Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kota Kinabalu Islands - Take a walk on the wild side

Just a 15-minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu, capital of the state of Sabah in Eastern Malaysia, aka Malaysian Borneo, exists a tropical paradise. Mouth-watering barbecues, beautifully clean seas and wide, open spaces are just a few of the perks of an afternoon's island-hopping.

The five islands off Kota Kinabalu, and the surrounding waters and coral reefs form the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Established in 1974, and named after Malaysia's first prime minister, the park is the visual embodiment of bliss with rich sedimentary rocks, virgin tropical forests and the most spectacular views of Kota Kinabalu's skyline.

The islands have many cliffs and caves, and are honeycombed with deep crevasses along their shores. For reality television buffs, this has been the breathtaking setting of many broadcast adventures including the Amazing Race Asia 4 and Survivor Borneo, which was filmed on the nearby Tiga Island.

The islands are a popular destination all year round, for both locals and foreign visitors who are attracted by the area's crystal clear waters, with fish and coral reefs often visible not far from the shore. This has made the islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu a mecca for snorkellers and divers, and hiking and parasailing are other popular activities.

Visitors can get to the islands from Kota Kinabalu's ferry terminal at Jesselton Point, named after a former trading settlement dating back to 1882. Ferries stop at each of the five islands regularly throughout the day. Passengers prone to seasickness should beware - lambat (slow) may be an important word to remember to tell your boat's driver at the start of your trip, otherwise he's likely to take you on an amusement park ride. Also, bring a plastic bag for your belongings; a large amount of water is likely to splash inside the boat. Pulau Gaya, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Sapi and Pulau Sulug are an interesting mix of uninhabited forests and heavily-developed areas.

Pulau Sapi, or Cow Island, is a perfect example. During the day, the island is busy with sunbathing tourists, but after the last ferry leaves at around 4pm it becomes very quiet.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Kota Kinabalu Islands - Take a walk on the wild side
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brunei Tourism promotes country as Islamic travel destination

By Ahmad Shaheeb in Kuala Lumpur

The CEO of Brunei Tourism has highlighted the need for member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to work together in promoting a Joint Islamic Tourism programme that could bring vast benefits to the region.

Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed, CEO of Brunei Tourism was presenting a working paper on "OIC Member Countries - New Destination for Islamic Travel and Tourism: How To Tap The Growing Market" at the two-day International Islamic Tourism Conference and Travel Mart held at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

He was part of a three-member panel that included distinguished speakers Dato' Amiruddin Abu, Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia and Dr Syed Irfan Ahmad, CEO of irhal.com. The panel was moderated by Dr Nor'ain Othman, Deputy Dean of Research and Industry Linkage at Universiti Teknologi MARA.

Sheikh Jamaluddin described OIC as "an association of diverse cultures, geographic locations, climates, ways of life and environments".

"If we look carefully at all the countries belonging to the OIC, we can seriously offer excellent products in terms of environment such as pristine rainforest, crystal clear corals, top quality ski slopes and many top unique monuments and ancient mosques not found elsewhere," he said.

"In terms of product offering, it is really top-notch and second-to-none.

"What is needed now is for OIC to have greater marketing cooperation among member countries that can promote OIC to the world in a better tourism light. Some of us here also belong to many world organisations such as APEC, ASEAN and so on. I guess the most famous and widely reported is APEC since the top three countries with nancial and military might belong in this organisation. APEC and ASEAN put tourism as one of (their) top priorities in developing economic activity."

Tourism is the largest industry in the world that contributes to some 10 per cent of the world GDP and working population, said the CEO of Brunei Tourism.

"Tourism is not only appreciated for it's economic benets but is also seen as an instrument of peace," Sheikh Jamaluddin added, citing the words of the late President of South Korea, Mr Kim Dae-jung when South Korea hosted the 2001 APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting.

Speaking from the OIC perspective on promoting Islamic tourism destinations, Sheikh Jamaluddin suggested that brochures on the "World of Islamic Civilisation" be produced under the OIC. The brochures would list the various iconic structures in each of the OIC member countries.

Sheikh Jamaluddin went on to say that Brunei is in itself a Halal destination. Brunei is where most restaurants and all fast foods are Halal, hotels don't serve alcohol but show the Qiblat and provide prayer mats in all hotel rooms, there are Suraus everywhere, medical procedures are Halal, there are no bars, night clubs or public displays of vice activities, he said.

"These attributes will make Muslim visitors feel comfortable and have doubt-free holidays from a religious point of view, while the country is liberal and tolerant enough to make non-Muslims feel at ease while visiting," said the CEO of Brunei Tourism.

Asked by the Bulletin on how the conference and travel mart can help boost Brunei's tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin said, "We are promoting Islamic tourism in Brunei together with Malaysia.

"In Borneo there is no building of Islamic value that people will travel to. In Brunei our oldest mosque is about 50 years old but what we do have for Islamic tourism are Islamic artefacts that is kept in the State Mufti's Office, and some of (the artefacts) are part of the personal collection of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam."

The CEO added that Brunei Tourism is targeting the Southeast Asia market.

"That way, they don't have to travel so far to Middle East countries like Bahrain and Iran," he said.

He also believed that the packages are not just tailored for Muslims but for everyone, saying that "there are many non-Muslims who are interested to learn and appreciate the past histories of great Islamic Civilisations."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Sibu Airport extension project ahead of schedule

SIBU: The Sibu Airport extension project, which commenced a month ago, is expected to be completed ahead of schedule.

According to project director from KLIA Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd, Dr Shafie Karimin, the project is expected to be completed two months earlier than projected.

“The project is two per cent completed and it is progressing very smoothly according to schedule,” he enthused.

Giving a briefing on the project at the airport yesterday, he said it consisted of two packages.

The first package involves expansion of terminal building, utility centre building and other related works.

The new 15,240 sq metre terminal building would be fully air-conditioned and consists of 18 check-in counters compared to current eight, four aerobridges and two luggage reclaim belts.

The package also includes instalment of electrical and mechanical services, computerized building management system and work on information technologies and communications.

Safety Control Building, Engineering Office and Workshop are under Package 1 as well.

The second package involves airside civil works and landside, the upgrading work of the DCA and other related work.

There would be an extension and upgrading of DCA management building, road construction, extension of the car park and construction of safety gates and landscaping.

Dr Shafie revealed that Sibu Airport carried 809,995 passengers in 2007 and passenger volume is expected to increase once the new airport is completed.

Continue reading at: Sibu Airport extension project ahead of schedule
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Bring back Niah Caves artefacts from abroad

MIRI: Archaeological artefacts taken from Niah Caves and which are now overseas should be brought home as they are the heritage of Sarawak and Malaysia, said Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Archaeologists from as far as Nevada University in the United States of America had showed interest in Niah Caves as early as 1957 when 122 skeletons were taken away to be studied by Richard and Sheilagh Brooks.

Though the Brooks have prepared some reports, none have been published.

Professor Zuraina Majid last inspected them in 2004.

“As the Brooks are elderly and no longer able to conduct research I would like to propose that the artefacts, or some of them, be brought back to Sarawak,” said Taib at the launch of an international seminar on Bornean archaeology here Wednesday night.

The Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang had brought back Gua Cha (Kelantan) burials from Cambridge University in 2008.

“However, before the Niah burials could be taken back Sarawak Museum must build a special room with specially designed curation boxes to meet appropriate standards of storage and preservation,” said Taib.

The proposed place for this is at the left wing of Miri Petroleum Museum which could be designed and prepared with assistance of USM staff.

“The burials should be brought home so as to be easily accessible to researchers,” Taib said.

The estimated cost of the whole project is around RM1.5 million which includes initial investigation trips to Las Vegas, air freight and airfares and construction of a special curation room and facilities.

Taib also proposed the nomination of Niah Caves as Unesco World Heritage Site.

Continue reading at: Bring back Niah Caves artefacts from abroad
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sabah MATTA advised tourists to use licensed travel agents

KOTA KINABALU: Use licensed travel agents approved by the government rather than taking risks to save money, said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Sabah Chapter chairman K L Tan.

Tourists should always check with licensed travel agents or obtain proper travel advice before they embark on their holidays, even tourists from Peninsular Malaysia.

“They can pay for the air ticket to fly here, why can’t they pay for the cost of travel agents?” Tan said when commenting on the three female tourists who were robbed at knife-point at one of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park islands here on Oct 24.

The three tourists, who were from Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, boarded a speedboat at a jetty near the central market here on Sunday, thinking that they were heading to one of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park islands.

However, the boatman and his assistant took them to another nearby island where two other men were waiting and robbed them of RM2,500 cash and four handphones.

The tourists, aged between 28 and 30 years old, were taken back to the jetty after three hours.

“All licensed agents use the jetty at Jesselton Point or hotels like Tanjung Aru Beach Resort or Sutera Harbour.

“There are no tourists who use the jetty at central market,” Tan said, adding that he was not aware of boat operators from the jetty who offer transport services to tourists.

Continue reading at: Sabah MATTA advised tourists to use licensed travel agents
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Note: E-BORNEO.COM TOURS & TRAVEL SDN BHD is a licensed travel company (License No. KPL/LN 6169) and is listed in Sabah Tourism, the official web site of Sabah Tourism Board. Additionally, we are also listed in MATTA web site (member no. MA3548).
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Niah Caves Should Be A World Heritage Site

MIRI -- The Niah Caves, located some 120 kilometres from Miri city, should be another world heritage site in Sarawak for its uniqueness, Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said here.

Speaking to launch an International Seminar on Bornean Archaeology here last night, he said by being a world heritage site, Niah Caves could enhance Sarawak's status in the world stage after similar accolade was achieved for the Mulu Caves.

He said archaeologists from as far as Nevada University in the United States had been showing their interests towards Niah Caves as early as in 1957 where 122 skeletons found were brought there to be studied.

"Though they have prepared some reports on the burials (of the skeletons), none has been published. I would like to propose that the burials be brought back to Sarawak," he added.

He said the burials being the heritage of Sarawak and Malaysia should be brought home to facilitate researchers to carry out further study and analysis.

Taib said that he would seriously study the State Museum's requests for the organisation's restructuring process to accommodate more human resources for their research sections, in particular archaeology.

Continue reading at: Niah Caves Should Be A World Heritage Site
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Kuching-Seoul direct flight to lure more Koreans

KUCHING: The keen interest shown in Sarawak by Korean tour operators, augurs well for the state, with the new Kuching-Seoul direct flight expected to open the floodgate for tourists from that country.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) marketing director Benedict Jimbau said this was reflected through the presence of senior representatives of Korea’s top three tour operators at the 11-day STB North Asia Road Show in Seoul, which ended on Tuesday.

The destination seminar and business matching session held at the Lotte Seoul Hotel on the last day saw 76 local Korean operators attending, including senior management from the three top operators — Mode Tour, Hanna Tour and Lotte Tour.

Jimbau, who led the delegation, said in a statement here yesterday that the event was also attended by Malaysia Airlines area manager Korea, Lee Weng Chi and Tourism Malaysia Seoul’s office director, Mohd Amirul Rizal.

Sarawak was represented by six representatives from a hotel, tour operator, home stay operator and a restaurateur.

Meanwhile, Lee expressed confidence that the inaugural direct flight from Incheon International airport in Seoul to Kuching in mid-January next year, would pave the way for bringing in more Korean tourists into Sarawak.

“For now, we have a sizeable number of Koreans, who have been travelling using the Seoul-Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu as stop-overs to Kuching,” he said.

He was optimistic the new direct flight would give opportunities for Koreans to discover the wonders of nature and cultural heritage that Sarawak has to offer.

Continue reading at: Kuching-Seoul direct flight to lure more Koreans
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Penan Lifestyle, Handicraft Can Be Tourist Attractions

The lifestyle of the Penan community in Sarawak and their handicrafts could be developed as tourist attractions to help boost the state's tourism sector, Datuk Billy Abit Joo (BN-Hulu Rajang) said Wednesday.

As such, he said several Penan villages in Sarawak should be preserved and maintained, while enabling tourism activities to be conducted.

With such tourism activities, he said the Penan community could also learn a thing or two about the modern lifestyle.

"I'm sure they would want to enjoy a more comfortable life and get involved in modern agriculture, like the Malay community.

"They do not want to be left out. With better living conditions, they will be able to enjoy proper meals and have enough money to spend at the market or to go to the hospital," he said when debating the Budget 2011 at the Dewan Rakyat here.

Continue reading at: Penan Lifestyle, Handicraft Can Be Tourist Attractions
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saving orang utans, and saving the earth

He wanted to save orang utans, but developed projects that have achieved so much more.

And if the agri-forestry and social entrepreneurshop model that Dutch-born Indonesian conservationist Willie Smits has achieved in Kalimantan is scaled up in Indonesia, the result could be the region seeing fewer haze episodes.

Dr Smits, 53, had gone to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan as a doctoral student in the 1980s. He set up the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in 1991 after rescuing a dying baby orang utan dumped at a market.

He soon realised that to truly save the red apes - whose peat swamp forest habitats are being decimated mainly for palm oil plantations - he needed to save the forests and provide the local people with viable economic alternatives.

The Foundation began buying land to rebuild the rainforest for orang utans in an area called Samboja Lestari in East Borneo in 2001. The local community was involved, combining agriculture with forestry. They also grew sugar palm on the edges of land parcels to ward off fires and for biofuel.

About 3,000 villagers have since benefited, and the microclimate of Samboja Lestari has since changed, with greater cloud cover and more rainfall, according to Dr Smits.

Dr Smits is seeking to replicate more biodiverse sugar palm forests and cooperative-run production facilities (to convert its sap into ethanol) elsewhere in the world. He has since set up a company for this, and hopes to roll it out with the support of "ethical investors". If implemented in more parts of Indonesia, he is confident they will improve the regional haze situation. Less carbon will be generated if fewer people cooked with fuel wood, and used ethanol instead, and "buffer zones" provided by the sugar palms will generate income for the people and protect forests against fire, said Dr Smits, who has been knighted in the Netherlands for his conservation work.

Continue reading at: Saving orang utans, and saving the earth
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Brunei explores bio-prospecting potential for Heart of Borneo

By Waleed PD Mahdini

His Majesty's government is currently exploring the potential for 'bio-prospecting' its rich forest and biological genetic resources in partnership with the Japanese National Institute of Technology and Evaluation. According to a report from the World Wildlife Fund that was published yesterday, Hj Saidin Salleh from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources explained that the report is the first of its kind, which demonstrates that protecting forest ecosystems in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) makes economic and social sense.

"Brunei recognises the tremendous value that the Heart of Borneo represents to the world, in terms of eco-system services and as yet undiscovered chemical compounds.

"The will to protect the area for future generations is very strong, but we need to generate additional financial support to achieve this vision. This report is our first steps to identifying where that support may come from," Hj Saidin was quoted as saying.

The trilateral report was issued by the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia and has been praised as a leading example of how the economic value of forests is being recognised and secured through innovative finance.

Entitled: 'Financing the Heart of Borneo - a partnership approach to economic sustainability', the report outlines three main sources of finance for conservation and sustainable development activities within the 22 million hectares of trans-boundary tropical rainforest on the island of Borneo - known as the Heart of Borneo.

Two of these sources have been calculated for its long-term sustainability, which are in country government-based (royalties, incentives and tax breaks) and market-based (payments for watershed services, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and bio-prospecting). Meanwhile, the more conventional donor funding, which makes up the third source is seen as an interim form of funding to help build the enabling conditions for the first two.

"The new trilateral report sets out a pathway to understand the economic value of HoB's natural capital in terms of the ecosystem services it provides, such as carbon storage, regulating water flow and providing new genetic resources for medicines," the WWF highlighted.

Indonesia's HoB representative, Dr Andi Novianto from the coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, pointed out that a crucial next step in securing sustainable sources of finance is to mainstream forest and watershed services into its national and local development plans.

Citing a conservation example in the district of Kapuas Hulu in Kalimantan, which is an ongoing initiative supported by WWF, the non-governmental poverty charity organisation CARE and the International Institute for Environment and Development, the watershed protection payment seeks to reward upstream communities for their stewardship of crucial watershed areas that provide a valuable 'service' to users downstream.

"The Kapuas Hulu project is our first 'district level' pilot programme. The long term aim is to encourage all 10 districts in Kalimantan to maintain their forests, in return for which, they would receive financial compensation for the carbon stored, biodiversity protection and ecosystem services that these forests provide the island, country, region and ultimately the world," Dr Novianto said.

Malaysia's contribution was the development of innovative financial arrangements, with the Malua BioBank in the federal state of Sabah, where the local government has licensed conservation rights for 50 years to the Malua BioBank, with a private investor committing up to US$10 million for the rehabilitation of the Malua forest reserve.

During the launch of the report, Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), underscored the need for multinational and multilateral agencies to continue efforts to finance conservation and sustainable development.

"The HoB is proving to be a sound investment. This is important for the negotiators of this Convention as it shows how the ecosystems of HoB can be a part of a sustainable future. It is a call to stop talking, and start acting," said Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf.

Jim Leape, Director General of the WWF commended the financial report as progress since the signing of the HoB Declaration three years ago.

"All three Bornean countries should be congratulated for their commitment towards this trans-boundary conservation programme and the progress made so far. Finding appropriate sources of sustainable finance will be vital to tri-government conservation and development efforts for the HoB. We need to capitalise on the value of nature and mainstream it within economic development plans. It is obvious that protecting ecosystems and biodiversity makes long-term economic sense."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Cebu Pacific to start 3rd Manila-Brunei flight

By Tony Alabastro

Budget airline Cebu Pacific announced yesterday it is set to add another frequency to its Manila-Brunei flights, making it a thrice weekly service starting Tuesday, Dec 16, 2010.

Cebu Pacific started flying the Manila-Brunei-Manila route last Aug 21 using an Airbus aircraft. It leaves Manila at 11.50pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the return flight leaves Brunei at 2.25am on Thursdays and Sundays.

"We are confident that we can sustain our growth this second half as we have exceptionally strong forward bookings leading up to the Christmas peak travel season," said CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog. "Even if July and August are traditionally lean travel months, Cebu Pacific has managed to exceed its passenger and revenue targets."

Cebu Pacific said it is slashing fares for its Brunei-Manila service until October 27, or until seats last, for travel from December 1, 2010 to January 31, 2011.

Guests travelling from Brunei to Manila can avail of BND 49 'Go Lite' seats. Those with check-in luggage will just add BND 3 upon booking.

For booking and inquiries, guests can visit www.cebupacificair.com or http://funtours.cebupacificair.com or call Anthony Tours and Travel Agency at (673) 222-2666 or Pan Bright Travel Services at (673) 224-0985. The latest updates on seat sales are available at cebupacificair on Twitter and Cebu Pacific Air Facebook Fan Page.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rainforest Discovery Centre to be developed as open zoo

THE Malaysian Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sabah will be further developed as an open zoo concept.

It is one of the efforts to launch Malaysia as one of the world’s premium eco-tourism destinations.

While the rainforest centre will showcase Malaysia’s wild flora and fauna, the Malaysian Marine Discovery Centre will focus on the marine species.

Total funding required is estimated at RM896mil for over a period of 10 years (2010-2020) and the bulk of it will come from private sector.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Tourism Ministry will set up the Global Biodiversity Hub (GBH) Board of Management which will comprise representatives from the federal and state governments, private sector, the academia and non-governmental organisations.

After a one-year interim period, it will be managed as a non-governmental body with federal and state government representatives participating to ensure that the policies are in line with the national objectives.

Last year, the tourism industry generated RM36.9bil in gross national income (GNI), making it the fifth largest industry after oil, gas and energy, financial services, wholesale and retail, and palm oil.

It hopes to reap RM103.6bil in GNI in 2020 and increase higher yield from not only increased tourist arrivals (24 million in 2009 to 36 million by 2020) but also the amount they spend.

The ministry targets RM168bil tourist receipts by then and this would mean that the industry will grow by three times and contribute RM3bil receipts per week by 2020.

The 12 entry point projects (EPPs) for tourism are divided into five themes that cater to different segment of tourists such as the avid shopper, nature lover, business traveller and families on vacation.

Another highlight is the development of eco-nature integrated resorts in Sabah.

A private investor who has the land, financial resources and industry expertise has been identified for the project and will work with the Sabah state government and related federal agencies to obtain the necessary approvals before 2011.

Continue reading at: Rainforest Discovery Centre to be developed as open zoo
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187 sign up for Sabah Hospitality Fiesta

Kota Kinabalu: A total of 187 organisations have signed up for the Malaysian Association of Hotels Sabah/Labuan Chapter - Asian Tourism International College 13th Sabah Hospitality Fiesta 2010 next month.

This year's participation surpassed last year's 155 participants.

The event would be held at City Mall on Nov 6 and 7.

Among this year's participants are the Asian Tourism International College (ATIC), Beringgis Beach Resort, Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa, Beverly Hotel, Gayana Eco Resort, Grand Dorsett Labuan Hotel, Juta Hotel, Manukan Island Resort, Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu and Tawau, Politeknik Sabah and Pacific Sutera.

The fiesta, listed as one of Sabah's Calendar of Events, was first initiated by students of ATI (now ATIC), under the supervision of lecturers in 1997.

It aims to create an enthusiastic spirit of competition among the tourism and hospitality industry players to showcase their talents in the respective fields and to expose the public to the high standards maintained in the industry.

Continue reading at: 187 sign up for Sabah Hospitality Fiesta
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Atkinson Clock Tower - Beacon of city under threat due to developments

TODAY, the Atkinson Clock Tower may not be an imposing structure in the heart of Kota Kinabalu.

The two-faced clock tower was undisturbed for over a century after a grieving Mary Edith Atkinson erected it in memory of her son Francis George, the first district officer of Gaya Bay (KK town area) who died at the age of 28 of ‘Borneo Fever’ in 1902.

The tower which was built without a single nail, was completed in April 1905.

It was initially lit and served as a beacon for ships coming into Sabah up till the 1950s.

But, development of high-rise buildings have slowly obscured the clock tower which is one of two colonial structures surviving today. (The other is the old post office now converted as the Sabah Tourism Board headquarters).

The 50-foot tall structure survived a barrage of aerial bombings during World War II with only minimal damage sustained to the clock from machine gun fire.

The clock got its second face during a facelift to mark Jesselton’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1959 and continued to tick away with little concern about its future close to the heart of Kota Kinabalu’s central business district.

The chimes have long stopped, but over the past few weeks: the Atkinson Clock tower has been caught in the centre of an emotional debate between heritage conservationists and proponents of a 16-storey building at an adjacent site.

Fears of the tower being dwarfed by a major commercial development triggered calls by conservationists like Heritage Sabah headed by architect Richard Nelson Sokial who questioned the city’s obsession to allow more high-rise buildings in an area that sits along the historic Padang Merdeka.

“This is not the way to respect the last remaining iconic historical landmark of the capital city, it is dishonouring it,” said Sokial.

His comments appeared in blogs before quickly snowballing into a passionate call by Kkites to stop the development adjacent to the tower.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Atkinson Clock Tower - Beacon of city under threat due to developments
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Sabah and Sarawak Step Up Tourism Promotion At ITB Asia Fair

Sabah and Sarawak tourism promotion agencies and tour-related companies put on a strong show at the just concluded ITB Asia Fair, the largest tourism fair in this region, to capitalise on the resurgence of tourism.

For instance, Rajang Pandaw River Cruises of Sibu, Sarawak, which offers unique river cruises along the river, received many business enquiries following its presence at the fair.

Rajang Pandaw Chief Executive Choong Hing Yim told Bernama that his "floating hotels", as he described his river boat cruises, were popular with Australians, Americans, Britons and Europeans.

"Most of my clients are well-placed retirees who are not affected by the economic crisis," he said.

Miri Marriott Hotel Senior Sales Manager Josephine Ooi said given that Miri was renowned for oil exploration, especially with a growing cluster of expatriates settling in the region, there was good potential for the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition) business.

Her hotel, which has the requisite infrastructure and facilities to hold over 500 guests at a time for MICE events, received many enquiries from European tour operators and "promising enquiries" from India.

Sarawak is keen to promote its MICE facilities and the Kuching-based Sarawak Convention Bureau sent Amelia Roziman, its marketing and communications manager, to make a pitch for Sarawak MICE facilities at the fair.

Amelia said that her bureau had been "highly successful" because it had achieved a 70 per cent success rate as far as bidding for MICE events was concerned.

"We not only have hotels but also the Borneo Convention Centre, which has a 5,000 seating capacity theatre-style. We are organising conferences such as the International Peatland Congress in 2016 and International Convention of Urban Drainage and the Irrigation Fair in 2012," she said.

Sarawak's rich and renowned wildlife, Amelia said, had also generated tremendous interest among Western and Australian wildlife lovers.

Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Marketing Manager Noredah Othman was pitching for Sabah's wildlife, adventure tours and new products such as Via Ferrata, the highest mountain road in the world.

Noredah, a regular visitor to ITB Asia and had also attended the ITB Berlin show, said that her presence in Singapore was meant to provide Sabah with higher visibility internationally.

Continue reading at: Sabah and Sarawak Step Up Tourism Promotion At ITB Asia Fair
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Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2010 - Italian Wins Climbathon, But Spaniard Takes Home World Series Title

KUNDASANG (Sabah) -- Spain's Tofol Castaner took home the men's title of the 2010 Skyrunners World Series after he amassed 347 points overall when the final leg of the series, the 24th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon, concluded here today.

Despite finishing third in the race up and down Mount Kinabalu, Castaner's 347 points was enough to bring home the trophy.

Italy's Marco De Gasperi won the race in a time of two hours 33 minutes and 56 seconds, setting a new Climbathon Men's Open record after beating the old record he himself had set in 2003 (2'36.59s).

Castaner clocked 2'58.09s, while Nepal's Sudip Kulung, who made his debut this year, finished second in 2'46.14s.

Continue reading at: Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2010 - Italian Wins Climbathon, But Spaniard Takes Home World Series Title
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2010 - Albets nabs women's open title

Kundasang: When Nuria Picas Albets first got started in the sport of mountain running she never imagined she could win a world championship event in her debutant year of competing.

Her unexpected victory in the Women's Open race at the 24th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon, yesterday, led her to discover how much a first world series victory could mean to an athlete who is as tough and competitive as the sport itself can be.

The joy she felt from winning the race reduced the 33-year-old Spaniard to tears as she crossed the finish line with arms held high in disbelief and celebration.

"I cannot believe it that I wonÉthis is my first year competing and to win this World Series event is the most happy feeling I can experience.

"It is incredibleÉI was in tears at the finish I could not believe that I won," said Nuria, who completed the race in 3:28.07s.

The time it took for her to reach the 4095.2m summit was 2:15.15s.

"I enjoy all kind of sports but mostly I do cycling. I never competed in running before so I took time to train and prepare.

"I took part in many events back in Spain and managed to finish second in the World Series in Italy and fourth in another race before that," said Nuria, adding that she was invited by her team to compete in the Climbathon.

Nuria said she enjoyed the race here and would like to return next year to compete again.

For her efforts, Nuria pocketed the US$4,500 winner's purse.

Meanwhile, Italian runner, Emanuela Brizio, who was forced to be content with a third place finish, said she suffered muscle pains and cramps in her legs.

"I tried my best to win the race but was fourth as I reached the summit and on the way down I went as fast as I could but fell and scraped my arms and legs," said the 42-year-old nurse.

Brizio, who was the 2009 champion, completed the race in a time of 3:34.22s to earn a US$3,500 cash prize.

The third place finish however was enough to give Brizio the Skyrunners Worlds Series title after accumulating a total of 381 points.

Continue reading at: Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2010 - Albets nabs women's open title
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Booming business for Sandakan hotels

Sandakan: Business is booming for hoteliers in this east coast town of Sabah as party workers, supporters and election workers began to descend here ahead of the nomination day for the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election.

Prominent hotels are fully booked from Monday as the nomination day for the by-election draws near, with those involved in the preparations, including the media, taking up residence much earlier.

Several hotels, when contacted, said they still had rooms for this weekend but not from Monday.

Premises with over 100 rooms such as the Swiss Inn Waterfront Sandakan, Sandakan Hotel and Sabah Hotel said they had been fully booked until middle of next week.

"However, we are fully booked again from Nov 1 to Nov 4," a spokesperson of one of the hotels said.

Even smaller accommodations like Leila Inn, which has nine rooms, are no longer available for the whole of the campaigning period of the by-election.

Continue reading at: Booming business for Sandakan hotels
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Empire Hotel & Country Club awarded 'Best Golf Resort in Asia Pacific'

By Khairil Hassan

The Empire Hotel and Country Club underlined its status as one of the region's outstanding facilities with a strong showing at the 2010 Asian Golf Monthly Awards.

In the region's most prestigious poll of golfing facilities, The Empire Hotel & Country Club - venue to the Asian tour Brunei Open and Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters - had the distinction of finishing first as the Best Golf Resort in Asia Pacific category.

The Country Club hosted an afternoon tea reception with their members to celebrate the achievement at Members Grill yesterday. Present during the event was the Board of Directors and the management of the hotel.

The awards were voted by readers of Asian Golf monthly, with over 30,000 votes being cast on-line at www.asiangolfdaily.com and www.asiangolfmonthlyl.com.

Asian Golf Monthly has a very large reader base as well as online web based viewing. The readers took the condition of the hotel and resort facilities in consideration when voting, which included the clubhouse facilities, golf course condition and playability, design of the golf course and associated facilities, as well as the general appeal and feel of the resort.

The Empire Hotel & Country Club was awarded twice before, in 2008 and 2009. Asian Golf Monthly Awards 2008 awarded 2nd Best Golf Resort in Asia in 2008. Asian Golf Monthly 2009 awarded second for Best Golf Resort in Asia Pacific in 2009. And now Asian Golf Monthly 2010 awarded them with first place for Best Golf Resort in Asia Pacific.

The award and trophy were presented by Acting Director of Operations Country Club & Resort, Pg Abd Rahman bin Pg Hj Tuah to one of the Board of Directors of JPH, Hj Yakob bin Hj Yusof.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Sabah Tourism: Tamu Besar, Kota Belud

Date: 30 - 31 October 2010

The ‘Tamu' is Borneo's traditional open market. This grand event showcases Sabah’s largest alfresco market while featuring the unique customs and traditions of the Bajau community. Throughout this event, the natives of Kota Belud will be out and about parading in their best traditional costumes.

The Bajau horsemen known as the ‘Cowboys of the East' will dress in their traditional best and ride horses extravagantly decorated with colourful fabrics and jingling bell collars. The younger generation Bajau gentlemen will get in touch with their age-old heritage as horsemen of the east in an exuberant display of horsemanship. There will also be a parade of ponies dressed in gorgeously ornate costumes.

A wild, wild, East experience with a Bornean twist!

Further Information

Organiser: District Office of Kota Belud / Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn. Bhd
Contact Person: Mohd. Najib Muntok (District Officer) / Zachary Mobijohn (Sri Pelancongan Sabah S/B)
Telephone: +6088 976621 / 976542 / 232121
Fax: +6088 977064 / 265540
Email Contact: zachary@sabahtourism.com
Event Website: http://tamubesar.sabahtourism.com


Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sabah Tourism: Pesta Kelapa, Kudat

Date: 30 - 31 October 2010

Celebrate the multi-purpose coconut at the scenic district of Kudat! Be enchanted by a beauty pageant, rock with the battle of bands, join in the array of activities and enjoy the host of cultural performances.

The tentative activities are:-

Main Activities:
1. Tradition Sports based upon Coconut.
2. Handicraft Exhibition & Competition based upon Coconut.
3. Demonstration of Coconut Product.
4. Cooking Competition based upon Coconut.
5. Children Fashion Competition based upon Coconut Material.
6. Cultural Exhibition from various Ethnic group in Kudat.

Other Activities:
1. Tug of War
2. Dragon Boat Race

The tentative activities are:-
Main Activities :-
a) Tradition Sports based upon Coconut.
b) Handicraft Exhibition & Competition based upon Coconut.
c) Demonstration of Coconut Product.
d) Cooking Competition based upon Coconut.
e) Children Fashion Competition based upon Coconut Material.
f) Cultural Exhibition from various Ethnic group in Kudat.

Other Activities:-
a) Tug of War
b) Dragon Boat Race

Further Information

Organiser: District Office of Kudat
Contact Person: Mr. Sebastian Lim
Telephone
: +6088 620410
Fax
: +6088 611303
Email Contact
: Sebastian.Lim@sabah.gov.my


Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Another award for Nexus Karambunai


KOTA KINABALU: Nexus Resort and Spa Karambunai has added another award to its collection by winning the prestigious 2010 World Luxury Hotel Awards in the ‘Luxury Family Hotel – Malaysia’ category recently in Bangkok.

“We are very proud of this recognition for our luxury amenities for families travelling with children,” says Ian Taylor Woodward, Group General Manager of Nexus Resort.

Families will appreciate the many specialised kids’ activities offered at this magnificent resort through a variety of beach and nature activities.

Families with children are able to enjoy breakfast on the airy deck of its Villas and Suites, participate in educational programs at Nexie Club (specially for children aged 4-11 years), cycling around the resort, jungle trekking at the 75-acre Nature Park or batik painting.

Continue reading at: Another award for Nexus Karambunai
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Proposal to revive Miri-Singapore flights

THE Miri business community has urged the state to revive direct flights from Singapore to this northern-most city and not just engage in rhetoric.

“We have been waiting for this direct flight. In fact, the withdrawal of Air Asia’s direct flight on this route has seriously affected our businesses, particularly in tourism sectors like hotels, resorts and golf courses,” said prominent businessman Tan Sri Jimmy Lau.

“We have heard of talks on the proposed revival of the direct flight (Miri-Singapore) between Air Asia and our government for quite some time now. We prefer to see it materialise. Not just talk,” he said.

Lau, who is also Foochow Associations of Malaysia president, said the group welcomed state efforts in getting Singapore-based airlines to fly to Kuching, which will complement the just-launched Sarawak Integrated Packages (SIP) aimed at luring more Singaporean tourists to the state.

He was asked to comment on news reports quoting Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan as saying in Singapore yesterday that AirAsia had agreed to re-instate the Singapore-Miri route while Malaysia Airlines (MAS) would start flying the Singapore-Miri route soon.

According to Dr Chan, AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandez has agreed verbally to revive the Singapore-Miri flight.

Dr Chan, who is also Tourism and Heritage Development Minister, was in Singapore to launch the SIP introduced by Sarawak Tourism Board.

Continue reading at: Proposal to revive Miri-Singapore flights
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bridges built to help Borneo orangutans meet mates

Endangered orangutans on Borneo island are using fire hoses slung across rivers by humans to help them move around isolated forests to potentially meet new mates and boost the species' chances for survival, an environmental group said Monday.

Malaysian authorities are building more of the makeshift bridges after some orangutans were spotted using them over the past year, said Marc Ancrenaz, co–founder of French–based conservation group Hutan, which is working with Malaysian state wildlife department officials on orangutan protection.

Conservationists estimate about 11,000 orangutans live in Malaysia's Sabah state in Borneo, but many are isolated from each other because swaths of forest have been cut for development, logging and oil palm plantations.

Environmental groups and wildlife authorities have been hooking up old fire hoses strung together between trees on different sides of rivers to help orangutans — which cannot swim — swing or walk across them. The first bridge was set up seven years ago, but it was only last year that an orangutan was captured on camera using one of them.

Witnesses have seen others doing so since then, prompting officials to build more bridges.

"It takes a while for the animals to get used to it. ... If we are not able to reconnect them, they will go extinct very soon," Ancrenaz said.

Continue reading at: Bridges built to help Borneo orangutans meet mates
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Sarawak unveils Integrated Package to attract Singaporeans

A tourism package — Sarawak Integrated Package (SIP) aimed to attract more Singaporeans to Sarawak was launched here on Tuesday night.

The SIP consists of 38 different packages ranging from daily tour to six-day-five-night package to cater to the needs of different groups of tourists.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said Sarawak could expect the first arrival of Singapore tourists under the SIP during the Christmas holiday.

“Yes, the package will work. It is very surprising that not many Singaporeans have gone to Sarawak. If we sell it properly, we could get quite a big number of Singapore tourists within a year or two,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after the launching ceremony, Dr Chan explained that the advantage of SIP was its flexibility in meeting the demand of different tourists.

The Tourism and Heritage Minister said the packages would be reviewed from time to time to better suit the needs of tourists.

Apart from Singapore, other potential markets for the SIP are Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China, in particular Shen Zhen, said Dr Chan.

Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, the permanent secretary to Tourism and Heritage Ministry, added that SIP would be modified according to customers’ and travel agents’ feedback.

“The feedback from travel agents from both Singapore and Sarawak is crucial to us because they are the ones who sell the packages.

“We will try to bring in some Singapore travel agents to Sarawak in the inaugural flight from Singapore to Miri via Kuching on Oct 31 to let them know their products so that they could negotiate with their counterparts in Sarawak before selling to potential customers,” he explained.

He pointed out that the feedback would be forwarded to the relevant authorities for further improvement.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan told a press conference earlier that it was timely for the board to look at Singapore.

“It is one of the major shifts in terms of market programme to look at our neighbouring countries and see how we can tap from them.

Continue reading at: Sarawak unveils Integrated Package to attract Singaporeans
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48 teams already registered for Padawan Raft Safari

PADAWAN Raft Safari 2010, a bamboo rafting competition at Sungai Sarawak Kiri on Oct 31, promises a challenging time with contests in kayaking and three categories of raft races.

The raft races, divided into the Men’s Open, Women’s Open and Hotel and Tour Agencies, offers cash prizes totalling RM17,000.

The competition is now open for entries and the closing date is Oct 22 at 5pm.

The event organised by the Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) is open to Malaysian and foreign participants aged above 18 years.

Organising committee secretary Kho Ai Mei said that more than 40 teams had already entered for the rafting events while eight had registered for kayaking.

“We expect more entries in the next few days as participants usually come in at the last minute,” she said.

She said that the registrations should be made on official entry forms available at the MPP office in Kota Padawan near Kuching.

The starting point will be the river bank at Kampung Danu in Penrissen and the finish point will be the river bank in Kampung Git.

The competition will be flagged off by Bengoh assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil in Kampung Danu at 9am while the closing ceremony will be held in Kampung Git at 3pm.

Kho said the race distance was approximately 26km.

Continue reading at: 48 teams already registered for Padawan Raft Safari
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Restoration of degraded forest crucial for survival of orang-utans

The large scale restoration of degraded forest in Ulu Segama and Malua Forest Reserves are crucial for the long term survival of the orang-utans population in Sabah.

According to Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) Executive Director, Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne during the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) 70th Anniversary International Conference on “Challenges and Solutions for a Tropical Biodiversity” held at a hotel near here recently that the two areas had the country’s largest orangutan population.

He added that the current government has made a strong commitment to keeping the area (about 240,000 hectares) under natural forest in order to conserve the orangutan population.

However, a future administration can just as easily alter that commitment and ‘cut off’ a big chunk of the forest for oil palm plantation expansion on the grounds that ‘there is no choice’ for the State economy or to sustain the local processing industry at Lahad Datu, he said.

“Investing in restoring the big areas of degraded forest here will help to ensure the commitment of the present government is sustained in the long term,” he said.

Dr Junaidi also commented that efforts by certain quarters to conduct public awareness and the building of rope bridges across rivers for orangutans to cross are equally important aids to helping save the species in the long-term.

Continue reading at: Restoration of degraded forest crucial for survival of orang-utans
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Karambunai in the limelight after budget

Sabah-based Karambunai Corp seems to have received more than its fair share of attention in the past month.

More recently, it hit the limelight when recently-revealed Budget 2011 stated that Nexus Karambunai – a renowned resort in Sabah – had committed to develop an integrated RM3bil eco-nature resort.

Under the Karambunai integrated resort plan, there are plans to develop a 150ha eco-nature resort at Karambunai alongside a mangrove centre, water theme park and waterfront properties to push for higher return on investments. It is understood that the RM3bil investment will be privately funded, although there are yet to be any concrete details on how this funding will be raised and by whom.

The budget stated that the project would commence next year. In the same paragraph on the Karambunai initiative, the budget proposed that “to support the tourism industry, the Government will allocate RM100mil.” However, it is not clear if this means that the Government will actually invest that money directly into the Karambunai project.

The major shareholder of Karambunai is its president, Tan Sri Chen Lip Keong, who owns 43.9% stake in the company. The 62-year old also owns gaming company NagaCorp, which is listed in Hong Kong and operates a casino in Cambodia.

Having long languished as a penny stock, Karambunai Corp’s shares have been on an uptrend in recent weeks, recording its 52-week high yesterday at 26.5 sen. This stands in stark contrast to four months ago, when the stock price was hovering at a meagre 5 sen.

Still, scepticism abounds on Karambunai’s ability to execute this grand plan, not least because of its weak financial status. The company has been in the red for the past three financial years.

For the quarter ended June 2010, the company continued to remain in poor financial health, suffering losses of RM14.39mil from a previous loss of RM14.62mil. Revenue was up 7.78% to RM24.03mil. As of the period, the company had cash amounting to RM7.29mil. In addition, it has piled on huge debts with short-term borrowings of RM192.07mil and long-term borrowings of RM283.77mil.

This is not the first time the counter has witnessed such exuberance in the absence of any fundamental development. A month ago, the company made headlines when it was speculated that it would start a casino operation in Sabah.

The speculation came about from a proposal of the 500-acre “eco-nature” resort in Sabah by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) at the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) open day a month ago.

Continue reading at: Karambunai in the limelight after budget
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bring back identity as honest, friendly people for Sabah Tourism

KOTA KINABALU: There is a need to bring back Sabah’s identity as having ‘friendly and honest people’ especially in the tourism industry, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun.

After seeing a rise in overall complaints from visitors and tourists who came to Sabah, the minister said Sabah must maintain its identity as having honest and friendly people to remain competitive in the tourism industry.

“There has been a rise in the number of complaints I received personally and the complaints forwarded to the various relevant agencies and departments.

“Although the number is not alarming, it does show that something needs to be done in order for Sabah to remain a highly desired destination for tourism,” he said.

Masidi said this while speaking during an industrial dialogue between the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) and Tourism Ministry on the need for both the government and the private sector to recognize the importance of continued collaboration to achieve common goals and aspiration consistent with industry benchmarks.

According to Masidi, there had been many complaints that tour agents or related tourism companies had made empty promises to their customers, especially those from abroad.

“It saddens me to say this, but this is a fact. Maybe greed has caused this downfall of our identity – promising things that cannot be delivered is a very bad thing to do. I am not here to humiliate or scold but to remind everyone about the importance of honesty. Many tourists have complained that they have paid good money for the many things promised to them by tour agents, but were never delivered,” he said.

Continue reading at: Bring back identity as honest, friendly people for Sabah Tourism
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Improve communication between airlines and Sabah tour agents

KOTA KINABALU: A good communication system should be established between airline service providers and tour agents to avoid complications for tourists and to enable easy planning for both parties.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun suggested that such a communication system should be established, after he returned from a trip where he found many tourists stuck at an airport due to last minute flight cancellations.

“There were probably over 100 foreign tourists stuck at the airport, and at least 50-60 of them were cursing the airline and the state of Sabah for causing so many problems for them.

“According to the tourists, they were stuck there for hours upon hours before finally finding out that their flights were cancelled. Many of them woke up very early in the morning with the hope of catching their flight but were left with disappointment. This will definitely tarnish the good name of Sabah, especially the tourism industry,” he said.

Masidi made the suggestion during an industrial dialogue with the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and the Tourism Ministry.

Continue reading at: Improve communication between airlines and Sabah tour agents
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Sarawak tourism players urged to exploit the Internet

TOURISM players should exploit the Internet’s global reach to promote Sarawak’s attractions to a wider market, said Tourism Assistant Minister Mong Dagang.

He said the Internet was a powerful and cost-effective tool which could be used to market the state’s tourist attractions worldwide.

“I urge tourism players to exploit the potential of the Internet to reach out to a global audience. It is up to their imagination and creativity to use the Internet to promote our attractions,” he said when launching Sarawak Economic Development Corporation’s (SEDC) enhanced tourism website in Kuching yesterday.

Mong said that SEDC, as a major tourism player, was among the earliest agencies to take advantage of the Internet by showcasing its leisure and tourism properties via a simple website introduced 10 years ago.

“Since then, the website has been enhanced from time to time. This continuous improvement bore fruit when it won the Best Website award from the Sarawak Tourism Federation last year,” he added.

Dubbed Click With Us, the enhanced website at www.sedctourism.com has links to SEDC’s hotels – Riverside Majestic, Grand Margherita and Damai Beach Resort – where visitors can book rooms online and get a sneak preview of Sarawak Cultural Village’s award-winning band Tuku Kame.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism players urged to exploit the Internet
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Mount Kinabalu - The toughest mountain race earns its respect

An easy to climb mountain defies the toughest runners

At 4,095 metres (13,435 feet), Malaysia’s tallest mountain is easy to climb. Climbers literally walk up Mount Kinabalu in the north Borneo island state of Sabah. Almost anyone who is healthy, including 80-year-old grandmothers, can climb the steps to its bare granite peak. But running up and down its 21-km (13-mile) slope has defied the best runners. Records set six and seven years ago are waiting to be broken at the 24th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon from October 23 to 24.

The mountain race has become known as the world’s toughest since it welcomed foreign competitors in 1995. Runners find it difficult to keep pace because of the varied terrain; slippery, bushy or rocky along the way to the summit where it is cold and the air is thin which affects their breathing.

Men have to reach the summit and run down to base in four and a half hours (two and a half hours up and two hours down) while women must do it within six and a half hours (three and half hours up and three hours down). Climbers take two days to go up and down the mountain.

In 2003, Italian Marco de Gasperi set a record of two hours, 36 minutes and 59 seconds in the men’s event while Anna Pichrtova of the Czech Republic finished the women’s race in a record time of three hours, six minutes and 54 seconds in 2004.

Ellron Angin, assistant minister of tourism, culture and environment, expects a formidable attempt by competitors from Spain and Japan to set new records. Top runners of Japan’s Mount Fuji International, Kitatanzawa and Tateyama mountain races are vying for the honour.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Mount Kinabalu - The toughest mountain race earns its respect
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Bridging the orang utan gap in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A new orang utan rope bridge has been created in the Lower Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary to allow the primates living within the fragmented forests to reconnect with each other.

The 40m-long rope bridge, made of fire hoses, was set up across Sungai Takala, a tributary of Sungai Kinabatangan in another effort by local and international conservationists to ensure that orang utans in trapped fragmented forests do not become extinct.

The teams involved took three days to complete the project.

The project, which was undertaken by the Sabah Wildlife Department, the HUTAN non-governmental organisation and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), was funded by Borneo Conservation Trust Japan and expertise was provide by Ropeskills Rigging Sdn Bhd.

“Genetic studies, which were carried out in the Lower Kinabatangan forest fragments, showed that orang utans are estimated to go extinct within our lifetime if they are not reconnected through schemes like the rope bridges,” Sabah Wildlife department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goosens said the rope bridges were important in efforts to stop in-breeding among orang utans within the fragmented forests.

The project was initiated by the Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Project seven years ago,

Continue reading at: Bridging the orang utan gap in Sabah
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Promotion of bird-based nature tourism in Sabah to be further enhanced

SANDAKAN: Efforts to promote the tourism industry in this country will be further enhanced through its participation various bird festivals organized by other countries.

Sabah Tourism Board chairman, Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin said, the Board had actively promoted bird-based nature tourism since two years ago to other countries even though the market on bird-based tourism is not something new to Sabah.

He said the bird-based nature tourism industry is expected to attract more birds lovers this country and it is expected within the next 10 years, it could developed into a strong sector.

“Activities on bird watchinging can serve as a potential tourism market in the country based on market demand for bird watching in other countries.

“Through the diversity of tourism activities such as this, we can further strengthen the tourism industry in this country and thus generate economic growth,” he said at the Borneo Bird Festival held at the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) in Sepilok, here on Friday.

This Festival was organized for the second time since it was launched last year the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Also present were Sabah Forestry Department director, Datuk Sam Mannan and Chairman of Borneo Bird Club, Cede Prudente.

It is understood that about 664 bird species can be found in Borneo, including 51 unique species of birds that can only be found on the Borneo Island. Of these, 31 species are unique to this country and almost all of them can be found in the RDC.

Continue reading at: Promotion of bird-based nature tourism in Sabah to be further enhanced
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

World Tourism Conference 2010 - Changing travel plans

To boost tourist arrivals in your country, you need more than just the Eiffel Tower or the Angkor Wat.

People are looking for meaning in their lives, says Daniel Levine, the executive director of the Avant-Guide Institute in New York.

“They’re looking at experiences that can’t be taken away whether their bank balances go up or down.”

Speaking at the World Tourism Conference 2010 (WTC 2010) recently at the Magellan Sutera, Sutera Harbour in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Levine believes that tourists are no longer content with passive watching; they now want to “do” things.

In the three-day Tourism Success Stories and Rising Stars conference jointly organised by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Sabah Tourism Board, over 490 participants from 44 countries converged to uncover the secrets of leading destinations and organisations.

Levine, one of the 12 speakers, is the head of an international team of “trend hunters” who scour the globe for the latest products, ideas and experiences. He helps travel brands and destinations become more relevant, innovative and profitable.

Levine has authored over 20 best-selling books and is a frequent guest on international television and radio shows, having even been hailed a “genius” by Elle magazine and “the ultimate guru of cool” by CNN.

While some countries may have long-standing attractions of historical and cultural value, places that are less well endowed are slowly creating their own unique “brand” of experiences to draw in the crowd.

Among the examples given by Levine is the Hotel Kakslauttanen in Lapland, Finland which boasts one-of-a-kind igloo hotel rooms. You stay in a futuristic glass igloo in the middle of winter. And while you lie back in bed, you can see the northern lights in full view — what’s not to love about this hotel?

“This is the kind of experience people are looking for right now. They don’t just want luxury; they want a meaningful experience. In this case, it’s all about learning something,” says Levine. “It’s all about the ‘cool’ factor these days; tourists want to tell their friends about their unforgettable experience. Plus, it’s great content for Facebook and personal blogs.’’

Another interesting example is the sensorial blindfolded walking tours in Portugal led by blind tour guides.

“Instead of saying, ‘Hey look at that’, they are saying: Smell what’s coming from that bread shop; hear the sounds that are around that corner; feel the cloth that’s being sold by this store,” says Levine.

This is a powerful concept. It sheds new light on the senses that one is so accustomed to, drawing a link between emotions and memories to create a unique experience.

Levine points out that the product itself hasn’t changed (bakeries give off an almost universal aroma) — it’s the way products are being marketed that has changed. The tourism industry cannot be stagnant; it has to constantly find new ways to redefine its worth.

Even our neighbour Singapore has decided to build a 12m high jumbo twister slide in Changi Airport. For every $22 (RM52.16) spent in the airport, you get tokens for two rides on the super slide. No reason really to have a slide in the airport but people love the idea — the possibility of having something fun to experience if ever your flight is delayed.

While it may not be the main pull in attracting tourists, it is an added value nonetheless.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: World Tourism Conference 2010 - Changing travel plans
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Sabah Tourism: Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon 2010


Date: 23 - 24 October 2010

Dubbed as ‘The World's Toughest Mountain Race', this race is a true challenge to the spirit of human endurance. The average climber takes two days to climb the mountain but participants of the race can make it in less than 3 hours up and down Mt. Kinabalu (4095.2m), with a total distance of 21km for all Men, Women and Men's Veteran categories.

The first climbathon was inaugurated in 1987 when Sabah Parks decided to scout for people to be in the rapid rescue squad, who are a team of rangers who are able to bring down injured climbers in minimal time—especially during times of bad weather or when helicopters are not available. Starting 1995, the Sabah Tourism Board took over to organize this annual event.

The Climbathon is part of the Sky Runners World Series Circuit for the 9th consecutive year and is the only race in the circuit that is held outside Europe. The Sky Runner World Series is regulated and coordinated by the Europe-based Federation for Sport at Altitude (FSA).

Further Information

Organiser: Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd
Contact Person: Zachary Mobijohn
Telephone: +6088 232121
Fax: +6088 265540 / 219401
Email Contact: zachary@sabahtourism.com
Event Website: http://climbathon.sabahtourism.com

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Royal Brunei Airlines Melbourne bound

By Azlan Othman

Melbourne Australia will be part of the Royal Brunei Airlines network from March 29 2011, RBA said in a statement to the Weekend Bulletin yesterday.

A four-times weekly service will be introduced in which Royal Brunei Airlines will depart Bandar Seri Begawan to Melbourne on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. With the addition of Melbourne, Royal Brunei Airlines will fly 14 times weekly to three cities in Australia.

Royal Brunei Airlines Executive Vice President of Commercial & Planning, Riaz Moiz, said that, "With the launch of the Melbourne flights, Royal Brunei Airlines will be able to meet demand for seats to Melbourne from across our Asian and UK networks, while also expanding our presence in Australia.

Trade links between the two countries will also be enhanced. The additional of Melbourne is another positive step towards establishing Brunei as a competitive hub in the Asia Pacific region."

Melbourne Airport Chief Executive Officer, Chris Woodruff, said the Royal Brunei Airlines announcement was a fantastic result for Victoria. Mr Woodruff said, "The importance of direct international air services to Melbourne and Victoria cannot be overstated.

Southeast Asia is one of Victoria's fastest growing markets and Royal Brunei Airlines' services will enable tourism and trade opportunities to be further developed.

This is great news for Victorians, whether they are travelling to the Sultanate of Brunei, holiday destinations in Borneo's Sabah and Sarawak, or onwards to Royal Brunei Airlines' network throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East."

Located in the state of Victoria and best known for being the cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne is also a centre for commerce, education, entertainment and sports. Visit Melbourne and experience a wide range of activities, attractions and excitement for the whole family.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Sabah Tourism: Pesta Gong Matunggong, Kudat


Date: 24 October 2010

The small town of Matunggong will once again be engulfed by the echoing sounds of gong beating as the Kudat Rungus community assembles to celebrate this vibrant festival. The Rungus—a subgroup of the Kadazandusun tribe—is one of the most culturally-preserved communities in Sabah.

Many Rungus families still adhere to the old ways; inhabiting ancient longhouses and practicing their age-old spiritual beliefs. The endearing charm of the Rungus people would most likely be rooted in their concept of communal living and sharing under one roof in the traditional longhouses.

Visitors will be entertained by dance performances, plus a singing, dancing and gong beating competition.

Further Information

Organiser: Matunggong Sub-District Office
Contact Person: Mr. Arnold Joibi
Telephone: +60 88 613762
Fax: +60 88 613786
Email Contact: Arnold.Joibi@sabah.gov.my
Event Website: http://pestagong.sabahtourism.com


Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Royal Brunei Airlines, Philippine Airlines End Code Share Agreement

Bandar Seri Begawan - Beginning October 31, 2010; Royal Brunei Airlines and Philippine Airlines will be ending their code share agreement and the last code share flight will take off October 30.

Royal Brunei Airlines has decreased flights to seven times weekly while still maintaining daily service from Bandar Seri Begawan to Manila, a press release said Raiz Moiz, RBA Executive Vice President of Commercial and Planning, said, "Although both carriers have mutually agreed to end the code share arrangement, we still look forward to working with Philippine Airlines in the future and we wish them great success in their future endeavours."

For further enquiries of how this may affect current bookings, passenger may contact their local Royal Brunei Airline offices.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific (CEB) began flying to Brunei Darussalam from August 21 this year and operates twice-weekly service between Manila and Bandar Seri Begawan.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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