Monday, February 28, 2011


Malaysian Health Ministry has rolled out a number of activities in Southeast Asia to attract more foreigners to participate in healthcare tourism in Malaysia.

Its minister Liow Tiong Lai said in Putrajaya, Malaysia's federal administration center, that the health care tourism industry had been made a part of the national key economic areas (NKEA).

The Malaysian Healthcare Tourism Council was also being restructured to coordinate the market promotion activities of the related sector, the minister said.

According to Liow, as many as 400,000 foreigners took part in healthcare tourism in Malaysia last year, generating revenue of 308 million ringgit (101.65 million U.S. dollars) for the country.

Meanwhile, Liow said that the major programs implemented by the ministry under the NKEA, including the promotion of healthcare tourism, were moving on the right track. He also said he was confident that the programs would meet, or even surpass, the target set by the Malaysian government.

The ministry hopes to generate 35.3 billion ringgit (11.65 billion U.S. dollars) in earnings this year.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


The name "Luxtofair" will soon be a familiar word with affluent Malaysians. The question is whether there in one.

Datuk Shamsul Falak Kadir of the National Tourism Council of Malaysia (NTCM) says travel trends have changed with travellers putting more emphasis on uniqueness, exclusivity and qualitative experiences. It is a lifestyle and luxury tourism fair that will feature high-quality products and services for elite travellers.

The event is being organised by NTCM and will run alongside the Malaysian Tourism Fair (MTF) at the Putra World Trade Centre for three days from May 20.

"Lately, there has been a significant growth in luxury travel within the Asia Pacific region, particularly China , Thailand , Singapore , Hong Kong , Vietnam and Australia ."With Luxtofair, we can cater to these travellers' needs,"

A total of 130 booths are available for travel agencies targeting up-market travellers. Some 70 to 80 exhibitors are expected to participate in Luxtofair.

Running for the third year, MTF will feature side attractions such as lucky draws, promotional activities and contests, where visitors stand a chance to win great prizes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Malaysians can now go online and apply for and renew passports from the comfort of their homes, at any time of the day.

The new online data management system known as MyImms (My Imigresen), should see less congestion at Immigration counters, said Immigration De­partment director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad.

An Immigration official said that MyImms will also bring greater efficiency in tracking the number of foreigners who have overstayed in the country.

“We should also see an improvement in the biometric check-in counters at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal, which has received many complaints of always being offline and causing a crawl at the counter services,” Alias said after launching the department’s ‘Senyum, Sapa dan Sopan’ (Smile, Greet and Courteous) campaign here yesterday.

Alias said the campaign is aimed at adding value to the department’s services to the public.

He added that a plan to transform the department has been submitted to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

“The plan includes 54 areas of concern, with the welfare of immigration officials and enforcement of integrity practices being among the top initiatives.

“The Home Minister will make an official announcement about this transformation plan soon,” Alias said.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Malaysia is revelling in good news this week with Tourism Malaysia’s Research Division posting a healthy 8.9% increase in Australian visitors heading to Malaysia in 2010 compared to the previous year.

Australia is currently the third largest source market for Malaysia behind China and India and this result is a positive start to an ambitious 10 year plan, announced by tourism officials at the end of 2010 to attract high yield tourists and double revenue.

Shahrin Mokhtar, director of Tourism Malaysia in Sydney says that Malaysia is benefiting from being able to offer a huge variety of new experiences to Australians and excellent value for money.

“Malaysia offers a vibrant mix of Asian cultures and has a huge diversity of attractions. In terms of product, culture and experiences Malaysia really has the most variety of all its neighbouring Asian destinations,” said Shahrin.

“Australians are showing increased interest in new experiences such as homestays and culinary travel, whilst also still enjoying Malaysia’s main attractions which include white sandy beaches, family-friendly resorts, luxurious spas, shopping, adventure experiences, national parks and wildlife.

“Arrivals have also been boosted by increasing accessibility; there are over 25,000 seats available per week direct to Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia X and Emirates. We are also taking advantage of new routes such as Malaysia Airline’s Perth to Kota Kinabalu flight and the increased Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur connections which are effective 27 March 2011.”

In 2010, Malaysia was listed as one of the best value destinations in the world by Lonely Planet and in 2009 Malaysia ranked as the 4th most price competitive country in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitive Index.

“Malaysia is also an increasingly popular stopover destination for Australians travelling to Europe. Australians are taking advantage of Kuala Lumpur’s great value luxurious accommodation, spa treatments and amazing shopping,” added Shahrin.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Tourism spending seems endless. The latest is that thegovernment has allocated RM50 million to boost business tourists to the country for the next two years, a four-fold increase from last year, as though this effort has never existed before.

Tourism Ministry deputy secretary-general Rashidi Hasbullah said this was in line with the ministry's target to increase business tourism from five percent (1.2 million) to eight percent (2.9 million) by 2020. And this certainly is not within the scope of work for the Ministry. There are hundreds of other agencies doing the same job.

"This is also to place Malaysia as one of the top five business tourism destinations in the Asia Pacific by 2020," he said when launching the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) Industry Partner Programme (IPP) here Tuesday.

He said business tourism, which has been identified as one of the Entry Point Projects (EPPs) under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), has been targeted to contribute significantly to the overall national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Out of the RM50 million allocation, RM25 million was for MyCEB, which was established in 2009, by the ministry to further strengthen Malaysia's business tourism and position for the international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, operational programmes and the other RM25 million for subvention support.

"This will significantly improve Malaysia's position in a highly competitive international market," he said

Rashidi said last year MyCEB had supported 28 convention bids, representing 38,500 delegates, and an economic value of RM438 million.

"It also assisted 124 meetings and conventions, 16 exhibitions and 49 corporate incentive groups, which contributed an estimated economic impact of RM775 million to Malaysia," he said.

Meanwhile, MyCEB Chief Executive Officer Zulkefli Sharif said the IPP has been launched to act as a platform to engage with and to encourage cooperation amongst the industry players.

"Becoming an industry partner can be highly advantageous for a local player. Besides enhancing its company profile, the IPP's wide range of sales and marketing initiatives can help propel companies into the lucrative international business tourism market," he said. "Partners will also be privy to vital market intelligence, gain valuable professional networks and be featured in various promotional activities initiated by MyCEB," he said.

Zulkifli said key highlights of the IPP include business opportunities through cooperative sales and marketing platform under the destination umbrella, access to sales leads and business referrals, professional development opportunities, knowledge, ideas and market intelligence sharing platforms and product development programmes.

He said the IPP is open to Malaysia-based business tourism product and service providers, including venue and accommodation providers, conference and event management companies, transport operators, tour and leisure companies as well as industry associations.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Big names such as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, the mayor of Mecca and representatives from Tourism Australia and Ministry of Tourism and Sport Republic of Kazakhstan will also be at the InCOMTHU 2011 on April 14.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) vice-president (outbound) Jeffri Sulaiman said there was a huge potential market for the Muslim tourism industry.

The Muslim tourism industry is growing rapidly in both Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries around the world.

“Even in non-Muslim countries such as Taiwan , Hong Kong and Australia , Muslim tourism is largely promoted.

“Muslim travel is not restricted only for Muslims. Non-Muslim travel companies can learn the Muslim way of travel and how the packages are planned,” he said at a press conference during the launch of the 5th International Conference on Muslim Tourism, Haj & Umrah (InCOMTHU 2011) recently.

The conference will be held on April 14, 2011 at Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, Putra World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur. The full-day conference aims to address issues concerning the Muslim tourism industry.

InCOMTHU 2011 chairman Noor Zaleha Baharuddin encouraged people from various sectors of the tourism industry such as bumiputra entrepreneurs, airline agencies, government agencies and national tourism agencies to attend InCOMTHU 2011.

“Participants will learn how to create opportunities and overcome obstacles in Muslim travel,” she said.

Let's see if the big names will show up.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Malaysian Tourism Federation, recently registered, is seeking to secure an old building in Kuala Lumpur with a heritage value for its national secretariat and tourist centre.

Tourists will be able to enjoy a ‘three-in-one’ service at this centre which is currently being offered at the Johor Baru Visitor Centre from Feb 21 by the Johor State government.

In an effort to boost tourist arrivals at the city, State Tourism and Domestic Trade committee chairman Hoo Seong Chang said visitors can obtain information about Johor Baru’s tourist attractions at the JOTIC complex here.

“Other than that, the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) gallery also showcases the city’s rich and historic culture and heritage.

“The third service provided by the centre is the quad-cycle ride, where visitors can hire them to tour the city centre,” he said.

The MTF centre instead will introduce a touch screen map kiosk that provides tourism information in Malaysia. The touch screen application provides pictures, maps and facts about tourist attractions in Malaysia.

Visitors can also view several video clips on Malaysia's main tourist attractions at the centre’s mini theatre.

The tourism visitor centre will be located very distant from existing centres by other agencies such as the Tourism Malaysia.

Monday, February 21, 2011


So who says that all tourist arrival into Malaysia is the effort of the Minister and the Minstry of Tourism.

An online travel guide has picked Penang as one of the top 10 islands in the world “you must see before you die.”Yahoo! Travel writer Gary McKechnie ranks Penang eighth on the list of the “must visit” places.

He praised Penang as Malaysia’s food capital and suggested that visitors did their “food crawl” along George Town’s street stalls.

He recommended that foodies head to the area adjacent to the Kek Lok Si Temple in Ayer Itam to feast on delicious food of rice, noodles, fish, shellfish, chicken, pork and vegetables. He also suggested visitors try out lor bak, lok-lok and ikan bakar.

On the local architecture, he described Penang as having a range of modern high-rise buildings to 19th-century British architecture.

He also pointed out a mix of beach resorts, preserved mangroves, fishing villages, temples, mosques and churches.

“Kek Lok Si was the best example as the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia,” he said.

So what has our Minister to say about this.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


After many years of advertising and promotion in Japan,the Japanese have come in droves.

The Penang International Airport arrival hall was abuzz with the sounds of kompang and dancers garbed in traditional gear performing as they welcomed some 380 visitors from Japan.What made their visit to Penang unique was that the Japanese entourage had flown all the way from Hokkaido in a specially chartered flight just for the trip here.

To greet them was state Tourism Development and Culture Commit-tee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang who said that it was the first time tourists from Japan came to Penang on a chartered flight since 2002.

“This is the largest number of tourists from Japan to Penang arriving on a chartered flight and this is a joint project between JTB Hokkaido Corp and Sunrise Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd,” said Law.

“Penang offers an array of activities for the Japanese who are culture-loving people,” he said.Some 20 retirees from the group have also arranged to take part in Malaysia My Second Home scheme.

One of the members of the group, Matsui Soeda, 49, said it was his first time in Penang and was excited to see the culture and heritage which he read and heard about.

“Friends who visited Penang recommended that I visit this island. What makes it more interesting is that our visit coincides with the Chinese New Year celebration so I have more things to film on my video camera,” he said.

The Japanese market in very lucrative and if we do it right the numbers will come. Well done Penang.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


When the Sarawak government picked Rashid Khan for the CEO job, they were not only doing the right thing, they were also taking the right approach.

Today the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has transformed to be an effective and efficient organisation, effectively marketing the eco-tourism products available in Sarawak to the rest of the world.

Rashid says that STB’s duty is to market Sarawak ’s unique products and services and make them known to tourists.

“My responsibility for the first 100 days of becoming a CEO (chief executive officer) was to understand the health of the organisation so we did an internal staff survey to see what are the positive and negative things relating on the organisation culture and management capabilities,” said the CEO of STB, Datuk Rashid Khan.

The former commercial director of Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) from 2005 to 2009 took over the reigns of STB on November 16, 2009 in a bid to impart his expertise and management skills to further the growth of STB.

According to him, a changed management programme was put in place to ensure the right capability within the organisation besides putting priorities on talent management, human capital and development so that the staff were able to undertake the responsibilities assigned to them.

During his early days with STB there were a lot of engagements with various stakeholders; the government, ministries, private sector and the players in the industry so that he could guage the industry and put in the right formula to transform it to adapt to the new direction.

“The tourism industry is private-sector driven so we needed to work together with the private sector to ensure successful implementation of the programmes to bring in tourists to the state,” Rashid said.

He believed that the crux of the transformation depended on leveraging on the existing products and facilities that were already in place and then to enhance these tourism products to higher expectations.

“Going forward, we need to take into account that a great competitive edge that Sarawak has is its tremendous natural assets such as forests, mountains, hills and rivers. That being done, the next step is to promote a unique Sarawak experience to tourists, that will provide them with a lifetime of memories. There are a lot of things that we have not capitalised on, we need to identify areas and transform them into viable products. STB’s duty is to assist the private sector to market these unique products and services and make them known to tourists so that they are aware that these products and services are available here,” he stressed.

Considering the availability of medical and education infrastructure available in Sarawak , STB tapped into the opportunity to market its medical tourism and educational programmes which are also under the perview of tourism to visitors from neighbouring countries.

Besides that, STB also focuses on high yield customers and most of them were business tourists who came for conventions and business meetings. “We are fortunate to have improvements in air linkages for our regional destinations such as Singapore , Japan , Korea and the surrounding markets,” he said.

Rashid also highlighted that STB’s strategic intention was to deliver breakthrough results. The board looked at programmes that brought maximum impact to the industry. “Our budget of RM4.5 million for marketing must create value and value added impact to our tourism stakeholders. All our programmes are intended to benefit the private sector and we’re there to play a supporting role,” he added.

He noted that STB’s focus for now was regional markets as the regional countries had stable economies and high disposable incomes. "We will maintain the rest of our market but we will continue to cooperate with Tourism Malaysia in marketing our products to the rest of the countries,” he concluded.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Tourism Malaysia director in Indonesia Jamil Darus said the number of Indonesian tourist arrivals in Malaysia had not only reached the target, but also had increased from the 2.4 million arrivals recorded in 2009.

Despite the sour episode in Malaysia-Indonesia relationship last year, especially with the anti-Malaysia sentiments in Indonesia, a total of 2.5 million Indonesian tourists were recorded to have visited Malaysia in 2010.

Hence, he said Tourism Malaysia had set a target of 2.7 million Indonesian tourist arrivals for 2011 and was also prepared to promote Malaysian popular tourist destinations through various campaigns in Indonesia, including in Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Manado, Makasar and Balik Papan.

He said attractive tourism packages would also be offered during the campaign to lure the Indonesian tourists, ranging from the middle class groups to the elite groups, to Malaysia.

"Based on our experience, efforts to promote Malaysia as a holiday destination had shown a very positive result. So, the same efforts, like by oganising tourism exhibitions and seminars, road tours, Mega FAM Trip and the likes, will be intensified," he told Bernama here Thursday.

Jamil said Tourism Malaysia had also brought several members of Indonesian media to visit Malaysia last year and the publicity they gave on Malaysia's tourist destinations were overwhelming. "That include several television slots given on Malaysian popular destinations by the main television stations in Indonesia. This kind of publicity had surely increased our confidence level that Malaysian tourism industry is capable of attracting more Indonesian tourists," he said.

Jamil said Tourism Malaysia was also planning to introduce bi-destination packages to the Indonesian tourists, that is to visit Malaysia and Thailand, or Malaysia and Singapore, during their campaign this year.

He said the campaign would be carried out with cooperation from various quarters including international airlines, hotels and credit card issuers. "This is the best mechanism to ensure that every quarters will benefit from the effort," he added.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


One year before the MTB in Kota Kinabalu was upgraded, the contractors of Terminal 2 spent day and night completing the new terminal in record time. The result was a brand new and very practical low cost terminal.

Today Air Asia have been asked to discuss with airport officials its reluctance to move out of the low-cost terminal and start operating at the international terminal at Kota Kinabalu International Airport in June.

The Sabah government has no say in the matter and hopes that AirAsia will not drag it into the airline’s bid to stay put at the low-cost terminal more popularly known as Terminal 2.

State Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said: “It is up to AirAsia to work out its problem with Malaysia Airports Berhad and the Federal Government as they have the final say on how and where airlines should operate within KKIA.”

AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes, during a special press conference for the media from Sabah and Sarawak on Friday, said the airline was not keen to move out of the Terminal 2 as its costs would increase and in turn force it to reduce flights, causing Sabah to lose some one million tourists.

Fernandes said the state government had been cooperative but an official of Sabah Tourism Board (STB) was among those causing some problems in the airline’s bid to stay on at Terminal 2.

This official must have mud in his or her brains not to understand what a low cost carrier terminal is all about. As far as the industry is concerned this terminal is doing just fine as it is. It is much nearer to town and very user friendly. No need to climb stairs and spend hours at the retail outlets. Walking to the planes is a piece of cake. So let Air Asia and other low cost carriers stay put at terminal 2.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


MALAYSIA registered 24.6 million international arrivals and tourism receipts of RM56.5 billion (US$18.5 billion) last year, the highest numbers recorded to-date, surpassing the government's 2010 targets of 24 million arrivals and RM55 billion in tourism revenue according TTG Asia based in Hongkong.

Arrivals from India registered the highest growth over 2009 at 17.1 per cent, followed by South Korea (16.2 per cent), the United Arab Emirates (16 per cent), Iran (14.3 per cent) and Cambodia (12.7 per cent).

China was the only non-South-east Asian country in the top five arrival markets with 1.13 million visitors, an increase of 10.8 per cent over 2009.

Singapore maintained its position as the largest tourist-generating market for Malaysia with 13.04 million arrivals, followed by Indonesia (2.51 million), Thailand (1.46 million), China and Brunei (1.12 million).

This year, the Malaysian tourism ministry is targeting 25 million arrivals and RM60 billion in tourism receipts.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


"Your don't need too much money for art tourism," said Tourism Minister recently. "you don't need to cut trees and the artists are there and it's for me to create a platform for them and also link up all the art galleries. We had over 100 artists who participated and what I'm most happy is altogether, about RM17 milion works of art were sold in cash," she said.

"What I do when I go overseas, I actually visit the art galleries, whether government or private, to tell them about our resource in art". The real problem is not that she is traveling ever so often. It is the large entourage of politicians that is piggy-riding on her trips, including her faithful husband.

Dr Ng also spoke of the big role played by Malaysia's budget airline AirAsia in the country's tourism industry and which sparked the boom in low-cost carriers in the last 10 years.

"You just have to look at the story of Malaysia where AirAsia coming into the industry is a very major trend now. AirAsia with its tagline 'Now Everyone Can Fly'. AirAsia is a very fine example of private sector initiative that has done so well, not only for itself but for opening up Malaysia as a tourism destination," she said.

Dr Ng said Malaysia wanted to increase mid-haul and long-haul tourists because 75 per cent of its tourist arrivals came from this region.

She has forgotten to mention that all this need a great amount of money.

"We want to see more from China, Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Middle East, even from Europe, and AirAsia is flying farther and farther away. However nice the country can be, it won't do if you don't have accessibility. I think AirAsia is very clever in branding. Now, everyone can fly. So AirAsia is very important," she said.

Dr Ng said the tourism industry was becoming very competitive, including among South East Asian countries and Malaysia had to be "very, very good and very sharp" in following the tourist trends, never be complacent and must set the pace.

She said the year, 2009, saw some remarkable successes for Malaysia's tourism when the country emerged as the world's ninth largest tourist destination.

She has again forgotten to mention that this is the result of the efforts of ministers before her time.

"Everybody was shocked that a country that has 28 million citizens attracted 23.6 million tourists. Our target for this year is 25 million tourists and we've got to work very hard. We want to develop in Malaysia a mindset where everybody must 'think tourism, act tourism", she said.

Malaysia is now promoting shoes and art as new tourist products, following the success of two international festivals held last year, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

At the heart of this shoe effort was world-renowned Malaysian-born shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo, she told the monthly Melaka Business magazine in an interview in its just-released latest issue.

"We did the International Shoe Festival because we have Jimmy Choo and Jimmy Choo is Malaysian. And Jimmy Choo for shoe also rhymes"," she said of the London-based designer. The festival held in partnership with the Malaysian Shoe Association attracted at least 45,000 visitors and shoes worth RM5 million were sold in cash.

"People like shoes and Malaysia is well-known for shoes. I'm now promoting shoes as a tourist product," she said.

Dr Ng said, in always looking for innovative ways to promote tourism, she was also promoting art in a big way and a three-month Contemporary Art Festival was held last year.

Monday, February 14, 2011


The Homestay sector are a lucky lot of people. The Association is pressing the tourism ministry for an annual grant of RM10 million (US$3.28 million) over four years to promote and develop homestay programmes. The chances are that they may get it.

It submitted yesterday a paper to the ministry.

President Sahariman Hamdan said this would help fund international outreach to traditional markets such as Japan and Singapore, as well as to new ones such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Germany, the UK and Netherlands.

It would also cover training programmes to upgrade the entrepreneurial skills of homestay operators and provide them with lessons on e-marketing.

Sahariman said: “By next year, we want to double the amount of household incomes of homestay operators, which now average around RM600 monthly.”

Homestays, where owners rent out individual rooms, will also be diversified to allow guests to book the entire house. Dubbed 'kampung stays', the product will be launched at Kampung Desa Murni in Pahang on March 20 by Tourism Minister, Dr Ng Yen Yen.

Houses are fully equipped and include cooking facilities. For a start, there would be 50 such accommodations, said Sahariman.

There are now 138 registered homestay villages in Malaysia, with a total of 2,987 operators and 4,042 rooms. The average occupancy of homestays from January to November 2010 was 23.2 per cent.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said during the recent Tenang by-election campaign dirty food stalls, toilets and drains were cited by tourists as the negative aspect of Malaysian tourism which they otherwise regarded as vibrant with natural beauty.

Launching the "1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean" programme for the Segamat district at the Hotspring Recreation Centre here, she said the problem could only be resolved if the people changed their attitude.

She said there was much potential for growth of the tourism industry but it could only become a reality if the "clean and beautiful" slogan became a daily practice and culture of the people.

"The Tourism Ministry takes into consideration the complaints of the tourists. We have to look into cleanliness. We have to ensure that the people assume the responsibility to clean the country clean at all times," she said.

On the Hotspring Recreation Centre, she said a study would be undertaken to consider improvements to draw more visitors, especially from Singapore.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Just as Tour DeLangkawi is getting popular amongst the local cycling fans, we have come up with another copy of the same event.

The 'Jelajah Malaysia' is a new event which is said to be able to be branded internationally. It can promote the country worldwide when it becomes a leading cycling race in the region and the Asian continent soon, said the patron of the 'Jelajah Malaysia 2011', Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Rosmah, who is also the wife of the Prime Minister, said in order to realise this objective, there must be detailed planning and implementation from now to ensure that it was the best cycling race in the region.

She also hoped that in future, the 'Jelajah Malaysia' would involve activists in the tourism sector too.

"It can bring in tour agents to arrange suitable tourism packages in conjunction with the race. Besides hotel accommodation, tourists can also use the homestay facilities," she said when launching the 'Jelajah Malaysia 2011', here Thursday.

She said the organisers could announce their activities to the Malaysian embassies and high commissions abroad so that they could also promote the Jelajah Malaysia race.

Rosmah said the organisers could also invite representatives from the foreign sports and tourism media so that they could follow the tour and cover the race for consumption in their respective countries.

The 47th Jelajah Malaysia with the theme "Jelajah 1Malaysia - The People's Tour", organised by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF), will have six stages starting at Kota Iskandar, Johor on March 8 and ending at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan on March 13.

A total of 150 riders from 34 teams from within and outside the country are expected to participate in the Jelajah Malaysia this time.

Among the foreign teams competing in the race are those from the United States, South America, Europe, Oceania and the Asian continent while the local teams are from Johor, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, 'MSN Serantau', the national team as well as from the Royal Malaysian Police and Malaysian Armed Forces.

The other teams are TCT-Pro Asia Terengganu Cycling Team, LeTua Cycling Club, Felda Terengganu Cycling Team and university students under the Malaysian Universities Sports Council (MASUM).

Friday, February 11, 2011


The Tourism Ministry has come up with another crazy idea. It supports a proposal to build a new international airport in Kuantan, its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

She said alternatively, the present Kuantan airport could be upgraded so that more foreign tourists could visit Kuantan and other parts of Pahang.

“With an international airport, I believe Kuantan can attract visitors from places such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Dr Ng, who is Raub MP, said with more accessibility to the coastal areas visitors could increase the length of stay, which would boost economic activities for locals.

“I urge Pahang and Kuantan folk to give suggestions and ideas on how to better promote the coastal towns,’’ she added.

Dr Ng also urged tourism officials to go to the ground more often and do their homework by compiling more data and information as references. This is the best thing ever said by her so far.

Dr Ng also took a swipe at her critics who highlighted that she spent RM3mil for overseas working trips, adding that they did not bother to mention the amount of revenue and increase in tourist arrivals as a result. She has forgotten that the numbers has been the results of people working intelligently well before her time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Some 900 homestay establishments are operating without any endorsement from the Tourism Ministry, its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

Although the local councils have the authority to issue a license to any operator intending to set up a homestay programme, she urged operators of homestay establishments to register with the ministry to help tourists differentiate between bogus and genuine homestay establishments.

In return, the genuine operators will be provided with Home Stay Malaysia trademark logos.

“We cannot take action against these operators as there is no law to compel them to register with us.

“Tour agencies and tourist guides should recommend homestay establishments which are given the special emblem issued by the ministry to be used as an identification mark,” she said after chairing a meeting with state tourism industry players here yesterday.

Dr Ng said the ministry had detected 107 homestay establishments in Pahang which had yet to register with the ministry.

In detailing the concept, Dr Ng said the term “homestay” required operators to stay within the vicinity and implement activities related to village lifestyles with their guests such as cooking, farming and fishing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


After much pressure from the industry and media to announce the appointment of media companies to handle Tourism Malaysia worldwide advertising campaign, the following five agencies were among the 34 advertising agencies that submitted their applications for the advertising tender bid which closed on 16 August 2010.

The five successful agencies are:

1) Naga DDB Sdn Bhd (ASEAN)
2) Smascom & Designs Sdn Bhd (North & East Asia)
3) Sen Media Sdn Bhd (South Asia, West Asia & Africa)
4) M & C Saatchi Sdn Bhd (Europe, America, Oceania)
5) Impact Creations (M) Sdn Bhd (Domestic & Events)

In a statement, Tourism Malaysia reiterated its stand that the selection was made through an Open Tender in strict compliance with procurement guidelines and regulations prescribed by the Government. And these agencies were appointed based on their creative ideas, concepts and strategies which were based on the development in the markets and their trends within the three years.

The industry feels that more can be done to ensure that the job goes to the right agencies. Naga is politically connected throught MCA and so is Smascom which is connected to the family of our previous Prime Minister. Sen Media is very close to the Tourism Minister and if given time we can also find our how number 4 and 5 is connected to the present government. So what is new.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said demand statistics last year for international scheduled air traffic showed an 8.2 per cent increase in the passenger business and a 20.6 per cent increase in freight.

Demand growth outstripped capacity increases of 4.4 per cent for passenger and 8.9 per cent for cargo, IATA said in a statement here Wednesday.

Average passenger load factor for the year was 78.4 per cent, which was a 2.7 percentage improvement from 2009, while a 5.2 percentage point improvement to 53.8 per cent was recorded on the freight load factor.

"Compared to the pre-recession levels of early 2008, December air travel volumes were four per cent higher.

"Air freight was one per cent higher than pre-recession level, however, volumes have fallen five per cent since the peak of the post-recession inventory re-stocking boom in early 2010," IATA said.

Its Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Giovanni Bisignani said airlines ended the year slightly ahead of early 2008 with only 2.7 per cent profit margin.

"After the biggest demand decline in the history of aviation in 2009, people started to travel and do business again in 2010. The challenge is to turn the demand for mobility into sustainable profit," he said.

It was estimated that the severe weather Europe and North America in December would shaved one per cent off of total traffic demand for the months.

The hardest hit was Europe, which saw December passenger demand growth slow to 3.3 per cent.

Monday, February 7, 2011


The Tourism Ministry is now targeting an increase of 25 million tourists visiting the country this year, compared with 24 million last year, with a projected tourism revenue of RM60 billion.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said in order to achieve the target, her ministry would continue efforts to woo more visitors to visit Malaysia.

She said the efforts included continuing discussions with local and foreign airlines to provide more direct flights to major towns in the country.

"We may be able to meet the target by increasing the number of flights from abroad to the major towns like Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Penang or Melaka," she told reporters after attending a Chinese New year programme organised by the Tourism Ministry at the Dataran Raub, here Saturday night.

Dr Ng, who is also the Member of Parliament for Raub, hoped that this year there would be more tourists who would be staying up to 10 days, thus spending more in the country.

She said the ministry was targeting to woo more tourists from Russia, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Belgium, Holland and the Middle East.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Many residents and tourists think Kuala Lumpur has reached a modern city status although Malaysia has yet to achieve developed nation status.

City residents and foreign tourists claim that Kuala Lumpur has already reached modern city status with regards to its world-class facilities.

The public found it safe and convenient to travel in the city because of sufficient infrastructure facilities.

A number people feel Kuala Lumpur is a very modern city now because there is plenty of parking space, transport facilities and best of all, safe and clean food is easy to find.

Many also expressed his pride with Kuala Lumpur's rapid development which is popular among tourists worldwide.

There are many foreign tourists at the National Zoo and they seem happy to explore the city because of its sophisticated and comfortable facilities.

Speaking of being modern, many think Kuala Lumpur has reached that stage especially with world class facilities available here with modern transportation, world-class airport and a clean environment.

Although many agree with the modernization, they also felt some improvement was needed to enhance the beauty of the city in terms of cleanliness and traffic congestion.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Wishing all our industry colleagues a happy Chinese New Year of the rabbit. May the new year bring us more peace and prosperity.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


An advertising agency has alleged that all’s not right with Tourism Malaysia’s advertising and promotion tender process.

This has sparked the interest of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which has already opened a file on the Tourism Ministry.

International advertising agency ISC (Integrated Strategic Communications) Group, which was responsible for the successful "Malaysia, Truly Asia" campaign, today announced the withdrawal of its tender offer for the new three-year contract, citing "ambiguity" in the tender process.

ISC had produced and run the multi-award winning brand campaign for the past 12 years.

In a statement, a spokesperson said it had sent an official letter to Tourism Malaysia explaining its reasons for withdrawing its bid for the contract covering the European, North American and Oceania markets for the Jan 1, 2011-Dec 31, 2013 period.

It is understood that there were five bids for the RM600 million advertising and promotions budget, of which the European, North American and Oceania markets would get the lion’s share.

"ISC Group decided on Jan 26 to withdraw its tender offer for Tourism Malaysia’s re-pitch for a new three-year contract after having serviced the account since 1999, over four different three-year contract
periods, three prime ministers and five different tourism ministers," the statement read.

"We regret having to make this painful decision, especially as the government has set such ambitious tourism targets between now and Vision 2020.

"The ambiguity over the tender process raises questions on the seriousness of the task at hand," said the spokesperson.

"We submitted our tender document on Aug 16 last year and to date, have not received any communication as to tender process timelines.

"As the tender document states, the contract is supposed to commence Jan 1, 2011 and we have had our team on standby now for over five months.

"As we near the end of the tender’s 180-day validity period ( Feb 12), we are not sure if there will even be time to make the industry-accepted practice of presenting and clarifying our proposal to the tender selection committee."

ISC also said that due to its new business wins and increased workload this year, the agency cannot realistically accommodate priority for Tourism Malaysia services as committed to in the tender submission nearly six months ago.

Meanwhile, in the same statement, ISC president and CEO Austen Zecha said: "Some Malaysian agencies have in the past declined to tender for certain accounts, but rarely has one withdrawn its tender or bid after submission."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When it comes to giving travel advisory for Malaysians going abroad, our government is quick on the draw. We have been advised to defer all non-urgent travel to Egypt where thousands of angry protesters have defied curfew and clashed with troops at different venues in its capital in Cairo, calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister A. Kohilan Pillay said people should wait for the situation in the country to stabilise before planning any trips there. He added that the Malaysian embassy there had categorised the current situation in Cairo at the "yellow" level.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and if the situation gets critical, the embassy's evacuation committee will alert all quarters and categorise the situation as red level.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry also advised all Malaysians in Cairo to exercise safety precautions and to avoid high-risk areas where protesters gathered.

What about giving some travel advisory to tourist who are already in Malaysia to be careful about using our roads which are being used by dangerous drivers, snatch thiefs all over the place, touts at KLIA and other tourist spots, conmen from African countries and all other travel hazards while in Malaysia.

Or is it the duty of the Ministry of Tourism ??