Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Tourism industry players can now renew their licenses by using the internet via Malaysian Tourism Licencing System (SPIP) in the website www.spip.gov.my.

The introduction of the system is aimed at improving the quality and effeciency in service delivery to the customers apart from streamlining the process to make it faster and more efficient.

It is open to industry players such as tourism agencies, tourist guides, operators of tourism vehicles, Tourism Training Institute and tourism residential premises.

Monday, November 29, 2010


It is not compulsory for local tour agents and operators to impose consultation fees for advice on vacations.

Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association president Paul Paw said the fees were merely guidelines by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

“The guidelines are to avoid certain irresponsible quarters from simply placing bookings,” he said.

Paw was commenting on a statement by MATTA on Thursday that a consultation fee would be charged effective Jan 1 when prospective travellers sought advice on vacations.

A number of tour agents from Kuala Lumpur would not impose such fees to continue to retain their customers.

These agents feel that the living standard in Malaysia was not on par with that in Western countries, where many travel agents charged consultation fees.

They think RM30 for an enquiry is expensive. Customers will be chased away if we charge the fee.

Travel and tour agents in Sabah said they were also unlikely to impose the fees.

Regular travellers said that it was unfair for travel agents to charge the fees because it was the consumers’ right to compare prices.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Holidaymakers jetting around the Asia-Pacific region as part of their adventure travel in Malaysia could be among the double-digit increase in passengers on flights in the area over the past year.

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) has published figures showing regional routes within the continent have seen particularly strong growth in demand in the 12 months to October.

During the month, 15.9 million international passengers passed through the organisation's catchment zone on business trips or leisure journeys, including those heading away on adventure travel
in Malaysia.

This is an 11.8 per cent annual growth rate set against an increase in passenger capacity of 5.4 per cent due to additional flights or new routes being scheduled.

As a result, flying to the area became 2.1 per cent more eco-friendly in terms of passenger load per plane, which now stands at nearly four-fifths of seats filled.

The AAPA aims to evolve the tourism and travel sectors in its region by offering a common forum through which operators can voice their views.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don’t ape others to lure tourists

Not very often we hear good things about Malaysia tourism but here is a nice one:

TOURISM authorities should not blindly follow the approach of other countries in promoting tourism.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)’s Tourism Planning and Development Faculty Dean Prof Badaruddin Mohamed said that planning based on proper data and strategies should be incorporated on ways to boost the industry instead of just copying the methods adopted by other nations.

“What works in other countries does not necessarily mean it will work in Malaysia. We have to utilise our strong points to attract tourists and not offer things that others already have.”

He cited that a number of projects were approved in haste without a proper study and this resulted in a number of them being abandoned halfway through the implementation process.

Another example is promoting Malaysia as a shopping paradise by selling products that were readily available in other countries, Prof Badaruddin said on Tuesday. “Why would people want to come and buy things which are available in their own countries?” he asked.

He added that Malaysia had the potential to re-package its tourism attractions, provided the authorities promote natural attractions and authentic local products to not only foreign tourists but to local visitors alike.

“If local tourists do not know of our own natural gems, then how do we expect foreigners to know and appreciate them.” he said.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Travel agencies all over Malaysia will begin charging a consultation fee for producing the best personalised service for their clients.

According to MATTA president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun, the fee had been successfully implemented in other countries that had increased the level of service and quality. “Over the years, airline commissions have declined, hotel’s internet booking have increased but we are still rendering free services to those who ask for quotations or tour packages even before they confirm their purchase with us,” he said.

Deputy president, John Tan, added that a lot of work was involved in compiling the quotation and the work could not be done for free anymore. “Some corporate clients ask several companies for quotations because it is free and, at the end, only one receives the deal. This is not fair to us. So with this fee they will think twice before doing this. We are educating them,” he added.

Tan said all clients should decide on the destination, do a little groundwork and decide on their budget so a win-win situation could be found for both parties. Khalid added that travel agents were now consultants with their expertise and strengths.

For frequent individual travelers, the charge is RM300 per quotation for both domestic and international travel, while corporate consultation fees are priced at RM200 per quotation for the first three quotations and RM500 per quotation for the fourth quotation onwards for both domestic and international travels.The fee suggested by MATTA is merely a guideline and travel agents are free to change the price according to their service.

“The fee will be absorbed as part of the payment if the client decides to purchase from the agency and one free revision will be given on the same quotation,” added Jeffri Sulaiman, vice president of MATTA Outbound. Jeffri also said they would begin road shows around the country to disseminate the information to all their 2700 registered members.

If customers felt that they were unhappy with the services or the charges they can lodge complaints with MATTA. For more information log on to www.matta.org.my or call 03-92876881.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Malaysia need to create more meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) events as they are very lucrative..

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen stressed this yesterday, adding that it would help strengthen the country’s business tourism profile and brand globally.

“We need to intelligently woo international business events to Malaysian shores. The business tourism industry is highly competitive.

“Statistics show that the estimated spending for each international business tourism visitor is RM7,418 which is three times the spending of an average leisure visitor.

”It also shows that up to 60% of these delegates eventually return as regular tourists,” said Dr Ng.

She said to support the growth of this high-yield, high returns segment, the Government had pledged RM50mil worth of funding next year and a further RM50mil for 2012, as part of the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“The allocation through the Malaysian Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) is to secure international business events, making it the lead agency to develop our country’s business tourism segment,” she said at the launch of MyCEB at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here yesterday.

Also present was MyCEB’s CEO Zulkefli Sharif, who said the funding would provide a significant boost to Malaysia’s business tourism industry.

MyCEB, a non-profit organisation was established last year by the Tourism Ministry to assist the MICE market.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Abu Samad Othman says:

Yes, travel agents are great for complicated trips. But let me tell you that t/a's are also good for simply ol' airfares (if you don't mind paying the usual service charge). I have often used agents wedsites as well as the airlines web sites and time and time again, the travel agent with his/her "Sabre" computer program has come up with fares that are often cheaper and less roundabout (changes etc) that what the web agents have found. Plus, a good agent may have a trick (legitimate) or two up his or her sleeve that can really help my itinerary, viva, travel agents!!

Elaine Heng says:

Travel agents have access to specials that the average person can not obtain. They also do your legwork. I have found that if I search the internet for my best rates for hotels, cruises, or resorts, my agent usually gets me a better rate and often an upgrade to boot. Find a trustworthy agent, do your own research, then see what thay have to offer. This does not apply to airfare however.

Mike Arumugam says:

When traveling abroad to a new destination, having a travel agent who has actually been there is a huge plus. They can clue you in to decent restaurants and hotels, they would know what kind of documentation you would need to pass through customs, and give you the lowdown on attractions.

Face to face is still the best way to do business and it's sad that the Travel Agent is considered an obsolete commodity these days.

Nancy Leong says:

I had an aunt and uncle who would tell their travel agent when they had a vacation coming up and the agent would find a great trip for them year after year.

We are the same way, willing to go just about anywhere for vacation. No set destination in mind so a local agent that could find us a good deal would be invaluable to us. We are also inexperienced travelers and speaking/planning face to face with an expert would make us much less anxious.

Aminah Hassan says

I am a die-hard DIY traveler; my mother is a travel agent. While I enjoy spending hours and hours plotting my trip, dealing with accidental detours, and talking my way out of sticky situations, others don't have the leisure.

I've watched my mom help navigate countless families and newlyweds through otherwise foreign terrain. No matter how long I spend researching on my laptop, I'll never discover the little things she knows firsthand from visiting the places she books. She specializes in the South Pacific and has traveled there extensively. She knows all kinds of little details--that the airport in Nadi lets you store extra baggage you don't want to lug with you up to Taveuni, for instance. Or that the beach on one side of the island gets more seaweed then the other. More importantly, when sh*t hits the fan my mom's clients have her cell number.

Once she even rescued my vacation. I made flight reservations online with Air Asia for my boyfriend and I. Unbeknownst to me, my computer had autofilled our last names--his ticket arrived with my last name on it. The company cited their no-refund, no-exchange policy and refused to help. They suggested I buy a whole new ticket! After a few hours on the phone, my travel agent mom and her buddies ironed it out. Whew! It was a disaster no amount of DIY-elbow grease would have helped.

After reading all of the thank you notes my mom gets (which include wedding invitations, photo albums, and the occasional Coach wallet) I can't recommend real, live travel agents highly enough.

If this sounds like an unabashed love letter to my mom, well, sorry. Travel agents aren't all as conscientious as she is, I'm sure. But if they even come close, you'll be in good hands.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010



Former Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas Siriwan has been given until early next month to come forward and defend herself against allegations of taking bribes.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission's (NACC) subcommittee investigating the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival scandal said yesterday it completed compiling evidence on Nov 8 and Ms Juthamas had now been asked to put her case in person.

Methee Krongkaew, the person in charge of the subcommittee, said his panel would forward its findings to the main NACC committee if Ms Juthamas failed to show up to defend herself. The main committee would then decide whether to submit the case to the public prosecutor for indictment.

The former TAT governor has been indicted in the US for her role in the financing scandal. Mr Methee said the evidence his subcommittee had in hand was solid enough to seek her indictment.

"Mrs Juthamas has sent the subcommittee a letter containing her statement and she has contacted us several times after being notified about our investigation," he said.

She has not appeared before the panel in person, he said.

The head of international affairs at the Office of the Attorney-General, Sirisak Tiyaphan, said the US had yet to request Ms Juthamas's extradition, although Hollywood producers Gerald and Patricia Green had been found guilty of offences related to the scandal in August.

The couple were sentenced to six months in jail and six months of home detention for their part in paying bribes to secure the rights to run the Bangkok International Film Festival.

The pair were found guilty of money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The US Justice Department said the Greens had paid $1.8 million (almost 60 million baht at the present exchange rate) in bribes to Ms Juthamas in exchange for contracts to run the Bangkok International Film Festival and other TAT projects.

Prosecutors said the Greens had an "orchestrated, sophisticated scheme" involving fake receipts, shell companies and cash payments, and netted $14 million from the contracts.

Ms Juthamas was paid through bank accounts in Britain, Singapore and the Isle of Jersey that were in the name of her daughter, prosecutors have said.

Ms Juthamas and her daughter are under indictment in the US.

Mr Sirisak said he was worried US authorities would file a request for the extradition of Ms Juthamas before the NACC had completed its investigation.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) has set up a service counter in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport arrival hall to help inbound members serve their guests better.

Inbound tourists with difficulties at the airport such as not being able to locate their tour representatives can approach the service counter for help, said MATTA vice president inbound A Aruldas.

The counter service will also be able to assist in providing alternative airport transfers in the event of delays.

Thirty-five inbound players who are MATTA members have already subscribed, for a quarterly fee, to the service launched on November 17

Meanwhile six services counters are already being managed by agencies of different services who are also members of MATTA. It is not certain if these counters complement each other or otherwise.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) today released preliminary figures for international visitor arrivals into Asia and the Pacific for the month of August1, indicating a year-on-year growth of 10%. Travel sentiment generally remained very robust across the region, as a stabilising global economy together with increased airline seat capacity and frequency supported the demand for travel during the northern hemisphere summer holiday period. Nevertheless, August growth was slower than the 14-16% level seen in the previous three months, largely due to its comparison with the post-recession rebound of August last year. To date, visitor arrivals have grown by a very positive 12% during the first eight months of the year. All sub-regions benefited from the continued strong demand for travel though growth in the Pacific sub-region was a little more subdued.

International arrivals growth to South Asia2 was a strong 14% in August, supported by double-digit increases in inbound numbers to the Maldives (+27%), Nepal (+24%) and Sri Lanka (+36%). Arrivals to India grew at a more moderate pace of nine per cent, but remained significant in volume terms as the destination accounts for 70% of the total inbound visitors to the sub-region. South Asia continued to lead other Asia and the Pacific sub-regions with arrivals growth of 13.9% for the first eight months of this year.

Northeast Asia3 was the second fastest growing sub-region behind South Asia, registering a year-on-year increase in arrivals of 11%. There were generally across-the-board double-digit increases in arrivals to the sub-region’s destinations, with the sole exception of China which welcomed six per cent more visitors, including arrivals from Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR. Foreign arrivals to China (excluding those from the two SARs) surged 17%, significantly reinforcing what was a very impressive month for the sub-region as a whole. Growth for the first eight months for Northeast Asia was a robust 12%.

Travel demand to Southeast Asia4 grew by 10%, down from the 16% level seen in July. Only Myanmar reported stronger arrivals growth this month than the last. Growth for the other destinations in the sub-region was, however, generally lower compared to last July's, though many still reported double-digit rates of growth. Indonesia and Malaysia were the exceptions with arrivals growing at a subdued four per cent and three per cent respectively for the month. In spite of a slight slowdown in August, growth in arrivals to Southeast Asia was still a strong 13% for the first eight months of the year.

The Pacific5 recorded an eight per cent improvement in arrivals compared to the previous August with Australia and New Zealand reporting increases of nine per cent and four per cent respectively. The island destinations of the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Northern Marianas, New Caledonia and Palau also recorded arrivals growth for the month. Overall, international visitor arrivals to the Pacific were up by five per cent for the first eight months of 2010.

Said Kris Lim, director, Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC), PATA: said: “The growth momentum remains strong and the immediate outlook remains very positive. Early indications have suggested another strong performance in September as key destinations such as China, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore have continued to report strong inbound growth.

“It is worth noting however that growth in the last quarter of the year is expected to be slower than what we have seen so far this year. This is because the results going forward will be measured against the higher travel base of last year when the economic recovery in Asia and the Pacific began to kick in strongly,” added Lim.

Friday, November 19, 2010



(From left) Ong Hong Peng, Chef Wan, Dr Ng and Datuk Dr Victor Wee at the launch

EMBARK on a gastronomical journey with ASEAN Heritage Food Trail with Chef Wan on Astro Prima (Astro 105) this November.

The brand new cooking show headed by one of Malaysia 's most well-known chefs, is the second installment of the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia programme - a campaign by the Ministry of Tourism to further enhance Malaysia 's reputation as food paradise and premier dining destination for locals and international tourists.

Food lovers can expect Chef Wan going on a travel, heritage and culinary adventure as he visits his food loving friends at homestays, plush hotels and explores their own fusion of cuisines from home as well as Brunei , Cambodia , Indonesia , Laos , Myanmar , Philippines , Singapore , Thailand and Vietnam .

The brand new show was officially launched at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur by the Minister of Tourism Malaysia , Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, together with ministry officials and representatives from various embassies.

"Today's launch fits the ministry's initiative for ASEAN cooperation by using food tourism as the medium to bring countries closer together. It is our contribution towards the development and promotion of ASEAN as a single tourism destination with world-class attraction, standards and facilities," said Dr Ng.

Besides the 13-episode television show, the event also saw the launching of the ASEAN Heritage Food Trail with Chef Wan Munch Guide.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A good number of volunteers, representing various facets of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries are required to demonstrate their commitment to giving back by assisting the various local governments in sprucing up the areas around tourism locations.

Students and non-tourism NGOs can also be roped in to join the travel professionals. Students studying hospitality and tourism at local colleges and universities should also be asked to join this scheme.

The group’s efforts can upgrade the overall appearance of the park benches and walkways while demonstrating their commitment to preserve the travel experience for future generations.

The volunteers will be amazed with the amount of work they can accomplished in just one day - saving the local governments in labor costs especially at a time when budgets are very tight.

Tourism Volunteer Day can also be created to honor the 1Malaysia campaign which was established to expand the mission of national community service and to recognize September 16 as a national day of service and remembrance.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The question : There seems to be a dispute over the tourism figures for Penang and Malacca?

Tourism Minister answered : There are several statistics. Our hotel stays and foreign tourist arrivals are reported to the World Tourism Organisation.

Local states provide us with the detailed statistics, including figures of those who stay in lodging houses and apartments, which we do not keep at the federal level.

Malacca had 8.9 million tourists last year, 7.29 million of whom were domestic tourists.

They gave us very detailed numbers including those on health and student tourism, which stood at 60,000 and 100,000 respectively.

Penang tourist arrivals were recorded at 5.96 million as they only gave us the number of hotel guests. They did not give us a detailed breakdown like Malacca.

As a Tourism Minister, I listen to every state. I want every state to excel. This also helps us meet our KPI target for the nation.

Editor footnote: She listen to everyone except the industry and the stakeholders.

Monday, November 15, 2010


American Express and Time Out Kuala Lumpur expect more than 400 restaurant owners, local celebrities and industry members at the Time Out KL Food Awards 2010 on Nov 24.

The event is the biggest dining awards in Kuala Lumpur voted by the people in the city, according to the organisers.

This is the second year of the awards which have contributed to raising the bar on quality of service, novel cuisines and menu creations among chefs and restaurateurs in Kuala Lumpur, they said.

The award this year will see three new categories for "Best New Restaurant", "Best Independent Restaurant" and "Best Restaurateur" added into the existing 13 award categories of cuisines, plus the "Outstanding Chef of the Year" award.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Malaysia needs to produce more specialist guides

Malaysia needs to produce more specialised guides to provide quality tourism services and boost the eco-tourism industry. Currently the country has 4,000 geeral tour guides, some of whom are not professionals, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen said, " We want more specialised tour guides who can tell stories about our tourist attractions.

Dr Ng said the ministry had set up a joint committee with UKM and the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to develop modules aimed to train and produce more expert guides.

“Locals who are familiar with their home area in tourist destinations such as Fraser’s Hill, Tasik Chini and Lata Jarum should be trained to be specialist guides because they are the experts who can explain the tourist attractions,” she said..

Dr Ng added that the ministry was looking forward to collaborating with related ministries and agencies like UKM to develop eco-tourism to generate more revenue.

At another function in KUALA LUMPUR, Dr Ng launched the second instalment of the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia programme – the Asean Heritage Food Trail, which features food from 10 Asean countries.The featured dishes were pai tee from Singapore, prawn and beef spring rolls (Vietnam), fresh Thai salad (Thailand), ikan bakar (Indonesia), mango salad (Cambodia), Burmese roll (Myanmar), pandag (Brunei), lumpia (the Philippines), cherry blossom (Laos) and wajik durian (Malaysia).

She said that of RM53.4bil Malaysia earned in tourist receipts last year, the food and beverage component contributed RM9.29bil, “This year, we project tourist expenditure on food and beverage to rise to approximately RM10.3bil,” she said.

Dr Ng said the first instalment of the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia programme was held in October with the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival while the third instalment – the Street Food and Restaurant Food Festival, would take place from Dec 1 to Dec 30.

The Asean Heritage Food Trail will also see a 13-episode television series featuring Chef Wan. The programme will air on Astro Prima (channel 105) in the last two weeks of the month.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The DAP claimed irregularities today in Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen’s overseas expenditure figures which were given to Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs.

DAP Socialist Youth Chief (Dapsy) Anthony Loke said that that the Tourism Minister’s written reply to him on Monday stated that the total costs for her overseas trips from January to October 2010 amounted to RM1.28 million.

This, he said was in contrast with the figures given to Pandan MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat on October 26, where the ministry had said that she spent about RM 1.58 million for overseas trips this year.

“I want to say that I am personally touched by the tourist, I mean tourism minister, for personally handing me over the answers to my question on Monday, after I had had raised in the Dewan that I had not received answers and it was already 7pm on that day.

“But the very next day, which was yesterday, the minister came to me with another answer, saying that the one I received had errors in it. I have checked with Pakatan as well as BN MPs, the answers given to them were different,” said Loke.

The Rasah MP pointed out that based on the reply given to him, Ng’s trip to Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait from May 4-12 cost RM97,000.

However, the same question had been asked by Chua on October 19, but the reply from the ministry stated that Ng’s trip to the Arab countries cost RM 240,145 instead.

“We do not know which one is the correct answer. We are directing the minister to please tell us, clarify this. This is unprofessional on the part of the minister. Please do not give us answers which are contradictory,” said Loke.

Loke also questioned the rationale for Ng’s trip to Europe from May 25-31 for 7 days which cost RM491,987.

“Half a million spent in seven days for trips to London, Munich and Milan? I want the minister to justify why the need to spend that much money for this trip. Please clarify,” added Loke.

The Tourism Ministry had stated on October 26 that Ng (picture) spent RM3.5 million on overseas trips since she was appointed tourism minister in 2009.

In a written reply to Pandan MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat the, the Tourism Ministry said Ng spent RM1.67 million on official overseas trips in 2009, and RM1.58 million between January and October this year.

“The tourism minister has made 16 visits overseas since being appointed. These visits include 26 countries, and 61 cities up to October 2010,” said the written reply.

The reply added that the ministry’s efforts overseas had earned Malaysia a ninth out of tenth placing in the “most popularly visited countries” in 2009.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have accused Ng of excessive spending overseas as minister, and have dubbed her as being more of a “tourist” than “minister”.

Ng has however brushed off the accusations, insisting that the ministry’s promotional activities abroad were instrumental in helping to expand the country’s tourism industry.

Two weeks ago the Tourism Ministry released figures that showed its travel expenses ballooning by 40 per cent since 2008 while its promotion budget shrank by nearly 70 per cent in the same period. - Malaysian Insider

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Taxi counter at KLCC

FAIR FARE: Some preferred to pay the extra RM2 as long as cabbies used the meter — Pic: Gan Jin Liang

Contrary to complaints from several taxi drivers, passengers at the Suria KLCC shopping mall seem to prefer the new counter system implement a fortnight ago.

The new system helped passengers as the cabs charged a reasonable fare and used the meter.

Some passengers have checked out taxis along Jalan Ampang and was shocked when they were quoted a fare of RM70 for a trip to Subang Jaya, when the usual charge was RM25 to RM30.

That was expensive and those taxi drivers refused to use the meter. Most o them prefer to add another RM2 for the services charged at the Suria KLCC counter compared to paying more than double the usual fare.

Mohamad Rammach

MOHAMAD: Will only take taxis that charge reasonably

Tourist Andrew Ngotohusod, on holiday from Indonesia with three family members, expressed relief at the new taxi counters.

Stating he had had so many bad experiences with taxi drivers charging exorbitant fares, he said: "They don't like to use the meter and I am forced to bargain with them before getting in.

"I prefer taking the registered taxi as the fares would be transparent to me," said Andrew, who visits Malaysia regularly.

Jarm Denise and his wife Klara Denise from Holland , felt it was a sound system. "I haven't yet been overcharged by any taxi drivers. We have met a lot of honest ones here and some also acted as tourist guides, taking us around KL.

Over the past fortnight, city cabbies had staged two protests outside the Suria KLCC mall against the new concessionaire, Awana Sutera Sdn Bhd, operating two stands along Jalan Ampang and one along Jalan P. Ramlee.

They were against having to pay registration and monthly fees to the concessionaire and claimed passengers were unhappy at having to pay an extra RM2 for boarding or alighting a taxi from the mall.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Based on the Tourism Malaysia 2009 Tourist Arrivals Statistics, Penang is ranked third place for tourism destination in Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpur and Pahang (Genting) said Danny Law Heng Kiang, Penang State EXCO for Tourism Development & Culture.

In reply to Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen's statement yesterday that Malacca has overtaken Penang as a tourism destination, the figure given in the statement that Malacca had a tourist arrival of 8.9mil in 2009 may be a mistake. In fact, in 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, Malacca had maintained position at sixth place while Penang is third after raising one spot above Sabah in ranking with last year's figure of 5.9mil in tourist arrivals

tourist arrival statistics

"According to 2009 tourist arrivals statistics we have obtained from Tourism Malaysia and as shown on their website, the figure of tourist arrivals for Malacca in 2009 is 3.75mil. Perhaps the figures provided by the officers for that statement were incorrect."

He also said that there should not be any competition for tourist arrivals among states as they should be promoting Malaysia as a whole. As in order to attract long haul travellers, usually Westeners tend to come to South-East Asia and not only visit one country but make multi-destination travels to different countries and cities. For example, they may fly first to Bangkok before proceeding to visit Langkawi, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and finally, Singapore.

Also, it is most recent that the Penang State and the Tourism Ministry have worked together to promote Malaysia and Penang as a whole having recently participated in the Guangdong International Travel Exhibition in Guangzhou together from 25th till 28th September 2010 where Tourism Malaysia had set up the exhibition booths and Penang had brought along the State Cultural Dancers to hold traditional dance performances at the exhibition.

Even now, the State will be participating together with Tourism Malaysia at the World Travel Mart in London from 8th till 11th November 2010 to promote Malaysia.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Are Malaysians losing touch with the outdoors ?

A nationwide survey must be conducted to find out if the Malaysian public is losing touch with the outdoors.

An initiative to produce a high-profile report and academic studies will show a growing disconnection between people and the natural environment.

Are children play outside less than once a week and the distance children stray from their homes has decreased. In this age of computers and home theatres most teenagers do not know what the outdoor life is all about. Also, one third of all under 16s avoids playing outdoors because of the heat.

At the same time a growing body of evidence shows that taking part in simple outdoor activities, such as going for a short walk every day, helps to improve people's quality of life, health and well being.

For generations we worked the land, marvelled at its beauty through art and literature and explored our country paths and mountains. For some, these pleasures remain one of the great joys of life.

But we can't ignore the fact that, whether through pressures of time or physical access, as a nation we seem to be increasingly disconnected from the fabric of the country.

It is hoped this project will help foster local and national partnerships that can help deliver on the huge opportunities offered by the Mlaysian outdoors as we look to its ongoing protection and promotion.

The project should also aim to explore what changes can be introduced by the Government to present opportunities for 'Big Society' partnerships between NGOs and local community groups to help provide greater access to local green space.

With more than 250,000 hectares of countryside and 1010 kilometers of coastline across Peninsular Malaysia there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Penang has the potential to become a tourism leader because of its accessibility and numerous tourism products but is lagging behind Malacca.

Malacca recorded 8.9 million tourist arrivals last year compared to Penang’s 5.96 million.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the statistics “speaks for itself”.

“Penang has dropped from 6.3 million in 2008 according to the statistics from our research division.

“With 191 international flights per week from 12 international airlines, no other destination, except Kuala Lumpur, has such a big number of flights,” she said after the soft launch of the Penang Hill funicular train upgrading project at the lower station in Air Itam here yesterday.

Stand back: Yen Yen attending the soft launch of the Penang Hill funicular train project in Air Itam, Penang yesterday.

Asked what could be done to improve the situation, Yen Yen said the state could hire more specialised tourist guides.

“The ministry is currently holding meetings with the Penang Heritage Trust for a Penang heritage co-curriculum to cater for the training of specialised heritage guides,” she said.

The ministry will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the handing over of the upgraded hill railway project to the state government within the first quarter of next year.

Yen Yen said the new policy (of signing an MoU) was an effort by the ministry to make sure that projects handed over to state governments were “up and running” as soon they were completed.

“The upgrading of the funicular train service is expected to be completed by December or January.

“The new system will be more user-friendly for the elderly, disabled and parents with children.

“Also, they no longer have to change to another train at the middle station.

“The Penang Hill Corporation will then have to improve the hilltop facilities, and also the cafes and inn, otherwise there’s no point in having a good train to take tourists up there.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010


To placate the carnivores we offer steaks, chops, grills and ribs. For lovers of lighter fare, we suggest salads, soups or ever comforting pasta.

Lamb Shank : Slow cooked to perfection, surrounded by mashed potato and chunky vegetables.

Malaysia is a country well-known for its culinary delights. Malaysian dishes are not from one particular distinction of food but a culinary diversity originating from its multi-ethnic population.

Malaysians are extremely proud of its astounding culinary heritage that is a fusion of the culture of the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Thais and the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak.

We can all agree that if there is one thing you must do when travelling in Malaysia, it is eating.

Malaysians will feed you to your heart’s content, as they equate generous hospitality to making sure you have been fed with a good and proper meal.

Throughout the country, a traveller would have no trouble in finding good food. There are food courts in hypermarkets and shopping centres and the cities and towns are dotted with hawker centres.

With a staggering array of dishes, the pleasure of enjoying the fabulous Malaysian cuisines is a culinary delight not to be found in any other country. But, is the food hygienically prepared and handled?

The question now is whether they are suitable for consumption.

People have the right to expect the food that they eat to be safe and suitable for consumption. Foodborne illness is unpleasant and can affect tourist confidence.

Eating habits too have undergone major changes where food production, preparation and distribution techniques have developed to reflect this.

Effective hygiene is vital to avoid the adverse human health and economic consequences of foodborne illness. Everyone, including the food processors, handlers and consumers have the responsibility to assure that food is safe and suitable for consumption.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


To all our Hindu brothers all over the country celebrating this auspicious day.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Yen Yen - too much 'fire' of late

by Malaysia Chronicle

Whether she was aware of it or not, Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen was the centre of attention in Parliament, but again for the wrong reasons.

This time, her frustrated colleagues demanded to know why she was absent from the sitting where they had lined up a barrage of questions for her to answer.

“Where is the Tourism minister or, more accurately. the 'tourist minister'?” asked a Pakatan Rakyat MP when her deputy James Dawos Mamit took the floor to answer on her behalf points raised against their ministry.

Mamit's appearance prompted a round of jeers from parliamentarians, forcing deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee to intervene.

Of late, Yen Yen has come under fire for her high travelling expenses and costly but ineffectual campaigns at international tour exhibitions.

She has shot back, taking offense at being labeled a "tourist minister" rather than the Tourism minister and arguing that her critics could not hope to understand her because she was a "specialist" while they were "generalists".

Yet the latest criticism being flung at her centered on fundamental language errors in the brochures issued by her ministry.

One of the heavily-panned projects
“I will read one line from the brochure: - to know more about Malaysia we incite instead of invite you to step inside the Malaysia Pavilion. Is it such a seditious thing to visit the Malaysia pavilion?” asked Rasah MP Anthony Loke.

“I want an explanation from the minister but I haven't seen her here for a long time."

Loke also said that Yen Yen had previously explained the errors were caused by a printer in China but wanted to know if her ministry had demanded a refund.

Mamit responded by saying his officers would be looking into the matter, and meanwhile, he gallantly defended his ministry's choice of the word "incite".

“If we incite you to come in, we mean that we try to give you little force. So you see it is not so wrong!” said Mamit.

His explanation was rebuffed by other lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Yen Yen was later tracked down to the 2nd World Chinese Economic Forum, where she had given a speech.

She told the forum that for each ringgit that her ministry spent, the country received 158 times in return in tourists' spending. However, she rushed off soon after her speech, escaping the media before they could question her figures.

"I think she must be fed up by all the recent bad publicity," said an MCA supporter who was also at the Chinese forum.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Savvy travelers for a sophisticated sojourn in Malaysia

Australians’ increasing propensity for boutique accommodation experiences will be capitalised by Malaysia, with a range unique, high end properties opening throughout the country.

Malaysia is keen to attract upscale travellers called the ‘Golden Third Age’.

Tourism Malaysia is not alone in recognising the potential of couples who no longer have dependent children and have the resources to embark on new adventures.

With a new range of unique, luxurious accommodation and attractions that really appeal to this market, including three UNESCO World Heritage sites, 19 national parks, beautiful beaches, luxury spas, pristine golf courses and a multitude of fascinating cultures, Malaysia undoubtedly has the product to attract these travellers.

Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi as well as the island states of Sarawak and Sabah are proving most popular.

Penang, in particular, is emerging as a fascinating heritage destination with an increasing inventory of boutique accommodation. Heritage properties in UNESCO World Heritage George Town are being acquired by savvy property developers to create stunning boutique hotels.

Lone Pine is the latest addition to Penang’s ever increasing boutique collection. The colonial house dating back to 1948 was the first ever built on the picturesque beach of Batu Ferringhi. It is scheduled to re-open on November 1, 2010 after a $16.3 million dollar refurbishment and extension.

Nearby, Clove Hall has also been restored by Christopher Ong to create a charming boutique hotel, or more aptly, a heritage home with six luxurious rooms.

Australian developers, Narelle McMurtrie and Alison Fraser who make up the Bon Ton group have revamped a row of five heritage houses along Stuart Lane in George Town to create the Straits Collection.

The Bon Ton group have also created a fascinating eight villa boutique property, in Lankawi restoring antique buildings with Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian origin, each with a 70 – 100 year history to create Temple Tree Resort.

In Kuala Lumpur, the iconic colonial mansion the Carcosa Seri Negara has reopened after an extensive refurbishment. The heritage building, set within four hectares of lush lawns overlooking the Lake Gardens was once the official residence of the Federated Malay States’ first Resident General and has played host to numerous heads of state including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2010, no less than five new luxury resort developments have opened with a total of 270 rooms and an additional 14 new resorts are planned before 2014.

Other larger developments in the pipeline for Malaysia include, a new ultra luxury island resort on Gaya Island which YTL will open before the end of 2011 and a new Grand Hyatt in Kuala Lumpur.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No more blunder, no more lame excuse

THERE were red faces at the Tourism Ministry and Malaysian Tourism Board recently over the revelation of spelling boo-boos in their marketing brochures distributed to visitors to the Malaysia Pavilion at Shanghai World Exposition 2010.

Apparently, there were in total 11 errors identified in the brochure, which bore the official emblem of “Malaysia, Truly Asia”, the country’s famous tourism tagline.

Taman Negara was spelled “Taman Nerara” (luckily not “Taman Neraka” as commented by The Malay Mail online reader) and among other misspelled words in the brochure were “nulticultural” (multicultural), “decelopment” (development), “visitous” (visitors), ctry (city), beautuful (beautiful) and locationgs (locations).

“To know more about Malaysia, we ‘incite’ you to step into the Malaysia Pavilion, which gives fascinating glimpses of the country’s attractions,” read one sentence, using “incite” instead of “invite”. Or, did they mean to arouse or excite you to enter the pavilion?

The blunder was highlighted by Member of Parliament (MP) Loke Siew Fook (DAP — Rasah), on Oct 28, who showed the brochure to reporters at Parliament and said it was an embarrassment and gave Malaysia a bad impression as there were too many stupid mistakes.

He also questioned why it was not proof read by ministry officials.

I had wanted a copy but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get hold of it.

Our online story, headlined “Mistakes in international brochure put country to shame, says MP”, was an instant hit, attracting thousands of reads to become one of the most read stories last week. Naturally, the story was also one of the most commented by readers who, to put it mildly, offered no comforting words to the ministry and their officers over the embarrassing blunder.

The ministry was flayed and of course, the minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen became the subject of ridicule in some of the comments.

Although Ng apologised for the mistakes several days later, clarifying that there were none (no mistakes) in the final draft which she checked and the errors were by the printer in Shanghai, it was already too late. The news had already spread like wild fire in the cyberworld. It was even picked up by foreign news portals. It had become a laughing stock.

All these aside, let me point out some interesting arguments put forth by readers and acquaintances surrounding this debacle. Now, the fact is the Shanghai World Exposition 2010 ran for six months from May. Could the errors have been spotted by ministry officials throughout the period?

Logically speaking, they should as any secondary school student could easily identify the mistakes. But, they didn’t.

Let’s give the benefit of the doubt that there were no mistakes in the final artwork sent to the printer. So, didn’t the ministry officials double check or proof read the sample copy from the printer, which is a common practice in the printing industry, before the brochures went to print?

Okay, fine, there were no mistakes in the sample copy from the printer. Or, it is not a common industry practice for printers in China to provide a sample copy to their clients for their final approval before any materials go to print. The next question goes back to the same one posed earlier — why didn’t any official spot the errors throughout the expo?

Wait. There is another scenario. Ministry officials did discover the mistakes and they stopped distributing the brochures right after the discovery, save for some which had already landed into the visitors’ hands, including the one with MP Loke Siew Fook. The argument now is why wait for the blunder to be highlighted, resulting in damage of sorts to the ministry and country, for the ministry to scramble issuing a clarification and apology.

Unlike the media, which deals with tight deadlines on a daily basis, the ministry had all the time to ensure that there were no mistakes in their marketing paraphernalia. They knew about their participation in the expo months ahead.

There are lessons to be learnt here by ministry officials, which they should by now. Such an embarrassing blunder should not have occurred. But, it occurred nonetheless; hence it should not be repeated.

Otherwise, I don’t care about any subsequent clarifications or apologies, like what was offered by the minister, because to me, it was just a lame excuse.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Yen Yen - enjoy!
by Mariam Mokhtar

Rather than swanning around the world collecting air miles and souvenirs, the Minister for tourism, Ng Yen-Yen, should be cleaning up tourism within the country. Tourism, just like charity, should begin at home.

Malaysia is neither short of attractions, both natural and man-made, nor does it lack the infrastructure. When it comes to promoting tourism in Malaysia, does the minister need to traverse the length and breadth of the continents, visiting 26 countries and 61 cities, to spend a staggering RM3.25 million?

Ng should capitalise on Malaysia’s greatest asset - the people. It is people who make things happen. A major tourist attraction is nothing if the service is poor.

If people in the supporting industries lack basic hygiene and cleanliness, potential customers are put off. If the people promoting these sites are poor at communication, business is slow.

Ng may not have spent the eye-watering amounts of Khir Toyo, who took his family, their maid and his inner circle on a jolly to Disneyland for ‘work experience’, but she is close.

If she does not want to be ridiculed, then she should have exercised extreme prudence with the public purse.

Recently, her ministry embarked on the “1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean” campaign to promote a clean environment.

She said, “We want to develop a culture in which all Malaysians help to keep Malaysia clean and green. That should be their responsibilities.”

The operative words here are “green” and “responsibilities”.

Ng has been irresponsible in sending out mixed messages and irresponsible in making excessive trips. Being ‘green’ cannot be achieved with millions of air-miles (hers and her entourage). She has not reduced her carbon foot-print – decidedly not ‘green’.

Air-travel should be kept to a minimum and our respective High Commission staff empowered to promote tourism.

Or is there a hint of truth in the rumour that ministers tend to arrange trips to coincide with the start of the academic years (for their offspring to attend overseas schools) or the sales/promotion season (for world famous department stores like Tiffany’s or Harrods) or major sporting events (like Wimbledon or the Melbourne Cup)?

More importantly, Ng forgets that the bulk of Malaysia’s tourism is dependent on local tourists.

When the rate of exchange is not attractive or if the ash cloud from Gunung Merapi rises to dangerous levels that air-travel may be halted (like in Europe earlier this year), our tourism industry would cease, but for Malaysians patronising these attractions, and spending money at home instead of going abroad.

We have been through several disappointing Ministers for Tourism. Many dwelled on big expensive projects or appointed obscure foreigners known to only 3% of the population.

Why do they keep omitting the most important basics like cleanliness, customer service, courtesy and commitment to safety?

In the 80s, an international program was initiated to improve the hygiene and cleanliness of countries in South-East Asia. A few years later, countries like Thailand made huge progress.

To this day, Malaysians do not know nor care about things they consider trivia, such as cleanliness of public toilets. If Thailand can do it, why can’t we?

Similarly, with the sex trade, the Thais promoted the use of condoms and greatly reduced infection rates of HIV/AIDs and STDs. At that time, our various ministries refused to acknowledge that Muslims had extramarital sex and so the ‘condom’ message was not highlighted. The ensuing result was that scores of people were infected.

If Yen-Yen is really geared up for improving tourism, she needs to clean up ‘at home’ first.

She must be aware of our poor safety record. She should implement and make enforcement critical, to improve safety.

Has she been to our little islands and seen how life jackets are rarely used? Or that children use life-jackets meant for adults? Or boats are over-filled?

Has she been on a long-distance coach ride and seen the things that Malaysians and tourists who use these services have to put up with?

Has she visited sites around the country which start off brilliantly, like the Snake Sanctuary in Langkawi, but which is now in a terrible state, with cracks in the glass cages or rubbish strewn everywhere?

Should something go wrong and a police report made, Yen-Yen is ignorant of the difficulties faced by tourists who find it impossible to communicate with police personnel with a poor command of English.

Or, as has happened, policemen who abuse Chinese/Japanese/Korean nationals - these East Asians are wrongly assumed to be Malaysian Chinese and expected to speak Bahasa Malaysia when making the police report.

If Yen-Yen has taken a disabled person out in Malaysia, she will appreciate the difficulties they face. Many of our visitor attractions have no disabled facilities or wheelchair access.

If Malaysia wants to be progressive, it must make ‘holidaying’ an experience to be shared by the disabled, too. - Malaysian Mirror

Monday, November 1, 2010

24 Million Tourist Target Within Reach

The obsession for higher tourist arrival continues. Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said yesterday that Malaysia's target of 24 million tourist arrivals this year is within reach.

"This is based on the 16.18 million tourist arrivals in the first eight months giving the government tourism receipts of RM30 billion," he said after opening Cuti Cuti Malaysia Travel Fair Terengganu here Friday.

Dawos attributed the achievement to aggressive promotion by tourism officials stationed in Tourism Malaysia offices all over the world. What about those personal trips made by the Minister of Tourism.

"Tourism promotions will continue as it is one of 12 major national economic areas with potential to generate high income."

He also proposed that more trees be planted in Kuala Terengganu to make it a green city so that the people could have a more comfortable environment for exercises.

Terengganu's tourism icons are Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Kapas, Pulau Tenggol, Muzium Negeri, Taman Tamadun Islam, Cemerong Waterfall, Rantau Abang Beach and Tasik Kenyir.