Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ABUSE OF TERM HOMESTAY

Owners of lodging premises in the state of Trengganu have been told not to use the word ‘homestay’ to describe their operations as this is confusing especially to foreign tourists, the Tourism Ministry’s office in Terengganu said yesterday.

This confusion is largely attributed to the Ministry itself for not laying the proper foundation for the establishment of this kind of accomodation. Rather the use of homestay as an accomodation is also very confusion.

The term homestay originated from a youth development program which cater for young people interested in the culture of other people by staying in their homes and joining the various activities carried out by that community.


Assistant director, Mazshida Ruslal, said her office received numerous complaints from foreign tourists who were disappointed with the quality of service at these premises.“Homestay is about tourists staying with house owners and joining them in the community’s daily routine.

“This is quite different from what has been offered by premises owners who merely provide lodging for tourists, similar to what is being offered by hotels,” she added.



“They have also registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia to carry out their business but not all have the licence from the local authorities to operate,” she said, adding that her office had requested that the commission no longer allow new registration of lodging operators using the word ‘homestay’.

“They can either use the word lodging house or Inn, which is in line with the service offerred by them, which is to provide accommodation. We welcome the participation of more operators to promote tourism in Terengganu but they should carry out their operations in a proper manner,” she added.

Again "homestay" is not about accomodation. Let's get this straight.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TOURISM JOB CREATION AND POVERTY REDUCTION

“The importance of tourism for job creation and poverty reduction in rural areas of developing and least developed countries (LDCs) should not be under-estimated. Tourism is increasingly recognized as a major source of economic growth, especially in poor countries." according to Alette van Leur, Director of ILO.

“Its value chain and its significant connections to other sectors such as agriculture, construction, utilities and transport can contribute to poverty reduction. One job in the core tourism industry indirectly generates 1.5 additional jobs in the related economy.”

According to the ILO and UN World Tourism Organisation, in 2010 the sector’s global economy accounted for more than 235 million jobs, equivalent to about 8 per cent of the overall number of jobs (direct and indirect), or one in every 12.3 jobs. In 2010 travel and tourism were estimated to have generated about 9.3 per cent of global GDP, while tourism investments were estimated at 9.2 per cent of total global investments.

The ILO’s mission is to promote decent work within the context of poverty reduction. The ILO’s Decent Work Agenda directly relates to poverty reduction through an integrated approach that has four pillars: rights at work, employment, social protection and social dialogue.

Directed at governments, local/rural authorities and community organizations, employers, trade unions and NGOs, the toolkit has five modular chapters which can be used together or independently, according to the training needs of participants and trainers. Some parts can also be used for other purposes (for advocacy, awareness raising and information, and as a background source).

Monday, February 27, 2012

HALAL PENANG

THE Penang International Halal Hub Development Sdn Bhd, also known as Halal Penang, is publishing a travel guide book for Muslims with the support of Penang Global Tourism.

Titled ‘Experience Penang 2012: A Muslim Travel Guide’, the book is set to be available to the public next month. It will feature shopping spots, places of attraction, festivities, food outlets and accommodations in the state.

Halal Penang director Murali Ram said they would be printing 10,000 copies of the book to be distributed at the Penang International Airport and various hotels in the state. “The books will be distributed for free for the first year. We will update the book yearly with the latest information,” he said after the opening ceremony of the 3rd Penang International Halal Exposition and Conference (Pihec) at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) yesterday.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

NAVAL TOURISM

The Navy showed that it was capable than just protecting the nation’s waters by attracting some 10,000 sailors to visit the country through military tourism in the past two years.

Outgoing Royal Malaysian Navy’s (TLDM) Region II commander Rear Admiral Datuk Anuwi Hassan said there was a rise in visiting foreign sailors last year despite fewer naval vessels docking at the Sepanggar base here.

From a record of 3,761 foreign naval personnel in 2010, he said some 6,260 naval servicemen had visited Sabah last year, adding a total of 30 navy ships making its port-of-call in two years.

“This is a proud achievement and I hope the military tourism here will continue to improve in the coming years,” he said during his farewell ceremony at the Sepanggar naval base here.

The high number showed that visitors felt safe and secure to visit the country, added the outgoing commander.

Anuwi, who will assume his new post of assistant to the chief of staff (operations and training) at the TLDM base, will be succeeded by submarine fleet commander First Admiral Datuk Mohammad Rosland Omar.

Commenting further on the military facilities, Anuwi said the Sepanggar naval base was a hit with foreign navy ships as it was aptly equipped including sporting facility.

“Besides, foreign guests would always be attracted to the Sabah’s beauty,” he said.

Anuwi said they received the most visits by US navy ships followed by Brunei, France, India, Australia and Singapore. naval touris

Saturday, February 25, 2012

RETAILS OUTLETS SALES FOR KLIA2

THE new low-cost carrier terminal, KL International Airport 2 (KLIA to) has set a lofty target of RM1.6 billion in annual sales from its retail outlets for its opening year, once it’s fully operational in April next year.

This figure, if achieved, will eclipse the total RM1.3 billion collected by all Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) outlets last year.

MAHB senior general manager (commercial services) Faizah Khairuddin was confident of the target. “At 250,000 sq m, the terminal would have 225 outlets to cater to passengers. Of these, 118 have been allocated for retail offerings, 81 for food and beverages and 26 in the services category. The higher passenger flow at KLIA2, estimated to be 45 million in 2013, will offer more potential for sales at these outlets.”

Faizah said studies conducted last year found that passengers at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) spend an average of RM22 per visit at the outlets, while the average passenger spend at KLIA is RM40. This, she said, highlights the importance of non-airline revenue for MAHB and airports in general.

Faizah also said the second tender for KLIA2, involving 39 outlets, will open on Feb 29 and March 6 respectively at Pan Pacific Hotel KLIA. Submission deadline is 3pm on April 3. “The winning bids will be announced this July and concessionaries expected to start operating by April 2013.”

Yesterday also saw Faizah present RM500 worth in prizes each to six lucky winner of the “KLIA Indulge Till You Fly” contest.

On the hind side. mAHB should consider the fact that this is a low-cost carrier terminal and passengers are not likely to spend hours at the terminal shopping or eating away at high end outlets.

Already there are complains by retailers at KLIA that the rental costs are the highest in this part of the world. Some have even closed shop leaving Eraman to run the outlets at the ex[enses of developing entreprenuers to do their business elsewhere. MAHB is only about money and never about social obligations.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

PATA CONFERENCE

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) will organise the 2012 PATA Annual Conference (PAC2012) hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia, and Tourism Malaysia. The conference will address the theme "Building the Business Beyond Profits" and will feature some of Asia's most acclaimed and conscientious entrepreneurs.

Mr Martin J Craigs, PATA CEO said: "PATA is proud to bring the PATA Annual Conference back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia since the last Conference in 2001 when the association celebrated its 50th Anniversary. PATA Next Gen expresses the association's commitment to build business with all the new tools of the trade without losing our face-to-face friendships or sense of fun."

The speakers, all Next Gen thought leaders, will share their successful social entrepreneurship business models and principles. Mr Bruce Poon Tip, Founder, G Adventures will address the closing session on Building the Business Beyond Profits. G Adventures has grown to become a world leader in adventure travel, with offices around the world, offering small group experiences in over 100 countries to more than 100,000 travellers annually. As one of Canada's Top 40 under 40, Bruce has also won Canada's Entrepreneur of the Year twice and has been honoured as Canada's 100 Leaders of Tomorrow. In Profit magazine, Bruce was hailed as one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs in Canada within the last 25 years. Bruce is a very inspiring and charismatic speaker who has presented to audiences of thousands.

PAC2012 will be held at The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 21-22, 2012. On April 19-20, PATA will also hold the PATA Annual General Meeting, the PATA Chapter Colloquium, the PATA Board & Category Committee meetings, the 2012 PATA Gold Awards luncheon, and PATA Foundation fund raising activities, all at the same venue.

Hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia, the 2012 PATA Annual Conference will bring together delegates from all areas of travel and tourism. The Conference is shaping up as a great networking, insights and Next Gen thought leadership forum that will deliver tangible benefits to all professionals in the Asia Pacific travel and tourism space.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TRAVEL INSURANCE NOW COMPULSORY

TRAVEL insurance will become compulsory for all outbound tour packages sold by members of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA), starting March 1.

“There have been many cases of travel companies becoming insolvent or absconding with the money of consumers,” said MATTA president, Mohd Khalid Harun.

“That is why MATTA has been pushing to make travel insurance mandatory, so that the interests of consumers are looked after.”

The new ruling follows the launch of MATTA’s outbound travel insurance coverage scheme yesterday, as well as the appointment of six insurance firms as official service providers.

The scheme will cover various aspects identified by MATTA, such as claims for medical, hospitalisation and treatment expenses, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation, and reimbursement of deposits/full payment of air tickets and tour packages.

Also covered under the scheme are claims for repatriation of mortal remains, compassionate visitation benefits, accidental death and permanent disability.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WOOING INDIAN TOURISTS

Malaysian tourism officials are optimistic Indian holidaymakers will continue to spend billions of ringgit in Malaysia this year despite global economic strain or airlines revamping routes.

Last year, 693,000 Indian travellers arrived on Malaysian shores and splurged a staggering estimate of over RM2 billion during their stay compared with merely 140,000 visitors a decade ago.

“India is a fast-moving and matured market; we are confident of reaching 730,000 visitors this year,” Tourism Malaysia acting director-general Azizan Noordin said in an interview with Bernama today.

India is rated top sixth tourist sending countries to Malaysia, only after neighbouring Asean and China, and Malaysian authorities are determined to maintain the momentum this year.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation forecasts global tourism to grow in 2012 although at a slower rate, mainly due to stalled economic recovery, but optimistic Malaysian planners say otherwise for the Indian market.

Even the withdrawal of budget carrier, AirAsia, from key Indian cities – Mumbai and Delhi – later this March is unlikely to dent the healthy trend.

“Impact will be short term only, initially budget travellers will be affected.

“But eventually they will use other carriers flying to neighbouring countries like Singapore or Thailand and travel to Malaysia,” said P Manoharan, Tourism Malaysia director for India, who assumed a key role in tapping the mega-rich Indian travel industry.

Azizan is leading a strong 42-member delegation to India, comprising travel agents, hoteliers and government bodies.

He is also mounting a sales mission to Karachi in Pakistan this week, another untapped potential market for Malaysia, with only 73,000 visited from the country last year.

Monday, February 20, 2012

MALAYSIA RANKED NINTH

Malaysia has been ranked ninth in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) list of 10 most visited countries, with 24.6 million international tourist arrivals in 2010.

Topping the list is France with 76.8 million international visitors, followed by the United States, China, Spain, Italy, Britain, Turkey and Germany. Malaysia overtook Mexico which recorded 22.4 million tourist arrivals to be in 10th spot.

Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines Datuk Seri Ibrahim Saad highlighted the list on his Twitter account (@dribrahimsaad) on Feb 14. “We should be proud of this, seeing that we are the smallest country on the list and our tourist arrivals are almost as high as our population,” he said in a telephone interview.

He said tourists were attracted to Malaysia because of its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and friendliness of the people, adding that this left a good impression on tourists.

“The Tourism Ministry should consider refining its promotion strategies as current campaigns mostly feature islands and beaches. We must take a multi-pronged approach and feature a variety of attractions, such as shopping destinations and the small towns,” he said.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

ITB BERLIN

ITB Berlin has announced 2012 Responsible tourism networking and related events:

Responsible tourism clinics, are series of clinics where you interact with practitioners who run social businesses in tourism. Pose your questions on related topics and find solutions from experts.

07. Mar. 2012 14.00-15.00

Social Media for destination promotion: How to increase business through social media marketing?
- To be decided

08. Mar. 2012 11.00-12.00

Power of Story Telling : How to use stories to promote your business?
- Zainab Kakal - Chief Enthusiasm Officer at The Blue Yonder

08. Mar. 2012 14.00-15.00

3) Moving beyond conventional tourism - How to develop innovative experiences ?

- Monk for a month
- Ethical Travel Portal
- Cape Town tourism

Experiences shared by suppliers in India, Thailand, Nepal and South Africa

09. Mar. 2012 11.00-12.00

4) Power of networking: How collaboration can bring more business ?
- Raj Gyawali - The Green Circuit


**All the clinics will be at stand Hall 4.1/201(The Blue Yonder)

09. Mar. 2012 Friday 1730-1800
Venue: Stage of the Exhibition Area: Experience Adventure, ECOtourism & Expeditions in hall 4.1

Inspiring stories from destinations.

Listen to inspiring and innovative stories from destinations that are chosen from a collection of applications from around the world.

ITB-Berlin responsible tourism networking
Partnering : The Blue Yonder, The Green Circuit and Tripbod
Supported by: Pocket village

Media partner: Vision Travel Mole

1800-2030

1800: Welcome:
- Rika Jean-Francoise CSR commissioner ITB-Berlin

1810-2030 : RT pitches and networking
- listen to 2 minutes pitches from responsible tourism initiatives around the world and interact with those involved in sustainable tourism

Saturday, February 18, 2012

PROMOTING MALAYSIA TRAVEL PACKAGES ONLINE

Tourism Malaysia has introduced a standard online tourism architecture (SOTA) widget on its website that offers Indonesian travellers a greater selection of Malaysian travel packages and to purchase them directly online.

SOTA is an online platform, developed and owned by Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd (CAT), that enables travel operators to easily publish and sell their products and packages online.

CAT in a statement here today said the widget is currently used by over 1,500 travel agents and hotels across 46 countries with close to 3,000 packages offered on its platform, of which 1,000 are Malaysian travel packages.

It said, Tourism Malaysia recently signed an agreement to promote Malaysian travel packages offered via SOTA's platform on the website.

"Through SOTA, Tourism Malaysia's website will get an on-going stream of content in terms of travel and hotel packages and offer e-commerce capabilities for the travel packages," CAT added.

With the aim of driving inbound travellers from Indonesia, a presentation on the SOTA was given to a group of travel agents in Medan, Indonesia, in an initiative spearheaded by Malaysia's tourism board there.

Friday, February 17, 2012

SARAWAK TO INTRODUCE SPECIAL EXAMINATION

To strengthen the tourism sector, the Sarawak Tourism and Heritage Ministry plans to introduce a special examination for prospective tour guides in the state by year-end.

The minister, Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, said the proposed examination was aimed at helping those keen on becoming tour guides but were unable to get a licence after failing the test conducted by the federal tourism ministry.

He said some of the guides who sat for examinations under the tourism ministry failed because some of the subjects were unrelated to Sarawak. He was speaking to reporters after chairing the state tourism steering committee here Tuesday.

Abang Johari said the syllabus for the state examination was being prepared by tourism experts, including lecturers from University Malaysia Sarawak. He said those who got through would be given a licence as tourist guide, but it would only be valid in Sarawak.

According to Abang Johari, it was important for the Sarawak tourism industry to have skilled and knowledgeable tour guides who could provide accurate information to foreign visitors. "Sometimes, taxi drivers also become tourist guides...they may tell different stories, resulting in tourists having all sorts of information," he noted.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

PERSUADING THE AIRLINES

The Tourism Ministry will intensify its efforts to persuade Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia X to resume their flights to regional and international destinations which were suspended recently. Just like they did before resulting in the airlines making massive losses.

Tourism Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, said this was important as the suspension of the flights would cause the tourism industry to suffer a massive decline in the number of tourist arrivals to Malaysia and hence, lose billions of ringgit in revenue.

"This is because each foreign tourist will spend between RM1,000 and RM4,000 depending on their country of origin," she told Bernama after presenting the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) to over 400 recipients in Raub parliamentary constituency here Tuesday.

The ministry should realised that the matter is not only beyond its jurisdiction also it is purely a commercial consideration. Airlines should not only operate to profitable destinations but must not be in the red.

What the Minister should be doing is to promote flights to Malaysia amongst other international carriers which will truly bring in the tourists from their airport of origin and not flying our Malaysians to tour abroad.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MORE SELF SERVICE OPTIONS AT KLIA2

The new low-cost carrier terminal at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport,in Sepang or KLIA2, will feature more self-service options for passengers to manage their travel than the current one.

This is in line with a global trend in which airports and airlines are increasingly moving towards self-service.MAHB data shows that 65 per cent of passengers at the current low-cost carrier terminal, also in Sepang, use self-service compared with 25 per cent at the main terminal building.

The self-service for passengers using KLIA2 include common-use self service kiosks and baggage drop, home-printed boarding pass and baggage tag, as well as free wifi and Internet kiosks. KLIA2 is expected to be completed in April next year.

Passengers, especially the younger and more information technology-savvy ones, want better control of their travel experience to ensure that it is hassle-free.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DISCONTINUED FLIGHTS SHOULD NOT AFFECT TOURISM ARRIVALS

The move by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia X to reduce or discontinue flights to international and regional destinations will cost the country’s tourism industry billions of ringgit in revenue, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

This is not true. On the contrary tourism arrivals into a country is also dependent on how much money spent on promotion and advertising. We know for a fact the spending on A & P by the Ministry of Tourism has been the highest so far. We would like to see the results of this spending.

Acknowledging that the airlines had done so as part of their business plan, the Minister said the move would nevertheless lead to a drop in tourist arrivals.

“When there is no accessibility to the country, it will be very difficult to get tourists (to visit Malaysia),” she said after launching the Malaysia Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) here yesterday. The TSA is a set of accounts in the industry to track the contribution of each tourism activity. Malaysia is one of 36 countries that keep the TSA, which helps the Government and industry players develop the industry as it gives indications on the types of products that will attract tourists.

She is obviously ignorant of the fact that not only MAS and Airasia carry international passengers to Malaysia. There are many international airlines who are willing to fly in direct to Malaysia if proper incentives are given to them.

This is so basic in tourism promotion.You cannot depend on national carriers alone to bring in the numbers.

Monday, February 13, 2012

LATEST ARRIVAL FIGURES

Malaysia recorded 24,714,324 tourist arrivals last year, with tourism receipts climbing to RM58.3 billion, a remarkable notch over the previous year.

In 2010, 24,577,196 arrivals were recorded with RM56.5 billion in tourism receipts.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen has attributed the showing to be in line with the Malaysia Tourism Plan 2020 target of achieving 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in tourism receipts by 2020.

She said double-digit growth in arrivals were recorded mainly from medium and long-haul countries like Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Russia, Iran, South Africa, France, Myanmar, Taiwan, China and Brunei.

"Kazakhstan arrivals surged by 65.9 per cent, boosted by the thrice weekly direct Air Astana flights from Almaty to Kuala Lumpur," she told reporters after launching the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) 2000-2010 here today.

Dr Ng said, other markets showing strong growth included New Zealand -- up by 23 per cent -- which benefitted from the opening of the Tourism Malaysia office in Auckland in May, last year.

The minister said Russian tourist arrivals saw an increase of 21.3 per cent on the back of strong promotional efforts in Russia, as well as the weekly Trans Aero flights which started in December.

She explained that the 25 million tourist arrival target set for 2011 could not be achieved due to a decline in tourist arrivals from countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines.

"Indonesia showed a decline of 14.8 per cent due to the abolition of its fiscal fee which allowed Indonesian travellers to go abroad without making a stop-over in Malaysia. The number of tourists from Japan was down by seven per cent due to the tsunami, Thailand due to the floods and Middle East countries due to the Arab Spring, which all happened last year," noted Dr Ng.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

FAMILY ORIENTED LEGOLAND

To be able to say something about a tourism product all you need to do is to visit the Model Building Centre of Legoland Malaysia.

And our Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen is extremely good at this. She said
Legoland will be touted as a family-oriented tourism product.

She also said the Legoland Malaysia theme park, which was the first of its kind in Asia, could draw domestic as well as foreign tourists to Johor.

"It is one of the six Legoland of the world after Billund, Windsor, California, Deutschland and Florida," she told a news conference after visiting the Model Building Centre for Legoland Malaysia here today.

Ng said Malaysia''s weather would be a boon for travellers to visit Legoland Malaysia theme park all year round.

She is of course not aware that a similar project with a different theme was launched in Seri Alam Johor some 20 years ago and it was a total flop as far as Johor is concerned.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

BUILDING GARDENS FOR TOURISM

A Brief Introduction of Chinese Gardens would need you to understand that garden building is considered an important part of Chinese Culture. Some people say that if you have never walked through a Chinese garden, you cannot say that you have really visited China.

Unlike in Malaysia traditional Chinese gardens are located in North China insuch places as the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City. Inlarger imperial gardens, the main buildings are connected by an imaginary line in the middle of the gardens on the north-south axis. Other features of imperial gardens are colored paintings, man-made hills and lakes.

Most private gardens are found in the south, especially in cities south of the Yangtze River. Private gardens were mostly built at one side or at the back of the houses. Around the beautiful scene are small open areas with beautiful shaped-doors through which visitors can enjoy the sights. They are open on all sides and are often near the water so that the whole scene can be enjoyed. Suzhou, known as the home of the gardens, displays the most and the best Chinese traditional, private gardens. Different parts of it are examples of the garden styles of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

The landscape garden contains a number of pleasant natural scenes and some fairy tales. The ancient Chinese used to call the garden landscape “Jing”,which means”Scene”in English. Good examples include the ten West Lake scenes in Hangzhou, the twenty-four Slim West Lake scenes in Yangzhou and the eight Daming Lake scenes in Jinan. More information you can login in www.askchinatour.com

It is about time that we think about building better gardens to attract special interest groups to Malaysia.

Friday, February 10, 2012

WORD OF MOUTH ENDORSEMENT

from : Patricia Wee, reporting for TTGmice


WORD-of-mouth endorsements and participation in trade exhibitions are crucial to securing incentive business, according to the latest Incentive Travel Survey Report released by The Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration (SMTA).



Based on feedback from 352 MICE-related companies in Asia-Pacific, 56.7 per cent of respondents rely on recommendations to get new customers, while 50 per cent leverage on networking at domestic and foreign incentive travel trade exhibitions to gain new clients.



The report also reveals that the majority of incentive travel lasts three to four days and is tied in with business activities, with 90 per cent of groups having fewer than 100 pax. The average budget per person per day is US$300, while most clients prefer to book directly with hotels, showing that Internet and direct sales greatly influence the way accomodation is secured.



About 83 per cent of respondents expressed willingness to organise incentive travel in Shanghai in the near future, in light of the city’s cultural and shopping attractions, as well as its high level of security.



SMTA will be attending five overseas MICE exhibitions and conferences this year as part of its marketing strategy. These include AIME in Melbourne, IMEX in Frankfurt, AIBTM in Baltimore, ICCA in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and EIBTM in Barcelona.



It will also be hosting two post-conference fam tours in September during SITE China Conference and The National Association of Career Travel Agent Conference.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

IPOH RAILWAY STATION - THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY

Ipoh railway station is one of the most imposing train stations I have seen in Malaysia. It is akin to the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. The building's fa├žade has magnificent voussoir, dome and horseshoe arches suggestive of Moorish revival architecture. Its manicured garden added more to its splendor. If you are lucky you can catch the opulent Eastern and Oriental Express luxury train waiting for passengers here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

HAPPY THAIPUSAM

Thaipusam is an important festival observed by the Hindus of southern India during the Tamil month of Thai (January - February). Outside of India, it is celebrated mainly by the Tamil speaking community settled in Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka and elsewhere around the world.

Thaipusam is dedicated to the Hindu god Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvati. Murugan is also known as Kartikeya, Subramaniam, Sanmukha, Shadanana, Skanda and Guha. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati presented a lance to Lord Murgan to vanquish the demon army of Tarakasura and combat their evil deeds. Therefore, Thaipusam is a celebration of the victory of good over evil.

On the Thaipusam day, most devotees of Lord Murugan offer him fruits and flowers of yellow or orange color - his favorite colors and also adorn dresses of the same color. Many devotees bear milk, water, fruits and floral tributes on pails hung from a yoke and carry them on their shoulders to various Murugan temples, far and near. This wooden or bamboo structure called 'Kavadi' is covered with cloth and decorated with feathers of peacock - the vehicle of Lord Murugan.

We wish all our Hindu friends Happy Thaipusam.

Monday, February 6, 2012

24 HRS PERMIT TO ROYAL BELUM

The Perak government has slashed to 24 hours the period for tourists to obtain the permit to enter the Royal Belum State Park in the effort to popularise the rainforest haven for flora and fauna. The reason for this time lead is purely bureaucratic.

The issuance of permits are usually done to ensure holding capacity of the park is met and therefore the authorities would know instantly how many people are already in the park.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said the new rule came into effect immediately. Previously, foreign tourists had their applications approved in seven days and local tourists, three days, he told reporters after a tour of Pos Kenarong in the park recently as part of a two-day working visit to Hulu Perak district ending today. The Perak State Executive Council also held its meeting in Pulau Banding here, the first of its meetings this year to be held outside Ipoh.

Zambry said the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) is implementing the Royal Belum Integrated Development Plan to make the park world-renowned. "We hope that this massive plan will elevate Royal Belum into a major destination for international tourists," he said.

He advised NCIA to strive to diversify the attractions in the park by cultivating herbs or wild orchids on the islands and open a wildlife breeding centre. "Visitors would want to see things unique to this place and unavailable elsewhere. Besides, they will be able to spend the whole day, from morning to evening, at the park," he said.

Zambry also said that the state government would organise the International Drum Festival at the park from Feb 21 to 26. "The event will pool drummers from 10 countries. On Feb 21, they will stage a series of performances throughout Perak, and the highlight will be held at Royal Belum," he said. The mentri besar said a suitable site for the festival is being identified at the park to facilitate visitors to enjoy the event.

The site picked hopefully will draw the animals closer to the park.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

TWIN OFFERS

There will be no end in trying to bring in more numbers of tourists to Malaysia. It its latest effort The Malaysian Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) has launched its Malaysia's Twin Deal Programme this week.

Myceb decided to launch the programme in Australia based on the past success of the programme but with a twist for the Australian market.

Named after the Malaysian iconic structure, the PETRONAS Twin Towers, the two-pronged approach offers rewards for both incentive planners and participants, and further enhances the success of their events.

Deal 1 offers value added support for participants and among the privileges lined up to be experienced are complimentary canopy walk at Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, choice of cultural showcase activities, a talk by a Malaysian Feng Shui master or a Malaysia cultural session, shopping discount vouchers, welcome cocktails and police escorts.

Deal 2 offers incentive rewards for corporate and incentive planners and is based on cumulative numbers of participants. The planners will be able to redeem vacation packages to either Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu or Kuching inclusive of return air tickets, accommodation at 5-star hotel, spa session and other goodies.

So what is the deal for local MICE organisers ?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

TOURISM BLUEPRINT FOR LANGKAWI

The industry feels that a Langkawi Tourism Blueprint is a master plan which Langkawi badly needs at this time to give it a better focus and Langkawi's rich natural endowments are key attributes and strengths which needed to be harnessed.

Langkawi's intrinsic assets such as its status as Southeast Asia's first geopark along with nature-based sites like Kilim and Dayang Bunting and the 99 islands, which are mostly uninhabited with pristine beaches and favourable weather all year round, place this island in very good stead.

With 20 daily flights from Kuala Lumpur and Subang and charters from the middle- and long-haul markets, coupled with ferry access from Penang, Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Satun in Thailand make the island very accessible.

The island has been neglected far too long and there has been no strategic planning nor efforts for branding it properly before and the authorities must return to basics first and see that issues like sewage plants and infrastructure for proposed luxury accommodation, including helipads, are resolved.

Friday, February 3, 2012

MAH MERI CULTURAL VILLAGE

After many attempts by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to create a cultural village based on the Mah Meri of Carey Island, the Tourism Ministry now wants to adopt the Mah Meri cultural village and promote it as an artisan village, said its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She added that this would help to showcase the tribe’s skill in traditional wood carving.

The main attraction of the village would be its exhibition of 11 internationally-recognised spiritual and animistic wooden sculptures.

The 11 sculptures, which have earned the Unesco Seal of Ex­­cellence, will be showcased with other wood carvings, handmade pieces and customs at the RM3mil cultural village which opened in July last year.

“We want to attract high-end tourists who are willing to fork out thousands of ringgit for the unique pieces,” she said at the cultural village in Carey island here.

Dr Ng said the ministry would seek permission from the original artists to catalogue the sculptures and use the photographs on postcards.

Earlier in Klang, she said the ministry’s state office had been instructed to look into introducing a royal museum trail, which would feature four such museums in the state.

“The trick is not in building the galleries but in filling them with artifacts and making it an interesting experience for everyone,” she said at the Sultan Abdul Aziz royal gallery.

The Tourism Minister is undoubtedly an expert in Mah Meri culture.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

TOURISM LOSING ITS FOCUS

Twenty-five years after the historic 1987 Visit Thailand Year, a number of industry veterans are voicing concern about the state of the industry in Thailand and its future directions.

With the number of arrivals skyrocketing, and future growth almost guaranteed for a host of reasons, there is apprehension about the growing gap between quality and quantity. A substantial consensus is emerging for the industry to start adopting the sufficiency economy philosophy of King Bhumibhol Adulyadej as a future development strategy.

We in Malaysia should also be getting on our butts to examine if our own tourism industry has lost its focus There is already some talk about our tourism has not lived up to expectations, the country’s huge popular island resorts are in need of carrying capacity controls and there is a long overdue requirement for quality human resources development institutions.

However our visa-regimes has been revitalised to better balance security concerns and tourism earnings. Malaysia has already adopted a non-filling of landing forms for arriving passengers at all extry points.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

HOMESTAY BY RAIL

Tourism Malaysia will aggressively promote the 'Homestay by Rail' programme as it is one of the most sought-after escapades for students and the senior citizens in Singapore. Its director for Singapore, Zalizam Zakaria, said the agency was working with Kereta Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) to create attractive holiday packages.

"On top of that, the launching of the new Blue Malayan Tiger train will further boost the needs and desire of travelling by train from JB Sentral to East Coast destinations," he told Bernama after a meeting with KTMB officials here today.

The KTMB delegation was headed by its marketing manager, Noordin Kimi. Also present were six local travel agents involved in the 'Homestay by Rail' programme, namely, Raffles Holidays, Fascinating Holidays, AX Exotic, SJ Holidays, Azza Travel and Ruby Rashid.

At the meeting, Zalizam informed KTMB that TM Malaysia would further promote the programme and was asked to get the latest homestays which involved a travelling time of within 45 minutes from any rail station. "This is to ensure the journey is not too taxing to the tourists," he said.

He said the agency also informed KTMB to work hand in hand with the president of Homestay Malaysia, Datuk Sahariman Hamdan, to identify the homestays as a special booklet would be produced for distribution here for the new "Homestay by Rail" programme.

He said Tourism Malaysia office here would assist Woodlands train station provide brochures, pamphlets and promotional digital video dics to the station master.

KTMB also did a soft launch at Tourism Malaysia's office here and introduced the "KTMB i-Card" discount card for Singaporeans. The annual fee for the card is S$20 for Singaporean and permanent resident.