Friday, November 2, 2012


THE second edition of Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia (CC1M) Night Tourism Fair from today to Sunday is expected to attract 70,000 visitors, an increase of more than 16 per cent over last year’s figure of some 60,000 visitors. Event such as this is usually held at I-City for reasons not known to many. I-City is actually a half past six venue for any tourism events and will downgrade the status to a provincial one.
Tourism Malaysia said domestic travel packages worth RM218,024.82 were sold at last year’s fair which attracted 66 exhibitors, including travel agencies and tour operators. This year, 68 exhibitors comprising travel agencies, tour operators, hospitality organisations, transport-related companies and other travel-related organisations will take part.
There will also be a Selangor Homestay Carnival  showcasing a variety of products and packages. Operators in Selangor will also give demonstrations of traditional craft-making and hold cultural performances. Side activities include entertainment shows featuring local artistes, cultural performances, colouring contest, caricature drawing, sand art painting and quizzes.
The aim is to promote domestic tourism products while empowering the domestic tourism fraternity to sell and promote Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia directly to the public.
The event will be  open to the public from 5pm to midnight.   

Monday, October 29, 2012


Kuala Lumpur is the second best shopping city in Asia Pacific, according to the latest Globe Shopper Index, cementing its position as a shopping paradise. Twenty-five cities in the region were assessed under five categories shops; culture and climate; hotels and transport; affordability; and convenience.

Kuala Lumpur achieved the second highest overall score of 65 out of 100. Only Hong Kong scored higher 68.5 edging other cities for its safety, dependable city transport and variety of shops and brands. Shanghai was third with a 63.1 score with Beijing placed fourth at 60.7.Singapore (60.2) and Bangkok (57.1) were ranked fifth and seventh respectively. The other big cities ranked included Sydney (58.4), Tokyo (56.4) and Seoul (54.8).

“Kuala Lumpur’s specific strength is its ability to combine low prices with a good range of products in a large number of stores, including three of the world’s 10 biggest shopping malls,” the index report stated.

The report predicted that Kuala Lumpur had the potential to perform better in future indexes due to the Government’s efforts to promote retail tourism. It also took note of the Government’s mammoth investments in developing KLCC and Bukit Bintang as a “premier shopping precinct in Malaysia”.

Unfortunately not much has been done  to put local products on the shelf of these outlets. Branding and other marketing elements may be the reason for this, but enabling local products take place at the shelves is the responsibility of all shopping complex owners as part of the CSR.

We believe that local products must be give a fair share of  the tourism market and by doing so assist them to improve branding and bottom line of their businesses.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


TOURISM Malaysia wants a bigger share of the Russian outbound market and is aiming to grow visitor numbers from Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East as well as Novosibirsk, the administrative centre of Novosibirsk Oblast.

According to Datuk Haji Azizan Noordin, deputy director-general (planning), Tourism Malaysia, the NTO is in discussions with charter operators and travel consultants to schedule charters from these cities to Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu this coming winter.

The NTO will provide outbound agencies with joint marketing support, while Malaysia Airports, which manages most of the airports in Malaysia, has agreed to waive aircraft landing fees to encourage more chartered flights, he added.

From January to June 2012, Malaysia received 24,198 Russian tourists, a 28.2 per cent year-on-year increase.
In an unrelated development, Azizan told TTG Asia e-Daily that Tourism Malaysia was planning to upgrade its marketing office in Almaty, Khazakhstan, into a full-fledged regional office next year. First established in 2007, the office will be tasked with overseeing promotions throughout Central Asia.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Tourism promotion can be better done by other Ministries. A good example would be the event in London officiated by Dr Rais Yatim, the Information Minister.

Up to 154,300 people visited Malaysia Week 2012 at South Bank here in the two days since the event to promote Malaysia was launched on Saturday.
Deputy Secretary-General (Culture) of the Malaysian Information, Communications and Culture Ministry, Datuk Abdul Ghaffar A. Tambi, said the number of visitors exceeded the 150,000 target set for the five-day programme scheduled to end on Wednesday.
"We are very happy (with the turnout) as it was a weekend and the weather was good. On the first day, Saturday, we recorded 74,300 visitors.
"More people came yesterday (Sunday) and that there were about 80,000. The total figure for the two days exceeds our target (for the five-day programme)," he told Malaysian journalists covering the event, here, on Monday.
The event, organised jointly by the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), was launched by Malaysian Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim on Saturday.
Malaysia Week, which carries the theme 'Faces of 1Malaysia', promotes to the international community Malaysia's culture, heritage and the different ways of life which reflect a life of unity in diversity.
The activities include cultural performances and martial arts depicting the 1Malaysia concept, demonstration and sale of craft, exhibition and sale of works of visual arts, modelling of fashion and textile, and Malaysian traditional games.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The tourism industry is extremely worried over the remarks by AirAsia Malaysia CEO that the decision to move to KLIA2 will be based on whether the new airport is safe and functional and can facilitate the carrier’s low-cost operation.
AirAsia Bhd, Asia’s largest low-cost carrier (LCC), remains coy about a move to KLIA2, the new LCC terminal due to be completed in seven months. AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer Aireen Omar said the decision will be based on whether the new airport is safe and functional and can facilitate the carrier’s low-cost operation.
“In order for us to be able to move there, we need to work closely with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd to ensure that the KLIA2 move facilitates our low-cost model,” she said in an interview recently.
However, there are other ways that AirAsia can manage itself should the new airport prove unsuitable for its low-cost model, she added.
Aireen said the carrier has 16 hubs in the Asean region but declined to elaborate on the possibilities of AirAsia relocating its Malaysia operations to one of its regional hubs.
It is indeed worrying that Air Asia is not firm on going to KLIA2 as MAB is working day and night to complete the work. As far as we are concerned it has been a done deal. So lets get on with it.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Despite the claim by Tourism Minister that she was responsible for all the arrivals into the country the Opposition state of Penang has put her to shame in medical tourism. It accounted for 60% of 555,000 foreign medical tourists to Malaysia last year for healthcare services.

Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) chief executive officer Datuk Redza Rafiq Abdul Razak said seven private hospitals from the Penang Health Association (PHA) recorded a revenue of RM280bil in the past year.

“A total of 333,000 people sought medical treatment from hospitals such as Pantai Mutiara Hospital, Lam Wah Ee Hospital, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital, Loh Guan Lye Specialist Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital, Penang Adventist Hospital and Island Hospital. Among those who came to Penang for medical tourism were from southern Thailand and Australia,” he told a press conference in conjunction with the International Conference for Cancer Caregivers yesterday.

He added that NCIA was collaborating with the association to penetrate into other countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh and Myanmar. “We are stepping up efforts to promote medical tourism among foreign tourists through several measures including flight incentives which would be announced later,” he said.
Penang Adventist Hospital marketing and business development manager Ng Gim Bee said the state expected an annual growth of 15% on foreign medical tourists to Penang. “Foreigners come to Penang mostly for open heart surgeries and procedures, and dental care,” she said.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Another non-event  is the making and it is probably the fourth Visit Malaysia Year held so far  in addition to he ones held at state level.

To do this the Tourism Ministry will bring international and world-class attractions into the country to draw visitors during Visit Malaysia Year 2013/2014. Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen declared: “We are not going to focus solely on tourism products. We aim to also make Malaysia the venue of choice for conventions, seminars and meetings.”

Declining to elaborate, she said: “Whatever we are doing now, we are going to do it bigger.”
Dr Ng was speaking to reporters after opening the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism Festival (1MCAT)recently..

You can just imagine the kind of spending that will take place if the same Minister sits in office.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


When Dr Ng Yen Yen said in parliament that the foreign trips and promotions by the Tourism Minister last year generated an increase of RM635.3mil in foreign exchange revenues compared to 2010 is actually like ” masuk bakul angkat sendiri..
The increase she said could be derived from the promotions of prestige tourism and high spending tourists to Malaysia.
In 2011, foreign tourists spending in the shopping sector alone made up 30% of the total revenue for the industry, which is RM17.5bil compared to 28.7% or RM16.2bil in the previous year. This is another bull by the minister,
Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen told Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh) during Question Time. Kok had asked the ministry to list the minister’s foreign trips and tourism promotion from 2010.
Dr Ng said that the official promotional visits to various countries had also increased tourist arrivals, boost revenue as well as opening new markets.
“In 2011, we went for several promotional visits, including to Iran, Indonesia, China, Russia, Philippines, Vietnam, and United Arab Emirates in conjunction with the Arab Travel Mart”, Dr Ng said. “For instance, tourists from China increased by 10.6% from 1,130,261 visitors in 2010 to 1,250,536 in 2011, generating 12.6% increase in revenue from RM3.1bil to RM3.5bil.”
“This year, from January to August, we visited Singapore, Philippines, and Germany in conjunction with the Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB)”, she said.
Small wonder how our parliament can put up with Minsters such as this one.

Friday, October 5, 2012


After a four hour demonstration by taxi drivers the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has agreed to look into the problems faced by taxi drivers around Bukit Bintang.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar in a statement here today, said decision to look into the matter was made after a two-hour meeting with the Association of Bestari Taxi Drivers of Kuala Lumpur here Wednesday.

Nine issues were highlighted by the association at the meeting, most of which involved operational issues including the claim that the income of taxi drivers was badly affected by the introduction of free GO-KL bus service.

The association also requested that the taxi coupon system in KLCC and Pavillion to be abolished, besides asking for a taxi terminal to be built in Bukit Bintang.

Syed Hamid said SPAD would meet with the relevant agencies to find solutions to the matters raised. At about 3.30pm yesterday, a group of taxi drivers staged a demonstration in Bukit Bintang and demanded SPAD to hear their problems.

The demonstration, caused severe traffic congestion in the area.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


THE mainstream media have repeatedly described the Iskandar Malaysia region in Johor as the Orlando of South-east Asia, but according to buyers at the recent PATA Travel Mart in Manila, this label needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Iskandar Malaysia is not quite Orlando yet, says buyers.
Tushar Jain, director, BTC Tours & Travel New Delhi, said it would be difficult for Iskandar Malaysia’s theme parks to gain a following among Indian travellers, given the overwhelming popularity of Universal Studios Singapore.
“There’s hardly been any promotions in India for Legoland, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and The Little Big Club. Indians have therefore been left in the dark about these new theme parks,” he said. “Secondly, the parks in Iskandar are aimed at young children, whereas Universal Studios Singapore caters to all ages. From a business perspective, it makes more sense for us to bring clients just to Universal Studios when they visit Singapore.”
According to Leo Chan, marketing manager, Charlotte Travel Hong Kong, visitors from Hong Kong to Singapore would see little sense in heading over the border to Johor unless ‘they were die-hard Hello Kitty or Lego fans’. “When Hong Kong tourists visit Singapore, they stay for only four days. They do not want to visit more than one theme park (besides Universal Studios) during that time, especially if they have to travel out of Singapore. However, they might hop over to Johor on subsequent trips,” he said.
Dennis Law, managing director, Star Holiday Mart Singapore, was also circumspect about the prospects for the Iskandar theme parks in drawing visitors from outside Malaysia and Singapore. “Iskandar currently suffers from a lack of tourism infrastructure such as hotels and restaurants to make the region an attractive and viable destination for foreign travellers. This might change in future, but for now, this is a sizeable obstacle,” he said.
“Cost is another impeding factor. Visitors have to fork out around US$85 each to visit all three Iskandar theme parks. However, if the parks can band together to develop value-for-money packages, they might just be able to draw visitors from Singapore and other parts of Malaysia,” he added.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


It is said that Urban Planners and Tourism Managers play a vital role in tourism development. But how can this be when tourism players are never sought after for urban planning.

The planners and tourism managers play an important role in ensuring sustainable tourism development complements with overall municipal policies, besides meeting the needs of both, city residents and its visitors.

Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib said tourism planning at all levels was essential to achieve sustainable tourism development and efficient management of the city.

“The experience of many tourism areas in the world has demonstrated that, on a long term basis, the planned approach to developing tourism can bring benefits without significant problems, and maintain satisfied tourist market,” he said in his speech at the launch of the Global Tourism Cities Conference (GTCC) 2012 here Monday.

His speech was read by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur Deputy Director-General (Planning) Datuk Zulkifli Ibrahim.

The City Mayor said places which allowed tourism to develop without the benefit of planning often suffered from environmental and social problems.

So please put this to work and let us see the results.

Monday, October 1, 2012


The Visit Malaysia Year 2013/14 has targeted to draw 26.8 Million Tourists. Sometimes we wonder how this  will work out. Is there a formula on this earth to really determine the justification for such expenditure.
To achieve this target the government has allocated RM358 million under the development expenditure, an increase of 42 per cent, to target 26.8 million tourist arrivals. How this amount of money will be spent depend greatly on who sits in as the Tourism Minister.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said tourism was a key economic growth sector, contributing almost 12 per cent to GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Tabling the 2013 Budget today, he said that total revenue generated from the tourism sector was estimated to increase to RM62 billion in 2012.
As a tax incentive, tour operators who bring in at least 500 foreign tourists a year are currently given tax exemption for three years.
For tour operators who bring in at least 750 foreign tourists or handle 1,500 local tourists a year, the government has proposed under the 2013 Budget that the income tax exemption be extended for three years.
The income tax exemption will be in force beginning with the 2013 assessment year until 2015.
This tax exemption is welcomed by all tourism businesses but will it  really boost the tourism arrivals ??

Sunday, September 30, 2012


It is easy for the government to put the blame on the public for not putting rubbish in the right places when there are not any bins in sight. It is also easy to blame the motoring public for causing massive daily traffic jams in the city when there is no effect traffic system in place.

Government efforts to make Kuala Lumpur a world class city has been affected by the attitude of city folks who take the law lightly and this has also affected efforts to make Kuala Lumpur is leading city destination

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had issued 665,708 notices for offences committed fron January to August and 90 percent were traffic violation.

Mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib said DBKL collected RM881,820 from 5,038 motorists in the form of towing and storage charges for obstructing traffic.

“We also collected RM114,487 from those who litter, issued 1,613 notices to the public for spitting and collected compound amounting RM78,600″ he said at a a parade to mark 43rd Enforcement Day at Tasik Titiwangsa here, Thursday.

So what have you guys got to say about this.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Budget Day ( Hari Belanjawan)  is the day that our government presents its Budget to Dewan Rakyat for approval, typically in a ceremonial fashion. It probably only exists in Malaysia where a budget is a done deal. The cabinet has already given its approval, so who cares about what members of parliament or the general public has to say about it.

For stakeholders in the tourism industry, we are keen to know how more more allocation is given to the tourism ministry and for what. As this is an election year, we can expect some giveaways to boost tourism growth. We know that in the past a lot of money has gone to programmes that has no impact on tourism. Some does not even have tourism value

In all seriousness, we should be looking at it with enthusiasm because there will be many changes at the supervising agencies for tourism. We know that there will be a change of Minister after the election and hopefully the agencies under it will also be headed by people whose interest are only in tourism and not just worry about their career path. We are talking here about all level of management in government departments that handle tourism affairs not only in Putrajaya but also in the state and districts.

So lets brace ourselves for some good news.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Jamaica's Local Tourism Sector to Focus on Sustainable Energy for World Tourism Day

Kingston, Jamaica - As Jamaica, like many other countries, seeks to introduce more environmentally friendly and cost effective energy solutions players in the tourism sector will focus their attention on the issue of sustainable energy as the destination observes World Tourism Day, September 27, 2012. The day's observation is being spearheaded by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), of which Jamaica is a longstanding member.

World Tourism Day 2012 is being celebrated under the theme ‘Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development’, and forms part of the UNWTO's effort to focus the world’s attention on advancing the goals of the 2012 "International Year of Sustainable Energy for All", outlined by the organization.

For its part the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment will highlight the tourism sector’s role in powering a brighter future for the nation by encouraging increased use of and access to modern, efficient and sustainable energy sources. In observance of World Tourism Day 2012, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon Dr. Wykeham McNeill, State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment the Hon. Damion Crawford, tourism partners and other Ministry and government officials will tour the Eco-Village at Sandals Montego Bay to view the alternative energy facilities there.

Dr. McNeill will then address tourism partners during a special Commemorative Luncheon, organized by the Ministry. The luncheon will entail technical presentations by tourism partners including Sandals Resorts International and the Jamaica Public Service, which will highlight sustainable energy initiatives introduced by such entities.

In underscoring the importance of this year's theme Minister McNeill said “it is appropriate that this year’s theme allows us to reflect on the impact of sustainable energy. As a sector whose survival relies on the maintenance of a healthy environment, it is imperative that tourism dependent countries like Jamaica pay keen attention to this pressing issue.

Minister McNeill underscored that tourism remains one of the main drivers of the economy and emphasized that "the tourism sector is especially well-placed to promote the use of sustainable energy and environmental conservation as Jamaica seeks to foster economic growth while reducing the impact of climate change through prudent energy practices. We are encouraged to explore the use of alternative energy sources, in our collective efforts towards the future sustainability of the tourism industry.”

Commenting on the various initiatives undertaken by the players within the tourism sector to integrate sustainable energy use in their operations, the Minister said “it is commendable that members in the tourism sector have been blazing the trail by taking important steps towards improving their energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewable energy solutions in their operations.”

2012 marks the 32nd year that World Tourism Day is being celebrated internationally. The day is aimed at raising global awareness of the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how tourism affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


It is not always that our national carrier makes good commercial decision. But this one is worth the mention.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will add another international destination to its flight network service by introducing the commencement of thrice weekly services between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu effective Sept 1. The national carrier said the flights would be operate with a two-class configured Boeing 737-800 aircraft comprising 144 economy class and 16 business class seats.

The outbound flight departs Kuala Lumpur at 8.35 am to arrive at Kathmandu at 11.30 am, while the return flight takes off from Kathmandu at 12.20 pm and would land at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.55 pm.
MAS Regional Sales Vice-President Malaysia and Asean Region Muzammil Mohamad said this was a timely addition to MAS’ flight network as Malaysia and Nepal can mutually benefit from various commercial relations including trade, investment and tourism promotions. “We see great potential in Kathmandu, especially during the forthcoming year-end holiday season and have fast-tracked this aspect of our operations to commence services to Kathmandu this year,” it said in a statement.
In conjunction with the introduction of this new route, MAS is offering all-in return economy class promotional fares at only RM1,200 for travel from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baharu to Kathmandu. Economy class travel from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching starts at only RM1,878.

File:Kathmandu collage.jpg

Friday, July 6, 2012


Despite all that negative stories about the misconduct of most of our taxi drivers, a well-trained stable of taxi drivers will help shape and improve tourists’ perception of the country.

Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak  said thousands of taxi drivers nationwide interact with tourists every day, making them an important first contact with foreign visitors to Malaysia.

The Prime Minister added that : ‘If taxi drivers are polite, courteous and customer friendly, speak good things about the country and show a positive attitude, tourists will feel welcome. If taxi drivers are polite, courteous and customer friendly, speak good things about the country and show a positive attitude, tourists will feel welcome. Tourists meet thousands of taxi drivers and through their interactions, tourists’ perception of Malaysia are formed,” he said at the launch of the Taxi Tourism Ambassadors programme at Dataran Putra here recently

Some 4,000 taxi drivers will be appointed as ambassadors under the programme, after they complete a one-day course at the Malaysian Tourism Centre (MaTiC)

Thursday, July 5, 2012


We should congratulate our government through the Ministry of Tourism for introducing a program of making Malaysia Taxi Driver as Malaysia Tourist Ambassador. This program which cost the government a large sum of money has started to produce excellent results.
Latest report from Bernama confirmed that the police have detained a taxi driver who is believed to have robbed an American woman at Jalan Maarof, Bangsar on Monday. The incident which took place at 9 pm involved a sum of RM 20,000 belonging to a 46 year old American woman who was reported by the police as having got them from an ATM machine. How was this possible, only the police know that a daily withdrawal of this sum of money is not possible from an ATM machine.

Mobile phone, credit cards and several other valuable items were also robbed by the taxi driver.

This incident should make the Ministry reconsider spending such sums of money on taxi drivers who by nature are " cari makan" people who will do anything to make a living. Robbing a person, tourist or anyone is part of this nature.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


In Singapore yesterday the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) launched yesterday Singapore’s first-ever Tourist Guide Chapter to safeguard the rights and advance the interests of licensed tour guides in the country, something which has never been done in Malaysia

The professional chapter aims to tackle the menace of illegal tour guides and raise industry standards through development programmes, while looking at ways to attract senior citizens and housewives re-entering the workforce to join the profession.

In addition an MOU was signed at the launch by NTUC, Raffles Medical Group and Q&M Dental Group to provide chapter members with healthcare and insurance benefits not previously available to them.

Placed under the auspices of the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union, the chapter has so far enlisted over 300 members, a figure anticipated to grow in the near future. Currently, some 2,300 tour guides are licensed to work in Singapore.

It is about time that the Malaysia NGos for tour guides work with Cuepacs or MTUC  on similar lines of cooperation.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Despite many views about Malaysia  not getting the real value from tourism arrivals Deputy Tourism Minister still insist that Malaysia's rapidly developing tourism industry is expected to be one of the largest contributors to the country's economy by 2020,
He said that with promotions and new products, earnings from tourism could reach RM168 billion, up from the present RM83 billion. How on earth can they arrive at this figures is mind boggling.
"Last year, he went on to say that foreign visitors contributed RM58.3 billion to earnings and domestic tourists, RM25 billion,"

At the closing of a Gawai celebration here last night Dawos said Sarawak maintained its record as the state with the highest number of domestic tourists, at 22 per cent, followed by Kuala Lumpur, 18 per cent, and Pahang and Johor, 16 per cent each. Now he is talking sense. 

But the truth is that we are not getting the real value from all these numbers which have been plucked from the sky. God save Malaysia.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told the Dewan Rakyat that the supplemental collaboration agreement between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia X was signed to provide an opportunity to the national carrier to operate flights at a lower cost,

He said the agreement and two other memoranda of understanding inked after the MAS-AirAsia ahare-swap deal was shelved was for procurement, aircraft repair and maintenance services.
"MAS had the opportunity to enjoy better terms and conditions through sharing of equipment and services besides sharing and selling reserve capacity to other airlines," said Najib, who is also Finance minister, in his written reply to Wee Choo Keong (IND-Wangsa Maju).
Wee had queried why a joint venture had to be formed between MAS and AirAsia X after the MAS-AirAsia share-swap deal was revoked on May 2.
Of course the Prime Minister have overlook the fact that MAS is our national carrier and it is a premium airline. Why then so much concession are being gvien by the government to Air Asia..

The Prime Minister went on to say that such collaborations had to be continued to increase MAS' business synergy by enhancing MAS' flight services in the main market, improve passenger handling and optimum utilisation of resources. He said MAS' business plan focused primarily on engineering and maintenance as a strategic move to enhance the potential of the Malaysian Aerospace Engineering (MAE) not only for aircraft maintenance but also to further develop maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
"This will make MAE more competitive and can entrench its position in the increasingly challenging and rapidly developing aviation industry," he added.
This is sadly making our national carrier a second fiddle airline.


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told the Dewan Rakyat that the supplemental collaboration agreement between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia X was signed to provide an opportunity to the national carrier to operate flights at a lower cost,
He said the agreement and two other memoranda of understanding inked after the MAS-AirAsia ahare-swap deal was shelved was for procurement, aircraft repair and maintenance services.
"MAS had the opportunity to enjoy better terms and conditions through sharing of equipment and services besides sharing and selling reserve capacity to other airlines," said Najib, who is also Finance minister, in his written reply to Wee Choo Keong (IND-Wangsa Maju).
Wee had queried why a joint venture had to be formed between MAS and AirAsia X after the MAS-AirAsia share-swap deal was revoked on May 2.
Of course the Prime Minister have overlook the fact that MAS is our national carrier and it is a premium airline. Why then so much concession are being gvien by the government to Air Asia..
The Prime Minister went on to say that such collaborations had to be continued to increase MAS' business synergy by enhancing MAS' flight services in the main market, improve passenger handling and optimum utilisation of resources. He said MAS' business plan focused primarily on engineering and maintenance as a strategic move to enhance the potential of the Malaysian Aerospace Engineering (MAE) not only for aircraft maintenance but also to further develop maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
"This will make MAE more competitive and can entrench its position in the increasingly challenging and rapidly developing aviation industry," he added.
This is sadly making our national carrier a second fiddle airline.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


The holy month of ramadhan is gradually made to become a cultural month and this is believed to be part of the government's transformation programme.  The fasting month of Ramadan will add splendour to the Kuala Lumpur Festival (KL Festival) 2012, which begins July 1, as it will incorporate cultural programmes appropriate for the occasion.
Information, Communications and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf said among others, there would be a halal food fest, a cooking competition, a Ramadan bazaar.
"Local and foreign visitors will be entertained to a nasyid festival and a dikir barat show in the evening after the breaking of fast," he said in an interview on Bernama TV's Hello Malaysia programme.
The event will be enliven with the national flag waving programme as the country prepares for the independence day, he added.
He said the ministry hoped to attract over one million visitors to the KL Festival to sample the cultures of various races and the patriotic fervour in the run-up to the independence day on Aug 31.
The festival with the theme 'Di Sini Semaraknya Seni! (here arts flourishes) will be the seventh organised by the ministry. Over 930,000 visitors made a beeline to the KL Festival last year.

Friday, June 29, 2012


If someone ask you when was the last time you visited  a museum in Malaysia, your answer would probably " I cannot remember". But in Thailand there is probably no better place in begin a visit  than the Bangkok National Museum near the Sanam Luang grounds. It boasts a treasury of history, artwork, sculptures and royal regalia that provide unique insights into what has made Thailand what it is.

The history of the National Museum Bangkok dates back to 1874 when King Rama V opened the first public “museum” to exhibit the royal collection of King Rama IV, and other objects of general interest. Later, the Museum was transferred to its present site, the “Wang Na”, or “Palace to the Front”. In 1926, it was named the “Bangkok Museum” and subsequently developed into the National Museum Bangkok, when it came under the direction of the Department of Fine Arts in 1934.

The National Museum Bangkok houses three permanent exhibition galleries : -
  •  The Thai History Gallery;
  • The Archaeological and Art History Collections; and the
  • Decorative Arts and Ethnological Collection which is displayed in the old central palace buildings. This collection contains a variety of artistic, cultural and ethnographic exhibits such as gold treasures and precious stones, mother of pearl inlay, royal emblems and insignia, costumes and textiles, ceramics, carved ivory, old royal transportation, old weapons and musical instruments.
Other exhibits of interest in the Museum grounds include:
  •  The Royal Funeral Chariots built for Royal cremation ceremonies,
  • The Buddhaisawan Chapel, housing the Phra Buddhasihing, an important sacred Buddha image. The paintings inside this chapel are the oldest murals in Bangkok.
  • Issares Rajanusorn, a restored private residence of King Pinklao, King Rama IV’s brother.
  • The Red House, originally one of the private living quarters of Queen Sri Suriyen, wife of King Rama II.
You can now compare  what they have in store for you at our very own National Museum and a couple of other minor museums in Kuala Lumpur.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Unlike in Malaysia, Thailand’s royal projects are to be the subject of the opening keynote speech at the Mekong Tourism Forum that got under way in Bangkok recently. In yet another indicator of their growing popularity on the global travel scene.

Mr Disnadda Diskul, Chairman, Doi Tung Development Project, addressed the June 13 formal opening ceremony of the annual MTF with a talk on how the Mae Fah Luang Foundation has transformed the once denuded highland area into “a holistic and integrated sustainable alternative livelihood development initiative.”

Organised by Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports along with the Bangkok-based Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the MTF joins a number of international travel events being held in North Thailand as part of efforts by the Ministry to narrow the marketing and promotional imbalance between North and South Thailand.

The event, which rotates through the GMS countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China (Yunnan Province) is being attended by about 350 delegates. Participants will get a chance to visit Doi Tung, the Mae Fah Luang Art & Culture Park, Doi Tung Royal Villa, Hall of Inspiration and Cottage Industries Centre and the Hall of Opium, a state-of-the-art museum complex dedicated to the history of opium production and eradication in the Golden Triangle region.

Will Malaysia be able to organise similar events for grouping like IMTGT  and highlight any particular Royal projects.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Last night at the MATTA 37th anniversary dinner, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen urged tour operators to provide excellent service or face action. 

She said from January to May this year, the Ministry received 100 complaints with 75 involving tour operators. This is a clear warning from the Tourism Minister who would like to see tourism players shape up or be shaped out.

 Meanwhile parents should encourage their children to take up travel and tourism as the industry is growing at an unprecedented pace. Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Dr Victor Wee said as the sector continued to expand, more experts in specific areas would be needed.  

The industry has grown five-fold in the past 14 years in terms of tourist arrivals and revenue, with 24.7 million tourists bringing in RM58.3bil last year. “With the way the tourism industry is growing, we need more specialists and experts. There are so many different areas to go into from hotels to tour agencies to the culinary arts,” he said.  

Dr Wee said the industry currently employed 1.8 million people about 16% of the country's workforce.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


A recent survey carried out recent found that the workplace treats have your pants feeling a little tighter than usual?A new CareerBuilder survey found two-in-five workers (44 percent) said they have gained weight at their current job, on par with previous studies. Twenty-six percent of workers gained over 10 pounds, and 14 percent gained over 20 pounds. On the other hand, 16 percent said they lost weight. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive© from February 9 to March 2, 2012, included more than 5,700 workers across industries.
There were certain occupations that had a higher incidence of workers reporting weight gain, often tied to more sedentary or high stress positions. Among those most likely to report gaining weight include:
  • Travel Agent
  • Attorney/Judge
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher
  • Artist/Designer/Architect
  • Administrative Assistant

More than half of workers (54 percent) attributed their weight gain to sitting at their desk most of the day, and roughly the same amount (56 percent) stated they eat their lunch there as well. Other culprits causing extra inches around the waist line include:
  • Eating because of stress – 37 percent
  • Eating out regularly – 23 percent
  • Having to skip meals because of time constraints – 19 percent
  • Workplace celebrations (potlucks, birthdays) – 18 percent
  • The temptation of the office candy jar – 16 percent
  • Pressure to eat food co-workers bring in – 10 percent

The survey should also carry out the highest ampathy amongst professional towards their trade NGO. It will certainly show that the travel agents are amongst the highest.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


At the time of writing it is not known if Ramchand of MSL Travel motion of no-confidence against the entire Executive Committee of MATTA under the leadership of Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun has been carried by the members who attended the AGM held at Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, PWTC this morning. The Executive Committee held an emergency meeting last night and decided to consider and adpot all the grouses put forward by Ramchand.

By doing so they hoped to get Ramchand to withdraw the motion and enable them to keep their job in MATTA and do further damage to the organisation.Meanwhile much damaged has been done. The Penang Chapter AGM which was held last month with the presence of top guns the President, Hon Sec Gen and the Hon Treasurer who actually endorse the action taken by the Penang Chapter Chairman also denied the presence of 14 members who has been suspended for more than 10 years, never before in the history of MATTA.

This action by the Penang Chapter Chairman is in the style of mafia, with all sorts of intimidation and threats.Two buses loads of people left Penang early yesterday bound for Kuala Lumpur to attend the MATTA AGM and vote against the motion. Only 36 of them were genuine members and the rest are to sneak in using other peoples credential and vote against the motion.

Meanwhile, Jenny Shabudin's termination as Hon Sec Gen will be heatedly debated in the AGM but when you put it to the vote, the phanthom votes will cast their votes accordingly and it will be status quo.

MATTA is truly a mafia outfit at this time of its history.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Despite the haze descending on the island of Penang  and many of the state's famed attractions, tourists are continuing to flock to Penang.  This goes without saying. Arrival of tourists to any destination has been planned before the arrival of the this thing called "haze". For State Tourism Development and Culture Committee chairman Danny Law to say  that  there had been no drop in tourist arrivals since the start of the haze last week is a fair remark but it has nothing to do with haze.
"Arrivals via cruise vessels and flights are steady. In fact, we are still seeing full flights from Hong Kong, China and Indonesia,” Law said without reference to hte fact that any plans to travel to Penang would have been done well before the occurance of the haze.He said many visitors had planned their trips months in advance and would not change their plans due to the temporary haze problem.
“The situation is not so bad that people have to stay indoors. They can still enjoy Penang and see the sights,” he said.
Law added that hotel occupancy was high last week probably due to the start of the George Town Festival on June 15 and the ongoing durian season.
The Air Pollutant Index reading for Penang as at 7am Thursday shows only Seberang Prai registering unhealthy air quality but who cares. Haze is not a problem.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


A bloke by any name is still a bloke and the same goes for saying that an event is a Tourism Floral Parade. The Tourism Minister has announced that bright lights and colourful floats will brighten the nights in Putrajaya next month, as the Tourism Floral Parade comes back for the second year. 

The parade will be held from June 30-July 8, and will feature 15 floats parading at Putrajaya Lake, representing the different states, government organisations and two countries, namely Kenya ,China and probably some last mnute countries.

The parade will run simultaneously with the Putrajaya Floria 2012 themed “Bougainvillea, Enduring Beauty” with the bougainvillea the highlight of the flower show. 

“The night parade will complement the flower show in the day. Visitors can enjoy a variety of beautiful local and foreign flowers at the exhibition, and can even buy flowers at the stalls there. Then, they can stay for a magical night of floats decorated with colourful lights and fireworks. There will also be cultural dances and performances by artistes like Ning Baizura. This is truly a worthy event,” said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.  

The event is free and open to the public however the Ministry will sell packages staring from as low as RM150 for a three-day, two-night holiday in Putrajaya. This is something new and it is doubtful if such packages can be sold on a last minute basis 

Dato Sri Dr Ng  Yen Yen expects about one million visitors throughout the nine-day event which is only a dream.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Unlike most airlines in this age of the internet, AIRASIA is looking at ways of tweaking its highly successful B2C model and is considering engaging travel consultants as part of its distribution network – especially in less developed markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
According to Dharmadi, AirAsia Indonesia President Director, the low cost carrier is considering introducing a commission structure for travel consultants. “We are discussing this internally,” he said.
This move should be welcomed by the travel industry who still play an important role in the distribution channel for airlines.
AirAsia group CEO, Tony Fernandes, have said: “(Travel consultants) are a very important growth (channel) for AirAsia. They should not consider us as the enemy. We will make some exciting announcements (with regards to increased cooperation with travel trade) in the coming months.”
As for Malaysia, its home country, AirAsia is quite content with its existing distribution channels – 95 per cent of its business comes from seats purchased directly by consumers on the AirAsia website. In fact there are already one brand reseller for Air Asia all over the smaller towns in Malaysia.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Ranked 10th Among Global Top 20 Destination Cities

Despite all that complaint about Kuala Lumpur and the mess that goes with it, our beloved city is ranked 10th among the Global Top 20 Destination Cities by International Visitors (2012), according to MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released Monday. 

The cities, around this region,  which ranked among World's Most Connected Destinations, continued their ascendance as global destinations in 2012, with nearly half of the world's top 20 cities by visitor arrivals and expenditure heralding from the region.
The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2012. The index projects sustained growth among emerging market cities with the top 10 Asia Pacific destinations expecting a 9.5 per cent growth in visitor arrivals for 2012 and a 15.3 per cent surge in cross-border spending.
Cities in Asia Pacific once again led the charge globally with eight of the top 20 cities by international arrivals, with Bangkok ranked third globally with projected visitors to top 12.2 million visitors this year. Singapore was in fourth place with 11.8 million visitors, Hong Kong sixth with 11.1 million visitors and Kuala Lumpur at 10th spot with an expected 8.1 million visitors.

With that kind of report, our Tourism Minister should not be unduly worried over lesser direct international flights to KLIA.

Monday, June 18, 2012


So what can you do if you’re troubled by a Minister who talks too much? Here are five simple suggestions that might help.

1. First, listen. But don’t listen for too long.

2. After listening for a little while and formulating what they are trying to communicate, ask her if she would mind terribly if you interrupt her. It would be rare for her to say something like “No, no, I’m talking too much, go ahead.” If she say, “Let me just finish this thought,” respond gently with something like, “Oh, I thought you had finished it. Can I tell you what I heard you say?” (Of course, some people still have to say it their own way. Let them finish, since you won’t have a choice; but then interrupt them as soon as they start to move to something else.)

3. When you interrupt, be ready to say something about what you hear them saying. Don’t go for a deep psychological explanation. Something simple and to the point, but if possible, something that reflects something positive about them. Many people talk over everyone because they are afraid of criticism, so don’t be surprised if they  start to talk over you. Again, say, “Wait, I’d like to finish my thought now,” and then say what you were going to say about them.

4. Don’t stop with a comment about her. Add some experience of your own that will confirm that you understand what they’re experiencing. A memory of a similar event, a similar feeling, a funny story – anything that gives you a chance to share your own experience but that you can tie to theirs.

5. Stop the conversation when it goes on too long. It’s really not damaging to tell her who you’ve been listening to for more time than you have to spare.  And if they are the kind of person who comes back later to continue the conversation, you can say, “No, sorry, I’m busy right now.” Because finally, you have the right to protect your own boundaries.

So be very careful if you need to attend a dialogue with her as it may turn out to be a boring monologue. Have a great week ahead.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


One of the least spoken subject on Malaysian Tourism is balanced growth especially when talking about a balanced approach to sustain its growth momentum after experiencing rising arrivals in recent years.  With the year 2020 as the expected highest peak the subject needs special attention by all tourism stake holders.

Are we following the ‘limits to change’ model, which means we, as a country, will have to decide what extent of change we are willing to live with ?

While millions are being spend on events that has not big impact on tourism arrivals are we now more focused on yield than arrivals?  It has been said a million times before that  “We need to improve service standards and delivery, because in order to charge more, you must deliver more.”

This strategy includes developing a variety of infrastructure, human resources and technological projects, such as the introduction of ATMs and point-of-sale machines to make it easier for tourists to spend.
The tourism development strategy also requires a balance of local business and foreign investment. Hotel operators in Malaysia must adhere to limits on room numbers.  Can we use 70 per property in the capital and as low as 40 elsewhere in the country. Or is there a better rule of thumb.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Malaysian Association of Tours and Travel Agents (MATTA) is asking for government intervention in bringing in international flights to Senai International Airport.
"The government should take the lead, of course airlines will say there is a lack of demand. The government, however can make government-to-Government arrangements to help boost demand," MATTA Johor chapter chairman Kenny Ngi told reporters after a briefing on its upcoming fair yesterday. He said the association has met with Johor Tourism officials to discuss the issue.
According to Senai International Airports' website, it currently serves only three airlines which fly to seven destinations locally. "By 2015, most of the developments under Iskandar are to be operational, so we need to start now to promote international flights out of Senai," Ngi said. Currently, 99 per cent of outbound travel from Johor is through Changi International Airport.
Senai International Airport is the only airport in the country not owned and run by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. It is owned by a subsidiary of MMC Corp, Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd. Both AirAsia Bhd and Firefly have at different times wanted to make Senai Airport its southern hub. Those plans, however never materialised.

This is exactly the point. When the airport was privatised to companies linked to Tan Sri Mokhtar Albukhari, it was then promised to the government that Senai Airport will be the hub of commercial passenger and cargo handled by air. It was also promised that a multi-modular transportation concept be introduced to this part of the world. Cargoes will be flown in by air and transhipped to ocean going vessels at Tanjung Pelepas. 

Clearly it was empty promises. Now it is back to the drawing board.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Bio-tourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. Bio-tourism worth lies in its potential to provide a win-win situation-a win for the environment, a win for the economy and a win for the local community and existing social and cultural structures. It purports to educate the traveler; provide funds for conservation; directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and foster respect for different cultures and for human rights.
Responsible ecotourism (biotourism) includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.
What is offered…………
  • Home Stay
  • Exposure to Organic Farming
  • Experience the local culture
  • Live the village life
  • Enjoy the wilderness
  • Admire the warmth
  • Spoil yourself with the Mountain Hospitality
The unique Bio Tourism initiative endeavors to leave visitors with a greater understanding of the village life and livelihood, nature , rural realities and need to protect what we have left of our wilderness and to encourage people to support Organic Projects. It caters to travellers with special interests who prefer to be part of the real environment of a place and want to learn more about the authentic natural, cultural and historical aspects of the locality they are visiting.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


It is not often you hear a good idea from the Ministry of Tourism, but this one is worth the mention.

Bio-tourism will be developed as another strategy to woo foreign tourists to Sarawak and Sabah. This was disclosed by Tourism Deputy Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos at the recent Gawai Dayak's open house in Kota Padawan.

He said that one very good example of a bio-tourism product was the orang utan in Semonggok. “People flocking to see the orang utan which  is not eco-tourism. Orang utan is a part of the state’s biodiversity,”  

He noted that eco-tourism could comprise a visit to an pristine forest which had not been disturbed by humans and no development. He said in Malaysia, people promoted and marketed eco-tourism differently. “That is why based on statistics that I have looked into, only 3% of tourists visited eco-sites or eco-system because what they visited were actually bio-tourism sites”.  

He said it was more appropriate to adopt and develop bio-tourism because when tourists came, they were on holiday and did not want to be troubled by walking in a virgin forest or jungle.  

“They want to have comfort and so they want to walk in areas that have footpaths and where they can bring their cameras and wear good clothes. When you provide these facilities, it is not eco-tourism but bio-tourism. They come to see just one thing in nature,” he said.  

Dr Dawos said the Australian eco-tourism society was going to pick the idea of bio-tourism as well. He said a representative from the society had come to see him to extend a personal invitation to present a paper on eco-tourism in Queensland in November.  

“I mentioned bio-tourism and he (the representative) showed great interest and wanted to pick up the idea. I have also discussed bio-tourism with Sabah Tourism Board and Sabah Tourism Malaysia director and right away they said they would adopt it, saying it was a very good idea and very good strategy,” he said.

So let us have a great big conference to discuss which is which.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


During premiership of Tun Dr Mahathir Langkawi was given  all sorts of tourism boost with the implementation of initiatives aimed at developing luxury accommodation, improving connectivity through various incentive programme.
Billions were spent in those days to promote the legendary island on a sustainable basis.
The Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) has been tasked to lead several initiatives, which are part of the Langkawi Blueprint launched last December by the PM Dato Sri Mohd Najib to make the island a world-renowned destination. 

The first initiative is geared towards the development of more elite accommodation options and commercial zones, according to Redza Rafiq, NCIA chief executive. It will yield a 268-room luxury property that will be managed by Ri-Yaz Hotels and Resorts by 2015, and five five-star properties by government-investment company Khazanah Nasional. 

The second initiative will see NCIA, Malaysia Airports and the Ministry of Tourism coming together to develop the Langkawi Charter Flight Incentive Programme, which seeks to improve direct connectivity to the island by rewarding airlines and travel trade players for bringing in higher arrivals. 

The third initiative is aimed at developing human capital. Redza said: “The NCIA is working closely with the Ministry of Higher Education to launch a tourism academy to enhance the availability of industry-relevant skill sets in Langkawi.” 

However some industry players are not convinced that this will help boost the islands tourism potentials. Andy Muniandy, Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel director of sales, applauded the creation of a tourism academy but he was “not convinced” by the luxury hotel initiative. “The island has enough five-star hotels. These properties are struggling as (bookings from) Europe – their target market – has dropped by 20 to 30 per cent. What is needed are more affordable four-star hotels,” he said.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


After much pressure from the industry and a nasty call for immediate action by Head of Cheras UMNO Division, Datuk Mirza Mohammd Taiyab Beg has returned to duty, yesterday, as Tourism Malaysia director-general.
The decision for Mirza's return was made by the disciplinary board of Tourism Malaysia following his acquittal by the Sessions Court Judge Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh who ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Mirza, and acquitted him without calling for his defence.The decision was handed down verbally by the judge in less than 2 minutes.

Dato  Mirza, 56, was acquitted and discharged by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court  on May 17 of criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving RM888,000 five years ago together with  former Pembangunan Pelancongan Malaysia Berhad (Pempena) Sdn Bhd chief operations officer (COO) Mohammad Rosly Md Selamat.

The industry is happy with this decision and hope that Dato Mirza can continue to carry out his duties to promote the industry and ensure that political hands lay off the day to day running of Tourism Malaysia.

Monday, June 11, 2012


The number of tourists visiting Langkawi in the first five months of this year has increased to 614,000 compared to 549,000 over the same period last year and it is all due to the recent launch of the Langkawi Tourism Blueprint by PM Dato Sri Mohd Najib.
Tourist arrivals to the island through the Langkawi International Airport is said to have increased by 11 per cent between January and May, 2012 but it is not certain how many are from abroad.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the increase showed that the launching of the Langkawi Tourism Blueprint by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last December had a positive effect on this duty-free island.
"The blueprint determines the direction of the tourism industry here in increasing tourist arrivals to this resort island," he said when launching the ICT Strategic Plan, I-Link system and Pitch Book MICE of the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada), here, Thursday.

In Malaysia, you just need to launch something and you can see immediate results. Why then spend so much money on promotions.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Are we  refocusing our strategies to attract a greater number of niche-market visitors seeking holidays and experiences more in tune with their personal preferences and lifestyles. Four of the key niche markets that offer considerable potential are ecotourism, health & wellness, golf, and  honeymoons. The answer is no.

While  weddings and honeymoons category alone offers tremendous opportunities for neighbouring Thai tourism operators, we seem complacent with whateverr we are doing. India, South Korea, Japan, France, the US and the UAE are rapidly-growing source markets for those who want to get married or celebrate their union in this part of the world.

Niche markets are the way of the future. They provide many new opportunities for doing business with the growing number of specialist travel (consultants), while also feeding business to the increasing number of Malaysian product suppliers in each of these niche markets.

Ecotourism opens up a whole new dimension of possibilities for tourists looking for something really different from their trip to Malaysia

These possibilities include getting closer to nature and the local environment, first-hand cultural experiences, deepening their understanding of Malaysian communities, or actually working to give something back to the communities they visit.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


In Malaysia very little has been done to promote backpackers and student travel. Other than MSL Travel no other agency has taken much initiative to promote this tourism cluster.

There is something we can learn from Thailand. Despite the push for high-yield visitors at this year’s Thailand Travel Mart Plus, the backpacker and student travel markets are still a top priority for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

TAT believe that backpackers and students were integral to industry growth. “Quality tourism does not only mean luxury tourism. It is about how much money the tourists are going to spend, and their average length of stay,” TAT said.

“The average spend per day of the student and backpacker markets may not be a lot, but if you look at the (total) amount of money they spend while they are (in Thailand), it is pretty good, because they are here for so long," he added.

Students and backpackers helped drive up the average length of stay by UK travellers in Thailand to 17.5 days last year, an increase of 1.5 days compared to the year before.

“The average length of stay for the normal tourist is two weeks, so what’s making (up) the difference from 14 days to 17.5 days are the backpackers, who are obviously staying a lot longer,” explained TAT.

This increase in average length of stay has contributed to the growing value of the mature UK market, which is seeing limited growth in absolute terms, but significant growth in revenues generated. The market registered a 1.5-per cent year-on-year increase in arrivals in 2011, with receipts up by 17 per cent over the same period.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


by   KK Tan

A RECENT news report quoting figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) suggests that Malaysia is not getting the most value out of foreign tourists visiting the country. According to this report, international tourism receipts from Malaysia and its two neighbours, Thailand and Singapore, over the last two years are as follows :
Malaysia’s tourism revenue of US$18.3 billion (RM58.6 billion) in 2011 remained stagnant despite 5.6 million more tourists visiting Malaysia, compared with Thailand which, despite the floods, had revenue of US$26.3 billion (RM84.2 billion) – US$8 billion (RM25.6 billion) more than Malaysia. A total of 24.7 million tourists came to Malaysia last year compared with 19.1 million who visited Thailand. 
Studies have shown that every tourist dollar spent here has a multiplier effect of 12 times. 
Singapore, with only 13.2 million tourists last year, increased its receipts from US$14.1 billion (RM45.1 billion) in 2010 to US$18 billion (RM57.6 billion) in 2011, almost the same as Malaysia. 
In 2011 (and as before), Malaysia has the highest number of tourist arrivals (24.7 million) for Asean countries, followed by Thailand (19.1 million), Singapore (13.2 million) and Indonesia (7.7 million). 
The above scenario suggests that the country needs to have more high-value tourism products to get more out of foreign tourist spendings, promote local economy and generate greater foreign exchange earnings for the country. 
East Asia, China in particular, and South Asia, India in particular, are clearly projected as the catchment markets for tourists in the very near future. Mainland Chinese alone are expected to register 180 million overseas visits a year from 2015, with most of them heading to Asean. 
This is in addition to the increasing number of wealthy travellers from West Asia who Malaysia is already attracting. 
The Tourism Ministry is responsible for the marketing and promotion of the country on a macro level and is also making efforts to promote certain sub-sectors such as health tourism to generate more arrivals and spendings.  But the ministry has no responsibility for the management, maintenance and development of tourist attractions in the country.
Herein lies the problem. The ministry does not have the budget or the clout to develop high-value new tourism products, which if any, are often undertaken by the private sector.  The government at the highest level and with the co-operation of all other ministries involved should set up a high-powered and action-driven taskforce (co-ordinated by the Tourism Ministry) to spearhead and support strategic tourist projects with the participation of the private sector and all other stakeholders including NGOs, tourist and travel agencies and local communities. 
More thinking “beyond the wall” is needed to find innovative ways to better tap the spendings of tourists who are already coming to our shores. More high-value projects must be explored and supported. More needs to be done by all stakeholders involved in an important and crucial component of our economy.

The writer is the CEO of a strategic think tank and consultancy based in Kuala Lumpur.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Relawan Malaysia (RELA) has joined MATTA as a full member with additional powers of  making sure suspended members not allowed to enter the meeting hall at Bayview Hotel at Batu Feringgi on Monday. As a result thirteen travel agencies were barred from attending the Malaysian Travel and Tour Agents (Matta) Penang chaper's 18th annual general meeting following their recent suspension by the organisation. The suspensions range from 10 to 15 years.
Some argument took place when several operators lost their cool after being told by RELA that they could not attend the meeting. A spokesman for the group, Simon Goh, said those suspended did not realise they were barred from the meeting until they arrived at the venue.
"We have every right to attend the meeting as the association only suspended us from participating in its activities but not our membership with the organisation," he said.
Goh said the matter arose when several members discovered some discrepancies in the association's accounts and reported the matter to the national body, seeking its intervention to investigate as well as freeze the branch's accounts in February.
"The national body wrote to the Penang branch enquiring about the alleged discrepancies and this prompted the branch to issue a show cause letter to those who had complained to the national body," he said, adding that those who had failed to reply were suspended.
Goh said the suspension was against the association's constitution and this had been acknowledged by the national body. "We wanted to attend the AGM and explain the issue to the local branch representatives besides trying to find an amicable solution to the matter," he said.
Local branch chairman Johari Shafie said the AGM went on smoothly but refused to comment on the alleged discrepancies in the accounts of the chapter and the suspension of the group.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


The quaint town of Raub in Pahang used to be the hub of Communist Terrorist in the country.. The CTs as they were known before used to ride in their motorcycles to the hills of nearby Frasers Hills to attend platoon briefings or training courses. Nowadays different types of CTs are going to Putrajaya instead.
For this reason it is believed that the Tourism Ministry is preparing a blueprint to promote Raub of all places as a tourism destination. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen  who is also the MP of the area said the Raub Integrated Tourism Development Blueprint would improve the livelihood and employment opportunities for the locals the decendants of CTs included.
“It is my mission to develop Raub as an integrated tourism district because of its abundant natural resources and good accessibility. Moreover, there are two well-known home-stays in Sungai Pasu and Gali Hilir,” she said when opening the East Coast Economic Region Development Council empowering programme for Raub district here yesterday. 
Dr Ng said Raub district would also have 27 projects to develop tourism and upgrade facilities worth RM15.87mil under the Ninth and 10th Malaysia Plan. She said the ministry had also picked Kampung Sungai Pasu as a 21st century village with access to WiFi connection while still maintaining its traditional values and culture.
On the ECERDC programme, Dr Ng said it would provide training in academic and entrepreneurship skills to local youths. “The programme will help bridge the gap between urban and rural areas.”
Dr Ng said everyone in the tourism industry had the responsibility to maintain their services and products. “Failure to do so could mean a loss of financial resources,” she said, adding that besides tourism operators, local leaders and local government officers, even the ordinary people shared the responsibility of selling the country's tourism products. However, what normally happens when these efforts fail is that there will be parties blaming each other for not giving support.”
So let's start blaming her now.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Depending on how you look at it, tour and travel operators from 50 countries  have come together for the ” first”   time in history for a global Islamic tourism forum at the World Islamic Tourism Mart 2012 (WITM 2012), which ended on Saturday.
The travel mart organised by MATTA includes a three-day exhibitions, a Premier Consumer Travel Fair,  at PWTC, which was opened to the public and a Business2Business (B2B) Travel Exchange exhibition, where international and domestic players in the industry can network.
A one-day conference featuring “renowned “speakers in the industry was held at the Seri Pacific Hotel and there was nothing said that we have not heard before.
“WITM 2012 is an avenue for various players in the Islamic tourism industry, from the consumer to hoteliers, the Government and private tourism organisations, to network. It is also a one-stop resource centre for Muslims to find travel packages at reasonable prices that will cater to their needs such as ensuring halal food and appropriate accommodation.
“There are over 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide and, therefore, Islamic tourism is an area that must be developed,” Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said at a press conference.
The travel fair was to feature exhibits by participants from Muslim and non-Muslim countries such as Jordan, Iran, Maldives, UAE, Egypt, United States, Germany, France, India and China.
The exhibition was organised by MATTA in collaboration with the Tourism, Information, Communications and Culture and International Trade and Industry ministries and the Malaysian Association of Hotels, and is endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
The “Premier” Consumer Travel Fair was  opened to the public for free but coincided with MITE 2012 held at Serdang. Both sides were said to have suffered from lack of attendees due to the clash of dates.