Monday, April 30, 2012


Taxi and hired car associations have been urged to offer attractive packages to tourists to strengthen the tourism industry. In making the call, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the tour packages should be made available to local and foreign tourists. Dr Ng, who officially handed over a RM500,000 taxi terminal sponsored by her ministry to the Raub district council, also launched the taxi tourism service programme here yesterday. Under the programme, tourists can choose a day trip package to various hotspots via taxi for a single charge. “The drivers will double up as tour guides too, but they have to attend a day-long course with the ministry to participate,” said Dr Ng, who is also Raub MP. At the launch, 36 taxi drivers were awarded certificates to participate in the ministry's pilot project. “The drivers will be given a RM100 monthly allowance each and they can earn more through the taxi tourism package,” said Dr Ng. Dr Ng said she hoped to start similar programmes in other districts. The taxi stand that was built over four months has a unique roof which comes with a self-cleaning technology which is the first of its kind in Malaysia.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Major airports, highways and railway stations across the nation were crowded with vacationers Saturday as the annual Golden Week spring holiday season began, with departures for overseas destinations peaking at Narita airport. Areas in the northeast devastated by the March 2011 quake and tsunami also saw many tourists taking advantage of the holiday season, which runs until May 6, to visit and spend money there to help local people reconstruct their communities. Narita International Airport Corp. said it expected the number of departures to reach about 42,000 on Saturday alone and for total departures and arrivals of international flights during Golden Week to rise 16 percent from a year earlier to 598,000. The Japan Road Traffic Information Center said Saturday morning a line of vehicles stretched for 30 km on the outbound lane of the Chugoku Expressway from the Takarazuka interchange, near Osaka, and for 23 km from the Takasaka service area, near Tokyo, on the outbound lane of the Kanetsu Expressway. The operators of major train services said they expect departures of passengers from Tokyo and other metropolises to peak in the second half of Golden Week, likely May 3. In tsunami-hit Iwate Prefecture, the prefectural government said about 400 people nationwide had already made bookings for package tours to locations such as the coastal cities of Rikuzentakata and Ofunato by bus during Golden Week. Tsutomu Nihei, 43, from Chiba Prefecture, was among those taking a bus tour to the two cities. “I had no chance before but took part in this tour using Golden Week. . . . I really want to see what the disaster-hit area is like now.” In Minamisanriku, in adjacent Miyagi Prefecture, Hotel Kanyo said it has taken many reservations from vacationers who plan to stay there during Golden Week and that all of its rooms are fully booked for Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Green taxes not the way to push for sustainable tourism YET another prominent industry leader has hit out against the imposing of taxes on travel to protect the environment, citing viable alternatives such as the use of positive incentives. Malaysia’s tourism minister Ng Yen Yen called the tax approach “simplistic” when she was speaking at last weekend’s PATA Annual Conference themed Building the Business Beyond Profits. “If they should do that in the West, the East can do that…(but) I think it would be very unhealthy competition,” she said, referring to taxes such as the European Union Emissions Trading System. She added that Malaysia’s stand was to incentivise instead of disincentivise, which could mean, for example, an operator pays less tax for promoting cycling tours. The country’s ecotourism policy that stipulates no more than 50 per cent of land can be developed has also helped to preserve the destination’s “pristine floating jungle”, Ng said. This has resulted in the NTO turning to other man-made products such as art and shoes (and in turn launching festivals around that) to draw tourists instead. She listed more examples of Malaysia’s sustainable tourism initiatives such as its Plant a Tree project, which has seen over 10,000 trees planted by tourists. Organised for guests who participate in homestays, the partnership with villages for accommodation is also one way the country supports rural communities. “Profit cannot be the answer for the future,” Ng said, urging industry stakeholders to focus instead on “sustainable tourism and social responsibility”, topics that were also given an airing during PATA’s two-day conference. Closing session speaker Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Canada-based tour operator G Adventures, pointed out that travel business owners had the opportunity to extend a helping hand to communities in need, while this was also one way they could engage customers beyond products. “All of you have brochures that talk about the hotels and services you supply…Customers have long gone past that. (They) want to identify with your brand and what you stand for,” he said. His company, which has a non-profit arm called Planeterra, has hired street children in India as tour guides and restored vision to the blind in Cambodia, among other initiatives. Said Poon Tip: “We create stories about our brand that transcend our product and (talk about) how we change people’s lives by creating happiness in the community

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


DUSTING off its old days of declining relevance, PATA’s Next Gen strategy to add value to members has been described as a three-legged stool comprising aligned advocacy, innovative events and the newly launched travel data platform PATAmPOWER. Speaking at the PATA Annual Conference held in Malaysia over the weekend, PATA CEO, Martin Craigs, said PATAmPOWER aimed to be the single, authoritative source of travel data for the industry. Created in HTML5 and available on mobile devices, information such as tourist expenditure, hotel occupancy and passenger flows can be summoned up with a few clicks. Content partners include NTOs, STR Global, IATA, ComScore and Sinotech. “We want to empower (members) in their business…so we’ve combined a massive 20-course banquet and given them all the vitamins in one pill,” he explained. For advocacy, PATA will team up with global organisations such as the World Travel & Tourism Council to lobby policy makers with one voice. Hot-button issues such as the UK Air Passenger Duty and the European Union Emissions Trading System are currently priorities. “We’re here to stop hindrances to travel. We’re here to name and shame people who are the weakest links and who are often hypocrites,” said Craigs. To that end, PATA has also appointed a communications global advisor, former BBC news anchor Keshini Navaratnam. Based in London, she has already helped to secure a speaking slot for PATA in the UK House of Commons in November. Craigs added that PATA’s line-up of new Hub City Forums in a number of Asian destinations this year, as well as existing initiatives such as the PATA Travel Mart and the Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart were also part of the strategy in connecting members through events. He told TTG Asia e-Daily that the goal was to restore the association’s reserves to 2009 levels – around US$2 million – by 2016. The figure is now closer to US$1 million. “We want to rebuild PATA step by step. We’re not going to have a V-shape recovery, but a U-shape one,” he said. Said incoming PATA chairman, João Manuel Costa Antunes: “We want to develop the concept of PATA being the voice of Asia-Pacific…we want existing members to feel the value of participating in this association.”

Monday, April 23, 2012


Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has called on Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) members to exchange and take-stock of information and initiatives to address climate change and its adverse effects on natural places of attraction, as well as tourism businesses and activities. Noting that climate change was one of the biggest concerns of tourism, he said that perhaps, there was a need to identify new measures and further strengthen existing ones to mitigate the repercussions of climate change on travel and tourism. He pointed out that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation had warned global tourism industries of severe threats, such as rise in sea level, loss of crop yields and extreme weather condition, which directly impacted tourism and its niche products. "Tourist attractions, hence tourism commercial activities, in the Asia Pacific region largely consist of nature exploration and its natural environment and ecology. Therefore, concerted efforts by all parties are necessary to protect these priceless resources," he said when opening the 2012 PATA Annual Conference themed, 'Building the Business Beyond Profits', here today. Also present at the conference which attracted 600 PATA members and the international media was Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. Muhyiddin said, with the process of globalisation and development occuring rapidly, private entities in Asia Pacific regions should fully comprehend the fact that nature and green environment must not be simply sacrificed for the sake of expanding commercial margins. "The business community, government authorities and even non-governmental organisations must work earnestly together, to develop new strategies and business models that take into account, environment sustainability mechanisms and protection," he said. Disclosing Malaysia's testimony commitment in protecting the environment and natural resource, Muhyiddin pointed out that Malaysia was recently recognised as the third best in Asia Pacific and 25th best among 132 countries last year in the Environmental Performance Index.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Imtiaz Muqbil Twenty years ago, the Pacific Asia Travel Association, PATA, was the pre-eminent travel industry organisation of the Asia Pacific, recognised as its primary authority and “voice”. Its membership totalled a formidable 2,060 in 1994. Its annual conference was the place to be for marketing, networking, research and lobbying. Cities queued up to bid for the annual conference and travel mart. Its statistical research was considered the foremost source of data on regional trends. Today, that is no longer the case. Paid membership is reported to be in the vicinity of 500. The emerging generation of industry members has never heard of it. Can PATA regain its former glory? This question will loom high between April 19-22 at PATA’s AGM and annual conference in Malaysia, a country that has hosted three previous such events at various cutting-edge periods in the history of the association and the Asia-Pacific. Under the theme “Building the Business Beyond Profits”, PATA is positioning the annual conference as an opportunity to share “successful managerial and entrepreneurship business models and principles.” But it has yet to prove the success of its own business model. A flurry of PATA Press releases in recent weeks is designed to show that it has reinvented itself as a new, improved association. Unfortunately, PATA press releases have lost credibility; they were trying to paint a upbeat picture even when the association was heading downhill. Indeed, PATA is a long way from proving that it has learnt from its own past mistakes. How it responds to the issues and challenges raised in the analysis below will determine whether PATA again becomes the leading organisation it once was or remains the mediocre grouping it is now. Three years ago, it was precisely such probing reports by Travel Impact Newswire and TTR Weekly that uncovered the truth and forced much-needed change in PATA. Whether by its own members or the media, that pressure must continue. Read more:

Friday, April 20, 2012


The 2012 PATA ANNUAL CONFERENCE will be held today to Sunday. Once again, Malaysia has been given the honour to host the annual Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Conference. Malaysians, from the public and private sectors, as well as students interested in the tourism industry, are invited to take part in one of the conference’s events — a seminar on Building The Business Beyond Profits.

To be held at The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur, it will feature some of Asia’s most acclaimed entrepreneurs who will share their successful social entrepreneurship business models and principles.

Speakers include National Geographic Traveller editor and columnist Costas Christ, G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip, Cachet Consulting managing director Anita Mendiratta, and Google Malaysia country head Sajith Sivanandan.

Topics include Building The Business Beyond Profits - Leading In Challenging Times, Opening New Horizons - Building Business Excellence, The Social Entrepreneur Challenge, and Asean 2015 - Great Expectations: One Vision, One Identity, One Community.

The conference is organised by PATA and hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia. Which means that Malaysia is footing the bill.

It marks the fourth time the country is hosting this prestigious event, with previous ones held in 1972, 1986 and 2001. The finale is a gala dinner that will see PATA presenting the coveted PATA Gold Awards 2012.

Included in the list of winners are Tourism Malaysia and Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa. Winners for the awards were announced early this year. Details at

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Ministry of Tourism Secretary-General Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said the targeted arrivals would improve Malaysia's position to be within the top 10 of global receipts which was in line with the Malaysia Tourism Plan to 2020 target.

"The ministry will continue with marketing strategies to turn Malaysia into a premier international tourist destination," he told reporters after launching Tune Hotel Ipoh Opening Ceremony here today.

He said the Malaysian Tourism Plan to 2020 set a target of achieving 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in tourism receipts by 2020. The 10th Malaysia plan recognized the importance of the tourism sector which had been identified as a driver of economic activity that would contribute towards the growth and distribution of wealth to the economy, he added.

"Tourism continues to be a catalyst to the country's Gross Domestic Product and more importantly to the economic, social and cultural well being of our community," he said. Dr Ong said the continuing success of the country's booming tourism industry was a result of the consistent support received from all sectors of tourism.

Meanwhile, group chief executive officer of Tune Hotels, Mark Lankester said the opening of Tune Hotel Ipoh marked the 11th Tune Hotel in Malaysia and represented the first branded value hotel chain in the state of Perak. "In support of Visit Perak Year 2012, Tune Hotel Ipoh provides an option to local and international visitors to Perak to stay in a world-class accommodation at extremely affordable rates, providing the essentials for a good night's sleep," he said

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


A Summit is being held in Davao to enhance BIMP-EAGA connectivity.

The chief executive officers (CEOs) of key airlines and tour operators from the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)began a two-day meeting from today in Davao, the Philippines.

The inaugural Equator Asia Air Access Forum and Airline CEOs Summit, aims to lay the groundwork for enhanced inter-connectivity between and among the EAGA focus areas, including its world-class tourist destinations branded as "Equator Asia".

"We are expecting more than a hundred delegates from the four-member countries of the BIMP-EAGA", said Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairperson and the concurrent Philippines Signing Minister to BIMP-EAGA, in a statement today.

She said that connectivity has been a major challenge for the Philippines particularly to Mindanao and Palawan, noting that unlike the rest of the member countries of the EAGA, it was separated by water. "That is why we are pushing for more airline connectivity with Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, so that there would be freer movement of people, goods and services within the sub-region", she added.

She said the idea of creating the sub-grouping is also to increase trade, tourism and investments in the EAGA focus areas. "This can only be realised if an efficient transport network and infrastructure are in place", Antonino added.

Malaysia Airlines, MASwings, and Garuda Indonesia are among the international airline companies joining the summit.

This grouping has been in talks for the last decade but nothing gets done.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Efforts are being made to attract one million Japanese tourists to Malaysia by 2014.

Tourism Malaysia and the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) inked a memorandum to achieve this joint initiative. The signing was held at the Four Seasons Hotel Chinzanso, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo on April 10.

Tourism Malaysia was represented by deputy director-general of marketing Chong Yoke Har while JATA deputy chairman Takashi Sasaki signed for the other side.

“This is our first programme to attract a million Japanese tourists to Malaysia. If successful, it will be a big milestone for the Malaysian tourism industry. We look forward to warmly welcome all Japanese visitors, especially those who have yet to visit Malaysia,” Chong said in thanking JATA for its enthusiasm in implementing the initiative.

Sasaki said the targeted one million figure was achievable.

“We will place our efforts on expanding tourism exchange programmes, as well as encouraging mutual understanding and improving relations between Japan and Malaysia,” he added.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


The Malaysia Host Committee and the PATA team are at the final stage of the preparation of the 2012 PATA Annual Conference which will take place at the end of next week (April 21-22).

As of April 11, a total number of 461 delegates from 14 countries have registered.

Under the theme, Building the Business Beyond Profits, the conference will feature some of Asia Pacific’s most acclaimed and conscientious entrepreneurs.

The speakers, all Next Gen thought leaders, will share their successful social entrepreneurship business models and principles.

To register online, visit For more information about the conference, visit or email to

Saturday, April 14, 2012


With its own Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia holiday packages, Cycling has officially gone beyond the scope of a healthy hobby.

There are 33 cycling packages jointly developed by Tourism Malaysia’s State offices and 21 tour companies from across the country.

Covering interesting destinations like Penang, Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Ipoh, Perak and rustic Raub in Pahang, the packages are not limited to just nature and adventure. The packages include:

• 2D/1N Raub Cycling Package: Includes lodging at Homestay Sungai Pasu in Raub, meals and cycling trip to a durian orchard and Berembun Waterfall. Price: RM350 per person (minimum 50 persons)

• 2D/1N Bicycle Tour Experience of George Town World Heritage Site: Includes hotel stay, airport transfers, meals and cycling activity around George Town, covering the city’s heritage, arts, traditional trades and food. Price: RM199 per person (minimum 4 persons).

• 2D/1N Perak Heritage Cycling Tour: Includes a stay in a two-star hotel, transfers, meals and cycling trip along Ipoh’s Heritage Trail. Price: RM290 per person (minimum 10).

• Half-day Putrajaya Photography Package: This package covers three zones — Recreation, Educational and Restoration — of Paya Indah Wetlands, Putrajaya. It ends with a photo stop to capture the sunset. Price: RM120 per person (minimum 4).

• 5D/4N Kinabalu Mountain Biking: Includes hotel stay in a three-star hotel, land transfers, meals and cycling activity in Gunung Kinabalu National Park. Price: RM1,499 per person (minimum 4).

Friday, April 13, 2012


By Vasantha Ganesan

Themed Attractions Malaysia, in partnership with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), will open a world-class cultural attraction called Malaysia Truly Asia Attractions in the capital in 2014.

The Malaysia Truly Asia Attractions, which forms part of the Greater KL initiative, will sit on a 26.59ha site bordered by the Tugu Peringatan, Padang Merbok, Bank Negara Malaysia’s Lanai Kijang residential complex and Istana Selangor.

This will be a one-stop centre showcasing what Malaysia is and has, that can be experienced in a few hours. “It is an immersive interactive cultural tourism park,” Themed Attractions and Resorts Sdn Bhd (TAR)’s chief executive officer Tunku Ahmad Burhanuddin said.

TAR is the operational and management company for Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s leisure and tourism division. TAR has a total of RM2.3 billion in investments up until 2015 to develop attractions in Malaysia.

“It will be a tourist attraction where people can see Malaysia in a nutshell,” Ahmad told Business Times in an interview. The idea, he said, is to woo transit passengers to visit Malaysia Truly Asia Attractions.

“We want them to come out (of the airport) and spend a few hours at the attraction. And we want them to go ‘Wow’! This is what Malaysia is all about. Next time, I come, I will stay a couple days or weeks.” Apart from cultural elements, it will include gastronomical and heritage components. “We have a forest there, so it will include experiencing a jungle,” he said, adding that the vegetation in the Lake Gardens area will be maintained.

“This is part of the Greater KL initiative to promote KL as well as promote Malaysia as a destination,” he said. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is expected to launch the project later this year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


by Malek Nejjai (Head of Corporate Communications, Amadeus IT Group)

You can now download our latest industry research report: From chaos to collaboration.

The key thread running through this report is that travel will become more collaborative over the next decade, both in terms of how people travel, and how travel providers work together with travellers. This collaboration will help reduce the stress, uncertainty and chaos that is present today, due partly to the onset of mass tourism.

The infographic below highlights stages in the travel experience and technologies essential for the future development of a collaborative travel industry. Click on the image below to open the full infographic, where you can share the frustrations and expectations you feel identified with.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


AirAsia X is offering a free, private flight to Kuala Lumpur as a prize.

In a competition the airline claims is a first for Australia, budget carrier AirAsia X is offering social media devotees and hundreds of their Facebook friends the chance to fly free from Sydney to Malaysia return — exclusively on their own Airbus A330 airliner.

The competition winner and up to 302 of their closest friends will be the only passengers on board the flight, with three nights accommodation in Kuala Lumpur at a three-star (minimum) hotel, twin share, and KL airport transfers.

As stunts go, it's a big prize, which the airline says is worth more than $268,000.

Read more:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


N. Nithiyananthan

MALAYSIA anticipates that its hosting of the annual PATA conference in Kuala Lumpur from April 19-22 will attract more events into the country.

Malaysia's tourism minister and PATA conference chairman, Ng Yen Yen, said: “Hosting the event will enable us to highlight that tourism is taken very seriously in Malaysia with the full support of the prime minister and cabinet.”

According to Azizan Nordin, acting director general of Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia’s experience of hosting PATA conferences have boosted the country’s reputation for MICE. Malaysia held three PATA conferences in 1972, 1986 and 2001.

Nordin explained: “For example, when (the PATA conference) was held in Malaysia in 2001, we did not have a dedicated tourism ministry as at present. It was combined with Arts and Culture.”

Tunku Iskandar, PATA’s programme committee chairman said: “There are two key aspects to the conference content this year. One is involving young people – young tourism business professionals and students (at local colleges offering tourism courses) – through various sessions and the Social Entrepreneurial Challenge. The other is looking at how to build the business beyond the objective of achieving profits,” he added.

Themed Building the Business Beyond Profits, the conference has registered 461 delegates from 14 countries.

Monday, April 9, 2012


By Manik Mehta(Bernama)

-- If happiness could be measured the way a country's economic performance is measured in terms of gross national product or gross domestic product, then Malaysia would be the world's 51st happiest country. This is the conclusion drawn in the United Nations' so-called "World Happiness Report" recently released at its headquarters in New York.

The report, which had been commissioned for the UN Conference on Happiness held in New York on Monday was compiled on the basis of survey responses received from 2005 until mid-2011 to "measure the happiness level of 156 countries".

In Malaysia's case, there were a number of factors that led to its 51st ranking. Materialistic prosperity of individuals may have been one thing but wealth, usually an indicator of a person's material well being, was not the only crucial factor in this determination. There were factors such as a person's general disposition, the level of contentment with basic aspirations, etc. which were also taken into account.

However, Malaysia was ranked 2nd in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore which emerged as the happiest Southeast Asian country. On a worldwide basis, the island was ranked 33rd out of the 156 countries surveyed. Thailand was ranked 52nd, Myanmar landed at 74th position and Indonesia was 83rd.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Penang will kickstart this celebration with the Northern Jazz Ensemble presenting Jazz Works @ the Movies! this coming 6th, 7th, 8th April 2012, in conjunction with its fifth anniversary and the first International Jazz Day celebration on April 30th.

Featuring special guest appearance by Andy Siti, The Georgetown Singers & Ronald Vic De Leon, guests will experience six decades of memorable movie themes with a jazz twist packed into 120 mins for pure musical enjoyment.

Themes from Pink Panther, Mission Impossible, Singin’ In the Rain, Rocky, Mama Mia and more. Before the pieces are performed,the audience will be presented with a brief introduction of the individual song and the movie it was played in.Andy Siti will also perform some Whitney Houston numbers as a tribute to the recently deceased singer.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


The results are in for BHN’s first hotel opinion survey, covering the likes, dislikes and preferences of hotel insiders. More than 1,000 hotel insiders from around the world responded to the survey, and here are their opinions.

Location, Location, Location
What is the first consideration when choosing a hotel when traveling for personal reasons? 61% say location. Logical, but we thought brand affiliation might be more important since we were polling hotel industry insiders. Actually, price was identified the second most frequently (18%), followed closely by brand affiliation (17%), and amenities (5%).

Is Online Really Out-of-Line?

Despite the rancor about Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), 63% of our insider respondents have used an online booking service such as or Expedia to purchase a hotel room for personal travel over the past year. For business travel, this number drops to 45%, no doubt due to corporate and other business relationships of the respondents.

It’s Not the Bed, It’s the WiFi

In an earlier survey we were told that Wi-Fi was the most desirable amenity in a hotel room. Well, it is also the most annoying amenity – when one has to pay for it or it doesn’t work well. 42% of respondents noted slow WiFi as the most annoying thing in a hotel room. Coupled with a number of open-ended responses about price, difficulty, or lack of – WiFi is the winner – or is it the loser? The second most annoying thing noted in a hotel room was poor lighting (17%), followed in a cluster by slow room service, no coffee maker, mini bar prices, and no place for luggage (all 5-6%). In the open ended responses, lack of power outlets and dirty rooms led the “annoying” responses.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Boasting a finest range of specialists hospital in Malaysia,healthcare tourism revenue in Malaysia charted a whopping RM511.2mil last year, leaping 34.9% from 2010.

A total of 583,296 foreign patients from more than 20 countries had sought for medical treatment in Malaysia last year, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council co-chairman Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said.

"International patients come to our country because we have (among others) good infrastructure, quality doctors, and our prices are reasonable," Nor Mohamed said at a press conference here with Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai on Thursday.

Liow said Malaysia was a highly sought after destination for its specialisation in orthopaedics, cardiology and cosmetic surgery.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Global travel metasearch site, Wego, has launched Malaysia's very own website,, accompanied by new and innovative technology to compare the price and availability of flights and accommodation across hundreds of different travel sites simultaneously.

In a statement today, Wego said the site would allow users to select from among 350,000 accommodation options, from online industry giants such as Agoda, Expedia, and, as well as local and international hotel groups and independents.

"The listings will appear ranked according to what is popular with Malaysians, reflecting what is considered well-priced and placed locally." it said.

Its chief executive officer, Ross Veitch, said Malaysia's skies were hyper-competitive with multiple fares in the market for every route.

"We have found a way to present them in a simple graph so Wego users can save time and pay less for their ticket, just by choosing an alternative date or different airline.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


THE revenue from the homestay programme increased by 26.78% to RM15.7mil last year, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit. Tourist participation in the programme also increased by 29.8% to 254,981 people.

“The homestay programme, created in 1995 to promote eco-tourism, has proven to be a huge income earner,” he told Datuk Md Sirat Abu (BN – Bukit Katil).

The deputy minister said in terms of tourist arrivals, the programme saw an increase of 21.6% – from 161,561 tourists in 2009 to 196,472 in 2010.

“However, the programme needs some improvement as the main complaints are the lack of public infrastructure in the rural areas. We will provide the funds to improve them,” he added.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not be issuing any negative travel advisory to Malaysians who want to travel to Thailand, especially to the southern areas of the country,said Malaysia's Consul-General in Songkhla Mohd Aini Atan.

He said event though two bombing incidents happened in southern Thailand two days ago, the government believed Malaysians knew what they should do in this situation.

"We have decide this (not to issue a negative travel advisory) after lengthy discussions. As neighbouring countries, we believe "a friend in need is a friend indeed". The incidents happened in Thailands but it affects both Malaysia and Thailand," he told Bernama here today.

He said on top of that, the government respected the intelligence of the Malaysian people. "However, if they want to travel, they need to take extra precautions. They can ask us for guidance," he said.

Mohd Aini said he was also happy with the cooperation extended by the Thai authorities to Malaysians involved in the incidents.

Monday, April 2, 2012


There was the case of one D.A. Bragger, a retired member of Britain's Royal Air Force who served here during the Emergency. Down for a visit after many long years, Bragger read of the reburial ceremony for nine RAF personnel killed in a plane crash during the Emergency. Then in Penang, the old soldier wanted to attend the reburial to honour his former colleagues. Bragger booked a hotel in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately for him, the hotel was not a very well known one.

Flying into Kuala Lumpur International Airport, he traveled to KL Sentral where he boarded a taxi. But the cabbie didn't know where the hotel was and so ended up driving around for a long while before eventually finding it. As if that wasn't enough, another cabbie the next day did not know where the Cheras cemetery was. Fortunately, they ran into the cortege driving to the cemetery. It's perhaps understandable that a relatively unknown hotel in Cheras may not be known to a cabbie. But how in the world does a KL taxi driver not know where the Cheras cemetery is located?

How do taxi drivers "deliver the right information and show Malaysia in a good light" then, as our Tourism Minister was quoted as saying? This training that her ministry will put the taxi drivers through should, perhaps, also include an English language course, if they are found to be lacking, and lessons on road names, hotel names and places other than KLCC, KL Tower and other well-known tourist sites. For sure, however, it will take more than just the one day the training is now scheduled for.

We wish the Minister all the best in this effort.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


♠Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries at presentand holds the status of the world's no. 1 industry.

♠The tourism industry as a whole is presently estimated to earn overUS$ 3.5 trillion worldwide.

♠The industry creates a job every 2.4 seconds with every one of thosedirect jobs creating another 11 indirect ones.

♠Spending on tourism amounts to 5%-10% of total consumer,spending in a year worldwide.

♠India's share of the total market is a pittance at 0.51%. The non-tourist countries like Malaysia and Indonesia get much more touriststhan India.

♠However, the average duration of stay of foreign tourist in India isone of the highest in the world. On an average, it exceeds 27 days inthe case of non-package tourists and is 14 days in the case of packagetourists.

♠Tourism has the distinction of being the third largest export industryafter gems and jewellery and readymade garments in India.

♠The Tourism industry's foreign exchange earnings in India are around$3.2 billion. Tourism is the highest foreign exchange earner if weconsider the fact that net value addition in Gems and jewellery is lessthan 30 % whereas, in tourism it is more than 90 %.