook the arts and fashion sectors, in its bid to win tourist dollars.

Dr Ng said she was happy and welcomed the RM420 million allocation for the Langkawi Five-Year Tourism Development Master Plan, especially the move to restructure the Langkawi Development Authority and the establishment of a forest ranger team, which was an important process towards improving the tourism value of the place.

She said the RM900 million allocated for five corridor development projects, including the north, where the Taiping Heritage Development project would be carried out, was a new project for the ministry.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Cleanliness or the lack of it, remains a thorn in the flesh which can adversely affect the country's tourism industry, if not given serious attention by all relevant authorities.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said about 300 complaints were received from international tourists, mostly on unsatisfactory level of cleanliness at food outlets, markets, toilets and hilly parks, including national parks.

"Tourist arrivals has dropped slightly because of the cleanliness problem. There are more dirty places than clean places," she told reporters after handing over the new RM13.5 million Rantau Panjang market building here, Sunday.

However, accurate statistics on tourist entry has not been obtained and the ministry was still waiting for reports from the related agencies, she said.

Foreign tourists might not be keen to visit Malaysia if the issue of cleanliness was not tackled seriously and would eventually result in a loss to the industry, she added.

Yen Yen said the government had launched numerous campaigns, including the Clean Malaysia, Beautiful Malaysia Campaign (Malaysia Bersih, Malaysia Indah), but the problem of cleanliness had not been fully solved.

"It reflects the attitude of the public who are still not bothered about cleanliness. We must take a leaf from the books of other countries like Singapore which stresses very much on the issue of cleanliness," she said.

She said about one million foreign tourists entered Malaysia through three main entry points in Kelantan, last year. She hoped cleanliness would become a focal point for all authorities, especially at entry points.

Yen Yen also hoped the new market would attract more tourists to the tax free zone of Rantau Panjang which was well-known, especially to Thai tourists, for its wide variety of electrical and halal food products.

"All 370 traders at the old market will be relocated to the new market. Hopefully, the more comfortable place will attract more tourists to the area," she said.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Malaysia's Tourism Minister apologised a counple of days ago for the inconveniences caused to Singaporeans when the new fingerprint-scanning system was introduced since June. Speaking at the launch of Tourism Malaysia's latest publicity campaign at Marina Bay Sands, Dr Ng Yen Yen said: "I do apologise for the hiccups in the month of June and July when we first implemented the biometric system."

The biometric fingerprint-scanning system requires all commuters to have their fingers scanned to clear immigration. When it was first introduced on June, it caused a seven-hour jam along the Causeway, causing many motorists stuck in the jam to abort their trips.

The minister said that this had some negative impact as the number of tourists visiting Malaysia from Singapore registered a drop. As usual, she was unable to give figures on the dip. Dr Ng also noted that having "fast and easy" clearance at its immigration checkpoints is a factor which Singaporeans look out for.

What she should be telling the Singaporeans was to use the second crossing or agree to the building of the bridge over the causeway.

Unveiling Tourism Malaysia's latest bus advertisements, she said Malaysia is taking steps to improve the immigration system.

Last year, tourists from Singapore made some 13 million trips to Malaysia, constituting more than half of the 24.6 million visitors to Malaysia. Singapore contributed RM28.4 billion (S$11.6 billion) in tourism dollars out of the total of RM56.5 billion.

Actually spending money on bus advertisement is a stupid idea. Being close to Malaysia, Singaporeans would have no problem coming here except that we need to improve clearance process at both entry points. Some money should be spent on providing awareness campaign amongst Immigration officers on how to handle peak periods at the crossings.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today launched the National Landscape Policy which he said provides a holistic path towards a better quality living environment. "The policy is an important initiative towards an effective way to enhance quality of life by providing safe, healthy and clean landscape.

"Landscape is a valuable asset and heritage in the course of daily life. Its preservation and maintenance contribute directly to the environment, socio-economic development and civilisation of a country," he said at the launch here which highlighted National Landscape Day celebrations.

He said that landscape was not just about aesthetics and planting trees but covered a wider scope. From an economic perspective, it can attract tourists and investors, he added. The policy was approved by the cabinet on Dec 22 2010 as an operational guideline for the development and maintenance of landscape as part of the national heritage.

Indeed this policy will pave the way to a more concerted effort to make our cities greener and cleaner. It would be good for the eyes and better experience for the tourists.

Friday, October 7, 2011


The Tourism Minister has said that more funds are needed for advertising and promotional activities in the upcoming Budget, saying its allocation has remained the same for the past 10 years despite increases in tourist arrival.

While the latter is correct, the former is not true. Money spent on advertising and promotion has been on an increase ever since she took over as Tourism Minister.

Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this when launching the bus advertising campaign in Singapore yesterday.

The Minister said from 2000 to 2010, the budget of RM200 million has remained while tourist arrivals had grown from 10 million to 24 million. Again this is not true on both counts.

"I understand that the Government has its priorities, especially with regards to education and healthcare for the people. But with an increased budget, I will be able to intensify our promotional efforts in China , India , Middle East and also Russia ," she said at the launch of the bus advertising campaign involving 55 buses here yesterday.

Dr Ng said the RM200-million allocation was used to upkeep the 44 Tourism offices worldwide. By saying so she is hitting the nail right on its head. Why not cut the number to half and the money saved can be used for other development purposes in other sectors.

"I will only ask for what is realistic and we need to do more advertising and promotion to tell the world about Malaysia as a lot of people still do not know about the country," she said, stressing that tourism in Singapore was doing well.

We all know very well that there has been abuses in the use of the A & P budget and the Auditor General should have moved in to the Ministry to do an audit.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


by N. Nithiyananthan, Kuala Lumpur

TOURISM minister Ng Yen Yen is confident that Malaysia will meet its target of 25 million arrivals for the year, even though external factors have affected several major source markets.

Thailand, Malaysia’s third largest source of arrivals last year, is undergoing a transitional period, having just endured a regime change following July’s election; Europe and the US are suffering from one financial hiccup after another; while the disasters that hit Japan in March have drastically reduced outbound numbers from the country.

Competition from Singapore, with its new products such as the Universal Studios theme park and integrated casino resorts, was also expected to have an adverse effect on inbound to Malaysia, said Ng.

In spite of the challenges, a rise in tourist numbers from China, the Middle East, India and Russia is expected to take up the slack, and even boost arrivals by 0.2 per cent over last year’s 24.6 million visitors.

Ng said the tourism ministry would focus on these emerging markets, as their spending capacities were quite high, while existing promotions would remain online.

According to Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel director of sales, Andy Muniandy, the Middle East market had been especially resilient, with a surge in visitors from the region in July causing a room shortage in Kuala Lumpur.

“With Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal playing in Kuala Lumpur over 10 days in July, we could not get enough rooms because their Middle East fans travelled to the city for these games,” he said.

AOS sent the Middle East customers to various island resorts on arrival in Malaysia, before bringing them back to Kuala Lumpur for the football games.

“This was equally difficult as rooms on the islands were also heavily booked,” Muniandy said.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Berhad’s (Malaysia Airports) commercial transformation journey is accelerating with the continuance of its travellers’ campaign known as Indulge Till You Fly (ITUF).

The ITUF campaign underscores Malaysia Airports’ overall strategy to create an attractive and appealing lifestyle environment for travellers at different airports under its Airports Commercial Model (ACM) development plan.

The 2011/2012 ITUF Campaign, which takes place from September 2011 to January 2012, will be held at all international airports namely KLIA/LCCT-KLIA, Langkawi International Airport , Penang International Airport , Kuching International Airport and Kota Kinabalu International Airport

Under ACM, all 39 airports managed by Malaysia Airports is classified into four Airport Commercial Models namely lifestyle, leisure, community and corporate responsibility. ACM will also see the evolution of KLIA from an aviation hub to a self-sufficient and multi-functional airport city.

Malaysia Airports commercial services senior general manager Faizah Khairuddin said commercial development would be the most important driver for Malaysia Airports’ profitability in the next few years.

“To make sure that we achieve our goals and targets, it is crucial that we get more focused on customers’ needs and change their perception of airports from being mere transit points to exciting retail destinations with discoveries that they will want to experience again. We started this perception change last year and we are strengthening it this year, with the continuance of our campaign by positioning airports as lifestyle destinations,” she said.

Under the campaign, travellers get to take part in the ITUF “Indulge & Win” contest by spending a minimum of RM250 and completing a contest entry form. MasterCard holders will be entitled to two entry forms. Instant cash shopping vouchers worth RM10 are also given to all minimum purchase of RM250 during the Malaysia Year-End Sale. With every entry form submitted, participants will be in the running to win additional monthly shopping vouchers worth RM500.

As first prize, Malaysia Airports will be giving out 66 pairs of business-class air tickets to Kota Kinabalu or Langkawi which also include a 3-day/2-night five-star hotel stay and holiday indulgence package. The top attraction and grand prize of the contest is a Nissan Teana 2.6L V6 Premium worth RM175,000.

To encourage more people to participate in the campaign, they will be employing a new iPhone and IPad2 application called iButterfly Asia . The company will be the first organisation in Malaysia to use this mobile information and couponing technology to drive retail and F&B sales.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Travel agents and companies in the tourism industry have been urged to include Malaysian food when promoting their travel packages to prospective tourists due to its variety and uniqueness. This is the understatement of the year.

As though it is something new Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said by introducing tourism packages that include local food, tourists coming to Malaysia can be introduced to attractive locations and at the same time savour a variety of local cuisine.

"To promote local food to tourists, it needs the cooperation of all the authorities since the food industry is a very important and relevant product," she told reporters after launching the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia 2011 here today.

The Minister said Malaysian food was unique because it entails cuisine from a variety of culture and race.

"We may not consider our food as special but to tourists, the variety of food available here is a special attraction," she said. For a Minister to say this is a clear example of how much she knows about our tourism.

The Minister then went on to say that last year tourists spent about RM9.7 billion on food and drinks which was approximately 17 percent of the money spent by tourists in the country. This is a lot of bull. No one can really determine the real figure, only make assumption.

The three-day Fabulous Food 1Malaysia 2011 promotion from Nov 18, will be held at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here. Again this is a non-event and a waste of money if funded by the Ministry.

Monday, October 3, 2011


In the latest figures available, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) reported that the preliminary figures for international visitor arrivals into Asia/Pacific destinations1 for July 2011 show a year-on-year increase of 7%.

PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre notes that the growth rate has become more stable following the global economic recovery phase, which started in early 2010 and peaked in June of that year. Nevertheless, since then, Asia has continued to show healthy expansion. For the first seven months of 2011, international visitor arrivals into Asia/Pacific have grown 5%. Within Asia, South Asia is leading the pack growing by 14%, with Southeast Asia up 12%, Northeast Asia up 4% and the Pacific region up 1%.

South Asia set the pace with the strongest arrivals growth in July, recording 14% growth and adding almost 90,000 more international visitors to the sub-region’s total compared to July 2010. India (+10%) grew at a faster rate than in previous months due in part to the lower growth base of July 2010. The Maldives (+27%), Nepal (+20%) and Sri Lanka (+32%) all enjoyed buoyant growth in foreign arrivals.

The positive momentum continued for Southeast Asia in July with the sub-region returning an 11% increase in international visitor arrivals. The growth rate of foreign arrivals into Thailand (+19%) returned to a more normal level after three consecutive months of post-crisis peaks which were largely inflated on the back of comparison periods involving the political turmoil April to June 2010. Strong travel demand within the sub-region generally contributed to double-digit growth for all reporting destinations.

Northeast Asia saw a rebound during July to realise a gain of 6% for the month after posting slow growth since February this year. China (+2%) grew much more slowly than its SARs of Hong Kong (+22%) and Macau (+18%) during this period. However, because of its very large arrivals base, the Mainland still managed to welcome more than 260,000 additional visitors during the month compared to July 2010. Japanese outbound increased by 5% in July, the first positive month of growth since the tsunami in March. This promising expansion supported growth for all reporting Northeast destinations, particularly Chinese Taipei (+9%) and Korea (ROK) (+17%). Inbound visitors to Japan however, were down by 36% in July.

The Pacific saw a drop in international arrivals of just under 3% in July 2011. While this is negative, it is still a slight improvement over the 4% decline of the previous month. Most Pacific destinations reported year-on-year declines in international arrivals for the month of July. However, there were some exceptions including New Caledonia (+24%), the Cook Islands (+13%), Palau (+11%), Vanuatu (+11%) and Papua New Guinea (+5%).

John Koldowski, Director of the Strategic Intelligence Centre said: “Even during times of economic uncertainty, the Asia/Pacific region continues to perform strongly, reinforcing its image and position as a powerhouse of international travel and tourism. The source market mix, however, is changing. Some of the more traditional origin markets are losing ground to emerging ones. Arrivals from Russia for example have increased by more than 50% so far this year. Numerically, the Russians are now as important as - for example - France and even Germany .”

Koldowski said that intra-Asian growth is “substantial”, with Asia generating more than seven million additional arrivals to the Asia/Pacific region during the seven months to July 2011.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Most of the media releases circulating in the travel & tourism industry these days are

Boring….Banal….and Bland.

Their content and subject matter has hardly changed at all over the past 30 years.

The world has changed. The travel & tourism industry has changed. The technology has changed.But travel industry communications has not kept pace!It all sounds the same, looks the same, feels the same.

There is more “noise” than “news”.

Poor communications content is a major reason why travel & tourism gets scant respect on the global stage.

Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor of Travel Impact Newswire, one of Asia’s seniormost travel & tourism journalists, has created a unique one-day course designed to change the way industry communicators think in the Internet age.

The course will help communicators:

Develop content that is different, distinctive and produces results;
Access insights/ideas and better understand the forces of internal and external change;
Broaden both the context and content of the communications effort;
Boost the competitive edge of their respective companies/organisations; and
Get maximum productivity value in minimum time.
Course Highlight: A Special Presentation On “11 Major Mistakes Travel Industry Communicators Make”

(One way to get ahead of your competitors is by exploiting their mistakes, while fixing yours! True or False?)


This is an age of Information Overload, short attention spans, instant gratification, shifting loyalties and very, very tight budgets.

The Internet has enabled the travel & tourism industry to send out more communications material, more frequently to more people than ever.

But raising the quantity of output has not always raised its quality!!

iPads and social media are merely a means of delivery. If Garbage goes In, Garbage comes Out (GiGo).

Modern technical “hardware” is bogged down by outdated “software.”

Everyone hails the slogan “Content is King”! Very few actually implement it!

Course Structure and Topics

BIG-PICTURE ISSUES — The changes in the Global World Order.

THE TRAVEL & TOURISM REVOLUTION — The changes in the industry and the way it does business.

IMPACT ON GLOBAL MEDIA – How changes in technology have impacted the media.

IT’S ALL ABOUT CONTENT — How to enhance and upgrade content to make it more interesting, readable, relevant and, most important, respectable.

Workshops and discussion to brainstorm ideas and share experiences.

Target Audience

Communications professionals as well as senior management executives seeking to bolster the brand image and stretch the value of the marketing dollar.


This course is designed to be most effective if conducted on a private, individual-company basis. It helps to better address specific issues and facilitate practical problem-solving.

Participants can analyse examples of good and bad communications, and critique their own as well as their competitors’ media releases.