Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Something good is cooking at the Putra World Trade Centre this weekend! Starting from today, the Restaurant Food Festival & Cooking Competition opens its doors to the public.

Food lovers can enjoy the taste of some colourful local delicacies at the 35 street food stalls set up at Tun Razak Hall II, PWTC.

The variety of food on sale at the stalls, which includes fried kuey teow, nasi biryani and rojak pasembor, is sure to whet your appetite.

One particular stall stood out from the rest. Jas Corner Kuey Teow Goreng adds a special ingredient to the original version of fried kuey teow– a duck egg, an important ingredient in the owner’s very own special recipe.

Priced at RM6 a plate, the duck egg adds a certain thickness to the kuey teow. This is Jas’ second time at the festival and he expects a better reception this year due to the wider variety of food on sale.

“Last year’s festival was good but the logistics issue still persists,” said Jas, who has a stall in Kelana Jaya.
Another stall which is making its second appearance at the festival is the Golden Restaurant Penang Char Kuey Teow stall managed by its operator, who only wanted to be known as Yong.

“Even though food prices are increasing, we’ve maintained our prices and serve only dishes which are free from artificial flavouring,” said Yong proudly.

The dishes served at the stall aren’t, however, certified halal but Mr Yong assures us that all the food he prepared while working at the Golden Sands Hotel in Penang, is.

If you miss the festival this weekend, check out The Golden Restaurant on Jalan Nagore, Penang and drop by Yong’s restaurant.

Penang Street Rojak Pasembor & Cendol is another successful stall. This is the fifth year that its owner, Chandru, has been participating in the festival. Having a food enterprise has been part of his family for 20 years- his father started selling cendol in Penang before the business relocated to Petaling Jaya. Now, Chandru has six food vans around Petaling Jaya in Taman Mayang, Bandar Utama, USJ and Sunway Pyramid.

​This whole concept will be good for tourism.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Subang SkyPark Sdn Bhd, operator of the Skypark Terminal (formerly Terminal 3) of the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, has been tipped to win the concession to redevelop Terminal 2.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is expected to award the concession to redevelop Terminal 2 early next month.

It is understood that Firefly and Malaysia Airlines have also expressed interest in the redevelopment of the terminal, but no proposal has been submitted to the airport operator to date, apart from Subang SkyPark.

According to sources, MAHB is expected to grant Subang Skypark the concession as it is already managing the Skypark Terminal.

"We are the logical partner for this project, given that we have already successfully completed the transformation of the former Terminal 3," said Subang Skypark, but declined to reveal the developments proposed by the company.

"Primarily, Terminal 2 forms an extension towards meeting the needs of the airlines at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport. As an adjunct, it will allow Subang SkyPark to expand the offerings to passengers, visitors as well as to the working and residential populace within the vicinity of the airport.

"Our initial estimates show that the overall redevelopment cost would be in the region of RM20-25 million," it added.

Subang Skypark had spent some RM40 million to refurbish the terminal back in 2008, which can handle up to 2.5 million passengers per year.

The terminal also boasts of a business aviation centre (BAC) which hosts a fixed base operation (FBO) — SkyPark FBO Malaysia, which is currently used by business jets and private jet charter giant VistaJet.

Subang SkyPark has a 59-year lease of the SkyPark Terminal, starting in 2007.

Firefly and Berjaya Air currently fly out of the terminal, operating the ATR 72-500s and DeHavilland Dash 7 turboprops.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the full study on the proposed high speed train linking Malaysia and Singapore is expected to be completed in eight to nine months time.

He said a pre-feasibility study had been done and the results were positive, and now they were moving into the next stage.

"By that time we will know which way we are going. But certainly it is a necessity (to have the train). I think it is a question of numbers, cost and benefits," he told a press conference after the Malaysia-Singapore Business Forum here today.

The forum themed, "Enhancing Strategic Partnership", was also attended by Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang.

He said the train would be something that the country would need to further promote growth between Singapore and Malaysia and "what more when we are talking about connectivity within Asean, this is going to be an important link in this connectivity."

Meanwhile, Malaysians and Singaporeans have expressed high hopes on the proposed rail link between the two countries.

Earlier reports have said that the benefit of travelling between 110 mph and 220 mph will mean better connectivity, shorter travel time and new development around train stations.

The changes are also expected to create 150,000 new jobs and some US$19 billion in new businesses by 2035.

The rail network is also expected to spur tourism, give businesses a wider pool of workers to choose from and help grow technology clusters in cities.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


There is no misunderstandings involving the issue of sky bridge facility at the new low cost carrier terminal (KLIA2) with the airport being termed as not being friendly to the disabled or senior citizens.

Even at the present MTB you need to walk at least one kilometer to get to your aircraft from you car. As a services provider, MAHB must have sky bridges at the airport in line with the concept of safe and convenient service.

There should not be any issue about returns on investment.

As a service provider, MAHB must be prepared to provide the bridge not only for Air Asia.

Malaysia Airports Holdings, known as one of the largest private sector companies in the world, manages 39 airports in Malaysia including the KL International Airport (KLIA).

It has also established its position in several other countries such as with the Delhi Airport and Hyderabad International Airport in India, as well as with the airports in Turkey and Maldives. The company is also the leading airport operator company in Asia and the sixth in the world and is listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


In Vietnam they have done away with the need to fill up Immigration cards. But in Malaysia we are strugling to cope with card distribution issues.

Therefore travellers crossing the causeway into Malaysia will not need to fill up the white immigration cards, for now. This is a temporary measure due to the shortage of cards.

A sign at the Tourism Malaysia office showed that the white cards have not been distributed since June this year. A spokesperson said new stock should arrive in about two weeks.

In the meantime, travellers have been assured that they need not fill up the immigration forms.

Malaysian authorities said that should speed up clearance at customs with the surge in visitor numbers expected during the year-end school holiday and festive period.

Zalizam Zakaria, director at Tourism Malaysia's Singapore office, said: "Whenever you go through the second link or the causeway, you can pass through without filling up the white card. The immigration officer will do the necessary procedures."

Friday, November 25, 2011


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

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

Abdul Rahim said MASwings' foray into the growth areas would also propel tourism in the states. With the extension of services and business, MASwings will remain committed to provide the best service domestically especially in rural areas.

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

Abdul Rahim said each year, the government spent about RM150 million to subsidise MASwings' operations to provide travel convenience to the rural folks of Sabah and Sarawak.

On Monday, chief executive officer Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang said the foray into international destinations, would be another milestone in the airlines' history. He said MASwings, expected to receive the long-awaited approval to operate into the BIMP-EAGA soon, hoped to launch the first phase of its operations by early next year.

The BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 as a cooperation initiative by Brunei. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, all of which are member-countries of ASEAN.

In a joint statement after the conclusion of the BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting in Cagayan De Oro, in the Philippines recently, all four countries agreed to discuss ways to improve air connectivity in the region. This included the initiative to expand the Memorandum of Understanding on the expansion of air linkages with possible additional points outside of the BIMP-EAGA for co-terminalisation operation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Speculation is rife that the cost of KLIA2 has increased significantly from the initial estimates of between RM2 billion and RM2.5 billion.

Officials from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) declined to comment on the cost of the project, emphasing that even if there was an increase in expenditure in constructing the KLIA2, it would not affect the passengers nor the airlines. “The only avenue for us to recoup the costs is from non-aeronautical revenue such as the retail segment,” said an official.

The official was commenting on speculation that the cost of completing the KLIA2, the new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT), has escalated to more than RM4 billion and a costlier airport would mean MAHB has to increase its charges — including airline parking and landing fees and airport taxes — to recoup its investment. The MAHB official said these concerns are unfounded because aeronautical charges are regulated.

“It’s already set in stone and subject to review every five years. It should not matter if the cost is above RM2.5 billion because MAHB will account for all costs. It is not the government or any airline’s concern as we can’t simply raise charges. Be mindful that aeronautical charges, particularly PSC (passenger service charge), are never based on the cost of building MAHB’s airports. Airports are never built on ROI (return on investment). It’s very unlike the models they have in the UK ... the ROI for MAHB on KLIA2 is only based on non-aeronautical income,” said the official.

It has been reported recently that the KLIA2 retail space, which takes up about 20% of the terminal area, will generate some RM1.2 billion in revenue.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


China, India and South Africa have emerged as the top tourism source markets for affluent travellers considering visiting Malaysia in the next two years, according to the Visa Global Travel Intentions Survey 2011.

In a statement today, Visa Inc said according to the survey, 30 per cent of the travelers would be from China, 26 per cent from India and eight per cent from South Africa.

The survey also revealed that the travellers are most likely to engage in outdoor activities, go on a food tour to sample local cuisines and take part in water sports.

Apart from that, they would also be attracted to experience the nightlife, music events and take up beauty, health and wellness as well as relaxation treatments that the country has to offer.

Visa Malaysia country manager Stuart Tomlinson said: "The fact that these affluent travellers would consider visiting Malaysia, marks a bright spot for the industry.

"Malaysia is blessed with some of the best natural sceneries in the world, great food and dining, vibrant nightlife, and is definitely in a great position to provide everything that affluent travellers seek in a holiday."

He also said the survey findings highlight the Ministry of Tourism's fine work in promoting the country as a unique travel destination. "Visa is committed to drawing more affluent travellers into Malaysia," he added.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The revision in the passenger service charges (PSC) for international departures from the country's airports means that the Government no longer has to fork out RM180mil a year to compensate Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the Cabinet had approved the increase in the charges in February 2009. However, because of the delay in imposing the new rates, the Government had been absorbing the difference until recently. MAHB announced the implementation of the new PSC, aircraft landing and parking charges effective from Nov 15. The PSC for departing international passengers was hiked from RM25 to RM32 at the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang and Terminal 2 of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and from RM51 to RM65 at the country's international airports.

“Taxpayers had been paying the difference (between the old and new rates) as a result of the PSC adjustment since February 2009. I think it's time for the taxpayers to stop subsidising international travellers that use our airports,” said Kong.

He was commenting on reports regarding AirAsia Bhd CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes voicing his dissatisfaction, through social media, on the PSC increase. “There have been a lot of other increases done by airlines quietly and nobody is making noise about that,” Kong told the press after a ceremony to mark the re-activation of scheduled flight services into Pangkor Island by Berjaya Air Sdn Bhd later this month.

Asked whether a company controlled by Fernandes has applied to operate a super-premium airline that will fly out of Subang Airport, Kong said his Ministry had yet to receive any such application.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Complaints from tourists have shot up by 15% in the first 10 months of this year compared with last year, Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said. He said the ministry received 337 complaints this year compared with 292 last year.

“Most were on tour operators and agents who short-change tourists, poor service and services at hotels that are not up to mark,” he said after a dialogue session with tour operators here yesterday. He said the majority of the complaints were from locals, with only 50 from foreigners.

“We take all complaints seriously and investigate them,” he said, adding that there were also cases of fraud, especially over membership cards and timeshare packages.

He said new strategies were needed to attract Singaporeans who visited Malaysia mainly for grocery shopping and food.

“So far, 55% (13 million) of our tourist arrivals are from Singapore. With events like international concerts in Johor, we can attract more Singaporeans,” he said, adding that a high-speed bullet train could also improve travel between Malaysia and Singapore.

The tour operators highlighted issues like traffic snarls at the Johor Baru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex as the staff parked their cars on emergency lanes, no proper signages to tourism products in Desaru, narrow roads leading to congestion, and regulations and policy reviews involving tour bus operators.

They also brought up the issue of tourists being sexually harassed by immigration personnel.

Friday, November 18, 2011


AirAsia has been fighting to make them cheaper for the common man. Airport taxes are paid by Malaysians and passengers. The money doesn't go to AirAsia but MAHB.'' He added on Twitter that “MAHB doesn't help improve guest handling facilities like signage, boarding area at gate and PA system. Why charge more PSC.''

His idea of baring it all is to tell passengers that the airline collects the PSC for MAHB and no part of the PSC goes to the airline. PSC is the payment for the use of a respective airport by a traveller.

He also lashed out at both MAHB and the Transport Ministry, asking who the ministry was defending? He claimed in his twits: “Are they defending the people to make sure they get good value for the RM25 airport tax. They are the regulators ...”

Apparently he had told his decision to pass the buck back to MAHB on Sunday to some parties, but when asked, Fernandes declined to elaborate.

Airlines in this country collect the PSC for the airport operator and this decision was made by the Government way back in the 1980s. That was decided with the consumer in mind as the Government did not want to inconvenient the traveller. The PSC charges are paid when purchasing the ticket.

If indeed AirAsia does not want to collect the PSC for MAHB, then any decision made by the Government will have to take into consideration the views of other airlines which are now collecting the PSC for MAHB. “That's the norm here and if you change the rule for one you have to change for all,'' said a source. But in some airports such as in Jakarta and Tokyo, the airports collect their own charges by having their own counters or vending machines. That model can be replicated here.

There are “pros and cons to the airport operator collecting the PSC. The good thing is that passengers need not worry about refunds of PSC if they cancel their flight as they only pay for the PSC on the day they travel and not when they purchase the ticket. “Under the current system, the airport operator is only paid the PSC 45 days after travel but that will not be the case if the airport operator collects it. It would also save the MAHB 1.25% in clearing fee if it collects the PSC directly from the passengers,'' said a source.

Fernandes also said there were too many empty promises made by MAHB and the airlines were blamed for its poor performance.

He also questioned the need for a third runway at the KL International Airport (KLIA). “Why is KLIA building a third runway when they don't use dual mode on two runways? Heathrow has 60 million passengers with two runways. Fixing the air traffic system would have been cheaper than building another runway,” he said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Many people think that it is a done deal and nothing can be done about it. The government reiterated its stand that the Comprehensive Collaboration Framework signed between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia which brought about the exchange of shares between the two, was part of the plan to recover MAS.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said the move has given a new lease of life to MAS to carry on with its operations after having suffered major losses.

MAS recorded a loss of RM769 million for the first half of this year; RM242 million for the first quarter and RM527 million in the second quarter of 2011, brought on by the rising price of fuel globally.

"MAS is a national treasure and its impact on the country's economy will be significant. Whatever the action taken, the government's intention is to enable MAS to continue to operate and prevent a bankruptcy," he said when wrapping up a debate at the Dewan Rakyat.

The government could take an easier way of injecting more funds to help MAS but that would not be a good commercial decision, Abdul Rahim said.

"We hope the CCF, although not a popular move, would be able to give new life to MAS and prevent it from falling," he said.

Earlier during the debate, several BN and Opposition parliament members hurled criticisms at the upper management of AirAsia, alleging the low cost airline of having taken advantage of the government and the people. They also claimed that the government and MAS were forced to give in to the demands of the airline.

Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) also suggested that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission be called in to investigate those involved in the decision to undertake the shares exchange including Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar.

He also wanted the government to provide the guarantee that the deal would not fall into the hands of foreign parties in the future.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


THE MALAYSIAN Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) launched on Friday the MATTA Academy, with the aim of providing skills-based and vocational training for members and their employees, as well as for the tourism industry as a whole. “This is in line with the government’s aim to increase the skill sets of its population and become a high-income nation,” said MATTA Academy board of directors’ chairman, Ngiam Foon.

The new academy, with an investment of RM1.5 million (US$0.5 million) in the building and facilities, is a rebranding and restructuring of the MATTA School of Hospitality.

MATTA president Khalid Harun said: “There have been numerous occasions where the training and courses provided by tourism institutions do not meet the requirements of the travel consultants and tour operators. MATTA knows what is needed by the industry and is well placed to provide the courses suitable for them,” Ngiam said. “The trainers will be practitioners from industry with the expertise and a willingness to share their knowledge.”

One of the training programmes the academy will offer is the Travel & Tours Enhancement Course (TTEC), a yet-to-be-implemented compulsory two-day training stint introduced by the country’s Tourism Ministry for staff of all travel consultancies and tour operators, as a condition for license renewal. “The TTEC is part of the government’s efforts to ensure quality in the industry,” said Ngiam, adding that the TTEC would be rolled out in December or January.

Going forward, the academy will work with industry members to determine which other training topics are relevant. Topics already highlighted included e-commerce and the use of social networking for business. Courses will be open to any interested party at market rates. “MATTA members will enjoy a special rate, making it affordable for them,” said Ngiam.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Spirituality is to be Asia's best wellness tourism asset, according to Research Report based in LONDON.

Spiritual & Holistic products and services are set to be the most important assets and demand components of the health and wellness sector in the Far East and South East Asia by 2020. The research report was distributed at the World Travel Market 2011 here last week.

Published by Wellness Tourism Worldwide (WTW), a newly formed alliance of wellness and tourism related businesses, organizations and institutions, the research also forecasts that private health insurance will play a more important role in providing policies that cover wellness travel

Saturday, November 12, 2011


A possible new super-premium full-service carrier (FSC) by AirAsia chief Tan Sri Tony Fernandes coming into operation would add another layer of competition to the domestic airline industry, which may in turn cause the market to become more fragmented, say analysts.

As it stands, the share-swap deal signed last August saw national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and its unit Fiaffiliate refly focusing on premium travel while low-cost carrier AirAsia and its long-haul AirAsia X compete in the low-cost sector.

"A new super-premium FSC would only add a new layer of competition, which may lead to too much fragmentation and I am not sure how that is going to go well in Malaysia," said UOB Kay Hian Research regional aviation analyst K. Ajith from Singapore today.

He said while Malaysia seemed keen to develop Kuala Lumpur into a premium hub for air travel, it should be the goal of the national carrier to do that, "especially so when the whole idea of the recent MAS-AirAsia collaborative framework was for MAS to rationalise its routes and focus on the premium segment. Thus, it does not make sense for Fernandes to start a new super-premium airline. And even though the proposed airline will operate out of Subang, it nonetheless will add competition to the market," Ajith added.

SunBiz reported yesterday that Fernandes, who already has interest in four airlines, is set to expand his empire further locally as he moves to start a new super-premium FSC that is likely to be called Caterham Jet, next year. The new airline has yet to be granted an air operator's certificate (AOC) by the government, but is understood to have already secured several Bombardier CRJs.

Ajith doesn't see the new airline having a problem obtaining an AOC, but "the question now is whether there will be room for one more airline in Malaysia? It is also perplexing how everybody (MAS, Firefly, AirAsia, AirAsia X and the proposed Caterham Jet) can be part of a happy family, with Fernandes' various stakes in them," he added.

Friday, November 11, 2011


The state government targets 11 million tourists to visit this World Heritage City by the year-end despite several issues pertaining to heritage tax and only three flights a week to Batu Berendam airport.

Tourism Malaysia director Jeffri Munir said various promotional activities were being carried out in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia, the Melaka Tourism Office and the Promotions Division of the Chief Minister's Department

"So far, we have recorded 7.65 million tourist arrivals in Melaka and we will continue to make Melaka a major tourist destination for locals and foreigners."

He said this after the launching of the 1Malaysia Clean and Beautiful Students' Tourism Programme 2011 at Melaka Zoo today.

He added that they would also continue working with 44 Tourism Malaysia offices around the world to achieve the goals.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


MASholidays, the travel and tour arm of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has embarked on promoting Malaysia as a premier tourist destination through a first-of-its-kind 3D Virtual Social Game World (VSGW) outreach and a series of rebranded holiday package offers. They were unveiled today at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London.

MASholidays chairman Datuk Dr Amin Khan said MAS was the first airline in the world to use the VSGW to promote its destinations. "We're very excited about the new horizons it will open up for us as we interact with Gen X and Gen Y travelers for whom using social media is as routine as having a meal," he said in a statement issued by the Malaysian national carrier.

The VSGW specially developed for the airline is known as "The Lost Treasure of Malaysia" that allows internet users to experience Malaysia in a way that has never been done before since they get to enjoy a fascinating world of adventure, hidden treasure and mythology.

VSGW viewers will be immersed in a rich 3D virtual world as they browse to explore an ancient Malaysian kingdom and compete in search of treasure chests, relics and items which have been stolen from the royalty, to gain points and emerge as the "Hero of Malaysia" to win real MASholidays packages and related merchandise. The statement said certain items in the VSGW adventure would also unlock access to special areas such as MASholidays lounges where travelers could access more destinations, items and content.

Although the "The Lost Treasure of Malaysia" is only due for public release in 2012, the launch demo was premiered in London by Dr Amin Khan and Tourism Malaysia acting director-general Datuk Azizan Noordin. The VSGW platform also allows MASholidays to sell real world products, packages, flights, tickets, promotions and other value-added products and services through a single convergent web portal, the statement said.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


ABOUT 200 disabled people will form a convoy to promote Accessible Tourism with the starting and finishing points at Sunway Pyramid on Nov 27. Beautiful Gate Foundation executive director Sia Siew Chin said apart from creating disability awareness, the convoy was aimed at promoting Accessible Tourism for the elderly and disabled.

“Many firms still refuse to provide disabled-friendly facilities because they view this as unnecessary and an additional cost to the company. Malaysia is moving towards an ageing population and by 2020, the number of old people is expected to increase by 3.4 million. As such, we have to create awareness. Catering to the needs of the disabled also means helping the ageing society overcome obstacles faced in the environment,” Sia told reporters at RMCafe in Sunway Pyramid, Bandar Sunway recently.

This is the second time the event is being held. Held in conjunction with the International Day for the Disabled Persons 2011, Sia said this time, the foundation was taking a step further by organising a Pro-International Conference on Accessible Tourism from Nov 25 to 28 at Sunway Pyramid.

“About 200 international and local participants will attend the conference, out of which 30 are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India. The conference allows participants to understand the latest improvements and best practices as well as provide insight into the future development of tourism,” she added.

Other events to be held include an exhibition, Asia Pacific photo contest, talent time for the disabled, performance by local artistes and a children’s colouring contest.

Researchers, students and tourism-related organisations have been urged to take part in the conference. PJ Utara MP Tony Pua said since Malaysia was a developing nation, it was crucial to look into the needs of the disabled as they were part of the society.

“The conference is a great opportunity for the corporate sector to grasp their knowledge in Accessible Tourism. Malaysia will gain an edge by being an Accessible Tourism destination for the elderly since there has been an increase in the number of elderly tourists visiting the country,” said Pua.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Despite all that controversy about Singapore arrival figures which Johor State Assembly feel that 50% can be discounted,Singapore remains Malaysia's largest tourism generating market, says Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Dr Victor Wee.

He said from January to June this year, "we welcomed 6.12 million Singaporean tourists to Malaysia.

"In 2010, Malaysia recorded more than 13 million Singapore tourist arrivals, up 2.4 per cent from 2009. "This constituted 53 per cent of our total tourist arrivals, contributing RM28.4 billion in receipts," he said at the launch of the 8th Travel Malaysia Tourism Fair 2011.

The three-day event, held at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre, is organised by Express Bus Agencies Association (EBAA).

Dr Wee said Malaysia registerd a total of 24.6 million tourist arrivals last year, which marked a 3.9 per cent increase over the 2009 figure.

For hassle-free entry into Malaysia, he urged Singaporeans to apply for the Malaysia Automated Clearance System (MACS) card. He said the Malaysian Immigration Department has set up temporary counters for MACS card applications in Johor Baharu comprising City Square Shopping Centre, Jusco Bukit Indah, Jusco Tebrau City, Holiday Plaza Shopping Mall and Giant Hypemarket in Tampoi from Oct 15 to Nov 15. The operating hours are from 10am to 10pm daily.

With the year-end holiday season approaching, Dr Wee said, the Tourism Ministry and Tourism Malaysia are looking forward to Singaporeans visiting Malaysia for the annual 1Malaysia Year End Sales (MEYS) on Nov 15 until January 2012.

On new attractions, he said Johor Premium Outlet (JPO), Southeast Asia's first premium outlet centre, is set to open on Dec 11 with more than 80 stores.

On another note, Dr Wee said the Tourism Minister and Tourism Malaysia will also continue to carry out various aggressive promotional efforts to attract more participants to the homestay programme. Last year, the programme attracted close to 196,500 participants, including 49,126 foreigners, generating RM124.4 million in earnings. Singaporeans made up 52.5 per cent of the total foreign homestay tourists.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Every year millions of Muslims journey to the holy land of Mecca to perform the hajj, and this is one of basic tenets of Islam. Also one of biggest tourism event to take place where more than 2.5 million Muslims are gathered in Mecca and Medinah

Hari Raya Aidil Adha is celebrated by Muslims all over the world on the 10th of Zulhijjah (the last month of the Islamic calendar) every year, to mark the end of the hajj pilgrimage.In Malaysia, it is commonly known as Hari Raya Haji or Hari Raya Korban. The word “Korban” means sacrifice and this is significant to the celebration as it also commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail (PBUH)as an act of obedience to Allah S.W.T.

According the Holy Quran, as Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) was about to strike his son Prophet Ismail (PBUH), when God intervened and replaced his son with a ram. It was merely a test of faith after all.

Therefore, during Hari Raya Aidil Adha, it is customary for families or local communities to slaughter animals such as lambs, goats, cows, bulls or camels. The meat of the animal will be divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy

We wish all Muslims Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha and have a joyous celebration.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Sarawak is the only state so far having excellent networking arrangement amongst all tourism stake holders. A good example is that the Tourism Ministry, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Federation of Sarawak Tourism (STF) will be working together to promote interesting local products through attractive documentations and promotions.

Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip said the state had the potential to contribute to the expected 36 million tourists arrival to the country by year 2020. "We have a lot of natural attractions that are potentially tourist destinations. Sarawak also has its own unique natural settings that are suitable for activities like kayaking, mountain climbing, and jungle trekking, which are still unknown to foreigners,” he said in a phone interview yesterday.

He was responding to Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen’s statement on the 36 million foreign tourists expected to arrive here in 2020 with estimated RM168 billion revenue. However, he said air transportation issues that the state is currently facing should be adressed immediately as they would affect the state government’s efforts to reach that figure.

STF’s president Audry Wan Ullok said they would cooperate with STB and Tourism Ministry to identify new tourism products that had the potential to attract international toursits. She explained that tourists from peninsular Malaysia were the main contributors to the state’s tourists arrival and as such, there was an urgent need to resolve the air accessibility issues. “To increase foreign tourists arrival to the state, Kuching International Airport (KIA) should be the hub for international flights in the region especially to enable direct flights from Singapore,” she said.

STB’s chief executive officer Dato Rashid Khan stressed they were on the right path based on an overwhelming tourists arrival of 16.5 per cent. “Our role is to promote and market Sarawak tourism products, not only focus on luxury tourism but also eco-tourism because it have been identified to improve the income of local community,” he said.

According to him, from January to August this year, there was an increase of 26.09 per cent tourists arrival, which was about 1.84 million, compared to 1.49 millon in the same period last year. As for tourists from peninsular Malaysia, he said the state recorded 4.2 per cent which was 918,747 this year compared to 882,285 last year. “Over all, the number of foreign and domestic tourists arrival to the state is 2.41 million from January to August this year, compared to 2.06 million last year,” he said.

Friday, November 4, 2011


THE MALAYSIA Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) has embraced a new brand identity, Asia’s Business Events Hub, which will position the country as an entry point for international organisations wanting to engage with Asian businesses and professionals through events. A revamped standalone website showcasing MyCEB’s new branding, as well as a Quick Response (QR) code which directs smartphone users to the website when scanned with a QR reader, were unveiled at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Ho Yoke Ping, general manager-sales & marketing, MyCEB, said that the new branding and website would enable the bureau to clearly demarcate its role, and distinguish its efforts from Malaysia’s broader tourism promotion initiatives. “The focus of this major branding exercise is to communicate our value proposition to the market, and to give MyCEB and Malaysia a competitive edge," she said. "Our ultimate goal is to position Malaysia as one of the top five destinations in Asia-Pacific for international meetings, and to hit a target of 2.9 million business arrivals by 2020.”

Ho added that the website would be constantly updated to inform meeting planners of Malaysia’s latest MICE-related service and facility offerings, and would be linked to a customer relationship management (CRM) system developed in partnership with Simpleview, a US-based CRM solutions provider.

Other MICE initiatives due to be rolled out include an Association Ambassador Programme, which will enable MyCEB to identify and train potential local hosts for international conventions, and a certification programme for Malaysia’s MICE industry stakeholders, which is still under development.

MyCEB will also be increasing its sales representation in Europe, followed by North America, Australia and key markets in Asia. The move will strengthen MyCEB’s bidding activities, promotions, lead generation process and marketing programmes in these markets.

The Ministry of Tourism has allocated a budget of RM50 million (US$16 million) to MyCEB for 2012, half of which will be channelled into the bureau’s existing subvention programme.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Melaka Air will operate domestic services from Malacca to Penang and Kota Baru by year end, the Dewan Rakyat was told after questions about Batu Berendam Airport turining into a white elephant. The government has spent more than RM 200 million to upgrade the airport and presently having only three flights a week to Pekan Baru, Indonesia.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said the flights, operated with cooperation of Firefly, will boost Malacca International Airport in Batu Berendam.

"The only airline using the airport is Wings Air which operates three weekly flights from Pekan Baru, Indonesia to Malacca since last year," he told Sim Tong Him (DAP-Kota Melaka) who wanted to know of efforts to enhance the airport and the traffic volume.

Abdul Rahim said the airport handled 21,687 passengers until December last year.

Malacca signed agreements with Asean airlines allowing Melaka Air to operate flights to Asean destinations with unlimited frequency.

"The airport also gives Passenger Service Charge discount of RM26 to international passengers," he added.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


MALAYSIA’s Transport Ministry has finally approved the implementation of increased airport taxes for passengers travelling to international destinations, originally slated to begin on September 15.

Starting November 15, passengers departing from the country’s international airports will pay RM65 (US$23) as passenger service charge – an increase of RM14 (28 per cent).

Passengers leaving from the low-cost carrier terminals in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu will pay RM32, a rise of RM7 (28 per cent).

Airport taxes for passengers on domestic flights remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, new aircraft landing and parking charges imposed on airlines will be implemented in three stages, by nine per cent and 18 per cent a year respectively, in January 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The decision to raise airport fees – first made in 2009 – had not been implemented earlier because of the need for review and to gather feedback from stakeholders, said transport minister Kong Cho Ha, adding that the delay had cost the government RM100 million a year.

The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents, among other organisations, had protested the tax hike as an impediment to travel.

Meanwhile its former Secretary General also World Discovery Travel (M), business development manager, Joseph Xavier, said: “The tax hike is minimal and negligible. It is not a factor which is going to affect the decision to travel.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Tourism Ministry has denied the Auditor-General's Report 2010 that it overspent on advertisements to a tune of RM270mil.

“Ministry of Tourism Malaysia did not spend more. The report says that the amount of direct buy is more but not the total amount of promotion is more, there's a difference,” Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

The report said the ministry had resorted to direct negotiations instead of open tenders which led to the overpayment of advertising fees.

Dr Ng said with direct negotiations, the ministry could do away with the middleman. She is avoiding the issue here. Direct negotiations means that there will be intermediaries as has been the practice in Malaysia for years and more so in MOT.

"The prices we paid are never above the market price,” she said. We cannot believe this.

"Our promotion budget was the lowest in 2009 and 2010, but the amount of direct [negotiations were] higher because we wanted to go right on and get as much value for money as possible,” she said at the launch of Art Expo Malaysia 2011 here. This is where she contradicts. It is very typical of her to say such things. We have heard it all. There is nothing new here. Same old jazz.