Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tourists expected to pour into Sabah during the CNY holidays

KOTA KINABALU: Some 3,000 visitors from 23 charter flights are scheduled to set foot in the capital during the Chinese New Year holidays next month.

An estimated RM9 million in receipts is expected to be generated when the passengers from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have their holidays in Sabah, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.

The visitors will arrive in staggered dates beginning Feb 7 to 24. In addition, two extra flights from Hong Kong will commence especially to carry Chinese passengers to Sabah for the festive season.

“I am pleased to disclose that our tourism industry will have a roaring start in the Golden Tiger year because of these incoming flights. The receipts expected to be generated will be a huge angpow for the tourism industry,” he said.

To accommodate these flights, the Transport Ministry has agreed to open the Kota Kinabalu International Airport round the clock for the duration of the special flights.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Promoting Brunei tourism

Viewpoint by Abang Jit Manis

The Asean Tourism Forum hosted by Brunei Darussalam had just ended recently. Actually, Brunei benefited a lot from this forum, which enabled it to improve and gain more knowledge in promoting its own tourism.

As the tourism in Brunei is still very young, there are still many things left unexplored in this Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures.

As we all know, the Sultanate is mainly covered with green forests, and some of the people living in the rural areas still practise their traditional ways of life.

Therefore, we should introduce a train journey service to explore the jungles and view the rich flora and fauna.

The residents of rural areas could also benefit from this transportation, as they can go to town and return back to their homes without any difficulties.

Currently, the only mean of transportation to visit Kampung Ayer is by boat. Why not in the future we build cable cars?

From the cable cars, the tourists could view the sceneries of Kg Ayer, the state mosque, Nurul Iman Palace and the whole of Bandar Seri Begawan.

The cable cars should also be connected to nearby islands and, if possible, to Muara Port. I am pretty sure the sceneries there would be magnificent, and the tourists would enjoy viewing it from the cable cars.

Beside that, delicacies such as ambuyat, kuih cincin, kelupis and other local food items should also be introduced to the tourists. Well-known hotels should serve these local delicacies to their guests.

Even the presidents and prime ministers from other countries should taste our local food, such as the ambuyat. There is no reason to be embarrassed in introducing our national food - we do this to promote Brunei.

I read in the Internet recently that someone suggested the royal courthouse (Balai Singgahsana) should be built in Kg Ayer.

The writer said, according to history books, that it was obvious in the past if foreign envoys arrived in Brunei that they were welcomed at the Balai Singgahsana.

There are even sketches of how the Balai Singgahsana looked like in the Water Village by early European sailors.

It could be a tourist attraction if a replica of the old Kg Ayer palace is ever built in the future.

The artists' community, such as painters and caricaturists, should display their artworks in order to promote Brunei's tourism.

They all should be stationed at the tourist destinations, such as the Kg Ayer jetty.

Once the tourists arrive there, the artists should immediately sketch caricatures or portraits of the tourists. The small paintings of Kg Ayer and local sceneries with reasonable prices must be available.

Actually, I did this before, but not at Kg Ayer. I drew caricatures for the tourists at hotels and beaches, and they seemed to love my artworks.

Promoting tourism in the Sultanate is not only the responsibility of the government alone, but it also involves all of us.

We should be proud of our local cultures and unspoiled green heritage (forest) - this is the true identity of Brunei Darussalam.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Sabah, Johor to further boost win-win tourism cooperation

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism products in Sabah and Johor can be further promoted through greater cooperation between the two states.

Johor, being the gateway to Malaysia, would also help boost tourism industry in other states, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, yesterday.

“This close rapport would definitely benefit both Sabah and Johor. Being the gateway to the country from Singapore means that it is one of the most important states in Malaysia in terms of the tourism industry,” he explained.

Speaking when welcoming 33 visiting tourism industry players from Johor here, Masidi said it would be an opportunity to exchange views and information on the tourism packages and destinations available in each state.

The delegates were led by the Johor State Tourism and Trade Domestic Committee (JSTTDC) chairman, Hoo Seong Chang.

“We know that what is good for Johor is good for all states. We would also like to learn how Johor handles the high number of tourists arrivals, which are more than ours. We will counter-visit Johor at a later date,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah, Johor to further boost win-win tourism cooperation
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Sarawak goes for common tourism packages

KUCHING -- A common tourism package to any domestic and international destination that has a direct air route from or to Sarawak will be introduced this year.

Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) president Wee Hong Seng said detailed discussion between key players in the tourism industry and state government on the proposed common tourism package was expected to be held after the Chinese New Year celebration next month with the aim of creating more choices for local and foreign tourists who wished to visit Sarawak or other destinations.

"We are looking at the existing direct air link like Kuching-KL, Kuching-Singapore, and Kuching-Brunei," he told Bernama here Saturday.

The tourism industry in other countries which have direct air links with Sarawak would come up with similar common packages so that they would create a win-win situation, he said.

He said more tourism packages for the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) would also be formulated this year.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Tawau Hot Spring, a tourist attraction

TAWAU: When Bernama reported the existence of hot springs in Kampung Air Panas some one year ago, the spot was a pitiful sight with the presence of thick undergrowth and puddles of water on the ground.

Then, the hot springs there could have numbered about 100 but they were spread all over the place including the riverbanks as well as in the river itself.

The only evidence of these hot springs is the existence of hot air bubbles and froth on the river surface.

Even among the Tawau folks themselves, not many were aware over the existence of the hot springs, further compounding the area’s neglect.

At that time, there were only a handful of visitors even though on the weekend or public holiday.

FACE LIFT

Now that scenario is no more as the hot springs have been given a face lift.

A private company has moved in and developed the hot springs into a tourist draw and the place is known as the ‘Taman Rekreasi Air Panas’(Hot Springs Recreational Park).

As soon as the visitors arrive at the park’s entrance, they would be greeted by the beautiful landscape where the foliage of shrubs at the park was trimmed and ‘carved’ to form the words ‘1Malaysia’ and ‘Hotspring’.

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Homestay is Sarawak Tourism's 2010 main product

KUCHING: The Ministry of Tourism’s state office is targeting to make the Homestay business the main product for the Sarawak Tourism market in 2010 for its uniqueness and vastly increasing performance in revenue.The ministry’s state director Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali said the Homestay business has the potential to complement almost all of the tourism marketing packages that the state has to offer.

“Sarawak’s main tourism strength is obviously the cultural, nature and adventure aspect. Along with the agro and eco-tourism that Tourism Malaysia is campaigning nationwide, Homestay business is definitely the front runner as a tourism marketing tool in the accommodation factor.

“The state is very rich in culture, for example, the Gawai Dayak celebration and the longhouses. These are things that only Sarawak can offer. It is our strength and now is the time for every player to step up his game in capitalising on this strength and enhance our niche product,” Ahmad added.

Speaking at the ministry’s Sarawak office’s ‘Briefing Session to Tourism Industry Players’ at the Grand Margherita Hotel yesterday, Ahmad suggested giving emphasis to promoting Homestay as the main attraction and selling point.

He said the performance of the Homestay business is very encouraging as in 2009, the income of RM455,430 in revenue received is an increased of RM41,607 from the RM413,823 recorded in 2008.

Ahmad said Kampung Santubong Homestay generated the most income last year with a total of RM137,070 generated.

Kampung Annah Rais came second with RM75,566.

Although the volume of tourist dropped compared to the previous year, he said that the revenue increased due to the amount of tourist spending and this is what the state is promoting — Quality Tourism.

On the state tourist target for 2010, he also highlighted that the ministry is seriously targeting about 3.6 million international tourist arrivals.

Continue reading at: Homestay is Sarawak Tourism's 2010 main product
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Royal Brunei Airlines, Tourism Malaysia ink marketing pact

By Edwin Eng

Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) is working closely with Sabah and Sarawak Tourism Boards to jointly promote tourism destinations and products.

RBA has a code sharing agreement with Malaysia Airlines on flights between Bandar Seri Begawan and Kuala Lumpur, as well as between Bandar Seri Begawan and Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan and Kuching. Brunei is the fourth highest tourist generating country for Malaysia among the Asean countries where last year, a total of 1.06 million Bruneians visited Malaysia.

However, it showed a 2.2 per cent drop compared to 1.08 million tourists two years ago. During the recent Abacus Travel Fair held in October of last year, there was an overwhelming demand for travel to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu with more than 600 air tickets issued over the two-day event, which shows a positive indication that confidence in travel has been restored with demand for Malaysia showing a positive growth.

These efforts are certainly welcomed as they will complement the government's efforts and commitment to further strengthen close bilateral relations and cooperation with Brunei in various fields including trade and investment as well as tourism.

The primary target markets of the joint promotional activities are Brunei citizens and expatriates residing in Brunei, while RBA international passengers travelling to Borneo are the secondary target market.

The signing ceremony of the RBA-Tourism Malaysia Joint Marketing Programmes was held yesterday at the Syndicate Room 4 of the BRIDEX Building.

Representing on behalf of Tourism Malaysia was its Director General, Dato Mirza Mohammad Taiyab while Wong Peng Hoon, RBA's Senior Vice President (Commercial, Sales and Marketing) signed on behalf of the airline.

The signing ceremony, held in conjunction with the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) 2010, was witnessed by Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

The cooperation bears testimony to the commitment and initiative of both organisations in boosting tourists arrivals between Malaysia and Brunei.

The ceremony of the Joint Marketing Programmes between Tourism Malaysia and RBA sets a platform to develop and implement joint marketing, sales and promotional programmes.

According to Bernama, Tourism Malaysia in a statement issued during the ceremony said that, "It includes the development of an incentive scheme centred on the promotional activities to stimulate tourists arrivals to Malaysia and Brunei. The cost of carrying these activities will shared by both parties."

Tour agents will be drawn from preferred agents of Tourism Malaysia and RBA. The selected tour agents must have proven track record of success in generating tourist arrivals from Borneo.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Campaigns will make more Bruneians warm up to eco-tours

By Azaraimy HH

Building a strong domestic market in eco-tourism is vital because the tourism industry is sensitive to volatility of global events as was experienced during the recent financial crisis.

However, it will be a challenging task to make locals interested in eco-tours because Bruneian tourists are, by nature, shoppers who love "mega sales" in the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur and reasonably priced perfumes that can be found in colourful shops in Dubai.

The general conception is they are not people who would jump at the chance to trek across jungles looking for birds or even canoeing along the river.

If domestic tourists are vital to ensuring a sustainable eco-tourism industry, how can Brunei Darussalam address these challenges?

When the Bulletin posed this question to one of the world's most renowned eco-tourism gurus, Hitesh Mehta, yesterday, admitted that this would be a "difficult, if not close-to-impossible" challenge, as it will be hard to change the mindset of the people.

But he remains optimistic that strong awareness programmes and educating people to love nature would do the trick.

The success lies in bringing the awareness programme to the youth, as they will be domestic tourists of the future. It is thus important to educate them about the importance of preserving their natural heritage from a young age.

However, he admitted that this would take some time to materialise.

According to him, people must "come into one with nature" in order to make sustainable eco-tourism work. In other words, they must understand the importance of preserving nature.

It's interesting to note that Mehta left a six-figure salary job to work on a book entitled "Authentic Ecologists" that features 26 of the world's most authentic ecologists. Since then he has travelled to as many as 46 countries around the world.

According to observers, one viable tourism product that Brunei could look at is safari holidays. The important thing is to make the travel products attractive to the local people. At the end of the day, it is all about packaging.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Amazing travel fares with Royal Brunei Airlines at Consumer Fair

Customers visiting the consumer fair can enjoy exclusive promotions and offers from Royal Brunei Airlines from January 28 until 31, at the Plenary Hall, International Convention Centre, Berakas, according to a press release.

The Royal Brunei Airlines' booth will be located at BP6 & BP7.

RBA staff will be available throughout the four-day event to help customers take advantage of a range of promotions including special Business Class fares and senior citizen fares. The increasingly popular one-day getaway fares are also on offer for passengers who want to travel to Singapore, Kota Kinabalu or Bangkok.

In addition to flights, visitors can take the opportunity to purchase attractive holiday packages to Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur and Brisbane.

"These offers have been specially designed for the event. This consumer fair is a great opportunity for the public to find great fares and start planning their holidays," said Senior Vice President of Commercial - Sales & Marketing, Mr Wong Peng Hoon.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three hotels in Sabah now hold Green Award status

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Five hotels in Malaysia have been chosen as the new recipients of the Asean Green Hotel Award 2010, bringing the total number of such hotels in the country to 10.

The five hotels are The Andaman Langkawi in Kedah, Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa in Kota Kinabalu, Mines Wellness Hotel in Selangor, Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort in Tuaran and Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel.

The Asean Green Hotel Award 2008 recipients which managed to retain their status were Hotel Melia Kuala Lumpur, Nexus Karambunai Resort in Sabah, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Penang, Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur and The Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa.

The Asean Green Hotel Stan­dard is an essential tool to support Asean as a world-class quality destination.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, in a statement, said among the criteria used were encouraging the use of green products, provision of training programmes for operation on environmental management and introduction of waste management techniques such as recycling.

Continue reading at: Three hotels in Sabah now hold Green Award status
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Unique Iban heritage seen in remote part of Belaga district

PUNAN BAH, a small Iban village in the interior of Belaga, is a must-visit for tourists.

The inhabitants here are still rooted in their unique traditions.

The star attraction of this village are five kelirieng (totem poles) and batu dong used in special ceremonies. The poles, each nearly 5m high, are said to be about a century old.

Sarawak Tourism Board central region executive Rudy Anoi recently visited this village with a group from the Kapit Resident Office.

“I have heard so much about this place from my friends and finally I get to see it for myself,” he said.

To get to Punan Bah, one needs to take an express boat from Kapit town. Another alternative is to board the boat from the Sungai Assap resettlement area. This means that one would have to take a three- to four-hour ride in a four-wheel-drive from Bintulu to Sungai Assap.

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Brunei - Perfect place for 'family' tourism

By Waleed PD Mahdini

Brunei Darussalam, on the whole received pleasant and gentle praises by many of the international media that ranged from China to the Middle East, covering the week-long Asean Tourism Forum (ATF), but the issue of visa on arrival was also acknowledged to be a sticking point in the country's bid to improve its inbound tourist volume.

Motaz Othman, an area manager for the Islamic Tourism Magazine, who hails from Jordan but is based in London, pointed out "There is a big image for Brunei in the Islamic world because everybody knows that Brunei is committed to its Islamic culture".

Having attended many previous ATF meetings in Europe and Asia, "I consider Brunei a perfect sample of Islamic tourism for European, African, and American tourists because Brunei offers clean, responsible tourism and it is all family-related. You have it all here. Unlike other tourist destinations, even those of Muslim countries, there is no big problem with drugs, gambling, alcohol or prostitution. So you have a very good sample for the world. I believe this is a perfect situation."

However, despite the many positive benefits that Brunei offers as a unique tourist destination from an Islamic point of view, he narrated a story to prove his point of what he considered to be the main stumbling block to furthering Brunei's tourism goals.

"A friend of mine, who is a tour operator, was invited to this ATF as a hosted buyer, and as it was a prestigious destination, his wife wanted to fly out and accompany him to Brunei. But when they applied for a visa at the Brunei Embassy in Amman, she was refused a visa, with officials citing that she had to be 'invited'. How can this be? Is it so complicated to facilitate visas for tourists?"

He went on to say that the Middle East market is a big bonus not only for Brunei, but also for Asean tourism. "It's perfect. We have similar food and cultures with the Asean countries."

Motaz used the comparison of Malaysia, explaining why it continues to be so successful in attracting millions of tourists from the Middle East.

"It is unfair to compare Brunei to Malaysia because it is a much bigger country and it also offers many other alternatives. Here in Brunei, I believe that the authorities are looking for some class tourism and not just mass tourism. You are targeting rich people, with families, who want to enjoy a safe, peaceful destination. Malaysia attracts the eyes of Arabs and people from the Middle East because they have big promotions and huge alternatives. For instance, out of an Islamic family, the women prefer shopping, the children like to be engaged in a lot of activities and the men can go for other alternatives. Brunei has very limited alternatives for this class of people. Even your Royal Brunei Airlines only flies to Dubai and Jeddah. Yes, a lot is being done, but you are not yet a tourist destination."

He went on to surmise that it was "because of a prestige issue that you are targeting Europeans". Brunei has focused itself onto the eco-tourism niche. "Many Europeans are fed up of going to bars, clubs and that kind of entertainment when they visit foreign countries, but there is a growing interest in enjoying nature nowadays. And Brunei is doing well with eco-tourism. It is not opening up the country for everyone and thus it is able to keep its country clean along with its culture and heritage."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Potential seen in Brunei-East Malaysia eco-tourism packages

By Azaraimy HH

Brunei-East Malaysia tourism packages, in particular eco-tourism destinations, are a natural selection in fulfilling the "single-destination vision" of the Asean Tourism campaign.

Speaking during a lunch break of the Asean Tourism Forum 2010 at the Empire Hotel and Country Club, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, Minister of Tourism Malaysia, said that her department is currently discussing to promote joint travel packages with the Royal Brunei Airlines.

Dr Ng Yen Yen also said there have been discussions with Brunei's Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources to realise these "solid" opportunities.

"I see synergy in the development of eco-tourism between Brunei and East Malaysia," said the Malaysian minister, who was wearing a fusion of "kebaya-chongsam-sarong-india" dress to reflect the multi-ethnicity of Malaysia.

Dr Ng Yen cited the canopy walk in Ulu Temburong and the proboscis monkey sightings in the heart of town as some of the potentials that could be included in the eco-destination package.

"If tourists want to go to Sabah for an eco-tour, commonsense will take them to Brunei to experience the Sultanate's magical landscape and natural wonders," she added.

There are numerous potentials that can be worked out between Brunei and Malaysia, she said.

She stated that in terms of number (of tourists), eco-tourism is not big, but in terms of quality, eco-tourism can be built upon on aspects like longer stay and more time spent, for example in safari-type travel.

"I am very focussed on the 'package' as it is all about packaging - how you package your products and how you make them attractive and worthwhile," she further explained.

Asked how important are Bruneians in relation to Malaysia's tourism market (Brunei is the fourth largest tourism market for Malaysia), Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen revealed some statistics.

She said last year, Malaysia recorded a 7.2 per cent jump in overall tourist arrivals. "This showed that 2009 was a very successful year in terms of our efforts to aggressively promote Malaysia as one of the preferred holiday destinations in the region.

"The achievement is more meaningful to us considering the many challenges and crises which we had to face throughout the year, such as the global economic crisis and the H1N1 outbreak," she said.

And for some reasons like the H1N1, the number of Bruneian tourists visiting Malaysia actually dropped last year, she said.

"Brunei is still a major market for us. We just have to renew our programmes in the lifestyle tourism sector as well as in food and hospitality sector," she said.

In terms of numbers, Bruneian tourists are relatively small, but the population presents a significant economic value, she said. This is because the majority of tourists from Brunei are shoppers and bargain hunters, who stay a few days to shop around.

"Malaysia is almost entirely duty free," the minister said, "in cosmetics and even in the shoe industry."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Need to identify problems affecting Sabah tourism

Kota Kinabalu: Tell us both the good and bad sides of the story about the tourism industry in Sabah.

Making the call to the media fraternity, Friday, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said it was important to tell the industry players their strengths and weaknesses for further improvement.

"Don't just be complimentary where we have done well while suppressing the negative aspects. There is a need to identify problems confronting the tourism sector in Sabah.

"Any bad news is most welcome for we can transform this bad news into good news.

"Unless and until we know the problems, there is a tendency for us to be complacent. And complacency will lead to a slide in the standard of service in the tourism industry," he said during the Sabah Tourism Media Night at the Cock and Bull at the KK Waterfront, here.

An appreciative Masidi gave the thumbs-up to media practitioners for the good coverage given to the tourism industry in Sabah.

"The media's contribution cannot be underestimated. The media industry has played a vital role in making Sabah well-known to the world.

Continue reading at: Need to identify problems affecting Sabah tourism
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

2.3 mln tourists to bring in RM4 bln for Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Some 2.3 million tourists are expected to arrive in Sabah this year, bringing in an estimated RM4 billion for the tourism industry, said Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmood.Last year, 2.33 million tourists visited the Land Below the Wind, which drew in RM3.8 billion for the state.

“In 2015, we expect 3.55 million tourists to visit Sabah and bring in RM8 billion,” he said in his presentation during the launch of Meeting & Incentive in Sabah and Labuan guidebook at Kampung Nelayan restaurant here Thursday.

He added that the Kota Kinabalu International Airport was the busiest airport after Kuala Lumpur International Airport, with 140 scheduled flights a day.

Even so, the number of flights synergised with the number of hotel rooms available for tourists, he added.

Continue reading at: 2.3 mln tourists to bring in RM4 bln for Sabah
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Lepa Regatta Carnival promises more colour and excitement

SEMPORNA: The 2010 Lepa Regatta, among the annual events in Semporna’s tourism calendar, is set to offer more colour and excitement when compared to the previous years as between 10,000 and 60,000 visitors are expected to watch the Bajau boat race.

(Lepa is Bajau for single-masted sailing boat).

Chairman for the carnival’s organising committee A.M Ibnu A.K Baba said, apart from the usual lineup of events, the regatta carnival would have a difference this year.

“This year, the carnival will be staged on April 24-25. In the previous years, the hightlight of the boat race carnival was on the opening day but this year, it will be on the final day.

“On the first day, we will perform the soft opening for the usual events like the decorative lepa competition, sea sports and exhibition for the visitors,” A.M Ibnu told Bernama here.

He said the Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng is expected to grace the carnival, where the opening ceremony will be performed by Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah.

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE

A.M Ibnu, who is the Semporna District Officer said this year, the event would see the unveiling of a tourism facility and several new tourism products in Semporna. The facility is the Semporna Tourist Jetty and Information Centre which is 80 per cent completed.

He said the 0.4 hectare jetty, located some half a kilometre from Semporna town, would house the offices of tourism-related government agencies such as the Sabah Park and Marine Department.

“All tourism operators in Semporna will be located there. The jetty will have facilities like a wide parking area for vehicles, clean toilets, restaurant and cafeteria for the benefit of tourists,” he said.

“Tourists who wish to visit the resort islands can make a stopover at the jetty before proceeding to their respective destination,” he said.

Continue reading at: Lepa Regatta Carnival promises more colour and excitement
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Sarawak Tourism players told to be IT-savvy

KUCHING: The state’s tourism industry players must be information technology (IT) savvy and innovative in tailoring their products in order to make Sarawak the top choice among travellers. Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said they must let the whole world see what they have to offer.

In this, linking to Sarawak Travel at Facebook would be an alternative.

“Through Sarawak Travel at Facebook, tourism players can promote and market their products…so they must embrace technology.

“More and more tourists go online for travel information and with higher internet penetration across the globe, our tourism players have to leverage on technology,” he said during an industry engagement session hosted by STB at a hotel here yesterday.

Rashid pointed out that it was equally imperative for tourism stakeholders to focus on their customers’ needs and subsequently come up with quality packages to lure in more people to the state.

Sharing some fresh ideas, he wondered if any travel agents had thought of setting up tents at Padang Merdeka here as an option to overcome accommodation congestion during peak demands.

He, however, added that such proposal could materialise only with the understanding and collaboration of local councils.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Tourism players told to be IT-savvy
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Promote Sarawak’s tourism events

KUCHING: Tourism players in Sarawak were yesterday asked to help publicise the tourism events in the state, particularly the 11 major events that would take place this year.

Minister of Tourism and Heritage Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan made the call when launching the Sarawak Calendar of Events 2010.

“There are a total of 39 tourism events this year, and the 11 major ones have the potential to draw in more tourist traffic,” he said.

“I ask that the tourism players help publicise these and not depend on the government alone.”

Dr Chan, who is a deputy chief minister, added that the government would help where it could, particularly in the area of financial support.

“If we can help in some of these areas, we definitely will. We can sit down and work out for a win-win situation.”

The 11 events pegged to be the state’s top tourist magnet include the Mukah Kaul Festival (April 12-25, Mukah), Miri Jazz Festival (May 14-15), Irau Aco (June 1-3, Lawas), Pesta Babulang (June 4-6, Limbang), Borneo Cultural Festival (July 16-25, Sibu), and Rainforest World Music Festival (July 9-11, Kuching).

The other major tourism events are the Sarawak Regatta (July 31 – Aug 2, Kuching), Kuching Street Parade (Aug 2, Kuching), Sarawak Inter-Cultural Mooncake Festival (Sept 17-22, Kuching), Borneo International Kites Festival (Sept 30-Oct 3, Bintulu) and Borneo International Yachting Challenge (Oct 4-9, Miri).

Continue reading at: Promote Sarawak’s tourism events
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tourists keep coming to Sabah's east coast despite advisories

Semporna: Tourists continue to come to Sabah's east coast, an area known for its rich marine heritage and home to one of the world top diving spots, Sipadan Island.

They came despite the numerous advisories and notices issued over what was often described as possible attacks on foreigners in the wake of the kidnapping incident involving 21 foreigners and Malaysians by the Abu Sayyaf group from southern Philippines in 2000.

Increased security surveillance, however, helps restore confidence among tourists, many of whom are repeat visitors, who are attracted to the beauty and tranquillity of the area.

Zeina Itaoui, 26, of Australia, for instance, has been visiting Mabul Island, near Sipadan Island, with her husband.

Met at Mabul Island Tuesday, she said, this was their third time in the area and that they had no problem with security.

"We are well taken care of," she said, adding that she and her husband would spend nine days in Mabul this time around compared to only several days during their previous visits.

Carla Yodueno of Italy, who is in Semporna to study marine life since six months ago, said she had never faced any tense situation here.

"I have never felt that my security is under threat," Yodueno said.

Continue reading at: Tourists keep coming to Sabah's east coast despite advisories
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AirAsia introduces self check-in

KUALA LUMPUR: Low cost carrier, AirAsia, is now offering a self check-in service at several airports in Malaysia and regional countries.

The service is available at the Low Cost carrier Terminal (LCCT)-Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Jakarta, Bali, Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai.

For added comfort and convenience, customers can also utilise its web-based check-in service, the carrier said in a statement here on Wednesday.

AirAsia said the initiative was part of its on-going mission of using the information, communication and technology (ICT) forefront to exploit technology and practice cost efficiency.

Continue reading at: AirAsia introduces self check-in
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Don’t relocate orangutans for eco-tourism: Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is not keen to relocate any orangutans to peninsular Malaysia for eco-tourism purposes.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that not only was it dangerous to remove the environment-sensitive primates from their natural habitat, but local people were also against such a move to send away the state’s icon.

He was commenting on a proposal by Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk James Dawos Mamit to obtain orangutans from Sabah and Sarawak to set up an eco-tourism attraction similar to the Sepilok orangutan sanctuary in Sandakan and the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Kuching.

Masidi said that orangutans were not like some other animals that could be relocated from their habitat easily, and such movement could prove traumatic for them.

He said relocating an orangutan involved a lot technicalities and planning, saying they cannot be just caught and flown out to another location.

Continue reading at: Don’t relocate orangutans for eco-tourism: Sabah
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Mabul Island safe to visit

SEMPORNA: All is well and calm in Mabul Island, one of the isolated areas in Sabah mentioned by the United States Embassy in Malaysia in its travel advisory warning last Friday.

About a 40-minute boat ride from the mainland, life appeared normal with islanders and resort staff carrying on with their daily routine and tourists diving and snorkeling in the surrounding waters.

This writer was there together with a group from Astro Kasih over the weekend to carry out a coral planting charity project.

Everyone at the resort seemed oblivious to the warning largely due to the absence of television or radio to ensure a tranquil vacation free from the disturbance of the modern world.

The villagers who do have access to these forms of communication went on with their lives as usual and were hardly talking about the security threat.

However, police were evidently patrolling the island.

The travel advisory warned that criminal and terrorist groups were planning attacks against foreigners in Sabah.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Mabul Island safe to visit
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Great tourism potential in Sibu

SIBU: The huge tourism potential of this town as a getaway for city folks has caught the attention of a travel agent in Johor.

Spring Yap, the Inbound and Transport Department manager of Hwee Siang Tour and Travel Sdn Bhd, flew into this town on a fact-finding mission.

All he found was a good opportunity to tailor special packages for visitors from West Malaysia and foreign tourists to explore this Foochow town.

Speaking to The Star at the landmark Sibu Tua Pek Kong Temple, Spring saw the town as a new market for his company.

Yap was here with his wife Lee Chan, daughter Conny, and a friend named Fang.

He talked in length about how impressed he was after three days of exploration in the town.

Continue reading (incl. Pic) at: Great tourism potential in Sibu
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Remove travel advisory on Sabah, US urged

PETALING JAYA: The Foreign Ministry has urged the US Ambassador to Malaysia to review the travel alert for the popular tourist destination of eastern Sabah in light of the “sound security arrangement” and assurances by Malaysian leaders.

The ministry’s deputy secretary-general I Datuk Mohd Radzi Abd Rahman, who met with US Ambassador James R. Keith on Monday, said that the travel alert could create a wrong, misleading and negative impression to the outside world on the security situation in Malaysia as a whole, in relation to terrorist threats.

Radzi claimed that the actual security situation in the eastern part of Sabah -- including Mabul, Sipadan and Semporna -- was far from what was detailed in the travel alert issued by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the US State Department on Jan 15.

“The travel alert has generated anxiety, confusion and surprise from Malaysian leaders and the public over the alleged security situation in the popular tourist resorts in Eastern Sabah,” said a statement issued by the ministry on Tuesday.

Continue reading at: Remove travel advisory on Sabah, US urged
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Malaysia Borneo’s orangutan to help boost KL’s eco-tourism

KUCHING: An orangutan sanctuary, just like the ones in Semenggoh Wildlife Centre here and the Sepilok Sanctuary in Sandakan, Sabah, will be created in Kuala Lumpur as the latest eco-tourism attraction in the peninsula.With this, several orangutan primates are expected to be flown over to Kuala Lumpur from the two East Malaysian states once their new ‘home’ is identified.

The new Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said this needed to be done because it is a directive given to him by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“After my swearing in ceremony on Jan 13 in Kuala Lumpur, the prime minister asked me, ‘Can we fly one or two orangutan to KL?’. I said, ‘yes, we can’. But we need to find a suitable location, preferably an old tropical jungle or forest.

“This is a huge responsibility. I will use all the knowledge I have, as well as the experience I amassed all these years, in order to make this a reality,” he said in his first press conference last Saturday night.

Dawos, an environmental expert and a scientist by training, said he had already discussed the matter with the director general of Forestry Department, Datuk Razani Ujang, to find a suitable forest near Kuala Lumpur to relocate the orangutan. The next step to be taken, he said, would be to set up meetings between him and directors of both Sarawak and Sabah Forest Depart­ments, and also hold dialogues with experts from both states.

Continue reading at: Malaysia Borneo’s orangutan to help boost KL’s eco-tourism
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Orang utan lovers cry foul

KOTA KINABALU: Orang utan conservationists are upset with World Growth, a US non-governmental organisation, for “dismissing” the threat posed to the ape population by oil palm plantations.

“Genetic studies in Sabah show that the orang utan population has declined by 50 to 90% over the past few decades,” said Sabah-based wildlife biologist Dr Marc Ancrenaz.

“This severe decline is due to several causes such as hunting and pet trade, but the foremost reason is forest loss when the forest is cut down and converted for agriculture,” said Dr Ancrenaz, who heads the French non-governmental organisation, Hutan, which works with Sabah Wildlife Department for orang utan conservation.

The World Growth website contained a report titled Collateral Damage: How the Bogus Campaign Against Palm Oil Harms the Poor, which outlined several claims about oil palm plantations which the NGO described as misleading.

Dr Ancrenaz said there was no doubt that forest conversions created losses to the biodiversity and there was a need for all parties – the pro-conservationists and anti-conservationists – to work together.

The orang utan group and the palm oil group, he said, were both so “passionate” that it made it difficult to have an impartial view of the actual situation on the ground.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Orang utan lovers cry foul
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sabah is safe for tourists

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is safe and tourists have no cause to worry as security along the state’s east coast remains at a high level.

This assurance was given by state Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun in response to the US Government’s latest travel advisory to its citizens to avoid the Sabah east coast in view of kidnap threats by Abu Sayyaf groups based in southern Philip­pines.

“We understand that the US issues such an advisory annually but our security remains very tight,” Masidi said.

“We can’t do much about the advisory but maybe the best thing is for them to come and visit the state, and see how safe it is,” he added.

Masidi also said the state was planning to hold promotions in New York during the UN General Assembly session later this year to convince Americans and others to visit Sabah.

Continue reading at: Sabah is safe for tourists
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Taipei link boosts Sabah's aviation hub position

Kota Kinabalu: The State's international air connectivity and services received a boost Friday with AirAsia's maiden flight to Kota Kinabalu from Taipei, Taiwan.

This also strengthens further Kota Kinabalu's position as the country's second largest hub for AirAsia with a total of seven international and nine domestic destinations.

Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, who officiated at the launch of this route, also welcomed over 120 guests on the inaugural flight from Taipei at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport's Terminal Two.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, AirAsia Berhad Chairman, Datuk Aziz Bakar, AirAsia Director, Datuk Fam Lee Ee, Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chairman, Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin, STB General Manager, Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks, and Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) Managing Director, Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad, were also present.

The introduction of this new route will provide greater accessibility and connectivity across South East Asia and beyond, said Ong.

"This is another milestone for the Malaysian aviation industry and for AirAsia, establishing Kota Kinabalu as its second largest hub in Malaysia.

The Ministry is working closely with AirAsia to enhance international air services, which will result in more inbound tourists to Malaysia, boost our economy and increase tourism revenue," he said.

Continue reading at: Taipei link boosts Sabah's aviation hub position
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Friday, January 15, 2010

New bird species discovered in Danum Valley

A new species of flowerpecker, a tiny lowland bird, has been discovered in Danum Valley, Sabah – a fitting gift to Malaysia as it ushers in the International Year of Biodiversity.

Named the Spectacled flowerpecker for the white, broken ring around its eyes, the bird has yet to be described scientifically.

The discovery was made by bird guide Richard Webster last June 18 while birdwatching on the 35m above-ground canopy walkway of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

A media release by the University of Leeds said after Webster consulted with Dr David Edwards, a fellow at the university’s Faculty of Biological Science who has been conducting ornithological studies in the region for three years, he realised that he had stumbled upon a species new to science.

Further observations over the following days by Webster, Dr Edwards and Rose Ann Rowlett, another tour guide, found at least two of the unknown birds feeding on a fruiting mistletoe, a parasitic plant growing on the tualang tree. They even heard one of the birds singing.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: New bird species discovered in Danum Valley
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Water taxis along Sarawak River in July

KUCHING: Come July water taxis will be a common sight along the Sarawak River, serving commuters between Kubah Ria and Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.

This was announced by Minister of Housing and Urban Development Datuk Amar Abang Haji Johari Tun Openg at a press conference in his office at Wisma Sultan Tengah in Petra Jaya yesterday.

Apart from it being another mode of transport, the water taxis would help to ease congestion along the roads, and serve as another tourism product.

He said that the water taxis would incorporate safety features, and would be user friendly. He added that a committee chaired by Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development had been formed to look into making this a reality.

Its members include representatives from Sarawak Rivers Board, Marine Department, Institut Reka Bentuk, and Satok Tourism Committee.

Continue reading at: Water taxis along Sarawak River in July
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MAS invests RM700 mil in new aircrafts for Sarawak, Sabah

KUCHING: MAS is embarking on a RM700 million fleet renewal for the purchase of new aircrafts including 10 ATR72-500 and four Twin Otter.

During a briefing to the Chief Minister of Sarawak Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud during a courtesy visit at his office at Wisma Pelita here yesterday, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Datuk Tengku Azmil Zahruddin said the programme was part of MAS’ fleet renewal programme.

Azmil, who is also the Managing Director, said MAS was embarking on major plan to upgrade all its facilities and aircraft to provide higher level of comfort, efficiency and optimise operational parameters to all customers.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: MAS invests RM700 mil in new aircrafts for Sarawak, Sabah
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gayana Island's MERC bestowed Most Innovative Tourist Award

KOTA KINABALU: The Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) at Gayana Eco Resort was recently honoured with the Most Innovative Tourist Award 2008/2009 by Tourism Malaysia.

The award is in recognition of MERC’s commitment in positioning Sabah as the destination for nature and environment.

“Two years ago, MERC started a journey to return to the environment what humans have exploited in the past. The global concern for climate change and the deteriorating marine resources prompted MERC to take a step beyond than just co-existing with the environment or practising sustainable development,” said MERC project director Alvin Wong during a media briefing at the resort yesterday.

“In our own little way, MERC has taken the effort to return to our marine ecosystem what we had lost or in danger of losing permanently. We started these programmes to create life of species threatened by extinction. The journey is a long one and filled with challenges which we are constantly overcoming through innovative ideas and creative approaches”.

To date, he said MERC has successfully produced all the seven species of giant clams found in Malaysia where some have already reached more than one inch in length and soon would be relocated from the settlement tanks to the sea.

Continue reading at: Gayana Island's MERC bestowed Most Innovative Tourist Award
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Miri remains as top draw for Bruneians

MIRI: Cheap sales and colourful festivities were the two main draws for more than one million visitors from oil-rich Brunei to Sarawak last year.

According to Borneo Bulletin, a major English daily of the Brunei sultanate, Brunei immigration authorities recorded 1,061,357 exits from their immigration and customs checkpoints into Sarawak throughout 2009.

The biggest number was registered in December, especially during the period between Christmas and Jan 1.

The newspaper, quoting authorities like Tourism Malaysia, said that Bruneians and expatriates working in Brunei continued to find Sarawak and Sabah attractive for sightseeing and shopping.

“A total of 1,061,357 crossings from Brunei to Malaysia were recorded in 2009, with 127,370 visits to Miri last month alone.

Continue reading at: Miri remains as top draw for Bruneians
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Sarawak's Harmonious Tourism Package to attract high-spenders

KUCHING: One of the main focuses of the Tourism Ministry is the Harmonious Tourism (Pelancongan Muhibbah) package which is meant to attract high-spenders from Brunei, says Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip.

“Since we are able to offer extremely reasonable rate of international star-rated hotels, we can work on this advantage.

“We can promote the (harmonious tourism) package such as family gatherings to be held in Sarawak where family members who are spread across the three entities of Brunei, Sarawak and Kalimantan can meet and have a good time,” he said yesterday.

Talib also said their three main emphases for this year would be: to attract a large number of high spenders; to ensure that Sarawak becomes a preferred tourist destination; and to make sure that the premium tourists would have an enjoyable experience.

“It is extremely important to ensure that the tourists enjoy a pleasant experience here, from the airport until their hotel.

Continue reading at: Sarawak's Harmonious Tourism Package to attract high-spenders
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sarawak has huge health tourism potential

KUCHING: Sarawak’s huge potential in health tourism has yet to be tapped, says Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip.

He said Sarawak had the advantages to attract people due to the high standard of its medical practitioners and international star-rated hotels that offer the most reasonable rates.

“Our specialist doctors are well-trained in countries such as United Kingdom, United States, Australia and New Zealand. We also have high standards of medical equipment and facilities. Some of the latest equipment are almost at par with those in many developed countries,” Talib said when met yesterday.

He added that other associated costs such as accommodation for the patients’ family members were also very reasonable.

“Foreign patients seeking medical treatment need not wait long because of the short waiting list,” said Talib.

Comparing the medical costs in neighbouring countries such as India and Singapore, he said Sarawak was still favourable in terms of consultation, surgeries and medication.

Continue reading at: Sarawak has huge health tourism potential
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Award winners to promote Sabah’s photography tourism, marine conservation

The two winners of the Malaysian Tourism Awards 2008-2009 from Sabah vow to further promote the state by exploring niche markets such as photography tourism and raising awareness on marine conservation.

North Borneo Safari earned the Innovative Tour Programme award for their inventive photography tourism package.

Its director, Cede Prudente, said Sabah was ideal for specific groups of visitors such as bird watchers.

“Photography tourism, especially when combined with eco-tourism, can attract high-end clients. Our customers are mostly lawyers, doctors, and other professionals who have money to spend. This is good for our tourism receipt,” said Prudente who is also a leading wildlife photographer in the country.

He said photography tourism had a lucrative market especially in western countries and Sabah with an abundance of exotic bird species can cash in big money from the growing number of travellers who are bird watchers.

“There are 625 bird species in Borneo and 52 of them are exclusive to Sabah. There is potential especially with visitors from the European countries, US, Australia and Asia Pacific countries. For 2010, our plan is to explore these markets, especially US, more aggressively,” he said.

Continue reading at: Award winners to promote Sabah’s photography tourism, marine conservation
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Call for Borneo tourism collaboration with Brunei, Sabah

MIRI -- Tourism players in Sarawak should collaborate with their counterparts in Sabah and Brunei Darussalam to attract more visitors, Sarawak Tourism and Heritage Minister, Tan Sri Dr George Chan said here, Tuesday.

He said the two states and the Sultanate could perform better in tourism if they could work together to promote Borneo as a destination.

While Sabah might have a head-start in promoting its tourism industry, he believed the industry people in the state would be glad to collaborate with Sarawak in luring more tourists, particularly from Europe and the United States, through the creation of Borneo tour packages.

"I believe Brunei also will not be able to stand alone to promote its tourism industry, so cooperation would be good for all the three entities," he said when chairing a meeting of the Tourism Task Groups (TTGs) for the Miri, Bintulu and Limbang Divisions at the Miri City Council office.

Dr Chan, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said there was also a need for the TTGs to be revamped in order to bring more representatives from the private sector in planning the right tourism products.

Continue reading at: Call for Borneo tourism collaboration with Brunei, Sabah
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Pulau Salak, Santubong to have dolphin research centre

SANTUBONG: Pulau Salak is set to have a dolphin research centre to add to the uniqueness of this century old island village.

Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi said the centre will draw tourists to the village.

“We can witness for ourselves the Irrawaddy dolphins migrating from Indochina because according to researchers, the waters here provide a suitable ecosystem for the species,” he said during the Durian Festival yesterday.

According to Dr Rahman, besides researchers from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), many researchers from overseas come to the village to conduct research on dolphins.

Many tourists have participated in the homestay programme to see the rare species swimming in waters near the village usually around 4pm to 5pm everyday.

“That is one of the main attractions of this island alongside eco-tourism,” he said.

He appealed to the government to develop the island which has potential in the tourism industry.

Continue reading at: Pulau Salak, Santubong to have dolphin research centre
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Malaysia projected to attract 23.5 million tourists in 2009

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is projected to attract 23.5 million tourists in 2009, generating about RM51 billion in tourism receipts despite lower projection in international tourist arrivals worldwide for the year.

“Last year was indeed a challenging year for many countries,” said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his speech at the Malaysia Tourism Awards 2008/2009 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, here last night.

The text of his speech was read by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Najib had cited The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which forecasted a five per cent decline in international tourist arrivals worldwide for the full year 2009 compared to 2008.

“However, Malaysia has shown its resilience in facing such odds by actually recording growth in tourist arrivals,” he said.

In fact, the targeted 19 million international tourist arrivals forecasted for 2009 was well achieved by October, he added.

He noted that the country registered a mere 5.5 million tourist arrivals in 1998, contributing some RM8.5 billion in receipts.

“It seems the crisis has reinforced commitments for closer collaboration among industry players and spurred the tourism industry players to innovate and sustain tourism growth.

Continue reading at: Malaysia projected to attract 23.5 million tourists in 2009
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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Sabah to have world class art gallery

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Art Gallery (SAG) is close to achieving its 20-year-old objective to have its own building with the construction of a four-storey Sabah Visual Art Conservation Centre near the National Archives at Mile 2, Jalan Penampang, here.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed RM16million centre at the site on Friday, witnessed by SAG Director Datuk Mohd Yaman Haji Ahmad Mus and Ministry's Permanent Secretary Datuk Susannah Liaw among others.

The construction, which is to start immediately, is expected to be completed within 18 months.

The centre which will make Sabah the first state to have its own dedicated building as an art gallery, is expected to boost the State's visual art development as well as the preservation of its artistic heritage.

Masidi also hoped that once the construction is completed the government would be to provide additional allocations for the completion of its second phase of development.

"At the same time, we also hope that we can have another building for the art gallery built at the city centre and hopefully (we can achieve this) under the Tenth Malaysia Plan with an assumption that the legal problem is settled," he told reporters after the ceremony.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah to have world class art gallery
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Cool green world of Lambir

By Catharine Goh

Located 50km southwest of Miri City, Lambir Hills National Park is known for its complex and diverse forest eco-system.

In a total area of just 6,952 hectares, experts have found what appears to be the greatest level of plant biodiversity on the planet.

A haven for researchers and eco-tourists, it is not only plant life that is diverse and plentiful at Lambir.

With 237 different species of birds, at the last count, as well as flying squirrels, wild pigs, gibbons, many different types of monkey, various species of deer, and untold insects and other invertebrates - these all combined to create Lambir's rich biological kaleidoscope.

About 30 minutes drive from the resort city, its irregular sandstone escarpments appear like rugged vertebrae when glimpsed from Miri's viewpoints on clear days.

The park is easily accessible by car and bus and trekking the rainforest-cloaked ridges beneath this backbone gives you an opportunity to experience mixed dipterocarp rainforest in its enormity, variety and primordial beauty.

It also has a number of picturesque clear creeks and waterfalls, in which hot trekkers can cool off.

However, Sarawak Planning and Resource Ministry's acting permanent secretary Datu Len Talif Salleh said personal philanthropy and volunteerism are vital in securing the future of the state's national parks.

"Sarawak is in need of outstanding volunteers to assist in co-managing our national parks and enhance on our current initiatives such as Honourary Wildlife Ranger, Special Park Committee and various education and awareness programmes for the public," he noted.

He said generating awareness and deep appreciation required tremendous efforts from stakeholders.

"Most importantly, it will help us to combat any infringements towards our efforts in conservation and protection of biodiversity wealth," added Len Talif, who is also Sarawak Forestry managing director and chief executive officer.

Recently the Sarawak Forestry Corporation officers detained four men, including three locals, for alleged illegal poaching and hunting at Lambir Hills National Park. All four suspects were handed over to the police in Miri for further investigations.

Commenting on the incident, Len Talif it was an egregious case of illegal hunting that had been uncovered by his men in the national park as wildlife in this Totally Protected Area was as important as the area itself.

"This is a serious offence and we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute anybody found to be partaking in this sort of activity," he said.

"We will not tolerate illegal hunting in Lambir Hills National Park or any other protected areas for that matter," he reiterated.

He added that the investigation uncovered a complex and concerted efforts in hunting illegally within the National Park.

Items such as a home-made shotgun and three parangs were also found in the suspects' possession.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Ulu-Ulu Resort, Brunei eyes green award

By Azaraimy HH

Ulu-Ulu National Park Resort is expected to be a candidate to receive the Asean Green Hotel Award presented during the upcoming AseanTourism Forum (ATF) 2010 Travel Exhibition.

It's an award that could further promote both the Resort and Temburong as a top destination among locals and foreign travel buyers.

As the theme of 2010 ATF is "Go into the heart of Green", it is only right to nominate the Ulu-Ulu National Park Resort, which has been given a thumbs up as nominee for the award as the resort is situated right in the middle of the vast Ulu Temburong National Park Rainforest, on the banks of the Temburong and Belalong Rivers.

The Weekend Bulletin observed this yesterday during a telephone conversation with the tourism chief Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed - the CEO of Brunei Tourism.

"We are actually trying to put Ulu-Ulu as a nominee for the award," the chief said when asked whether any of the local hotels are being nominated since Brunei is hosting the ATF 2010 from January 21 to 28, where TRAVEX (travel exhibition) will also be held in tandem.

The selection criteria for the award ranged from environmental policies and action for hotel organisations, in collaboration with community and green organisations, energy and water efficiency, to air quality management based on the Asean Green Hotel Standards.

The Ulu-Ulu National Park Resort is still relatively less known amongst local holiday seekers thus its nomination during the ATF 2010 will hope to boost the Ulu-Ulu tourism market. Nevertheless, the impact will be more significant with the fact that more than 1500 delegates will be converging in the Asean Tourism Forum, according to tourism officials.

"I believe in Brunei, there is only Ulu-Ulu Resort which could match the 'green standard' required for the nomination, and the hotel is situated right in the middle of natural surroundings with access to a natural waterfall formation", said Kamil Abdul Hamid, the Sunshine Borneo Tour's Director of Business Development.

"We have promoted it extensively in Brunei, it is a little wonder why there are still many locals who are ignorant of the fact that there is a resort type hotel in Temburong," he added.

"Otherwise, we have received quite encouraging comments on our online booking at www.uluuluresort.com from our European travellers, such as from Spain," he added.

He hoped that the nomination could promote both the resort and Temburong as a hot destination amongst domestic travellers.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Friday, January 08, 2010

Pullman Kuching launches ‘Kuching Confidential’ for ladies

KUCHING: Pullman Kuching, the latest five-star hotel in the city centre is launching a new concept called ‘Kuching Confidential’ today exclusively for the ladies. Kuching Confidential is a new and fresh concept for the young and elite group of ladies to be among friends, gossip, chill out, have reunion or celebrate birthdays while enjoying soulful house mix by DJ Arif.

There will be a variety of classic cocktails such as Cosmos, Martinis, Daiquiris and many more in chilled Martini glasses offered by the Liquid poolside bar.

Ladies will get free cocktail mixing lesson from the skilful bartender and a cocktail recipe card on what they are having.

Further, barbeque (BBQ) style food will also be available from the interactive barbeque station at RM6++ per plate.

For health conscious ladies they can order from special healthy ala carte menu.

Ladies will also get special treats when they join the ‘Kuching Confidential’ by joining Liquid’s lucky draws and stand a chance to win a three days two nights stay at Pullman Bangkok King Power.

Continue reading at: Pullman Kuching launches ‘Kuching Confidential’ for ladies
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Mukah Kaul Festival site upgraded

MUKAH: The Mukah Kaul Festival site at Taman Kala Dana here has been upgraded at a cost of RM2.9 million.

It was symbolically handed over to the authorities by the contractor Livanet Enterprise Sdn Bhd at Dalat/Mukah District Council (MDDM) Public Library conference room last Wednesday.

Reciving a box of keys from Livanet Enterprise Sdn Bhd Managing Director John Lee Kie Leong at a ceremony was MDDM Chairman Haji Ali Suhaili, witnessed by Mukah Resident Haji Saudi Narani.

Speaking at the function, Saudi said the completed project would enable the authorities to make the necessary preparations to stage the annual event this year.

Continue reading at: Mukah Kaul Festival site upgraded
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Thursday, January 07, 2010

New website to boost Brunei tourism

By Azlan Othman

Brunei's tourism industry will get a further boost with the launch of a new website which will be unveiled at the upcoming Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) at the end of this month (Jan 21-28).

According to the CEO of the Brunei Tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin, yesterday, the new website, which will be part of the agenda during the ATF meeting, is a new marketing concept to rebrand Asean. "Not many people know Asean compared to when we say Southeast Asia. It will showcase every country in this Southeast Asian region and their tourism products.

"The details will be worked out and announced during the Asean Ministerial meeting and the ATF press conference," he added.

According to media sources in Bangkok, the high-tech travel website, SoutheastAsia.org, will serve as the anchor for a new destination marketing campaign for Southeast Asia.

When launched on January 25, the site will allow users to research, plan, and book multiple-destination trips to and within the 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). It will also have a special section for travel agents and others in the travel trade.

SoutheastAsia.org is the product of a three-way alliance signed December 9, 2009 between Singapore-based Wego Pte Ltd, Asean Tourism Association (ASEANTA), and Bangkok-based Asean Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) Project.

During the event, partners will announce a new destination marketing brand and campaign agreement designed to further encourage travellers to visit multiple Southeast Asian destinations, stay longer, and spend more money in the region.

Over 1,600 delegates will be convening in Brunei, including 70 foreign media representatives. TRAVEX 2010 (the travel mart component of the ATF) is already expected to draw more than 1,000 ATF delegates consisting 400 exhibiting companies, more than 450 international buyers and media delegates.

The ACE Project is funded by United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Regional Development Mission Asia. ACE aims to help Asean enhance the integration and competitiveness of its travel and tourism sectors.

"One of our strategies for enhancing the competitiveness of Asean tourism is to encourage more travel suppliers to participate online to take better advantage of regional integration and marketing efforts," said ACE project director, R J Gurley.

SoutheastAsia.org will feature a content-rich, meta-search capability that will search dozens of sites before presenting results integrated into an interactive map and trip planner. The trip planner is being developed by Wego.com based on its existing meta-search technology.

"The trip planner will draw upon the great variety of bookable flights, hotels, and innovative itineraries that are available in the region," said Wego's CEO, Martin Symes.

"Wego is arguably Asia Pacific's leading travel meta-search company with the broadest range of Southeast Asian content," Symes added. "With Wego's distribution channel and supplier-neutral business model, our technology is perfectly suited to serve a multi-stakeholder project such as this."

Wego and ACE will share the trip planner's development and integration costs. ACE will cover the website's development costs. Wego will host and maintain SoutheastAsia.org on its state-of-the-art servers. Wego and ASEANTA will share the revenues generated by the trip planner.

SoutheastAsia.org is also part of a new strategy designed to showcase the wide variety of travel options available in Southeast Asia, while also helping to raise global awareness of "Asean" as a community of nations.

The website targets international tourists, especially adventurous culture seekers, special-interest travellers, and cruise enthusiasts. It will offer themed feature articles, events, and points-of-interest content, as well as provide a forum for user-generated content, such as travel tips, trip anecdotes, photos, and videos.

"We want SoutheastAsia.org to be the new go-to site of choice for anyone interested in travel to Southeast Asia," said Felix Cruz, ASEANTA's chairman and vice president of marketing support for Philippine Airlines. "It is part of our strategy to raise awareness of Southeast Asia as a desirable regional destination relative to Europe, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean."

Much of the content on SoutheastAsia.org is being built around niche themes such as ecotourism, train travel, cultural sightseeing, and cruising. "Visitors will be able to research, plan, and book experiences ranging from stays in village guest houses, trekking, and mountain biking in the hills, all the way to pampering in luxury beach resorts and spas," Gurley said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Mamutik Island Hawksbill joy

Kota Kinabalu: Excitement hit the roof when a Hawksbill turtle made a very rare landing at the beach of Pulau Mamutik in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park on Boxing Day (26 December) - to lay eggs.

"It's a huge surprise because in all the 25 years since Borneo Divers was founded, this is the first time I personally witnessed a sea turtle coming ashore to lay eggs at Mamutik," said Clement Lee, the Managing Director of this pioneer diving outfit in the State.

"It happened in the middle of our farewell B-B-Q to a batch of JPSM (Sabah Human Resource Department) candidates who had just completed the Dive Master Course with Borneo Divers Training Institute.

"It came so close to the crowd that we had to clear the area, kept the noise down and shut the lights to allow her to locate her preferred spot to lay eggs," Clement recalled.

She finally chose a spot near the trunk of a young coconut tree.

Female sea turtles are very sensitive to both noise and light when they are about to lay eggs, sometimes turning back to sea because of such disturbances.

"After two hours, she completed her maternal task and began moving back to the sea, watched by all of us as well as a lot of other campers at Mamutik," Clement reported.

He said he alerted Sabah Parks staff and fenced off the "site" and duly filled a fact sheet noting such time and date and taped it to the wire fence for data recording purposes.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Mamutik Island Hawksbill joy
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Monday, January 04, 2010

Support for Maliau heritage site proposal

Kota Kinabalu: The State Finance Ministry strongly supports the call by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun for the Maliau Basin to achieve World Heritage Site status.

"It is very important for us to protect Maliau Basin and its rich biodiversity from any harm," said the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Datuk Yusoff Kassim, who led two excursions to the site in May, 2008 and in June this year.

Some 31 Ministry officers and staff participated in the yearly activity, as well as from the State Economic Planning Unit, State Treasury Department, State Railways Department and Malaysia Productivity Corporation.

If it materialised, the declaration of Maliau as a World Heritage site would be a double bonus for Sabah after Mount Kinabalu which acquired the status a decade ago.

A similar call in favour of Maliau was also made by former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad in 2003.

Masidi has directed his officers to do a thorough study on the world renowned Basin. "I hope to get this done in three months before bringing it up as a proposal to the Cabinet," said Masidi.

Maliau Basin, covering 588.4 sq km, also known as Sabah's Lost World, houses the many natural wonders in one of the most captivating and mysteriously beautiful protected areas in the world.

Maliau Basin's importance in terms of protecting a tremendous range of ecosystems with innumerable species of plants and animals, many of which are rare and endangered, has already become evident.

Continue reading at: Support for Maliau heritage site proposal
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Sarawak to have its own cultural park

The Government plans to build a cultural park for Sarawak after the state election, said Information, Communications, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

He said the move was among steps planned to spread the 1Malaysia spirit through the cultures of Malaysia.

“It is the ministry’s policy for each state to have a park to display culture.

“It is vital that the parks in all the states carry the 1Malaysia spirit to strengthen the country through culture,” Rais said after visiting the Sabah Cultural Park here.

He said the parks, including the building facades, should be built according to the art and culture of each state.

Continue reading at: Sarawak to have its own cultural park
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Sunday, January 03, 2010

MAS introduces fourth weekly flight from Brunei to KL

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) yesterday announced its fourth addition to its flight service from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuala Lumpur.

Now, MAS operates four times weekly to KL (every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) on MAS Services and 11 times weekly to Kuala Lumpur on MH/BI code share services.

Mohamed Safri, the MAS Area Manager for Brunei, spoke about the increasing passenger demand for flights between Malaysia and Brunei.

He said the latest flight figures showed "an 80 per cent load factor for incoming flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan".

Malaysia Airlines, which holds a lengthy record of service and best practices of excellence, has received more than 100 awards over the last 10 years.

The airline flies nearly 50,000 passengers every day to some 100 international destinations.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday
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