Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tourism industry a big boost to Sarawak's economy

MIRI: The tourism industry has been identified as one of seven industries capable of boosting Sarawak’s Economic Transformation Programme.

Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan said on implementation of eight initiatives under the tourism sector, Sarawak would be able to generate RM68.3 million and up to 1,500 jobs by 2020.

The eight initiatives are health tourism, education tourism, eco-tourism, homestay, sports tourism, cultural and environmental tourism, and property and infrastructure tourism.

The tourism industry has broad-based products to offer in Sarawak including her natural environment, forests, rivers, culture, diverse ethnicity and handicraft.

The Ducati Multistrada Borneo Experience 2011, which arrived here Monday, comes under the sport tourism sector.

Sagan had the honour of welcoming the riders (of Ducati Multistrada 1200 Borneo Experience 2011) prior to having dinner with them at Mega Hotel here.

Fifty-two riders in 20 Ducati motorcycles were here Monday enroute to Brunei and then to Sabah. Among them are riders from United States, Italy, New Zealand, Uzbekistan, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand.

The Ducati Borneo experience hopes to promote the huge tourism potential in Sarawak and create rapport among the riders and members of the public at their every stop. The expedition will be shown through 13 episodes on television, targeting local and overseas audiences.

Naza Ducati Malaysia is the main organiser of the event in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia, Sarawak Tourism Board, Sabah Tourism Board, Brunei Tourism Board, MITI, Chevrolets, Eftra, Shell, SMF.net.my and Royal Bandits.

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Direct flight from Korea to Kuching a possibility

KUCHING: There is a possibility that the state will have a direct flight from Korea through the local tourism industry network with the country.

According to an officer from the Korea Institute of Tourism and Culture, Dr Kim Dock Key, the possibility would be given serious consideration to further enhance existing bilateral relationships between Sarawak and Korea.

“Korea now has a direct flight to Kota Kinabalu and we will consider having a direct flight to Sarawak to further promote tourism here.

“Besides that we also intend to enhance cooperation among the industry players in both Sarawak and Korea,” Kim said during a visit to Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg here yesterday.

Kim, who led a delegation to meet Abang Johari added that the group was attracted to the tourism products in the state.

He mentioned Bako National Park, which he described as a natural tourism product with beautiful tropical forest and scenic views.

A group of 16 delegates from the Korea Institute of Tourism and Culture joined in the visit; they will also be visiting Sarawak Cultural Village.

Continue reading at: Direct flight from Korea to Kuching a possibility
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brunei team in first ever search and rescue drill on Mount Kinabalu

By Azlan Othman

Twenty-two Fire and Rescue personnel will join other search and rescue teams from Malaysia and Singapore in the first ever exercise high up Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia.

The four-day exercise dubbed SAREX or joint search and rescue exercise involves finding missing and lost persons in the wilderness, which could strengthen and enhance the operation capabilities, especially for the department personnel, in search and rescue besides upgrading knowledge and expertise that could be implemented at home in the event of an emergency.

The exercise, at the invitation of National Security Council of the Prime Minister Office of Malaysia, began yesterday (November 28) and will end December 1.

The exercise would also foster closer ties among the participating countries.

The skills that the personnel possess become the core pillar in producing their true capability in line with the current trend and pace of modernisation globally. This is the aspiration of all operation personnel as first respondents in dealing with all sorts of emergencies and to be on full alert and ready besides enhancing the level of professionalism.

The Fire and Rescue Department strives to enhance the capabilities and expertise of its personnel in tackling any incidents through exercises or courses locally or abroad.

Before their departure via land yesterday morning in four vehicles, a flag handing over ceremony was held which was attended by the Director of Fire and Rescue Department, Awg Yahya bin Hj Abd Rahman.

The flag was handed over to the team head, Assistant Superintendant Annua bin Bangau.

Also present were Assistant Director for Operation, Awg Shabandi bin Hj Abd Halim, senior officers, Fire and Rescue personnel and their family members. A doa selamat was read by the teacher of Fire and Rescue Department, Ustaz Mohd Rosman bin Hj Bara.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Borneo Cultural Festival is vital to tourism industry

SIBU: Chairman of the Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association has claimed that the riverine town has been sidelined in terms of tourism promotion, causing tourists to shy away.

Johnny Wong Sie Lee alleged that the town’s signature event Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) had been left out from next year’s tourism calendar.

“I learned that this major event has not been listed in the calendar of tourism for 2012. This is most unfair as BCF will be making a comeback next year and has been a crowd puller all this while. BCF is an important platform to showcase what Sibu has to offer to the world.

“And if it is not even listed in the calendar, how would tourists be able to know that the event is on next year. They too need to make preparations to come here and this cannot be done overnight.”

He could not figure out why BCF had been omitted whereas other tourism events seemed to have been included. Wong bemoaned that while Sibu might have limited places of interest, this should not be used as a basis to leave the town out of tourism activities.

He lamented that only a handful of tourists visited Sibu and promoting BCF was one way to reverse the trend.

Continue reading at: Borneo Cultural Festival is vital to tourism industry
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gems around Fairy Caves in Bau

MEMBERS from the Malaysian Nature Society Kuching branch turned up at the Fairy Caves with high expectations of an interesting morning. We had come hoping to catch a glimpse of the Bornean whistling thrush (Myophonus borneensis). This bird is a highland species that can be quite easily seen on Mount Kinabalu, Sabah. For some unknown reason, the Bornean whistling thrush is also found around the limestone outcrops at the Fairy Caves in Bau, a mere 40-minute drive from Kuching.

The swiftlets were out to welcome the beautiful day; their wings slicing through the crisp morning air. The dusky munias flew over the padi fields to make a landing occasionally before taking off again. The scaly-breasted munia was among them.

A small flock of whistling ducks was on its way to frolic in a nearby pond. The plaintiff cuckoo called while the crimson sunbird and red-eyed bulbul played hide-and-seek with us in the trees. Both the greater and lesser coucals came into view, though on separate occasions, leaving the birders to deliberate as to which was greater and therefore not lesser. Apparently, the greater coucal has a booming call, while the lesser coucal has streaks on its body. Unfortunately, no one heard the coucal call nor observed the streaks.

The Bornean whistling thrush was late.

Pitcher plants dotted the karst landscape. One of the most famous and spectacular pitcher plants, Nepenthes northiana, could be seen growing in heavy clusters on the steep sides of the limestone cliffs.

The limestone hills in Bau and Padawan are the only known localities in the world for this carnivorous plant, making it endemic toSarawak. The discovery of the species in the late 1800s, during the reign of the White Rajahs, further boosted the exotic reputation thatSarawakalready enjoyed as a place populated by remarkable people, plants and animals.

There was a high-pitched call from a flowerpecker and a song from the tailorbird. As we stood under some stalactites, sharp calls from the Eurasian tree sparrows drew our attention to the grey limestone walls. The rugged surface offers an excellent foothold for rock climbers.

Snakes known as cave racers use the rough surfaces to ‘climb’ as they hunt for bats and swiftlets. These adept climbers inhabit limestone areas and often leave their moulted skins in the cliff crevices.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Gems around Fairy Caves in Bau
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Sarawak welcomes Kuching-Melaka flight

KUCHING: The state government has welcomed the introduction of the Kuching-Melaka flight announced by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam on Friday.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said it was a good move to connect Sarawak and Melaka because of the two states’ historical links.

“Chinese explorer Cheng Ho landed in Melaka and then came to Sarawak so the connection between Melaka and Sarawak is there.

“In fact, we had planned a Kuching-Melaka direct flight all this while but back then the airport in Melaka was too small. It is now time to work with Melaka Air to see further connectivity,” he told reporters after launching the Ducati Multistrada Borneo Experience 2011 yesterday.

Abang Johari said his ministry would send officers to Melaka for feasibility studies on the new route and added that the plan should materialise soon.

“We will look into the direct flight connecting Kuching and Melaka because it is a complementary effort to Sarawak.

Continue reading at: Sarawak welcomes Kuching-Melaka flight
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Promoting authentic Sarawak dishes

KUCHING: Damai Beach Resort and Sarawak Cultural Village recently launched their Sarawak Authentic Cuisine Promotion.

It aims to promote authentic Sarawak cuisine to local and foreign guests. Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip launched the promotion at the resort’s Treez Restaurant.

“Sarawak boasts a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. This rich diversity is also reflected in the cuisine of the state,” said Talib, who is also Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman.

“Eating out is an experience; here, you will find varieties of eateries that range from deluxe and exquisite restaurants to roadside and hawker stalls.”

Meanwhile, Damai Beach Resort resort manager Zulkifli Othman said the resort had always striven to preserveSarawak’s heritage in its everyday operations.

“From details such as room decor and lobby layout, to our recreational activities and even resort signage, this preservation of ethnicity is one of our strongest selling points.

Continue reading at: Promoting authentic Sarawak dishes
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Cebu Pacific Air Seeks To Expand Operations to Kuching

KUCHING -- Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air of the Philippines seeks to expand its international routes in Malaysia by making Kuching its next stop after Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) CEO Datuk Rashid Khan said Sunday.

He said STB would facilitate and assist the airline in offering its service in this capital city of Sarawak.

"We welcome you and hope to work together towards a win-win situation and, particularly, in promoting the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region," he said in a statement.

Rashid Khan said a delegation from Cebu Pacific Air, led by its International Sales and Distribution Systems Manager Leopoldo B. Coronel, and officers from the Philippine Tourism Department called on him yesterday and expressed their interest to expand the airline's operation to Kuching.

Continue reading at: Cebu Pacific Air Seeks To Expand Operations to Kuching
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa receives two top awards

KOTA KINABALU: Peppino and CHI, The Spa at Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu received awards for Best Food Outlet and Best Spa Experience at the 2011 Sabah Tourism Awards Gala Dinner here last Saturday.

The Sabah Tourism Awards celebrates the industry’s achievements and honours outstanding individuals and organisations whose contributions have contributed to the growth of the tourism industry in Sabah.

On a separate note, CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu received the runner-up position at the 2011 SPA Traveller Awards for Best International Family Friendly Spa and Best International Spa Resort.

The inaugural SPA Traveller Awards reveals some of the world’s hidden gems along with the best romantic gateways, family friendly destinations and well-being retreats. For six months, readers’ were asked to nominate their favourite spa, treatment, therapist, cuisine and even most breathtaking spa view.

Continue reading at: Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa receives two top awards
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Kuching-Melaka direct flight early next year

KUCHING: A direct flight connecting Kuching and Melaka may commence as early as next month or early next year.

Melaka Chief Minister Dato Sri Mohd Ali Rustam when announcing this yesterday said he was keen to see the flight become a reality, possibly three times a week.

“I am looking forward to see the Sarawak and Melaka state governments collaborate on the direct flight to Melaka in the best interest of both states,” he told a press conference.

Mohd Ali is in the state with the Melaka Foundation (YM) delegation and its board of directors to witness a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Sarawak Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA/Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd) and YM yesterday.

LCDA was represented by Senior Minister and Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing and two Assistant Ministers, Datuk Gramong Juna and Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz.

Also present was Senior Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh who is also mnister of local government and community development, and second finance minister.

Mohd Ali said the route could boost tourism in both states.

“Melaka so far receives a total of 10.4 million tourists in 2010 with 20 per cent of them from overseas: Taiwan, Japan,China, Hong Kong, German, Switzerland and New Zealand.”

He said as of September this year, a total of 8.4 million tourists had visited the historical city, and the number is expected to reach 11 million by yearend. He said the proposed Kuching-Melaka flight could be shortened to one hour, compared to the one-and-a-half hour Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route.

“The flight is shorter than that to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Hence this could be an alternative route.”

At the moment, Melaka is chartering Firefly and Melaka Air flights to Pekan Baru and Medan City on the island of Sumatera in Indonesia. The flight connection had lured many tourists from the neighbouring country to the city.

Continue reading at: Kuching-Melaka direct flight early next year
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Miri Marriott named Best Family and Recreational Resort

MIRI: Marriott Resort & Spa once again make a name among the crème de la crème of the South East Asian hospitality industry by winning a prestigious award at the highly-acclaimed Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (Hapa) 2011-2013 Regional Series.

The resort received the ‘Gold Hapa Signature Family & Recreational’ award under the Establishment category.

The resort’s general manager Marcel Hinderer received the award at a two-night Awards Presentation cum Gala Charity Dinner held at Capella Singapore and Mandarin Orchard recently.

It was attended by over 600 hospitality industry players and nominees.

“We are really honoured to receive this recognition and enjoy the distinction among the best in the region, one that family travellers have confidence in.”

“The recognition is also a significant achievement for Sarawak as it gives tremendous sense of pride that Sarawak’s resort and hotel is on par with those in the region. We look forward to scaling greater heights by constantly enhancing our product and service quality,” said Hinderer.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Miri Marriott named Best Family and Recreational Resort
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Borneo Cultural Festival To Make Comeback In July, 2012

SIBU -- The Borneo Cultural Festival, an annual event of the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) to promote the town's tourism industry, will make a comeback from July 6 to 15 next year.

This was announced by council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King at its monthly meeting, here, Friday.

The popular annual event was scrapped this year after the dismal performance by the town's Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates in the three seats here in the April 16 state polls.

BN through the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) lost the Pelawan, Bukit Assek and Dudong seats to the opposition and earlier on, the Sibu parliamentary seat in a by-election on May 16, 2010.

When the festival was scrapped, there was a public outcry and even the opposition DAP volunteered to organise it on behalf of SMC.

The council which had been organising it for the past nine years, had said it had to come to that decision as some people failed to appreciate the services of the town's BN representatives, but later said it had insufficient time to organise it.

Tiong in his speech hoped organisations representing the Chinese, Malay-Melanau and Dayak/Orang Ulu communities would be more committed in organising the festival to take it to greater heights.

He disclosed that the SMC would also host another popular event, the Borneo Talent Award, in November next year.

Continue reading at: Borneo Cultural Festival To Make Comeback In July, 2012
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Indigenous community gardens can be tourist pull

KUCHING: Community gardens advocated by Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) have the potential to be tourist attractions apart from accomplishing SBC’s mission of preserving traditional knowledge of plants among the indigenous people.

Deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang yesterday said India’s success story where a similar concept had been well applied could be the role model for the state’s community gardens.

He believed that making the gardens into tourism spots would also benefit the communities involved economically.

“The Bio Valley in India is a tourist attraction. Many tourists are attracted by the rich and diverse plants there. It can be an example for the communities here to emulate,” he said at the opening of the Traditional Knowledge Documentation Seminar 2011 at a hotel here.

Ose was representing State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abd Ghani.

Some 27 villages from seven communities namely Bidayuh, Iban, Penan, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, Kayan, Kenyah and Melanau participated in the programme organised by SBC.

Ose acknowledged SBC’s effort in setting up the community gardens as a way to better record traditional knowledge which had played and would continue to play a vital role in the socio- economic development of the state.

As such, he said the effort must be continued, adding that all related data should be consolidated for greater usage such as for the pharmaceutical industry.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

40% of Heart of Borneo's conservation forests can be managed by firms

ALMOST 40 per cent of land in the 22-million hectare Heart of Borneo (HoB) conservation area can be managed by the private sector, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) has estimated based on a report it launched recently.

This figure was based on an estimate on current concession allocations, which make up 8.6 million hectares or 39 per cent of HoB, and thus stressed the importance of the private sector's role in realising the goals of the tri-nation initiative.

"Many of the key threats to the HoB are perceived to arise from private sector activity, but equally, the private sector has the opportunity to be the source and implementer of solutions to environmental and social challenges, and can continue to be a driver of economic and social development," said the WWF report, called "Business Solutions: Delivering the Heart of Borneo Declaration".

The 82-page report, which was launched on November 16, highlighted options for businesses within and around the HoB area, particularly those in the mining, forestry and palm oil industries, to pursue more sustainable operations.

Growth in both Borneo island's population and international demand in products from these three sectors have resulted in increasing pressure on Borneo's forests, the document noted.

"To date, the exploitation of Borneo's natural resources for short term financial returns has not given sufficient consideration to the broader environmental, economic and social implications of this activity," the report said.

It was the recognition of this growing pressure on the forests and the need to resolve it which gave rise to the signing of the HoB declaration in Bali, Indonesia in 2007 by the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Brunei pledged 58 per cent of the country to make up 1.6 per cent of the 22 million hectare conservation initiative.

Apart from placing emphasis on the sustainable use and protection of the HoB area, the declaration also considered the socio-economic welfare of the people of the three signatory nations.

The report recognised that the past exploitation of Borneo's forests have led to reduced poverty rates in the participating countries, with the private sector expected to continue to play an important role towards further reducing poverty across the island.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 40% of Heart of Borneo's conservation forests can be managed by firms
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KK and Kuching airports to emerge as transport hub for BIMP-EAGA

KOTA KINABALU: The federal government’s decision to allow MASwings to launch its first phase of operations into the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is a forward looking move long awaited by the people of Sabah and Sarawak, says Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.

He said the move by the airline, which serviced Sabah and Sarawak, would transform the Kota Kinabalu and Kuching international airports as transporation hubs and regional entry point for international destinations.

Abdul Rahim said MASwings’ foray into the growth areas would also propel tourism in the states.

“With the extension of services and business, MASwings will remain committed to provide the best service domestically especially in rural areas.

“This is in line with MASwings’s objective to provide subsidised air service in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak which are not accessible by road,” he told Bernama yesterday.

Continue reading at: KK and Kuching airports to emerge as transport hub for BIMP-EAGA
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Sabah will source other airlines for air service

THE State Government wants Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to seriously reconsider its decision to re-assess whether or not to make the state capital its hub.

“If they (MAS) insist (in pursuing the decision), then Sabah’s tourism industry will face huge losses, and I believe it is the same to the national carrier. Both will be at the losing end,” Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun told the House in response to a question from Sri Tanjung assemblyman Jimmy Wong.

He said that 96 percent of tourists’ arrivals to Sabah were by air.

“MAS should look at it as part of their Social Corporate Responsibility to the people. It is easier to move around in West Malaysiaas they can travel by car from one end to the other. But not for Sabah and Sarawak, we need air services to link up with other countries,” he said.

Masidi added that should MAS decide to pursue with its decision, then they will have to give at least six months notice to allow the state government to find other airlines as options for its air services.

“We will think of other alternatives rationally, not emotionally. It is best to find the best method that would give a win-win solution to both parties,” he said.

“During the Sabah Tourism Award last week, I have said we will propose that a new regional airline be established to serve the needs of Sabah and Sarawak.

“The new airline was vital and could concentrate on meeting the increasing demand of passengers flying from Sabah and Sarawak to various domestic and international destinations,” he said.

Continue reading at: Sabah will source other airlines for air service
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Broadcast Sarawak tourism programmes via satellite for world

KUCHING: Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has proposed that tourism programmes in the state be broadcasted by satellite for transmission to the world.

He said this was a way to allow cultural products and tourist attractions to be promoted and, at the same time, enhance the potential of the industry.

“For instance, the Wakeboard Championship recently, had a very large audience via satellite communication that was set up at the waterfront where the organiser took photos and videos for transmission to the world.

“It is cheaper compared to conventional media and therefore it is our hope to use satellite media communication for other tourism programmes,” he said at the launch of the 2012 calendar of tourism events at the DUN complex yesterday.

He reminded tour agencies to be more active in promoting tourism products.

“All tour agencies need to know their role,” he said.

Abang Johari pointed out three types of visitors namely backpackers, normal tourists and professional visitors.

“We have the strength over other destinations; over here we have river cruises and national parks. We have something different which appeals to professionals. In one visit they can experience different events besides conferences,” he noted.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Broadcast Sarawak tourism programmes via satellite for world
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Orang utan conservation in Sabah getting help from Federal government

KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government is ready to help Sabah in its conservation of orang utan by financially assisting the state to acquire land between areas planted with oil palm.

This included buying parcels of land, largely owned by oil palm plantations, to be used as forest corridors, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

“I read in the papers about the difficulties faced by orang utan in moving through the oil palm plantations.

“I view this seriously. Perhaps the Sabah Government can work with us to acquire the lands.

“The Government will support whatever the state is doing, including with funds,” he said after launching the Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil ninth roundtable meeting here yesterday.

Dompok pointed out that Malaysia had made great strides in the palm oil industry, amidst environmental allegations, which he dismissed as baseless.

“For example, a report titled The Last Stand of the Orang Utan: State of Emergency claimed that oil palm plantations were expanding so rapidly in our rainforests that there would be no virgin forest by 2022.

“It also claimed that an equivalent of 300 football fields were deforested every hour for plantations.

“I am of the view that all these allegations are based on fear due to the competitiveness of palm oil,” he said.

Dompok said that despite this, Malaysia was concerned about unsubstantiated allegations on the displacement of the orang utan.

Continue reading at: Orang utan conservation in Sabah getting help from Federal government
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MASwings to pick up from where MAS, AirAsia left off

KUCHING: The Federal Government has agreed to a state proposal to make MASwings a regional airline operating within the BIMP-EAGA region.

This was revealed by Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

However, he said the details of the operation would be communicated later as it would involve technical formalities.

He said he would meet his counterparts in Sabah to discuss the airline’s organisation structure and routes to enhance commerce, trade and tourism in Sabah and Sarawak, connections with neighbouring Kalimantan, Brunei and the Philippines and extensions to Australia.

Continue reading at: MASwings to pick up from where MAS, AirAsia left off
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tourism sector contributed more than RM3 bil to Sabah economy

KOTA KINABALU: The tourism sector in the state has so far contributed RM3.662 billion to the economy as of September this year, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said it was a jump of 12.7 per cent when compared to the same period last year at RM3.249 billion.

“The estimated revenue this year is based on the tourist arrivals for the first nine months this year which totalled 2,096,202 people. From the total, there were 617,260 foreign tourists and 1,478,942 local tourists,” he said during question and answer at the assembly sitting yesterday.

He was responding to Bugaya representative, Datuk Haji Ramlee Marahaban, who asked on the tourism sector contribution to the state’s economy and number of foreign tourists visiting Sabah, particularly those who visited Semporna this year.

In reply, Masidi said there were 24,393 tourists who visited and stayed at the resort islands of Mabul, Mataking and Kapalai for scuba diving and snorkeling in Sipadan from January to September this year.

There were 8,110 domestic tourists and 16,283 foreign tourists comprising of 8,383 from the Asian region, 1,007 from Oceania, 5,176 from Europe, 790 from North America and 927 from other countries.

Continue reading at: Tourism sector contributed more than RM3 bil to Sabah economy
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Lower Kinabatangan has lost 300 orang-utans since 2004

KINABATANGAN: The Lower Kinabatangan has lost about 300 orang-utans in seven years due to forest isolation and loss of corridors, according to Dr Marc Ancrenaz, scientific director of HUTAN – Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme (KOCP).

“What we are seeing with our latest surveys within theLower Kinabatanganis a clear population decline of the orang-utans in this area,” said Ancrenaz who hoped such issues would add to urgency to events such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Oil Palm (RSPO) being held in Kota Kinabalu for the first time this week.

The biggest threat to orang-utan and other wildlife populations in Sabah today is fragmentation. What this means is that agriculture development, primarily oil palm, has created small islands of forest, which are isolated and completely surrounded by human-made landscape.

“Because it is difficult for wildlife to move from one forest patch to the next, this situation leads to inbreeding and eventual population decline, which is what we are witnessing today in theLower Kinabatangan,” explained Ancrenaz.

Ancrenaz points out that this issue is inherently related in part to the oil palm industry and as this industry has much resources they should take real action to rectify the situation.

“We can still improve the situation for theLower Kinabatangan’s orang-utan and other wildlife by actually replanting and planning for actual wildlife corridors or patches of forest to support wildlife movement between protected or forested areas,” said Ancrenaz.

This according to Ancrenaz, has been paid much lip service by big organisations but in reality only local communities have been successfully carrying out such work.

“Except for Wilmar/PBB Oil which is replanting 382 hectares with 50 meters on the banks on the river, we mostly see signboards and newspaper articles but when you go to the ground you find that in reality there is more talk than actual viable replanting taking place,” he said.

Perhaps, the money the Malaysian government is spending for oil palm promotion such as the recent allocation of RM24 million for the Malaysian Oil Palm Council could instead be used for establishing real corridors and patches of forest in the Lower Kinabatangan,” said Ancrenaz.

Continue reading at: Lower Kinabatangan has lost 300 orang-utans since 2004
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Playing computer games on top of Mount Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: A 12-member computer team from the State Computer Service Department and Sabah Technopreneurs Association (SATA) will be scaling Mount Kinabalu right up to its summit and then establish a local area network (LAN) to allow them to play computer games while at the top.

“It is the first time we’re doing this, although we hope it can be made into an annual affair,” the official for the event, Disney E Lai Bruno Voon said yesterday before they were flagged off by Resource development and Information Technology Ministry permanent secretary Bruno Voon.

He added that they would be heading up theKinabaluParkheadquarters for one day to check their equipment.

Their trek up the mountain will begin today at7.45amand they shall assemble at the Timpohon Gate at8.30amand are expected to arrive at Gunting Lagadan or Panar Laban about3pm.

On November 23, they will start their summit ascend at3amand are expected to arrive at Low’s Peak at5.45am. “We will start our LAN party at6amand finish up about7am,” he said.

He added that they hope the weather will permit them to do what they set out to do.

Continue reading at: Playing computer games on top of Mount Kinabalu
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More Tourists Coming To Sarawak This Year

KUCHING -- Sarawak registered a total of 2.7 million tourist arrivals from January to September this year up 16.7 percent compared to the corresponding period last year.

State Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said 1.6 million or 61.5 percent were foreign tourists while the rest were local tourists.

"The top 10 visitor arrivals by countries ranked from Brunei (1,094,866), Peninsular Malaysia (572,727), Sabah (473,108), Indonesia (311,673), the Philippines (55,745), Singapore (30,830), China (26,728), United Kingdom (22,231), India (15,111) and Australia (14,165)," he said when winding-up for his ministry at the State Legislative Assembly, here today.

Abang Johari said the analysis of five selected annual events namely, Kaul Festival, Borneo International Yachting Challenge, Sarawak Regatta, Borneo International Kite Festival and Pesta Benak showed that 35.8 percent of spectators were from outside Sarawak and 76.4 percent were repeat visitors.

"On average, RM189 is spent on accommodation from the average spending of RM543 per person per visit for a two-night stay," he said.

He said based on the feedback received from the Customer Satisfaction Index, most events showed a positive 6.0 rating, indicating that most visitors were happy with the event and wee likely to recommend it to others.

"With the establishment of the standard, we now can identify and categorise those events that have tourism value. It also helps us to identify areas that require improvement or adjustment in order to raise the profile of the event up to international level," he said.

Continue reading at: More Tourists Coming To Sarawak This Year
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MASwings records hike in passenger load, cargo volume

KUCHING: MASwings recorded encouraging increases in passenger load and cargo volume in both Sarawak and Sabah in the first nine months of this year, said a statement from the Transport Ministry.

It noted this was made possible following an increase of 6.4 per cent in MASwings aircraft movement, with 71,513 movements recorded from January till September compared to 67,213 movements in the corresponding period last year.

At 12,144, Miri Airport recorded the highest number of MASwings aircraft movements.

The development projects in Tanjung Manis were stated as among the factors which led to the increase. The other factors were the increase in flight frequency, the use of ATR-72 aircrafts, Internet promotions and people going for Kaamatan, Gawai and Aidilfitri celebrations.

On passenger load, it said MASwings handled 2,279,849 (almost 2.3 million) passengers for the first nine months, an increase of 13.56 per cent compared to last year’s corresponding period.

The highest number of passengers handled was at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) – 498,821 passengers. Apart from KKIA, eight other airports and seven airfields also recorded increases of between 1.33 per cent and 33.75 per cent.

However, one airport and five airfields recorded decline in passengers handled by MASwings – between 0.48 per cent and 19.51 per cent.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Maliau Basin: The Lost World of Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Maliau Basin is one of the world’s finest remaining wilderness areas. It encompasses over 390 square kilometres of pristine rainforest in the south-central part of Sabah, Borneo, in Malaysia. The rainforest is so dense that less than 50 percent of it has ever been explored.

The Maliau Basin rainforest in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia, encompasses an area of 390 square kilometres, but the land is so wild that it has never been continuously inhabited by humans. Photo courtesy of Borneo Eco Tours

Today, the Malaiu is awaiting UNESCO World Heritage Site status, which would help with conservation efforts. Funding is required to support initiatives like the construction of a network of trails that would allow small group treks to explore this unspoilt jungle accompanied by a local guide.

The ‘Lost World’ of Sabah

Surrounded by steep and forbidding slopes on all sides, the basin, which covers an area slightly larger than Singapore, is unapproachable on foot. There are no roads, only winding rivers and a lush tropical rainforest. The inaccessibility has kept this remote paradise hidden from humankind for millions of years. It was first spotted in 1947, when a British pilot flying from the west coast of Sabah to Tawau nearly ran into the steep cliff rising over 915 metres above the jungle floor. Maliau Basin has since been dubbed Sabah’s ‘Lost World’ due to its unique and mysteriously intact biodiversity.

The land of Maliau Basin has never been permanently inhabited. Although the people of the Murut tribe arrange yearly hunting trips into the area, they are the only regular visitors and no record or proof of their settlement exists in the forbidding basin. In fact, to date, only 25 percent of the entire area has been mapped.

The whole basin is one single water catchment and drains through a canyon in the south by one river, the Maliau River, which flows out into the Kuamut River, eventually joining Sabah’s largest and most important waterway, the Kinabatangan River. Back in Maliau, there are over 30 waterfalls – the most famous of which is the spectacular seven-tiered, 28-metre cascade known as Maliau Falls – making it the most waterfall-rich area in Malaysia.

With over 30 waterfalls, Sabah’s Maliau Basin on Borneo is the most waterfall-rich area in all of Malaysia.

Daring to Enter

Today, intrepid travellers up for a challenge can arrange a visit to this real ‘lost world.’ Maliau Basin contains over 70 kilometres of trails, and visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. To trek the land of Maliau Basin requires good physical fitness as the trails range from easy to steep and the terrain can be challenging.

Though a porter is provided to carry food supplies, hikers are responsible for carting in their own personal belongings and water, unless they are willing to pay an extra fee for additional porters. Exhaustion may take its toll gradually, but it is best to stay focused upon the various species of flora dwelling throughout this unexplored haven. Trekkers stay at campsites equipped with basic facilities where one’s guide is officially the ‘jungle chief.’

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Sabah is eyeing Asia for main tourism income

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah is eyeing Asia for its main tourism income given the growing numbers of tourist arrivals from economic powerhouses like China, Japan and Korea as it aims to achieve RM8 billion in tourism receipts by 2015.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said despite the operation curfew imposed on Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), China and Hong Kong posted the highest increase in tourists (38.5 per cent) up to September this year.

"Sabah has lost many chartered flights from China, Korea and Russia due to the KKIA operation curfew," he said during the seventh edition of the Sabah Tourism Awards at Magellan Sutera Harbour, here, Saturday night.

The curfew from 12.30am to 6am is due to the ongoing construction and upgrading works at the KKIA.

However, Masidi was upbeat that once the highly anticipated upgraded runway is completed in April 2012 and adopts a 24-hour daily air connectivity, it will further increase tourist arrivals to the State.

He said his ministry's target of achieving 2.63 million arrivals was on track, adding the State's tourism sector registered a first-time double-digit growth of 15 per cent for the first nine months this year.

He also thanked the Royal Brunei Airlines for providing direct flights from Perth, which contributed to a 16 per cent increase in the number of Australian visitors.

Attributing the boom experienced by the local tourism industry to greater air accessibility and the region's economic and political stability, Masidi said:

"China remains a major driving force in the growth of international tourism. This is the market that could sustain our industry.

"We need to cater to the demand of this important market sector.

Even the USA and Europe are banking on China," he added.

Masidi also urged local players to tap into other Asian countries like Japan, which posted a 22 per cent increase and Korea, 11 per cent.

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Mount Kinabalu porters honored

KOTA KINABALU: The porters of Mount Kinabalu finally received due recognition for their dedication and hardwork in making Borneo’s tallest mountain a most welcoming and world renowned natural wonder.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun honored the extraordinary men and women with the Minister’s Special Award, the highest recognition for individual or organization who have made an outstanding contribution to the State tourism’s development.

Announcing the award at the Sabah Tourism Awards here Saturday evening, Masidi said the porters, who are mostly locals from the villages surrounding the mountain, were the endilible part of the mountain’s existence and truly worthy recipient of such recognition.

He said Sabah applaud Sir Hugh Low, who was recorded as the first man to conquer Mount Kinabalu in 1851, but more so the State applaud the people upon whose backs that expedition was launched.

“Mount Kinabalu is revered by the surrounding indigenous communities as the sacred resting place of the dead and the villagers have to overcome tremendous trepidation to even venture into the cloud shrouded peaks on the summit. Yet, they did. And they paved the way for even more successful botanical expeditions in the late 19th and 20th century which brought to light the incredible biodiversity and beauty of Mount Kinabalu.

“Today, they continue their tradition of transporting essential goods and services for climbers of the Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail… They are the representation of the strength and courage of the human spirit to do what is necessary to bring pride, honour and respect for the mountain,” said Masidi, to the applause from the audience.

He said the award was presented to the porters in recognition of their services as dedicated ambassadors of the country’s cherished mountain and first World Heritage Site.

Their perseverance in the face of hardships and challenges, he added, enabled visitors from all over the world to experience the beautiful Mount Kinabalu.

Masidi also presented the same award to two other recipients, one of them sports veteran Datuk Balwant Singh Kler, in recognition of his dedication to sports and sports development in Sabah.

Former state and national athlete, he said Balwant is also well known as the imposing and authoritative Race Director of the Sabah Dragon Boat Race and Mount Kinabalu Climbathon, two events that have placedSabahon the map as a premier sports venue internationally.

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MASwings a vital rural airliner for Sabah and Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: MASwings, the east Malaysia-based airline, has shown steady progress, transforming from being the operator of Fokker 50 planes to acquiring new and sophisticated aircraft such as the ATR 72-500.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the flight frequencies have also increased several folds and hoped the airline would continue to grow.

“I was informed MASwings currently operates more than 950 flights per week, ferrying more than 1.2 million passengers each year.

“After witnessing the progress of MASwings over the past four years, I have no doubt that this airline will develop further and chart new paths in offering services that appeal to customers.

“This is necessary as airlines always need to be in tune with needs of consumers and markets,” he said at MASwings 4th anniversary dinner here last night.

The text of his speech was delivered, on his behalf, by State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Musa also expressed confidence that MASwings would continue to contribute towards the development of tourism in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Indeed, for tourism to flourish, air travel including to smaller towns is very much needed. There are diverse tourism and heritage products in areas that are closer to Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu, and for travellers to access these sites, reliable air travel is vital.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sabah’s tourism industry is on right track

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s tourism industry is on the right track as the target of 2.63 million arrivals for this year is in sight.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun disclosed that for the first time ever, the state achieved double digit growth of 15 per cent from January to September this year.

“We owe this to many factors, especially, the steady air accessibility into Sabah, and the economic and political stability of the Asia region and Australia,” he said in his speech at the Sabah Tourism Awards 2011 at a resort here, last night.

He noted that the direct flights from Perth have contributed to an increase of almost 16 per cent of Australian arrivals to Sabah.

“It is my sincere hope that Royal Brunei Airlines would recommence its flights in Australia to facilitate more Australian arrivals.

“Our source markets in China and Hong Kong register the highest increase of over 38.5 per cent arrivals up to September this year. Despite the tsunami tragedy in March this year, Japan arrivals to Sabah increased more than 22 per cent. Korean arrivals increased more than 11 per cent,” he stated.

China will continue to be a major driving force in the growth of international tourism and to sustain our industry, we need to cater to the demand of this important market segment as even the USA and Europe are embracing China, he said.

As such, he said facilities and infrastructure in Sabah are developing with the demands of tourism and the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will be operational 24 hours when the runway is completed in April 2012.

“In the past three years, Sabah lost many charter flights opportunities from China, Korea and even Russia due to the curfew-operation on KKIA. We will work to tap these opportunities in 2012,” he remarked.

The tourism sector has seen marked growth as the number of hotels has increased from 443 to 500 hotels since 2009 to 2011, he said.

Under the Sabah Development Corridor, he said there are five and six-star beach resorts to be built north and beyond the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort… all the way up to the Usukan Bay in Kota Belud and onward to Kudat.

“This is identified as the ‘Sabah Gold Coast’ where the most beautiful beaches in Malaysia and South East Asia are found,” he said.

The east coast offers bountiful marine paradise and a gateway to the world’s best dive site as Semporna and its many beautiful islands are attracting global tourism and non-divers as well.

Besides that, he said Sandakan, Sukau, Tabin, Danum Valley, and Maliau Basin are renowned for its eco tourism.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Borneo’s premier five-in-one edutainment hub

KOTA KINABALU: A five-in-one entertainment hub, the Borneo Discovery Centre (BDC) is set to become an ultimate attraction to local and foreign tourists.

“It is a 5-in-1 Edutainment Hub consisting of a science discovery centre (SPARKSTM, WATERWORKSTM, PLETHORATM, NATURE-VENTURETM), a planetarium with a built-in observatory (BEYONDTM), a mini educational building blocks theme park (BLOCK-O-RAMATM), a 4D motion theatre (MOTIONTM) and an auditorium hall (D’STAGETM).

“BDC also features an indoor playground (PLAYPENTM) and live science shows (DEMOPADTM),” said Venus Advance Technology Sdn Bhd chairman and director Jay Rahman to the Borneo Post yesterday.

He explained that the BDC’s architecture was set to be the green technology icon of East Malaysia, boasting a supremely modernistic architecture reminiscent of Mount Kinabalu landmark in its design profile which would mainly take the shape of the mountain’s peaks and utilising green technologies, such as solar and wind power.

It would also be designed with the intent to be a new activity hub where outreach programmes and special events for schools, universities and professionals could be organised.

“While it is recognised that formal educational institutions will fulfill the primary objective of producing science literate people, BDC is where knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes are communicated to the public through informal learning environment that emphasises hands-on exploratory learning rather than a formal text-based approach.”

Rahman added that the existence of BDC would not only increase science literacy of the local community but would also provide a regional hub for science and technology-based activities and would further the development of its surrounding area and creating job opportunities due to the need of BDC as a new organisation for staff crew to execute and put development plans into action.

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Sarawak Gong Festival Promotes Cultural Society And National Heritage

BAU -- The inaugural Sarawak Gong Festival 2011 being held at the Redeems Centre, Kampung Apar, here can create a cultural society who loves the art of national heritage, said Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said with the participation of cultural groups comprising the younger generation from various countries including the Peninsula, Sabah and Brunei, the festival could be a platform to showcase the uniqueness of gong-based dance and music.

"Tourists and the local culture should be in tandem as Sarawak has a lot of tribes and ethnic groups who provide the main tourism products in the state and country," he said when opening the festival, organised by the Sarawak National Department for Culture and Arts and Tourism Ministry.

His speech text was read by Tourism Assistant Minister (Local Event and Product) Datuk Gramong Juna.

Abang Johari said the festival which involved five invited groups from outside the Sarawak state and eight local groups should be continued in the future.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

MASwings expects to go international next year

KOTA KINABALU: MASwings might begin its international flights next year if everything goes as planned, according to its chief executive officer Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang.

Expecting a positive result next week, Nawawi said they were planning to expand their services to the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines – East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

He said they were kicking off with two routes via the state capital, namely Kota Kinabalu-Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and Kota Kinabalu-Tawau-Tarakan (South Kalimantan), and two from Sarawak, Kuching-Pontianak (West Kalimantan) and Kuching-Bandar Seri Begawan.

He said they were awaiting approval for the four routes, adding that currently, it has been tabled in the Cabinet meetings of both states.

“We are expecting positive answers since we believe the expansion will help us to widen MASwings’ operations in promoting accessibility to these locations, and also to help promote Sabah and Sarawak.

“MASwings sees that both Sabah and Sarawak have great potential, especially when tourism and nature is concerned, and believe a lot of people come here for either education or its health services,” he said.

If everything goes well, MASwings is also planning to expand its services to Balikpapan and Banjarmasin in Indonesia, apart from several locations in the Philippines and Irian.

Since its inception in 2007, MASwings has flown to over 20 destinations in East Malaysia with some 940 flights weekly compared to 450 flights when it first started.

“Last year we flew in some 1.2 million passengers, and for 2011, we have targeted to increase the numbers to 1.3 million. To date, the figure has surpassed 1.2 million,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, Nawawi said although MASwings is just a subsidiary company to the national carrier, it has shown encouraging growth.

“MASwings recognises the support from the people, therefore to make us as the brand name here, we will strive to offer the best services to our passengers.

“We (MASwings) should be the brand for Sabahans and Sarawakians. Our staff should be proud of themselves for being able to provide the best services to the people,” he said.

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Sarawak government admits MAS-AirAsia share swap impacted tourism

KUCHING: The state government acknowledged that the recent MAS-AirAsia share swap had affected the state’s tourism sector.

“The lack of public information on the future plan of this joint collaboration between MAS and AirAsia has created anxiety among industry players.

“Furthermore, Sarawak has experienced cancellations of flights and this has caused inconvenience to the public,” noted Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

He was responding to state DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Bukit Assek) who asked how the collaboration had affected Sarawak both positively and adversely.

On Firefly ceasing to operate its Kuala Lumpur-Kuching and Johor Bahru-Kuching routes from Oct 31, Talib also noted that the move had undoubtedly left behind a vacuum.

“To address the issue, the state government has written to the federal government to express concern and displeasure on the lack of communication and consultation. The abrupt cancellation of firefly services after the announcement of the swap and collaboration between the two airlines do not augur well for the state.

“The state government has also initiated dialogues and meeting sessions to seek opportunities for foreign airlines to operate in Sarawak. The state government through Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd has offered attractive incentives such as three years free landing and parking fees and marketing support,” he said.

Talib said the government, however, had no intention to establish its own airlines.

“We are looking at various options including the positioning of MASWings as a regional airline to service Sarawak, Sabah and BIMP-Eaga region,” he added.

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Sarawak mulls making MASwings regional airline

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has no intention of establishing its own airline but is considering positioning rural air services operator MASwings as a regional airline, the State Legislative Assembly was told today.

Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip said MASwings can serve Sarawak, Sabah and the BIMP-EAGA, the East Asean Growth Area covering parts of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

A special delegation led by the state’s tourism minister will engage with the relevant federal ministries to convey the state’s intention, he said when replying to a question from Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Bukit Assek).

“The state government has also initiated dialogue and meeting sessions to seek opportunities for foreign airlines to operate into Sarawak,” he said.

Talib said it cannot be denied that the lack of public information on the plans following the recent share-swap deal between national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and budget airline AirAsia has created anxiety among tourism industry players in Sarawak.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Labuan needs more tourism products

LABUAN: The tourism sector here needed to offer more tourism products to attract visitors to the island, said Labuan Airport manager Muhammad Yusran Hakkam.

He said the island’s location, which is between Kota Kinabalu and Miri, both with well-known tourism products, made the island face difficult challenges in developing its tourism sector.

“I am not blaming the tourism industry here, but we need to try new tourism products to fulfill the people’s aspirations and to see more flights carrying tourists or visitors here.

“The main constraint to have more flights here is because of the low number of passengers coming here,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Yusran admitted that not many activities could be done here as compared to Kota Kinabalu and Miri.

“Sabah tourism industry is really active, plus the state is a MAS hub.”

When asked about international flights to Labuan, he acknowledged that none had landed here since the 90s.

Continue reading at: Labuan needs more tourism products
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Street dancing to promote tourism this weekend

KOTA KINABALU: A street dance competition will be held in Sabah this weekend as part of the effort to promote domestic tourism here.

Some 20 groups of dancers are expected to take part in the event, organised by the Tourism Malaysia through its Tourism Malaysia Sabah branch office.

Dubbed the ‘Borneo Street Dance Competition 2011′ (BSDC), it will be held at the Palm Square, Centre Point Sabah shopping complex on November 19.

In a statement issued by Tourism Malaysia Sabah branch yesterday, they expected the number of domestic visitors, comprising the participants’ family members and supporters, to increase.

Other objectives of the dance competition included creating an awareness among youths on the functions and importance of the tourism industry, to curb immoral activities among the young people by participating in such activities, to provide an avenue for youths to showcase their talents while promoting closer rapport among participants who come from different backgrounds.

The event also aims at creating integration between all communities in Malaysia.

Three best groups will be picked to represent Sabah for the finals. The champion will take home RM1,500 in cash, while the first and second runners-up will receive RM1,000 and RM500 cash prizes respectively. They will also be given certificates.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sabah's Top Tourism Players To Be Honoured Saturday

KOTA KINABALU -- This Saturday, Sabah's top tourism players will be honoured at the seventh edition of the Sabah Tourism Awards.

The event celebrates the industry's achievements and acknowledges outstanding individuals and organisations which have contributed towards the growth of the tourism industry in the state.

This year's theme will be reminiscent of all the glitz and glamour of this very vibrant and versatile industry.

According to a statement issued by Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd, a wholly- owned subsidiary of Sabah Tourism Board, here today, it also acknowledges the hard work and dedication that have been put into building up the industry.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two events set to lure tourists to Sarawak's Penrissen area

KUCHING: Two new sports and tourism-related events in Bengoh constituency were launched yesterday by Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Jerip Susil, who is also Bengoh assemblyman in conjunction with Respdemop Jogathon 2011 at Kpg Semadang.

The events – Sarawak River Treasure Hunt 2012 and Borneo Rainforest Run 2012 – are organised by an event management company – Ma’asa Event Management – owned by a local Bidayuh by the name of Ceasser Robert.

The Sarawak River Treasure Hunt will be held at Semadang River in July next year, starting from the river bank at Kpg Semadang to Kampung Danu upstream of Semadang River. The participants will spend a night at the village’s homestay. The Borneo Rainforest Run 2012 will be held in September at the Semadang-Skio road.

Ceasser said the events would be organised jointly with JKKKs of the two villages – Semadang and Danu.

He said the events would target local and foreign participations to complement the Tourism Ministry’s effort to lure tourists to the Penrissen area, one of interesting tourism destinations in the state.

The two events would be made merrier with live music, souvenir bazaar and food and drink stalls.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Australian Surrender Point re-launched in Labuan

LABUAN: The Surrender Point memorial monument was re-launched on Saturday at Kampung Layang-Layangan here after its renovation works that started in July was completed.

Australian War Office director Brigadier Chris Appleton who co-officiated the monument together with Senator Datuk Yunus Kurus, said the monument served as a reminder of the end of war 66 years ago.

“This monument is a reminder for us where World War II (WWII) came to an end, and to commemorate the services and sacrifices of soldiers who were from several nationalities who brought the war to its closing.

“I still remember my father who was a teenager during the war, bringing supplies from Australia to Victoria Harbour in Labuan, telling me how the people of Sabah and Labuan suffered severely because of the Japanese army. The locals were forced into hard labour,” he said.

He added that servicemen, including the people of Borneo and locals who were captured as prisoners of wars (POWs), were executed, while others simply disappeared.

“It is hard to comprehend such matters as we enjoy the comforts of living today.

“There were good Samaritans among the people of Borneo who helped the Resistance against the Japanese, including a story of an Australian soldier who was hidden by a local man when the soldiers were forced to march from Ranau to Sandakan.

“We should never forget the darkest hours while we do everything to sustain our freedom.

“We should never forget it and that is why we are here today to commemorate our grandfathers who gave us the future where they themselves lost theirs,” he said yesterday.

The renovation project was undertaken and funded by the office of the Australian War Graves, Canberra, Australia.

The surrender point is the site where the 37th Japanese Southern Army surrendered to the Australian Imperial Forces 9th Division on September 9, 1945, which led to the end of WWII in Borneo.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

World will appreciate Gaya Island Resort

Kota Kinabalu: The multi-million ringgit Gaya Island Resort - a project by YTL Corporation Berhad due for completion by mid-next year - will be a pride for Malaysia and especially Sabah, as it will be something that the world will appreciate, said YTL Corporation Berhad Managing Director, Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh.

He said once completed Gaya Island Resort would not be competing but complementing YTL's most well-known property, Pangkor Laut, which was voted the World Best Resort in 2003.

Speaking to the Daily Express in an exclusive interview, Yeoh said YTL is investing a substantial amount of money to develop the resort.

"It takes a lot of money to do what we do to make sure that there is no environmental destruction, to build the things without machines actually.

Just like Pangkor Laut, hand-built literally, you don't want to raze all the trees down. You have to do it very sensitively," he said.

As a young man while studying in England, he said he saw the destruction of beautiful coasts and also in Spain where he found years later had been turned into a concrete jungle.

"I was quite sad that things were not the way it was. For me, since I always say, God gave me the opportunity to do something to preserve the jungle.

I want to do something about it," he said, adding that was how it started with Pangkor Laut in 1985.

Despite being a unique and beautiful island, nobody dared to touch Pangkor Laut because of the social stigma since it used to be leper colony.

"But this island was so beautiful É the abandoned facilities when I first walked on the islands and just cried, just thinking of all the lepers there.

"Then I went on my knee and said 'God, give me a chance to develop the most beautiful island on this earth and I will preserve it for you," he said.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sabah Tourism discusses KK hub idea with MAS

KOTA KINABALU: About 96 per cent of tourist arrivals to Sabah are by air.

As such, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun is currently discussing with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) following its decision to rethink whether to make the state capital its hub.

He said a win-win solution was needed to tackle the problem, adding: “Today (yesterday) I met with MAS officials to discuss on certain issues which are related to our previous meetings. I believe that it is important to understand MAS’ point of view as they are facing financial constraints. We know that MAS needs to reduce its costs but at the same time, they need to make money.”

Speaking to reporters after officiating the state level Inventions Awards Ceremony here, Masidi added that through a win-win concept, both MAS and the state government would have to ensure that Sabah would continue to be a favourite destination amongst tourists.

It is reported that MAS, which will be relocating its headquarters from Subang to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in February next year, will cut several routes including those to Dubai, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires and Cape Town, in a bid to reduce costs, sources said.

The sources added that MAS would no longer rely on Kota Kinabalu as a hub and would cut flights out of the Sabah capital to destinations such as Haneda, Seoul and Osaka.

It was also reported that choosing Kota Kinabalu as a hub was not a strategic move in the first place and now the airline had to reverse the decision. This is the second time that MAS has abandoned the idea of using Kota Kinabalu as a hub. The first attempt was in 2003.

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Ukrainian media, travel agents in Kuching city on fact-finding visit

KUCHING: Members of the Ukraine media and travel operators are currently in Kuching on a fact- finding visit.

The delegation of 25 members yesterday, being their last day here, pays a courtesy call on the CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board, Datuk Rashid Khan at STB office.

The group is here to study the opportunities and interests for the development of business tourism with the state and to see what potentials Sarawak holds, which Ukrainian companies, organisations and tourists can participate in.

Rashid gave a general introduction to tourism in Sarawak and also the state strategic tourism plan in his presentation to the guests from Ukraine.

The Ukrainians expressed satisfaction and showed special interests on the two music festivals that are held in the state.

As part of their visit itinerary they were taken to places of interest around Kuching such as Annah Rais Longhouse, Orang Utan in Semenggoh and Bako National Park.

Continue reading at: Ukrainian media, travel agents in Kuching city on fact-finding visit
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Exotic Sarawak cuisine

SEPARATED by sea no more, you can now have your palate delighted by the most authentic of Sarawakian indigenous cuisine until Nov 27 at the Makan Kitchen, DoubleTree by Hilton, Kuala Lumpur.

Launched on Nov 8 by Tourism Deputy Minister Datuk James Dawos Mamit, the Exotic Sarawak Festival features an extensive range of the state’s mouth-watering traditional cuisine prepared by two special guest chefs.

Chefs Antija Dawen and Binyas Suem, both Bidayuhs, head the kitchen in preparing some 30 traditional specialties from their family recipes.

Among them are nang duah kian pansoh (seafood with local spices cooked in bamboo), nasi ujan (Sarawak-style rainbow rice), koming kari (Bidayuh-style lamb curry with potato) and nang galah rebus serai (freshwater prawns cooked with lemongrass).

The feast also includes Sarawak’s popular street food – laksa Sarawak, kolok mee and mee belacan.

Both the guest chefs from the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching wanted the cuisine to be as authentic as possible.

“We flew almost a tonne of ingredients all the way from Sarawak,” said Chef Antija.

They used the best ingredients to ensure that patrons get to relish in the essence and enjoy the authentic taste of the street foods.

“The belacan that we used to make the mee belacan is the kind that you can only get in Bintulu and Miri,” said Chef Binyas, adding that they have chosen the freshest and the best belacan which cost a whopping RM50 per kilogramme to prepare the savoury street favourite.

A pastry chef back home, Chef Binyas said he is honoured to have been invited to cook for the festival.

Chef Antija explained that while the many appetizers, mains and desserts they are serving here are considered specialities in the peninsula, they are in fact “what our parents serve” on a daily basis.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Exotic Sarawak cuisine
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Orang-utan mum snapped smiling as she lovingly cradles her dozing child

It is one of a collection of images that capture the apes’ human-like behaviour as they go about their daily lives.

In another, the nine-month-old – called Thor – is also pictured playing with a leaf in the arms of his mother, Tutut.

‘They are very human-like in their gestures, glances and general behaviour,’ said photographer Fiona Rogers.

‘They can work you out – they study you and try to figure out who you are and what you are thinking.

‘It felt quite eerie to be with an ape that was very intelligent and deliberate in its thinking.’

Ms Rogers and fellow photographer Anup Shah captured the heartwarming scenes over three weeks in Borneo’s Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesia. As well as looking into the world of Tutut and Thor, the pair followed a male orang-utan as he waded his way through some water. Just like a human, he raises his arms as he negotiates his route.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Orang-utan mum snapped smiling as she lovingly cradles her dozing child
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sandakan Festival can attract more tourists

SANDAKAN: Passengers arriving at the Sandakan Airport from Kuala Lumpur received a pleasant surprise yesterday when they were greeted warmly by VIPs and a group of dancers from SK Muhibbah in conjunction with Sandakan Festival.

The pupils dressed in Turkish costumes delighted the visitors with a colourful and lively dance.

The special welcome is for two days as part of the Sandakan Festival celebration. Other than the greeting for passengers, there will also be other activities at the airport to attract people to come.

With many people coming to the airport, tour agents and companies doing business there will have to ensure that they provide good service and are always pleasant to customers and visitors.

The Sandakan Festival was first introduced in 2000 to promote tourism in the district and to elevate Sandakan as a “Nature City”.

Among the popular destinations renowned among visitors is the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Kinabatangan River and Sukau where wildlife abound.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sandakan Festival can attract more tourists
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Tourism Malaysia hopes to attract Ukranians to Sarawak

KUCHING: Tourism Malaysia hopes to entice adventurous Ukrainians to come and experience Sarawak for its culture, nature and adventure tourism.

Its state director Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali said this during a welcoming dinner for the 21 journalists from Ukraine here on Tuesday. They are in Malaysia for a familiarisation trip, which includes a four-day tour of Sarawak.

“Sarawak is ideal for those who want to explore caves, see rainforests and experience a unique culture,” he said, “This is the group we have to cater to.”

Johanif hoped the visiting journalists would find highlights in the state that would be of interest to those back home, and help boost the state’s image alongside the better-known Sabah.

Continue reading at: Tourism Malaysia hopes to attract Ukranians to Sarawak
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Calls for upgrade of Sandakan airport

SANDAKAN: Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Liew Vui Keong said Sandakan should have a distinctive airport of international standing in order to attract more foreign tourists.

Describing Sandakan as a destination offering diversity in eco-tourism, he said based on the number of aircraft movements and the increasing number of passengers from year to year, it was appropriate for the airport to be upgraded and the flight frequencies increased in order to make it competitive with other airports in the country.

“Upgrading the airport is in line with the government’s aspiration to make Malaysia a premier tourist destination in Southeast Asia.

“The Ministry of Tourism targets the revenue earned from tourism be about RM161 billion with an influx of 36 million tourists by 2020,” he said.

Liew, who is also Sandakan member of paliament, added by upgrading it into an international airport, the district would be able to attract investors.

He said that when declaring open the 12th Sandakan Festival held at the lobby of the Sandakan airport yesterday.

The two-day festival which started yesterday, is an affirmation of welcome for tourists to visit Sandakan which is known for its natural environment and tropical rainforest.

Various events and activities have been planned to attract the people to come and visit the Sandakan airport.

“We must treat this airport not only as a point of arrival and departure but also to visit the outlets which offer products to suit the tourists’ tastes,” Liew added.

Continue reading at: Calls for upgrade of Sandakan airport
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