Friday, December 31, 2010


The 35-year-old Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agents (MATTA) has been under scrutiny and risks being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) following a power tussle and alleged discrepancies in its operations.

At the annual general meeting (AGM) in June last year, four candidates stood for the presidency which was won by Datuk Dr Joshua Peter Tan.

However, a storm started brewing after the ROS received a complaint of 20 phantom votes during the AGM. "Investigations by the ROS revealed that six votes were invalid," said a source.

The ROS had proceeded to issue a show-cause letter to the association for this breach but MATTA replied that it had not included the six on purpose. The ROS, while upholding Tan as the rightful president, had also given notice to MATTA that it will proceed to deregister the association after Oct 29, 2009 if it did not give a proper explanation on the six votes.

After more than a year, the ROS is still investigating. When contacted, an ROS official said he was unable to give a time frame for when this will be, although it is understood that the ROS is reluctant to deregister MATTA which represents 2,800 travel agencies.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has confirmed that it has received a report on MATTA’s alleged financial irregularities. A MATTA official said this includes procedural anomalies into the purchase of a building in the Fraser’s Business Park, Jalan Loke Yew, here to house its headquarters.

Meanwhile, Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun, one of the losing candidates for presidency, had taken the matter to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur last year. However, the court then made an interim order allowing former MATTA president Datuk Ngiam Foon to be caretaker president and Joseph Xavier as interim secretary-general. Ngiam later passed the presidency to Mohd Khalid.

Meanwhile, MATTA insiders alleged that between October 2009 and May this year, numerous "unlawful" emergency general meetings (EGM) were called. Amongst them was one in November 2009 to dissolve the new executive committee. Association insiders claim over 90% of the members were barred from entering that EGM and only about 80 members were allowed. A total of 12 exco members were sacked at that meeting.

When contacted, Tan said the court’s consent judgement does not amount to an order and the final decision still lies with the ROS. "Hence, the registrar still has the power to decide what to do," said Tan.

Xavier, meanwhile, said MATTA has cleaned up over 90% of its registry. Since its election fiasco involving Tan at the AGM on June 27, 2009, the association has been involved in allegations and court proceedings on discrepancies in its operations.

MATTA secretary-general Joseph Xavier said despite constant efforts to keep records up-to-date, it is no easy task to get each member to comply with new regulations.

"At the next AGM, you can only enter as a delegate after submitting documentation" he said, explaining that a delegate is either the director or employee of a member company.

As the year has come to a close, let us hope that this matter can be resolving amicably. HAPPY NEW YEAR

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The government has been urged to undertake studies on areas where fatal accidents occurred frequently like the ones along roads leading to Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands, and appropriate action should be taken so that they would not affect the tourism industry.

Studies and follow-up actions were necessary so that similar incidents would not recur. In addition the performance of drivers must be monitored not only by the authorities, also by the general public.

"Fatal road accidents have occurred too frequently. Along the road to the Cameron Highlands, two accidents have occurred. I call on the relevant authorities to monitor the road condition because accidents not only cause the loss of lives but can also result in us losing tourists coming to Malaysia," said a senator.

In a recent accident at Km 15, Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai Road, 27 people died, two of whom were Malaysians while the rest were Thai tourists. Ten others were injured.

Bus drivers must be given proper training on road ethics, accident prevention, defensive driving before a licence is given to them to handle big coaches. It will at minimise road accidents.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Langkawi International Regatta 2011

The Royal Langkawi Yacht Club (RLYC) in Kuah, Langkawi is inviting participants to register for the Royal Langkawi International Regatta 2011 to be held from 11-15 January 2011. The event will see five categories of racing namely the Racing class, IRC class, Sportsboats, Multihulls and Club Cruisers.

Weather forecasts predict wind speeds of more than 12 knots for the period and participants can look forward to a very challenging 4-day sailing experience. Langkawi is ideally located in the north-western coast of Malaysia and it is also known as a land of myths and legends, with much of its folklore intricately woven into its history. The warm and clear waters surrounding the legendary islands are an additional bonus for sailors and cruising yachtsmen.

The RLIR 2011 has been held annually since 2003. The fun does not end with the races, the RLIR 2011 organising team is promising daily, fun-filled prize giving parties. Entries from Australia, Hong Kong, Holland, United Kingdom, United States of America, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, France, Belgium and South Korea have been confirmed.

In 2009, the RLIR introduced the "Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship" award for the best team, both on water and land. This award is a special tribute to the Founder Chairman and 1st Commodore of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, Almarhum Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah. The award will be given out again this coming year. For further information, Race Schedule and Entry Form, kindly log on to

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has made a call for MAS and AirAsia to come together strategically even if they were two competing airlines especially in the area of low cost and average air fares.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Air Asia must come up with a win-win formula to start on a strategic collaboration that will enable both the airline companies to complete at the global market.

Responding to a question from the media on the possibility of such a cooperation between MAS and AirAsia, Muhyiddin said it was up to the management and chief executive officers of both the companies to hold their discussions.

The industry feels that the two airlines are doing fine in their respective areas of operation. They offer completely different products. One a low cost carrier and the other a premium outfit. At the end of the day it is the customer who will make the choice and it is not for the government or any body on this earth how they both should move forward.

Monday, December 27, 2010


According to the Visa-Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Asia Pacific Travel Intentions Survey 2010, Malaysian travellers are likely to spend more on food and dining experiences during their leisure trips overseas.

When asked what they were most willing to pay extra for during their next overseas holiday, food was rated the highest with 77 per cent of respondents saying they were most likely to spend on good food and dining experiences.

Also on the list of top spending priorities were the opportunity to experience other cultures (62 per cent), visiting exotic destinations (58 per cent), convenience or hassle free services (55 per cent) and holiday or travel adventures (52 per cent).

Malaysians also intend to spend an average of RM3,779 in their next trip overseas, with airfares and travel accommodations taking up the main portion of their travel budget (40 per cent).

The survey also found Malaysian travellers were likely to make an average of two international trips in the next year, with a majority of respondents citing travel deals and promotions (86 per cent) as their biggest motivation for overseas travel, followed by the attraction of visiting new places (84 per cent).

Self-organised travel was the most popular form of travel planning among Malaysians with 56 per cent of respondents preferring to make their own direct bookings with hotels and airlines compared to flexible individual tours from travel agencies or tour operators (20 per cent), packaged group tour (15 per cent), and personal guided tour (12 per cent).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


This Air travellers can now buy tickets for the express rail link (ERL) service to the KL International Airport and low-cost carrier terminal at the Ipoh railway station. This would spare them from having to queue up at the KL Sentral commuter terminal to buy the tickets.

This follows an agreement reached here yesterday between KTM Bhd and ERL Sdn Bhd to make the Ipoh railway station a one-stop ticketing point for the ERL service for air travellers here.

Travellers taking the ETS will travel on the electric train service from Ipoh to KL Sentral, after which they will switch to the ERL directly to KLIA. Those travelling to the LCCT will also take the ETS to KL Sentral but will board the ERL to the Salak Tinggi station for a connecting bus to the airport.

KTMB president Dr Aminuddin Adnan said: “It will save air travellers a lot of time and hassle, which is crucial when they are catching their flights.”

“As travelling time between Ipoh and KLIA or LCCT is now less than three hours, this mode of travel offers the fastest option for discerning air travellers,” he added.

ERL chief executive officer Noormah Mohd Noor assured travellers that there would not be a long waiting time for buses at the Salak Tinggi station.

“Our train and bus services on the KLIA Transit line are synchronised. The bus will be waiting for passengers at the station,” she said.

The ticket to KLIA is being offered at a promotional price of RM65 per adult and RM34 per child while the service to LCCT is being offered at RM42.50 (adult) and RM25 (child) until Feb 28 next year.

The service was launched by Land Public Transport Commission chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


In a move to prevent fraudulent tour agencies from mushrooming.Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said a new policy will be put in place by April requiring all tour agencies to deposit bond money with the Tourism Ministry

“Previously, we have complaints that some people booked tours with certain agencies only to find that the companies had closed shop when they tried to contact them later,” she said after launching Fabulous Food 1Malaysia at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

“The bond money will be used to pay back tourists who were cheated by these fraudulent tour agencies,” she said, adding that currently, there was no such policy to protect the visitors.

Dr Ng said her ministry had been lenient towards tour agencies thus far, requiring them to only follow basic business regulations.

“We trusted and gave them the liberty, believing that they would do the right thing but they did not. Hence, we have to step in,” she said.

“The agencies may also be required to have an insurance policy, but we have not decided on this yet.”

On another matter, Dr Ng said the ministry would review the call for visa to be waived for tourists from Taiwan.

“This is to encourage more Taiwanese to visit our country because they love Malaysia’s eco-tourism,” she said.

Monday, December 20, 2010


A delegation from Malacca was in Dili a couple of days ago headed by none other than the Malacca Chief Minister.

It was decided that a “Timor-Leste House” will be set up in Malacca to promote the country as a tourist destination and contribute towards better trade and cultural ties between the two former Portuguese colonies.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam made the offer to Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos Horta, who welcomed it as a “brilliant idea”.

He said Malaysia would do whatever it could to make the place attractive as a full-fledged cultural centre.

Malacca would help promote Timor-Leste to the more than nine million tourists who visit the state yearly, what he meant by this is everyone's guess.

Ali Rustam called on Ramos Horta at the presidential palace in Dili with members of the Malacca state delegation.

Among the areas identified for promotion is the semi-autonomous Oecussi enclave in the north-west.

It is the place to where some of the Portuguese who captured Malacca in 1511 moved and set up a settlement on the island of Timor.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


The federation was set up as a platform for all national tourism related association to discuss issues, forming policy for the tourism industry, charting new direction and long term program, retraining of human capital and others. It will be a federation of all national Association President’s to meet and resolve issues which will propel and transform the Tourism Industry Malaysia.

Dato Dr Joshua Tan, President of the Federation said, among the objective of the Federation will be to represent various members of the Malaysian Travel & Tourism Industry as a collective voice for the industry. and to create an opportunity for open dialogue with government and other relevant organisation with the view of identifying critical issue besetting the travel & tourism industry and their possible remedies.

The Federation will establish a Malaysian Tourism foundation for the purpose of fostering the development of the tourism industry in Malaysia, the conservation, preservation and promotion of its tourism assets and human resource potential. To encourage the settlement of disputes between members of the industry, their clients or members of the public in general by way of alternative dispute resolution, and others.

The federation look forward to the membership of all in the tourism industry.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Although the Malaysia My Second Home Programme is gaining popularity among Japanese retirees, with the number of participants increasing every year, the actual numbers does not reflect Malaysia as the top choice.

It is said that about 1,500 Japanese retirees had opted for the programme. The number is expected to rise to 10 per cent this year, the real numbers cannot be confirmed as some are already here working for Japanese corporation and not likely to return to Japanese upon completion of their working contract.

The programme also offered attractive options to the Japanese for making Malaysia not only their second home but for retirement as well.

This programme, promoted by the Tourism Ministry, allows foreigners who fulfill certain criteria, to stay in Malaysia for as long as possible on a multiple-entry social visit pass. The pass is initially for 10 years, and is renewable.

Despite all the promotions and marketing eforts undertaken by Tourism Mlaysia only about 400,000 Japanese have come to Malaysia last year, where 40 per cent were tourists.

Among the places the Japanese tourists found attractive were Langkawi, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Kota Kinabalu and the East Coast.

The climate, culture, food, friendly people and a stable country as well as a wide range of holiday activities that Malaysia has to offer, from beach resorts to highlands, flora and fauna, metropolitan shopping areas to relaxing kampung homestays are most liked by the Japanese.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


MALAYSIA'S hospitality industry will continue to face an acute shortage in rank-and-file positions despite a recent ruling to allow foreign students to work in the country upon completion of their postgraduate studies.

The government's recent decision would help address the lack of middle-management staff in hotels but not in lower-level positions.

The government should allow foreigners who have completed their tourism and hospitality courses in Malaysia to work in the country regardless of their certification level. They should also be able to find employment as frontline staff in city hotels.

This could be an interim solution to the severe manpower shortage until there are enough locals.

It is estimated that there were 20,000 vacancies for hospitality personnel across the country from rank-and-file to middle-management levels. The hunt for staff would intensify over the next few years with the opening of new hotels in the country and local talent leaving for overseas opportunities with more attractive remuneration packages.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based industry will propose to the Cabinet to turn the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism (MAHA) exhibition site here into an international agro-tourism site.

The minister, Datuk Seri Noh Omar, said MAHA, held at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (Maeps), would be an attraction to both locals and foreigners.

As M
AHA received good response from visitors, he said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked the ministry to think of ways to turn the area into a tourist attraction, at least on Saturdays and Sundays.

"I will submit a proposal to the Cabinet. Once approved, we will announce the programmes to be carried out," he told reporters today, after closing the 10-day M
AHA International 2010 which began last Friday.

Meanwhile, the Minister said this year's M
AHA recorded the highest number of visitors at 2.66 million, exceeding the target of 1.5 million. The figure was an increase from 1.2 million in 2008.

He said sales also saw an increase from RM9.69 million in 2008 to RM23.58 million this year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Salam Awal Muharram

Monday, December 6, 2010


This year's Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Dance Tourism Carnival gyrated to a record-breaking participation of over 15,000 people, as compared to 12,000 last year. As usual tourism figures are bloated up.

The large-scale participation, listed in the Malaysia Book of Records, ( you have to pay to get this done ) involved government agencies, non-governmental organisations, university students and participants from Australia, China, Thailand and the US.

The prime minister's wife, Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor, who also took part in the programme, described dance as an important product in the local tourism industry, which represented Malaysian cultures and customs.

"Dance is an element that can foster unity and team spirit when done in groups," she said when officiating the carnival at the Dataran Merdeka here.

Rosmah said the combination of dance and music not only produced rhythmic movements but also entertained and offered good therapy and exercise.

"Dance can keep our body healthy as it involves movements of the whole body," she said.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the carnival was a new tourism product introduced by the ministry. Nothing new here.

This year, dances originating from Thailand, Malay (Zapin), Chinese, Indian, Sewang and others from the Sarawak and Sabah communities were introduced.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


The "my2home" programme is basically a 10-year multiple-entry visa for the participant, his spouse, and children (up to 18 years of age). The length of the visa depends on the remaining validity period of the passport. Once granted, the visa is renewable on the same terms.

The application criteria is financial.

Below 50 years old and you'll need a RM300,000 fixed deposit, in your name, with a bank in Malaysia.

Above 50 and it's a RM150,000 fixed deposit, also in your name, or pension income above RM10,000 per month.

You'll also need to show "sufficient funds" to support yourself (and family) during your stay in Malaysia as you can't work or run a business whilst on the programme.

Property can be bought. Up to 2 units of residential property * each above RM250,000. However the minimum is RM350,000 for KL, Penang and Melacca.

Within 12 months of conditional approval you can buy a tax-free locally-assembled car, or tax-exempt import of 1 personal vehicle. You also receive permission to bring in a foreign maid.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Yen Yen - the boo-hoo-hoo minister
Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen said she "nearly cried" from all the accusations thrown against her ministry.

"Listening to the members of Parliament criticising our (Malaysian pavilion) at the World Expo in Shanghai, China, is upsetting," she exclaimed.

Dr Ng was responding to the pay-cut motion moved against her by opposition parliamentarian Tian Chua (PKR-Batu).

Expressing concern over the minister's exorbitant travel expenses locally and abroad, Tian Chua tabled a motion today to cut her salary by RM100.

The minister, the PKR MP said, had to to explain why the government spent 40 percent more for her travels - and a 70 percent drop in promotional expenses.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen Wednesday stressed that the ministry's tourism promotion missions abroad were part of efforts to draw more tourists to Malaysia, as well as to explore new markets.

She said the missions had been successful in creating greater awareness in foreign countries on the many tourism attractions and products Malaysia had to offer to tourists.

"For example, the mission to seven main cities in New Zealand and Australia including Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne. Who would want to cover seven cities in 11 days. It was no holiday but crazy, hard work," she said in winding up the debate on the Supply Bill 2011 at the committee level for her ministry in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.

Dr Ng said among the success from the ministry's overseas missions was that Malaysia was ranked the 9th most visited tourist destination in the world last year.

She said the tourism missions to the world's major cities also showed the government's seriousness in reaching the target of 38 million tourist arrivals and earning RM168 billion in tourism revenue by 2020.

Some lawmakers including Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak), Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) and Wee Choo Keong (Independent-Wangsa Maju) who frequently interjected Dr Ng during her speech also had heated exchange of words with her over their dissatisfaction with some of her replies to the questions or points raised.

They had drawn Dr Ng's attention to the need for every effort made by the government in boosting tourism, to contribute to the country's economy and not be a waste.

On the building of the Malaysia Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, which was raised by Wee, Dr Ng defended the ministry's decision, saying the cost was not more than RM20 million as claimed and that it was not a waste as it attracted some 6.36 million visitors from all over the world.

Dr Ng also said that during her tourism missions abroad, she had met about 230 media representatives and countered any negative perception they had about Malaysia.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


THE Tourism Ministry spent RM1.28mil on foreign trips during the first 10 months of this year to promote Malaysia in foreign countries.

Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said her ministry spent RM1.59mil on the same promotional visits abroad in 2009. She clarified that these amounts were listed as certified actual expenditures, whatever that is.

“Estimated costs will be used if the actual expenditure had not been certified when the ministry sends replies on the expenditures to MPs in the Dewan Rakyat. This clarification is made to explain why there were differences in the costs incurred,” Dr Ng said in her ministerial statement at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

She gave the clarification on the amount she cited in her previous replies to several MPs who had queried the costs of the excessive trips led by her.

Dr Ng added that the ministry always presented the actual costs for each promotional visit except when the exact costs had yet to be validated.

“Hence, the costs for a few trips had yet to be certified,” she said, adding that several bills and invoices from foreign suppliers had yet to be received to reach the final costs incurred.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


S Puvaneswary, Kuala Lumpur

THE NEWLY-MINTED Malaysia Tourism Federation aims to become a platform for national and state tourism-related organisations to collaborate on direction-setting and proposing of policies for the industry.

Registered on November 18, the federation's president Joshua Peter Tan said its role was to serve as an umbrella body to bring stakeholders together to dialogue on tourism issues. It also hopes to run tourism-related conferences and provide human capital training for the travel trade.

He said: "We also want to work closely with the tourism ministry and state tourism bodies to ensure continued sustainable growth of Malaysia's tourism industry."

Tan's immediate task is to recruit members from national and state tourism associations across all segments such as the hotels, travel and tour operators, tourist guides and transport operators.

An inaugural meeting is planned for mid-December and there are plans to establish a full-time secretariat.

Tan expects the Federation, which will be officially launched in January next year, to eventually be a member of international travel trade associations such as the Pacific Asia Travel Association and the ASEAN Tourism Association.