Monday, November 30, 2009

Rewards for Sarawak tour operators

KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism Board will reward tour operators which bring in big groups of tourists to the state from next year.

State Tourism and Urban Development Minister Datuk Michael Manyin said that operators which brought in groups of at least 50 people in a single arrival would be entitled incentives of their choice from the board.

“The incentives will be given in kind, such as the provision of traditional airport/port welcomes, cultural performances, welcome gifts or free entrance to tourism attractions, whichever the operators prefer.

“The incentive is open to all markets,” he said here recently.

Another reward would be a cash incentive for travel agents or tour operators which achieved a target of arrivals into Sarawak, Manyin said.

He said the board would set specific targets after consulting with the industry members.

Continue reading at: Rewards for Sarawak tour operators
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Pullman Hotel landmark for Kuching

KUCHING: Pullman Kuching opened its doors to the public in a soft launch recently.

The five-star hotel, located at Jalan Mathies in the city’s golden triangle, is Accor Group’s second Pullman in Malaysia and targeted at business and leisure travellers.

“We look forward to welcoming guests. The opening of the newest international hotel in Kuching is sure to be welcomed by residents and visitors to the picturesque capital city of Sarawak,” said Pullman Kuching general manager Fabrice Mini.

The hotel’s 389 rooms come with LCD television sets with a large selection of international channels, high-speed Internet access and in-room fitness workout equipment.

It also has nine banquet and conference venues while its state-of-the-art ballroom can accommodate up to 1,500 people for a sit-down meal.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Pullman Hotel landmark for Kuching
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sarawak tourism players told to tap China tourists

KUCHING: State tourism players must tap the growing China market from where two billion tourists are expected to visit places around the world by 2020.

Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh who made this point last Friday night believed that China would continue to thrive and become a giant power with an influential global role.

“It is a hard fact that China has become the new world economy indicator. It has the power to generate more wealth. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China, the economies of Sarawak and Kuching can improve for the better.

“And there can also be more collaborations in cultural and educational fields,” he said at a welcoming dinner for the Business Investigation Delegation of Kunming Municipal Government at Dewan Masyarakat here.

Wong, who is also Minister of Environment and Public Health, pointed out that trade volume between Malaysia and China had increased by leaps and bounds in the last three decades. In 1974, the trade volume was US$160 million; last year it was US$53.4 billion, he said.

He said Kunming and Kuching or the state in general shared some similarities given that both were homes to more than 20 ethnic groups which live harmoniously together.

“Although there are different groups of people, they live amicably besides seeking mutual understanding to further strengthen their relationships and goodwill.

“It is not difficult for us, people of Kunming and Kuching to foster closer rapport since the diplomatic relations of both countries were established 35 years ago,” he added.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism players told to tap China tourists
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Bau Junk Regatta can be a tourist draw


BAU: The Junk Regatta can be a stepping stone to develop Bau into a tourist attraction.

Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie said this at the opening of the regatta here yesterday.

“The regatta is a unique event in the state and country. We should capitalise on the uniqueness of this event and promote the junk as our tourism icon,” he said.

Nansian asked the council to explore this potential so souvenirs of junks could be produced and even a junk museum set up.

“The bigger picture is to promote Bau as a tourism hub. The junk regatta is just the tip of the marketing potential. We develop one part, the rest will also reap the benefit. Don’t just be confined to the event itself,” Nansian said.

“The event must be held annually without fail. We must push for it to be added to the state tourism calendar of events. It must be held here so we can use Tasik Biru as a tourism asset for the town.

“Bau is in a strategic location as it is not far from Kuching. The surrounding beauty will provide tourism opportunity. The junk regatta can be a product that gives publicity to the town. As we draw tourists in, we could add more side events.”

Nansian suggested that the council hire a professional event management company to manage the event, attract sponsors and generate publicity.

From there, the council could make the event bigger to attract a bigger crowd each year.

Continue reading at: Bau Junk Regatta can be a tourist draw
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taking the plunge in Mabul

By Martha Alabastro

My dad recently gave me a book on a compilation of Irish women travellers' chronicles. It was different from other books that I have read because the stories were simple yet refreshing. Some had a big impact like having to face death three times in a week or something as frivolous as looking for the perfect amber necklace.

Inspired by the lines in Desiderata, "Speak clearly and listen to others, for even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story", I present mine.

Liana Lim, a colleague, recently organised a diving trip to Mabul island in Sabah, Malaysia. Our group of eight was composed of Dianne Chang, Kelly Chew, Joan Lee, Dzulkarnain Limau, Ten Soon Choi, Jason Tang, Chin Si Yu and I.

We drove from KB to the airport in Bandar. It took us about half an hour to fly to KK from where we were supposed to take a connecting flight to Semporna using a budget plane, only to find out sadly that not everybody could fly. Miscommunication due to a "wrong" advertisement made us and some passengers queue on a different lane. This made us miss our original flight. We had no choice, no other flight was available. So with extra money in hand, we purchased new tickets on the same airline.

One good thing that happened was that Dzul had a picture taken with a well-known composer in the airport. Lucky him!

We arrived in Semporna, ate a late dinner and hit the sack. The next day, we took pictures while waiting for a boat to take us to our final destination, Mabul.

With the sun kissing our faces, wind giving out a gently sigh and water lightly spraying us, we were all smiles, anticipating what was about to come.

Refreshments were served when we arrived. Too excited to eat, we half-listened as a Borneo Divers staff gave the itinerary.

After a sumptuous lunch, the seven who originally wanted to snorkel opted to dive with Liana and I. Since none of us had dived before, the staff were a little reluctant at first to let us into the deep waters. But somehow in the end, we were given a course called DSD, Discovering Scuba Diving, which allowed us to dive up to 10 feet, or equivalent to a two-storey house.

At 1pm, we were given our wetsuits, fins, goggles and oxygen tanks. We proceeded to the welcome hall for a short lecture. Caution was thrown to the winds and we were on our way to the pool to practise what we had learned. Whatever cockiness we felt during the lecture dissolved like some soluble material in the water.

We were divided into two groups. Liana, Kelly, Ten, Dzul and I were on one team while Dianne, Joan, Jason and Chin were in the other.

Carrying a 10kg tank full of oxygen, we dived into the blue chlorine-filled pool. Mouthpiece inside our mouth, we started to breathe with it instead of through our nose. Slow, calculated inhale and exhale of air was exchanged. Apparently this was not enough because Ten and I always went up for air. Somehow our brains were hijacked into thinking that the oxygen tank was not enough. It was a good thing that our dive masters, Amanda Lee and Jackie, were very patient. Once more, we sank into the water and this time got it right.

Chin was wary at first to come with us, but with all the fun underwater, he finally decided to join in.

After testing what we had learned, like breathing without oxygen for a few seconds, taking out air from the mouthpiece to share oxygen with others, Amanda said that our group could go ahead to the sea.

Whee!

On the port, we took the left side and saw some crocodile fish that were camouflaged in the sand, a school of fish, perhaps going home, (ha!ha!), sea urchins and sea snakes of different sizes and colours.

Going deeper, we had to "equalise" by swallowing our saliva because the pressure underwater was high. There was always a possibility that our ears could rupture and we were not ready for that. Large corals, whose scientific names escaped me, were majestically laid down for our eyes to see. We were not allowed to touch anything underwater in order to preserve its beauty.

It was indeed a different view through a pair of scuba goggles.

The other group went in another direction and was blessed to see a humongous turtle. According to Dianne, it was so big that its diameter was like the body of a car.

Ears hurting, I decided to ascend. Jason followed a little while later. We talked about how things were different down under. That it was a whole new world. How glad we were that we were able to experience all of these and relieved at the same time that no sea cucumber was in sight, not that I have anything against it, really.

Dinner was served, stories were exchanged and DSD certificates were handed over. A group photo was taken and everybody had fun that night.

We were required to stay on land for 24 hours before boarding a plane because the nitrogen inside our blood had yet to subside to a normal level. Going up in the air, where the pressure is low, would have a grave consequence.

Taking a boat from the island back to town, we were sad to leave the magical place. The farther we went, the sooner we found our bodies aching. A massage was the first stop and then a nice seafood dinner.

On our last day, Kelly and I went to try a Korean restaurant, Liana, Dianne and Joan went shopping whereas Joan bought killer platform shoes that Bratz wore. Dzul went on his merry way to meet another set of friends and the boys, Ten, Jason and Chin, were found hanging out in a famous coffeeshop that starts with the letter S.

I heard somewhere that Empire Hotel is offering diving courses. Hmm, Jerudong, here we come!

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Efforts to turn Kota Kinabalu as must-visit place

MENGGATAL: City Hall is on track to turning Kota Kinabalu into becoming a nature resort city, said Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim.

He said the plans have been put in place stressing on three key parts namely cleanliness, beauty and safety.

“Our goal is to make our city clean, beautiful and safe with the citizens able to go about in their daily activities,” he said adding that more awareness programmes with the various segments of the community would be held periodically.

Iliyas said that more people were joining the bandwagon in wanting to turn Kota Kinabalu into a must-visit city.

“Our community programmes are bearing fruits with more people making effort to keep the city clean and changing their attitude,” he said in his speech at a community programme with the residents of Menggatal here yesterday.

The speech was delivered by City Hall director-general Yeo Boon Hai.

Continue reading at: Efforts to turn Kota Kinabalu as must-visit place
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Decision on KKIA Terminal Two as a cargo airport stays

Kota Kinabalu: Terminal Two of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport will be made a cargo airport as planned after AirAsia moves its operations to Terminal One which is now being upgraded.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said there was no change to plans to make Terminal Two a dedicated cargo facility.

"The terminal now is used by AirAsia and we want them to move to the main terminal, as we have already complied with all their requirements for this purpose," he said, Wednesday.

They are renting the space from Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) anyway and the move can help them save some overhead costs, he added.

Towards this end he explained there was a delay in the moving of AirAsia's operations due to the late completion of KKIA's upgrading works and the time the Royal Sabah Turf Club took to finally move out.

"The renovation of the terminal is now on-going but it may take a while to complete as the runways are still operating É workers can only start work before and after the airport operations every day.

"However we hope the benefits of merging the terminals and setting up of a new cargo area can be felt soon."

Continue reading at: Decision on KKIA Terminal Two as a cargo airport stays
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Sabah tourism centres to ban plastic bags

KOTA KINABALU: All tourism centres under Sabah government agencies will be barred from using plastic bags in an effort to conserve the environment.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the ruling was expected to be enforced by early next year.

“We have already sent a directive to all tourism centres under the ministry to switch to recycled bags, which are environmentally friendly,” he said after opening a seminar on the Environment and Plastic Bags.

“We are also asking hotels as well as private tourist companies to stop the use of plastic bags,” he said.

Masidi said some tourism outlets were already banning plastic bags.

He said one example was Lok Kawi Zoo where the ban had been practised.

Continue reading at: Sabah tourism centres to ban plastic bags
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sabah delegates promote investment tourism in EU

Kota Kinabalu: Senator Datuk Maijol Mahap and his team took the opportunity to promote investment opportunities in Sabah and its tourism attractions during the recent Dewan Negara members' visit to the European Union (EU).

"I feel satisfied that I did my part to promote Sabah because every time I met dignitaries, I give them promotional brochures about investments and tourism in Sabah.

"To some European countries, as far as tourism is concerned, Malaysia means Sabah and Sarawak. They are attracted and fascinated by what we have to offer here to tourists," he said.

As part of the six-member delegation, Maijol believed the visit to the Czech Republic and Belgium was a success.

"The delegation met with high offices in those countries, to discuss economic and trade relations with Malaysia and the EU and development in Asean," he said in a statement here Tuesday.

"I have gained good experience during the visit. Our delegation met with Premysl Sobotkca, the President of the Czech Senate, Jan Fischer, the Prime Minister of Czech Republic, Jerzy Buze, the President of the European Parliament in Brussels and Armand DeDecker, the President of the Belgium Senate," he said.

"Beside that, our delegation also held discussions with Vital Moreira, the Chairman of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament, and Heidi Hautala, the Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament," he said.

Continue reading at: Sabah delegates promote investment tourism in EU
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Kota Kinabalu International Airport job delay

Kota Kinabalu: Upgrading work on the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) - Malaysia's second busiest - is now expected to be completed by May, next year, about a year behind schedule.

A combination of delays involving Package 1 and Package 2 of the RM1.4 billion project saw the completion date initially being pushed to Dec. 15 but further delays have pushed it to May.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun was on Tuesday given a briefing by Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB), which has called on the two contractors for the respective packages to deliver the project on time.

"But looking at the schedule, tentatively, I assume the new airport would be fully operational by the end of May (next year)," he said.

"The first package should be doing really well despite hiccups. As you know it took some time for the Royal Sabah Turf Club (RSTC) to move out and it has held up a lot of work but now they (MAB) have been able to take possession of the site and (allow the contractor) continue with that part of the job. The other contractor will do likewise."

Masidi said MAB had met with both contractors "who were not at the full speed of work at this point of time" to find out further reasons for the delay.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu International Airport job delay
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bina puri is planning RM1.5b Sabah resort

Kuala Lumpur: Bina Puri Holdings Bhd is planning a luxury resort development in Kota Kinabalu that could cost more than RM1.5 billion.

Bina Puri Construction Sdn Bhd (BPCSB) managing director Datuk Henry Tee Hock Hin, who oversees projects in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, said the development will feature hotels, resorts, high-end condominiums and villas.

Tee said it would be Bina Puri's first luxury development of such scale.

BPCSB is in talks with local developers and foreign parties, and a joint-venture company will be set up once all parties reach agreement.

"It is too early to say when the project will start, but we are looking at it seriously. What is important is to get the right partners in to build it together.

"We have seen a few parcels of land. BPCSB will ink some deals soon for the project," Tee said.

Continue reading at: Bina puri is planning RM1.5b Sabah resort
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Plenty of hotel rooms in Mukah, Sarawak

Many people associate food, shelter, rest and hospitality with home. However, on some occasions we are forced to seek for these services elsewhere. A worker with insufficient time to return home for lunch may have it in the factory canteen or a local cafe, a businessman having an appointment many miles from home may put up in a hotel overnight; a family wanting a break may take a holiday in a guest house or a caravan, a student wishing to follow a course at a college some distance from home may stay in a hall of residence or `digs’.

Many people are actually involved in the accommodation market as there is a growing need for such service. In fact, anyone who travels more than half a day’s journey from home needs accommodation. The type of accommodation varies according to the individuals.

As the fastest growing town in the state, Mukah has been successful in addressing the shortage of hotel rooms with the setting up of high-class and budget hotels in the past few years.

The star hotels in this town are Kingwood Hotel and Kingwood Resort while the budget hotels are Wyoming Hotel, Mandarin Hotel, Royal Inn, Mukah Inn, Qintai Inn, King Inn, Sarina Hotel, Sri Umpang Hotel, Harmony Resort and Kaul Beach Resort.

Located about 12 kms from the town centre, the four-star Kingwood Resort Mukah, is referred to one of the landmarks of Mukah.
In economic term, the completion and commencement of business of the 99-room and suite resort about three years ago, was a milestone in the development of the local tourism and hospitality industries in the division.

Officially opened by the Chief Minister Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud on March 24, 2006, Kingwood Resort is the pioneer in Mukah to provide international class accommodation, dinning, meeting and recreational facilities and services to the locals as well as foreign tourists.

It has an all day halal restaurant serving local, Chinese and western cuisine, a grand ballroom which can accommodate 1,500 people, two function rooms for 100 and 80 persons respectively, an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, indoor games room, sea view terrace for barbeque and parties and 200 car parking bays.

All the rooms have private balcony offering a panoramic vista of the South China Sea, the setting sun and the country side. 80% of the resort’s staff are Melanaus who are well known for their hard work, hospitality, helpfulness and friendliness.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Plenty of hotel rooms in Mukah, Sarawak
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Celebrate tapas and vodka at Hilton Kuching's Senso

In conjunction with the hotel’s year-long 21st aninversary celebration, the food and beverage outlets at Hilton Kuching are bursting with year-end promotions. “21 till 2010” is the finale to the exciting celebration that started in January this year.

At Senso, the hotel’s bar and lounge, diners will get to experience the authentic taste of Spain in the form of tapas. Known as Spain’s greatest food invention, tapas are made for sharing and encourage conversation as diners are usually not so focused on eating an entire meal that is set before them when they socialise.

Patrons to Senso will get to enjoy the Executive Chef Jaffery Sham’s sumptuous selection of freshly-cooked tapas, which include the Lamb Cutlets Assado and its Aioli (grilled juicy New Zealand Lamb cutlets complemented with garlic aioli), Champiniones al Ajillo (fresh button mushrooms sauteed in virgin olive oil with diced onion and garlic), Patatas Bravas (Fried diced potatoes served with spicy tomato sauce), Prawns ala Plancha (Tiger prawns with garlic and lemon), Bacalao with Red Pepper Sauce (Cod fish mixed with mased potato and spring onion), among others.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Celebrate tapas and vodka at Hilton Kuching's Senso
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Bamboo Music Festival, Tamparuli


Date: 25 November 2009

The mention of bamboo being used to manufacture beer, diapers, perfume and even antiseptic may raise an eyebrow or two. But in Sabah, this multi-purpose and readily renewable resource is most famous for producing wind and percussion instruments such as the sompoton (bamboo aerophone), bungkau (jaw harp) and seruling (flute).

Dance away at the Dewan Tun Hamdan, Tamparuli on 25 November as the famed Kinabalu Bamboo Orchestra takes centre stage. And cheer on participants of the creative solo, group and monogunggak (bamboo idiophone) competitions. Outdoor activities include the bamboo raft and house model building contests, and the rampanau (bamboo stilt-walking) race.

Organiser:
Persatuan OMBAK / Pejabat Daerah Kecil Tamparuli

For further info:
Tel: 013-876 0358 (Jane Thing) Tel: 088 782357 / 782154 (Edip Abdun)
Fax: 088 782871
Email: jane_thng@yahoo.com

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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RM8b Sabah tourism revenue goal

Kota Kinabalu: The State Government aims to double tourism receipts under the 10th Malaysia Plan (1011-2015) to RM8 billion and increase arrivals to 3.55 million (2.2 million domestic and 1.35 million international visitors).

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said his Ministry in the meantime had set a target of RM4 billion in tourism receipts and 2.3 million tourist arrivals for next year, as outlined in the State budget.

"These numbers are achievable but they would definitely be far-reached and out-of-sight if we do not put our house in order. It is shared responsibility," he said at the sixth Sabah Tourism Awards ceremony at Magellan Sutera, Saturday.

According to him, the task required three major requirements - namely on the stake holders' side to enhance human resource development throughout the industry, service quality (much more than a smile on the face) and on the Government's part to continue providing basic infrastructure.

He assured that the Government would take continuous effort to improve basic infrastructure in order to facilitate, stimulate and encourage the development of new tourism products and attractions, as identified for the 10MP and under Sabah Development Corridor.

"My Ministry is committed to make it happen to work closely with the relevant ministries and agencies both Federal and State, especially with the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia," he said.

"We are partners and stake holders. We have a common goal - to fill the aircrafts, the hotels, tour coaches, tour boats, restaurants and sites with paying passengers and visitors," he said.

Continue reading at: RM8b Sabah tourism revenue goal
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Charms of the 'Land Below the Wind'

The Sabah Foundation Building is a magnificent glass-shrouded tower of 72 sides rising 30 storeys into the sky, dominating the landscape. It is located at Likas Bay, about 10 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu, and is a must on any visitor's itinerary. This proud, building is a symbol of Sabah's dynamic, innovative spirit.

KK as seen from Signal Hill.


One of the government buildings in KK.

A mosque in KK.

The latest shopping complex in KK.

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Rosli Abidin Yahya and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd



By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Kota Kinabalu formerly known as Jesselton, is the capital of Sabah, a state of Malaysia in the east coast.

The city is well known for its tourism attraction worldwide and is home to the highest mountain in the island of Borneo.

Sabah, affectionately known as 'Land Below the Wind', has been a favourite holiday destination for Bruneians because it is a safe place with relatively low crime rate.

It is also a modern city with well-planned development and proper network of roads. The city also has plenty of shopping destinations.

It is now a hub of AirAsia - the world's best low-cost airline and Bruneians usually stop over in KK to catch flights to places like Manila and Shenzhen among others.

Furthermore Brunei-Malay descendents live in certain areas from Sipitang to KK. Bruneians can trace their families in these areas.

Come December, the season when students have their one-month final term break, many Bruneians choose to visit KK, which is easily accessible by cars.

The only problem is the accommodation as all hotels are usually fully booked due to the influx of tourists and Bruneians visiting the state.

Even rented condominiums and seaside chalets located far from town will be rented by Bruneians if they fail to find accommodation in the city centre.

Regular travellers will notice a significant improvement and rapid changes in the city as multi-ethnic communities settle in the state and make it their second home.

The rapid growing phase gave the city a huge facelift providing unique landscapes with road upgrades, new buildings and shopping complexes such as 1Borneo.

The multi-diversity of its ethnic people from the local natives such as the Kadazan, Dusun, Bajau and Rungus to non-locals like the Malay, Chinese and small groups of Indian races provided a new meaning in this city.

The most attractive local attraction is the Kaamatan Festival that is mostly held at the end of May every year.

Tourists and locals were given the opportunity to learn more about the local native heritages and at the same time, to experience their way of life.

Kota Kinabalu is also pleasantly located next to a natural reservation sea nature site which includes some beautiful islands mainly uninhabited such as Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Suluk, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sepanggar to the north.

The coastal beach line is the best place for tourists to watch the sunset and enjoy the warm breeze.

Sutera Harbour is also a hotel resort built out from a re-claimed space at the sea and is one of the most exclusive hotels in Kota Kinabalu.

The need to develop re-claimed land is due to the location of the town, which is situated next to a hill range that barricades the coastline and is a natural barrier against the high windstorm.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Padawan - Priceless experience

Padawan is a tourist magnet of sorts, with attractions that include the fascinating hot spring and authentic Bidayuh longhouse in Anah Rais as well as the majestic Borneo Highlands Resort just nearby.

The predominantly Bidayuh area is not only home to some of the most exotic varieties flora and fauna, but it also boasts a diversity of cultures of the people who thrive there.

The best time to experience the local culture in Padawan and at the same time have tons of fun is during the Padawan River Safari, a bamboo rafting competition organised by the Padawan municipal council.

The Padawan River Safari is slowly but surely attracting both locals and foreigners alike to this beautiful part of Sarawak. This recreational sporting event brings everyone together and allows them a chance to get a hands-on experience in building a raft out of bamboo extracted fresh out of the surrounding jungle.

This writer as well as fellow journalists recently went to Kampung Danu where this exciting event began, then straight off to Kampung Git where it ended and a colourful fiesta awaited.

A test of knowledge and skills

The recent Padawan River Safari was like a test of knowledge and skills to see how good the participants were in making use of what nature has to offer, and how well they could manoeuvre through rapid waters of Sungei Sarawak Kanan in a raft built with bamboo canes according to the required specifications set by the organiser.

It was a great opportunity, especially for the foreign participants, to experience how our ancestors moved about from one destination to another in the past using nothing more than what Mother Nature had to offer.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Padawan - Priceless experience
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Eastar Jet starts flights to Kuching next month

KUCHING: Seoul-based low cost airline Eastar Jet will be making 11 scheduled chartered flights here starting next month, bringing into Sarawak 1,300 tourists from South Korea.

Eastar Jet chairman and chief executive officer Lee Sang-Jik said the flights which commence on Dec 24 would be like an early Christmas gift to the people in the state from the Koreans.

He said Kuching would be a perfect escape for Koreans from the winter back home, as well as provide golf-crazy Koreans a cheaper and warmer place to play golf.

According to him, South Korea has the highest per capita percentage of golf players in the world with eight million out of its population of 48 million people into it.

The weather in South Korea can be as cold as minus-six degrees Celsius during winter.

“Kuching is our first destination in Malaysia. If the response is good, we will also be looking into flights to Miri."

Continue reading at: Eastar Jet starts flights to Kuching next month
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Welcome to 'Borneo Corridor'

MIRI: Borneo island can become a magnet for globetrotters and adventure seekers if the three governments, namely Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, give it the tagline “Borneo Corridor” during their tourism promotions abroad.

Pablo Iglesias, programme manager for the European Union-Asean Management Unit of the European Commission, said “Borneo Corridor” had an exotic ring to it to attract attention.

He added that foreigners were always intrigued by places with fascinating names.

He was speaking to reporters at the start of the EU-East Asean Growth Area business and technology partnership dialogue hosted by Miri City here yesterday.

“If we mention Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei or Kalimantan, not many people will think twice about these places. But mention Borneo Corridor, the impression changes.

Continue reading at: Welcome to ‘Borneo Corridor’
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

15,000 visited 3 Sabah cultural villages

Kota Kinabalu: More than 15,000 locals and foreigners have visited the cultural villages of Mari-Mari in Kionsom, Inanam and Linangkit in Tuaran this year.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said these new tourism products are set to usher in more guests to savour the culture and legacy of the various ethnic groups in Sabah.

"The Mari-Mari cultural village recorded 13,196 local and international visitors as of Oct. 31 and also received a warm response from the 42 Tourism Promotion Organisation delegates in September.

"They are also expecting about 2,000 Amway delegates from Korea between Nov. 17 and Dec. 7 in conjunction with the direct marketing company's Korean incentive trip here.

"As for the Linangkit cultural village that was fully operational last May, it has received 2, 375 visitors up to Nov. 9," he told Kunak Assemblyman, Datuk Nilwan Kabang on new tourism areas being explored this year.

Apart from the new products, two hotels and a resort - Cititel Express Hotel here, Promenade Hotel in Tawau and Bunga Raya Island Resort in Police Bay, Gaya Island - were opened this year, Masidi said, adding that Sabah Tourism Board had also organised the Borneo Bird Festival to attract more visitors.

Continue reading at: 15,000 visited 3 Sabah cultural villages
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Ultimate dinner buffet with a twist at Hilton Kuching’s the Waterfront Cafe

The Ultimate Buffet series has been a constant feature in Hilton Kuching Hotel’s the Waterfront Café, notable for providing the best dining experiences in the city. Indeed, Hilton’s buffet offerings are famous for unparalleled cuisine in truly sumptuous spreads of exceptional palatial creations that manages to combine flavour, style, and cross cultural flair all at the same time, time and time again.

In the words of Oliver Twist, “Excuse me Sir, may I have some more?” At Hilton Kuching, the creative kitchen team of the Waterfront Café headed by Sous Chef Alex Wong have created a tantalising dinner buffet menu that prominently features the King Salmon as part of the concluding progression of the hotel’s year-long 21st Anniversary Celebrations, which kicked off in January this year. Equally tantalising is the anniversary promotion price, which is set at only RM53++ per person!

Diners will enjoy a wide range of both local and international cuisine as the buffet spread offers a different menu every day that showcases fresh salads, dainty appetizers and hot steamy soups to mouth-watering main courses including Japanese, Western, Mediterranean and local favourites cooked in a variety of styles, as well as a myriad of delectable dessert.

Besides tried and tested favourites from The Ultimate Dinner Buffet menu, King Salmon takes centre stage in the many additional mouth-watering dishes. With a menu that rotates daily, diners will certainly be spoilt for choice at this veritable food circus!

Piping hot from the soup kettle, steaming choices include Miso soup with salmon, Smoked salmon, potato and leek soup, as well as Salmon and green peas chowder besides the popular Sweet Corn Soup with Crabmeat, Cream of Mushroom, Ginseng Chicken Soup and Beef Balls with Noodles and crispy garlic among others.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Tourism Products Identified in Ranau and Beluran


KOTA KINABALU: Several new tourism products have been identified for Beluran and Ranau under the Tourism Area Concept Action Plan which completed its studies in June 2009.

The new products in Ranau are a secondary entrance hub to Kinabalu Park, nature walk and confidence course in Poring Hot Springs, an Alpine Rhododendron Garden in Mesilau, an alternative health centre with accommodation in Kundasang, guided trekking tours in Bundu Tuhan, the Ranau Heritage Centre Exhibition and an extreme sports centre in Mamut.

The centre in Mamut includes trail bike trails, a motor cross course, four wheel drive circuits, rally course and an extreme sports training school.

Tourism, Environment & Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this in reply to a query from Kundasang Assemblyman Dr Joachim Gunsalam at the State Assembly Sitting yesterday.

He said Sabah Parks had conducted studies on the viability of implementing the alternative route to Mount Kinabalu from Kg Melangkap Kappa, Kota Belud to King George’s Peak as well as carry out a scientific expedition to Mount Tambuyukon from Oct 2-16 for future development.

Continue reading at: New Tourism Products Identified in Ranau and Beluran
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5-star Pullman Kuching opens


KUCHING: Thunderous explosion of firecrackers yesterday heralded the opening of Kuching’s newest international 5-star hotel, the Pullman Kuching, with its design and decor specifically targeted at the business and leisure travellers.

The Interhill Group of Companies’ Group Managing Director, Datuk Hii Chang Pee, had the honour of officiating the opening of the hotel.

Situated on top of the hill at Jalan Mathies, right in the heart of the golden triangle area of the city, the Pullman Kuching offers an astonishing panoramic view of the city including the Sarawak River.

Its adjacent 2-storey life-style shopping centre - Hills Shopping Mall - is within walking distance to other commercial centres and city attractions.

The hotel offers 389 spacious guest rooms, complete with the latest in-room connected devices and other ‘PULLMAN ROOM’ signature features.

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MASwings announces 70percent discounts for Weekend Gateway


MIRI: MASwings announced that it is offering discounted airfares, on its selected weekend flights, effective 7 November 2009.

The discounted airfares as low as RM28 to RM74 one way, known as Weekend Gateway, represent 70% to 80% off the normal full fares and are available on selected routes.

The Weekend Gateway are available for online purchase only at MASwings website. To enjoy the offers, bookings need to be made 2 days in advance.

The travel period is from 7 November – 31 December and the maximum stay is 2 days for traveling on Saturday and returning on Monday. More information on the above fares and flight schedules are available on MASwings website www.maswings.com.my.

Acting Head of Commercial, Azlan A. Tanjong said, “We are offering Weekend Gateway to encourage leisure travels during the weekends. It is also to showcase our appreciation to the local community through offering value-for-money deals.”

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Bario Highlands proposed as eco-tourism site


The Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism will submit a proposal under the 10th Malaysia Plan to preserve and develop Bario Highlands as an eco-tourism site.

Its Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin anak Jawong said the Sarawak Museum, in collaboration with Cambridge and Leicester Universities, is conducting a research on “Cultured Rainforests” in the highlands.

He said preliminary results from a study showed that the area has been inhabited several centuries ago.

“An exhibition on the results of the study will be held at the Petroleum Museum in Miri soon,” he said in his winding up speech at the State Legislative Assembly here yesterday.

Continue reading at: Bario Highlands proposed as eco-tourism site
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ford donates RM51,000 to Sepilok Orang Utan Centre


Sandakan: Ford Automobile Company, in collaboration with its local distributor AutomonneXion, donated RM51,000 to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

Ford Export Division Southeast Asia District Manager, Tom Dickin, presented the cheque to the Centre during his visit to East Malaysia recently. Also present was its National Marketing Manager, Veemala Rethinasamy.

According to Dickin, the donation was part of the company's responsibility towards the environment in Malaysia and in line with its focus to preserve nature.

He said Ford Grant has been involved in the conservation of nature since 2002.

Continue reading at: Ford donates RM51,000 to Sepilok Orang Utan Centre
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German campaign to protect Sabah's pigmy rhino from extinction


BERLIN: Sabah's pigmy rhinoceros is becoming something of a mascot for Malaysia's tropical forest in Germany, given the intense interest in saving the highly endangered species from extinction and with it the tropical forest.

Various animal lovers' associations as well conservation societies in Germany have gone on the offensive to highlight the fact that there are only 50 animals left of the Sabah rhinoceros (dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrisoni) which is a subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros.

Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoological and Wild Animal Research have started, together with the Leipzig Zoo, the Malaysian government, the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Borneo Rhino Alliance, on an extensive programme for the protection and further reproduction of the animal.

"It is high time that we rescued this species. The Sabah rhino is a cultural heritage of our region. We now need professional expertise," Datuk Masidi Manjun, the Sabah Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment, was quoted as saying when he received a group of researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoological and Wildlife Research and Leipzig Zoo last week.

The Sabah rhinoceros is described as an indicator species for an intact ecosystem in the lowland tropical forest.

If this umbrella species dies out, other countless species living under the ecological protection umbrella of the Sabah rhinoceros will also disappear.

Continue reading at: German campaign to protect Sabah's pigmy rhino from extinction
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Seven marketing strategies to promote Sarawak tourism


THE Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has drafted seven marketing strategies for next year.

The seven strategies are: Direct Marketing, Thematic Campaign, Festival Campaign, Target Incentives, Familiarization Trips, Market Representatives and Research Development.

“These seven strategies are crucial in the value chain and they complement each other,” said Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong in his winding up speech at the DUN Sitting here yesterday.

In addition to the strategies, Manyin said STB is now tapping into new markets especially Russia, India and Poland in order to improve the number of tourist arrivals.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sarawak agency starts orangutan adoption scheme


KUCHING: The Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has introduced an orangutan adoption programme to raise funds and awareness of its conservation and rehabilitation work.

Launching the programme at SFC’s annual dinner on Friday, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Sarawak had always been serious about its conservation policies despite coming under attack from some non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“We started thinking about saving the orangutan 50 years ago. We know it is difficult to rehabilitate the orangutan because it is a sensitive animal.

“So we can do without the smoke screen of misleading issues caused by certain NGOs which claim that the expansion of oil palm plantations is destroying orangutan habitats.

“What they don’t know is that the orangutan are not found throughout Sarawak but only in certain parts which we have designated as protected areas, such as Sebuyau and Lanjak-Entimau,” he said.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort - Living his dream


Perseverance in what you do is the sure way to success and happiness, insists Henry Law Ing Hua, 58, whose dogged pursuit of his dream of an agro-tourism resort has made him “the luckiest man in the world”.

Law was just eight when he was trained to follow in his father’s footsteps in the family nursery business. The late Lau Siong Nguong, a pioneer in the nursery business and an expert in bud-grafting fruit trees, established Kai Nguong Nursery in Sibu in the early 60s.

Law’s early association with plants nurtured in him an appreciation for mother nature and everything living and growing within it.

“Since my teenage years, I have dreamt of owning a piece of land where I could create a beautiful garden,” Law recalls.

He has now acquired that land and is transforming it into an agro-tourism park with many beautiful chalets and gardens. Law is the man behind Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort at km36 on the Miri-Bintulu Road in northern Sarawak.

Visiting the resort, about 30 minutes’ drive from Miri, I find the resort owner to be extremely affable and down-to-earth, and most willing to talk.

“After completing Form Five in Sibu, I took over the management of Kai Nguong Nursery as my father branched out to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah,” Henry says, as we lunch at the resort’s One Tree Hill Café.


Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort - Living his dream
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AirAsia sets world record for ticket sales


KUCHING: AirAsia set a new world record with its latest 1 Million Free Seats Campaign launched on Nov 11 and then broke it the next day. Navitaire, the host reservation provider that powers booking engines to an extensive number of airlines around the world, announced that AirAsia set a new international sales record with 402,222 seats snapped up in the 24-hour period after the campaign was launched.

But even before the ink was dry on the announcement, industry experts confirmed that AirAsia had broken its own new world record when another 489,000 seats were snapped up in the second 24-hour period.

AirAsia group deputy CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun lauded the achievement, saying: “This is amazing news. It’s remarkable that we are setting world records in just seven short years as a low-fare carrier, trumping established and renowned airlines. We are blazing new trails and our brand has gone global.”

Kamarudin said in a press statement: “It is an accomplishment not just for AirAsia, but for Malaysia and Asean. The region’s largest low-fare carrier is demonstrating that Asean companies can take on the best and beat them.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Hotel shortage in Sabah to prevail


Kota Kinabalu: There will always be a shortage of hotel rooms in Sabah for tourists and visitors, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

In fact, he said, it is good news for Sabah as it indicates that many people keep coming to the State.

"Actually our shortage of rooms is getting better. In the past we did face a shortage of 10,000 rooms but now it is between 2,500 and 4,000 rooms following many resorts, hotels and other types of accommodation being built," he said when launching the Grand Borneo Hotel at 1Borneo hypermall, Thursday.

Also present were Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim, Sabah Tourism Board Chairman Dato Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin, the hotel's Chairman Peter Wong L.S., its Managing Director Francis Wong L.T., its General Manager Fritz Klug and other officials.

"Actually, when looking at the trend now, there is a need for more high-end hotels in Sabah.

"And we still need more hotels in Sandakan and Tawau that have tourism potential. Another district I see will develop the fastest is Lahad Datu due to the development of the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in the area," he said.

On Grand Borneo Hotel, Masidi described the 4-star hotel as good news for the State's tourism industry as it has added 325 rooms in Sabah to cater to domestic and international tourists.

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Sepilok Nature Marathon on Nov 22


Sandakan: The second edition of the Sepilok Nature Marathon will be held on Nov 22 at the Sandakan Sports Complex here, beginning at 5.30am.

The event, which is organised by the Sandakan Municipal Council, is aimed to attract tourists from within and outside the state to visit Sandakan.

The marathon is divided into two main categories, namely the 'Quarter Marathon' (10.5km) for teenagers between 13-16 years, while a half marathon, which covers 21km for those above 17.

For the Quarter Marathon, runners will start at the Sports Complex and head towards St Monica roundabout and then towards the airport roundabout before heading towards Labuk Jaya Mile 7 roundabout towards the Mile 8 Penyu roundabout.

Runners will then head towards the end running the final stretch along the Jalan Lintas Sibuga towards the Taman Mawar roundabout, before returning back to the Sports Complex.

The Half Marathon will also follow the same route, except that runners will proceed to the Taman Mawar roundabout after going through Jalan Lintas Sibuga, before heading towards Bulatan Cecily to continue their run towards the Batu Sapi roundabout and back to the Sports Complex.

Continue reading at: Sepilok Nature Marathon on Nov 22
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299 homestay participants in Sarawak


A total of 299 participants from 19 villages throughout Sarawak have registered for the homestay programme under the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Datuk Hj Hamden Ahmad, said those villages that have shown positive performance were Annah Rais, Panglima Seman Lama, Mongkos, Benuk and Satubong.

“They earn an income averaging RM10,000 each year since the last two years. According to statistics each village received about 500 visitors in the period from January until September this year.”

He said this in reply to a question posed by Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail (BN-Bukit Kota) in the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

“Compared to the very developed programme in Peninsular Malaysia, homestay here is still in the infancy stage. Thanks to the Federal Government for introducing the programme here, which has improved the living standard of the local participants.”

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two new tourist attractions in Sibu


SIBU: Relentless efforts by the relevant authorities in the local tourism industry are now beginning to show results.

“There are now quite a number of tourist spots here which have been identified and promoted by the tourism authorities that should be taken advantage of by local tour operators and tourism industry players,” a Sarawak Tourism Board officer, Rudy Anoi told Eastern Times here, yesterday.

According to Rudy the latest tourist attraction here would be the BASE Jumping.

“The event being a niche market attracted hundreds of die-hard followers from overseas. Like those loyal tourists of Pandaw River Cruise, the BASE Jump parachuting activities around the world attract loyal fans and go almost everywhere the activities are held,” he said.

As such, he said the potential of these tourists coming to Sibu in the future is great as efforts are being made to promote the yearly Sibu BASE Jump overseas.

“It has been proposed that the KL BASE Jump will coincide with the BASE Jump’s 10th anniversary and will be held on October 10, 2010. A week later, it will be held here,” Rudy said.

Seeing another great tourist attraction for Sibu, Rudy, who has a great passion for identifying and promoting Sibu’s tourism potentials said local tour operators should take the initiative to work with organisers of the BASE Jump or Sarawak Tourism Board in the making the event a success.

“The recent jump has not yet attracted a really huge crowd as it has not been promoted extensively among the network of the BASE Jump organization,” he explained.

Two of the participants, namely the USA and Singapore jumpers, during the recent jump had brought their wives along. Rudy said the wives could spread the words around and encouraged friends, fans and family members to come to Sibu.

Continue reading at: Two new tourist attractions in Sibu
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Pandaw cruise a major milestone in river travel


SIBU: The launching of the RV Orient Pandaw river cruise here on July 1 this year saw a major milestone in river cruise in Sarawak, according to Rudy Anoi of Sarawak Tourism Board.

He told reporters yesterday that the major event did not stop there, but to introduce it to other Pandaw cruise elsewhere, namely at the Mekong River, recently.

“At the invitation of the management of The Irrawaddy Fotilla Company, which runs the Pandaw Cruise boats, Tourism Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin and his assistant Datuk Hamden and a group of officers from STB went on a Mekong River cruise,” Rudy said.

The visit he said not only helped them understand some of the nitty-gritty of its operations there, but also introduced Sibu and Sarawak there.

“The trip was an eye-opener, which featured very similar situation to ours here,” he said.

Describing the visit as timely, Rudy said that there were lots to learn from the experience there, after having operated 15 years in the country.

Continue reading at: Pandaw cruise a major milestone in river travel
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Tourist guides' role in promoting Sarawak’s cottage industries


KUCHING: Considering that the potential of maxi-mising the tourism market is on the rise, tourist guides need to play a bigger role in promoting the state’s cottage industries.Bringing tourists to see the various types of business in the cottage industry would be a thrilling experience and would surely leave a long lasting impression in them. And getting them to the villages - instead of just the popular destinations – would help enhance the local economy.

In making these points, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism, Ik Pahon Joyik, who officiated at the closing ceremony of ‘Localised Nature Tourist Guide Course’ at Ranchan Pool Recreation Park in Serian yesterday, said: “To have enough tourist guides for the growing tourism market is the challenge that we are facing.”

He pointed out that it was very important to have tourist guides who are very knowledgeable and passionate about their jobs because they provide useful information to tourists and are “ambassadors” for the tourism industry.

During the ceremony, 19 persons who completed a 21-day tourist guide course held since October 21 at the Sarawak Skills Develop-ment Centre (PPKS) in Serian received their attendance certificates.

Continue reading at: Tourist guides' role in promoting Sarawak’s cottage industries
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Stompin’ good time in Sabah


MUSIC fest Stompin’ Sabah, billed as Sabah’s first and biggest entertainment-based New Year’s Eve celebration, will take place at Jesselton Point, Kota Kinabalu, on Dec 31 from 8pm till 2am.

The event will showcase the coming together of “urban music” and “nature-inspired music” on stage. Stompin’ Sabah will feature local tribal troupes, deejays and international percussionists as well.

The highlight of this event is the heart-stomping “drum battle” by Projek Pistol comprising local top musicians such as Edrie Hashim, Moq, Zam and Lola.

Suria FM, the official Malay radio station for the music fest, is organising a contest for its listeners to win a fully paid trip to this event. Contest ends in mid-December.

Continue reading at: Stompin’ good time in Sabah
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More international events to boost sports tourism in Sarawak


KUCHING: Sarawak will have to organise international sport events to gear towards sport tourism, said Datuk Lee Kim Shin, the newly appointed Assistant Minister of Sports.

“We can organise international sport events to attract overseas participants and their families to come to Sarawak. This is sport tourism and it is a big industry that we should tap,” said Lee when interviewed at the sideline during the State Legislative Assembly sitting yesterday.

He pointed out that there were more than a hundred sports, for example, sport fishing, which the State could actually tap for sport tourism.

“I will work closely with Dato Sri William Mawan to get the job done,” he added.

Lee reiterated that sports had been an important part of the development of the State as it served as a way to unite people and increase interaction among the people.

“Sports can help to strengthen solidarity and enhance understanding among the people. It also helps to improve the general health of the people,” he said.

Lee said the Ministry would organise sport events at both international and national level to facilitate the participation of the general public.

Continue reading at: More international events to boost sports tourism in Sarawak
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Monday, November 09, 2009

Opening of the Orang Utan Conservation Colloquium, Sabah


The Orang Utan Conservation Colloquium was recently officiated by YB Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, at the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort. The objective of the Colloquium was to develop models and solutions for orang utan conservation in fragmented man-made landscapes. New results were discussed with relevant authorities and stakeholders–including the Malaysian palm oil industry–to minimise the negative impacts of agricultural development.

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Friday, November 06, 2009

Adventurers mesmerized by Sabah’s natural beauty


KOTA KINABALU: The Mike Horn Pangaea expedition has chosen Malaysia for its third Young Explorer’s Programme. The group is currently sailing around Sabah, enjoying the region’s incredible nature, tropical islands and magnificent dive sites.

Members of the group, comprising expedition leader Mike Horn, his wife Kathy, nine young explorers as well as several crew members were met by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun at Marina Club Sutera Harbour yesterday.

Horn said Malaysian Borneo had infinite natural beauty. They were delighted to see that so much was being protected and they wanted to help with that, so that the next generation could continue to see it in the same way they did now.

“We have received wonderful support from the Sabah Tourism Ministry, who are helping us celebrate this beautiful region. We choose Sabah because of its rich bio-diversity,” he said.

He said the expedition was a remarkable modern day adventure over sea and land, which would cover all the continents as well as the North and South poles in four years.

Continue reading at: Adventurers mesmerized by Sabah’s natural beauty
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Heart of Borneo Initiative focuses on five key areas


KUCHING: The Heart of Borneo (HoB) Initiative has attracted high profile publicity especially among non-governmental organisations worldwide.For Sarawak, the implementation of the initiative is in tandem with the state’s overall development agenda.

Speaking on the matter during the second day of ‘Regional Symposium on Orangutan Conservation’ at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel here yesterday, senior assistant director for international affairs in the state Forest Department, Sapuan Ahmad, said the project would focus on five key areas identified in the project document (PD).

These areas are sustainable agriculture; sustainable forest management; conservation of biological diversity (including transboundary biodiversity conservation area networks); community based/rural poverty eradication programme; and ecotourism based on culture, adventure and nature (CAN).

He further stressed that the initiative could benefit the state by attracting more bilateral and multilateral collaboration, providing platform for promoting Sarawak’s efforts in conservation and sustainable forest management; encouraging stakeholders’ cooperation through information sharing and implementation of joint activities; and enhancing capacity building through bilateral and multilateral collaboration.

The HoB Initiative is a conservation and sustainable development programme aimed at conserving and managing the contiguous tropical forest in Borneo.

Its objective is to conserve the last expanse of contiguous forest to maximise transboundary linkages; to promote the expansion of protected area network; maintain forest connectivity; and to ensure sustainable land use practices.

Continue reading at: Heart of Borneo Initiative focuses on five key areas
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Haunting ride to Keningau


By Mohammad Abdullah

A town the size of Bangar Town in Temburong lies hidden in Sabah. Keningau, about 130km from Kota Kinabalu and about 300km from Temburong, is a town where not many venture to.

Reaching the town of Keningau, one has to take a turn at a junction near Sipitang. From there, the long and winding road takes travellers high above the hills of Sabah where spectacular views of the forest below can be seen.

The town itself is accessible via two roads, one from Kota Kinabalu via Bukit Emas and the other through the junction prior to reaching the town of Sipitang. It takes about four to five hours to reach Keningau from Temburong, depending on the traffic in Lawas.

Many stories abound about the road to Keningau, which locals swear is haunted. They'd warn travellers never to stop for anything, not even to help motorists who are stranded.

There are lights on the road but because the road cuts through the virgin forest, it is a bit imposing, and could be terrifying in stormy weather. On our first trip to Keningau, we've experienced it all. We travelled at night during a storm and experienced a car break down.

What the locals say is true.

No one would stop to help out a stranger on that road, and because of the steep inclines and declines, the wet weather makes the road very slippery and becomes a tad dangerous. We didn't experience any 'x-files' though.

The irony is that the road to Keningau is almost perfect. The road is smooth and beautifully made. The winding road with the steep inclines and declines poses a little challenge for drivers and a haven for bikers, in particular those who wish to test their tenacity and skills.

Keningau was once said to be a cowboy town, where travellers hardly stay for long. The city of Kota Kinabalu pulls a stronger attraction than Keningau. However the town does have its own merits. Because of its relatively small size, practically everyone knows everyone, and news travel fast about a group of travellers staying in one of the only hotels in town, especially when they roll on two wheels accompanied by the sound of thunder.

People even cheered as the parade of bikers negotiates by the narrow high streets. What grabs is the number of natives who walk the streets, from the inner tribes of Sabah, who commute to Keningau to sell their goods.

The town is growing, but at snail pace, with pockets of rural living. This can be seen on the roads itself, as we approach the town herds of cattle walks leisurely across the road ignoring the traffic they hold up.

For adventure seekers, Keningau is worth a visit, a small town with great appeal as it is set on a backdrop of lush, virgin forests, to wake up to the muted sound of traffic and hustle and bustle of town life.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Monday, November 02, 2009

First five-star hotel at foothills of Mt Kinabalu


KOTA KINABALU: The first five-star hotel in Kundasang is set to be built on the foothills of Sabah’s iconic Mount Kinabalu.

The RM300mil Royal Kinabalu Mountain Resort will have 494 rooms and suites, half of them to be sold for private ownership akin to the time-sharing concept. Each unit costs between RM800,000 and RM1mil.

At the sales launch yesterday, only five units of the 280 hotel suites for private ownership were available following heavy bookings from a pre-launch marketing drive around the state.

“We have a waiting list of about 40 buyers,” Kinsabina Sdn Bhd managing director Francis Goh said at the launch by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He attributed the success to the guaranteed returns of at least 6% rental yield or profit-sharing from the room revenue pool in the next 15 years.

Continue reading at: First five-star hotel at foothills of Mt Kinabalu
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Sandakan Death March: Remembering the heroes whose lives we live today


The recent Durian Fest in Kundasang Ranau which coincided with the International Climbathon at Kinabalu Parks attracted a fair crowd. Besides the usual haggling found in any traditional market, people were also looking at the Kundasang War Memorial sited just nearby the shophouses. A tourist attraction, it is a fort-like structures with Gardens situated on a hill overlooking the village of Kundasang.

The broodingly somber fort actually boasts well tended gardens visited by people who pose for photographs among the flowers.

During my brief meanderings around the grounds, I realize that only some sit quietly and ponder on the history behind this memorial or to wonder at this testimony of anguish and pain inflicted by humans on their fellow sapiens.

For it commemorates the Sandakan Death March which was a series of forced marches from Sandakan to Ranau by prisoners of war (PoW). Pushed forward beyond their endurance, the Japanese marched them to their death.

According to history, more than 3,600 Indonesian civilian slave labourers and 2,400 Allied PoW died in the marches. Only six Australians survived and even then it was because they had managed to escape.

The first series of marches occurred between January and March 1945. Four hundred and seventy prisoners were chosen to carry Japanese provisions for the conquering army who were relocating to the west coast. They reached Ranau but only five Australians and one British soldier survived.

The second wave occurred on May 29 1945 where 536 prisoners were marched off under the command of a Japanese captain. The prisoners were grouped by 50’s each, every group accompanied by Japanese guards. Twenty six days later only 183 prisoners reached Ranau and met with the remaining six from the first march.

Continue reading at: Sandakan Death March: Remembering the heroes whose lives we live today
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Sarawak keen to increase orangutan population


KUCHING: Sarawak hopes to gradually increase its wild orangutan population through various conservation efforts and with a balanced approach to development.

State forestry director Datuk Len Talif Salleh said there were currently about 2,500 orangutan in the wild in Sarawak.

“What is important is that the figure has been stable for a number of years. This means that our efforts have been successul in stabilising the orangutan population.

“In fact, we want to increase the population to three, four or even five thousand in the years to come,” he told reporters at a regional symposium on orangutan conservation here on Monday.

The three-day symposium is aimed at gathering views and recommendations from experts and stakeholders on developing an “orangutan strategic management plan” for Sarawak. It was opened by Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

Len said greater public awareness on the need to protect orangutan had contributed to the state’s conservation efforts.

He cited the example of a member of the public who recently handed over a baby orangutan to the Matang Wildlife Centre after rescuing it from captivity as a pet.

Continue reading at: Sarawak keen to increase orangutan population
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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sabah wants to be at forefront on Heart Of Borneo success concept


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wants to be at the forefront on the success of the Heart Of Borneo (HoB) concept.

State Forestry Department Director, Datuk Sam Mannan explained that the HoB is mainly about sustainable forest management, good governance, and good environmental management.

He was responding to reporters during the HoB exposition held at 1Borneo yesterday. “We are small in comparison with the rest so we cannot compete in the basis of size, but we want to compete in the basis of governance, quality products and high value. Quality – that is what we have,” he said. HoB is an initiative of three countries – Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, to sustain about 250 sq km of area situated at the heart of the Borneo Isle.

“We want to use the HoB as our brand name because it is something which is recognized internationally and is something that is highly regarded,” he said. Sam added that the State has garnered a lot of positive response from foreigners who attended the Regional Forum on enhancing forest ecosystem connectivity and corridors within the HoB held recently.

“We had a few ambassadors and high commissioners here during the HoB forum recently – Among those who attended were the Singapore High Commissioner to Brunei, British High Commissioner to Brunei, the European Union (EU) ambassador to Malaysia and the Netherlands Ambassador to Malaysia. They were very impressed,” he said on Friday.

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