Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Malaysia will remain the key destination for Singaporeans to spend their holidays due to its close geographical proximity and cordial bilateral ties with the country,to say the least.

Tourism Malaysia director for Singapore, Zalizam Zakaria, said strong relations between the neighbours, lifestyle similarities, appetising food, favourable exchange rate, shopping, increasing air travel affordability, especially through low-cost carriers, have made them to visit Malaysia more frequently.

"Malaysia's tourism industry has become the second largest contributor to the country's economy in terms of foreign exchange, thereby making Malaysia a premier destination, especially for holidays and travel incentives. In 2010, Malaysia received 24.6 million tourists, who spent RM56.5 billion. Of the total, Singaporeans accounted for RM28.4 billion, with 13 million arrivals," he added.

Zalizam said Malaysia offered a variety of interesting tourism products throughout the year for visitors' enjoyment including new attractions.

He said the Johor Premium Outlet, the first Premium Outlet Centre in South East Asia in Kulaijaya, near Johor Baharu City, opened on Dec 11 last year by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak offers branded names like Armani, Burberry, Coach, Gap and Nike. The products are sold at 25 per cent to 65 per cent discounts. Furthermore, it takes only less than 30 minutes from the Second Link to reach the outlet, which has 2,600 parking bays.

On a daily basis thousands of Singaporeans cross the Johor causeway to spend the day taking advantage of cheaper goods and highly favourable rate of exchange as well as enjoying the many subsidiased essentials.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last year, tourism delivered over $4 billion in receipts. From January to November, 3,522,887 visitors came to the Philippines, 12 percent more than the number in the previous year. It spurred tourism officials to set bigger goals for this year. As in previous years, South Koreans made up the biggest group of visitors – 839,111. Our neighbors from the Land of the Morning Calm have always found our beaches and tropical climate hard to resist.

The number of tourists from ASEAN is climbing. There was a 12.04 percent rise in arrivals from ASEAN countries between 2010 and 2011. Of particular interest to Philippine authorities is Malaysia. Last year we welcomed more than 80,000 visitors from Malaysia, making that country our 11th biggest tourist market.

This year the government is launching a major campaign to attract more tourists from Malaysia. The private sector has also realized there is much to be gained from tapping that country as a tourist market. Already, a local airline company, Cebu Pacific, has plans to open a Manila-Kuala Lumpur route with twice-daily flights. It also will be flying to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, Sarawak.

The Philippines has much to offer as a tourist destination. Boracay has long been a favorite attraction. The Underground River in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, aside from being a World Heritage Site. The Chocolate Hills of Bohol are as intriguing as they are unique. And festivals like the Ati-atihan and Masskara are a celebration of color and revelry. Aside from being a potential source of foreign exchange, it also opens up livelihood opportunities for thousands of people in the countryside. We must support the government’s effort to achieve this goal.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


The introduction of TTEC is said to be a step in the right direction towards responsible tourism. Tourism providers ought to be more knowledgeable on major issues such as licensing, legal, safety, health and environment; apart from marketing, customer service and crisis management.

To say that the only way to acquire such skills is by attending the compulsory TTEC, would be sheer bullshit. Tourists and local communities too would welcome education on their role and responsibilities, as it can bring more opportunities and better sustainability, but it does not have to be TTEC.

One of the special features of the program is that participants can extract the full value by putting forward intelligent questions in advance for the trainers to prepare and address adequately during the course. By doing so there will be nothing the participants can gain except to hope that their questions will be answered intelligently by the lecturers whose qualification is yet to be determined.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Despite strong objections from many quarters of the industry, travel and tour companies are now required to enrol a senior staff for the “Travel & Tour Enhancement Course” (TTEC) as one of the conditions for the renewal of their company licence by the Tourism Ministry.

Over the past 25 years, travel and tour operators were not compelled to upgrade their professionalism and only a small number participated in the Human Resource Development Fund.

Travel industry employees learned mostly on-the-job and few are formally trained. There is a great disparity in the level of knowledge and skills across the 3,207 licensed travel and tour companies.

It is more apparent in marketing and customer service. However, hidden dangers lurk below the surface and major players are just as vulnerable.

Operators should safeguard what they have achieved through all the years of hard work.

As such, travel and tour operators ought to accord greater importance to the TTEC, which has to be attended by just one senior management staff member annually.

To say that the introduction of TTEC is a step in the right direction towards responsible tourismis a lot of bull.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Australia’s consumer watchdog has filed legal action against AirAsia X, claiming the Malaysia based LCC failed to disclose the full price of international flights from Australia.

In documents filed in the Federal Court on Tuesday, the ACCC alleges the airline’s website did not include taxes and fees as part of advertised AirAsia X fares to London plus a range of destinations in Asia.

“Businesses that choose to advertise a part of the price of a particular product or service must also prominently specify a single total price,” the ACCC said in a statement.

The ACCC is seeking penalties, an injunction restraining AirAsia from “engaging in misleading conduct in the future,” and a court order forcing the airline to publish corrective notices on its website.

The move comes as AirAsia X ramps up services to Australia, launching highly touted daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney.

It's about time similar body be formed in Malaysia.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012


The Transport Ministry is encouraging the setting up of more local airlines to serve the country's growing population and in view of the impending implementation of the Asean Open Sky Policy in 2015.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said Malaysia does not have a policy that limits the number of licences to operate scheduled air services, although the local market is currently dominated by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia.

"Our population is increasing and we must also take into account that there will be the open skies policy in Asean by 2015. By then, we will not be able to stop any airline from neighbouring countries from coming (to compete in Malaysia). Thus, I think it's better for any Malaysian company that has the capacity, to participate in the business because there will be a lot of opportunities created by the open skies policy," he told reporters after the launch of Eaglexpress Air Charter Sdn Bhd here yesterday.

Abdul Rahim also said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) expects a 6.6% growth in the number of passengers passing through the 39 airports it runs in the country this year. MAHB handled 65.3 million passengers last year, up 10.6% from 2010. Of the total, 37.7 million passengers passed through the KL International Airport in Sepang. The airport operator also predicts flat air cargo volume growth in 2012, from a contraction of 2% last year.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Being the worlds tallest, the Twin Towers of Petronas in Kuala Lumpur has become one of the Malaysia's most popular landmarks.

That’s the verdict according to MTF first-ever landmarks survey, in which we asked tourists to tell us which landmarks they’ve traveled to see. We used the results to determine the Malaysia's most popular landmarks, a revealing list of longtime favorites and buzzed-about newcomers like the Twin Towers.

Historic, recognizable landmarks naturally pique our travel interest. the Sultan Abdul Samad building at Dataran Merdeka has attracted onlookers since its clock started counting the minutes in 1925. The National Monument is the city’s most popular landmark and has given travelers a new reason to visit; opened to the public in since the declaration of Independance.

These famous places are just the beginning—see which other landmarks have lured travelers to experience their magic.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Most New Year’s Resolutions don’t last. So maybe instead of “going to the gym” or “reading a few more classics” you should put something completely new and life-altering on your list–a resolution that’s easy to keep because you’ll want to keep it. Something like “treat yourself to the trip of a lifetime.”

From white water rafting the Selangor River to climbing Mount Kinabalu, the country is filled with true once-in-a-lifetime adventures and destinations. Some are expensive, some are moderate, others can be surprisingly affordable, but all will pay you back with experiences you’ll treasure the rest of your life.

Few adventures earn the moniker “Trip of a lifetime” as regularly as a whitewater descent of the Selangor River, the state most famous natural landmark. Ironically, thousands of people go to see the river each year, but few really see much more than an broad overview – to appreciate the river you have to go into it, and that means getting to the source. This trip is especially popular with team builders and offers plenty of “unplugged” time, resulting in an unforgettable and often life-changing experience for all ages. Spend your adrenaline-filled days enjoying the exhilaration of the rapids, while nights mean camping under the ultra-clear skies and swapping stories around the campfire.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


As a country promoting its My Second Home Program it is important to find out if living in Malaysia will to lead to homesickness. A recent survey has established that this in not true for people who have relocated to New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.

These are the three nations where it’s easiest to befriend locals, learn the local language, integrate into the community and fit into the new culture, according to the results of HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey, released last month.

The World's Friendliest Countries

1. New Zealand

2. Australia

3. South Africa

4. Canada

5. United States

New Zealand, in the top spot, had high scores in all four categories. Seventy-five percent of respondents living there reported that they were integrating well in the local community; in Australia it was 77 percent and in South Africa 79 percent.

“New Zealanders as a whole seem like happy people, and that translates into friendly, helpful and kind people,” notes American expat Kim Brinster. Other positive aspects, she says, include a “pitch-in-and-help mentality,” as well as navigable government and health-care systems. A former New York City bookstore owner, she relocated two years ago to Waiheke Island, off Auckland, to be with her New Zealander partner. She has no plans to leave

HSBC surveyed 3,385 expatriates in 100 countries between May and July 2011. Because countries with fewer than 30 respondents were deemed statistically insignificant, the findings rank a total of only 31 countries. Bermuda, which ranked highly last year, was not included this year because it had too few respondents.

Malaysia is a long way off to be rated in the top ten world's firendliest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



International tourist numbers expanded in 2011 despite the economic crisis, the Arab spring and Japanese disasters, and will hit one billion this year, a UN body said Monday.

The number of international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent to 980 million in 2011, up from 940 million in 2010, the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organization said in an annual survey.

But while the number of visitors to Europe surged as civil conflicts drove many tourists away from sunspots in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, the overall recovery that began in 2010 appears to be losing steam, it said.

World tourism had recovered from its worst year in 60 years in 2009, the body's secretary general Taleb Rifai said, with visitor numbers up 6.7 percent in 2010. The 2011 figure was within the body's 4.0-5.0 percent forecast.

Now, the organisation forecasts international tourism will grow further in 2012 although at a slower rate.

"Arrivals are expected to increase by 3.0 to 4.0 percent, reaching the historic one billion mark by the end of the year," it said.

The world's regions had mixed fortunes last year.

Europe recorded an extra 29 million visitors and a total of 503 million -- six percent higher than 2010, reflecting the sharpest rise of all the regions.

But Africa, with 50 million visitors overall, logged no growth in tourist arrivals in 2011 after posting gains of 6.0 percent in the previous year.

"The gain of two million by sub-Saharan destinations (7.0 percent) was offset by the losses in North Africa" of 12 percent, the report said.

Visits to the Middle East declined eight percent, with the region losing an estimated 5.0 million international tourist arrivals compared to 2010, for a total of 56 million.

But some destinations in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, continued to sustain steady growth in tourist arrivals.

Asia saw the growth in visitor numbers slow from 13 percent in 2010 to 6.0 percent in 2011 after the tsunami that struck Japan in March and the consequent nuclear alert.

The rate of growth in visitors to the Americas halved to 4.0 percent.

"Contrary to previous years, growth was higher in advanced economies (5.0 percent) than in emerging ones (3.7 percent), due largely to the strong results in Europe, and the setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa," the report said.

Rifai said the overall growth in a sector that accounts for five percent of the world's gross domestic product was potentially good news in hard economic times, however.

"These results are encouraging, coming as they do at a time in which we urgently need levers to stimulate growth and job creation," he said in the report.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Malaysia is ranked as the top halal-friendly holiday destination for 2012 among 10 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Crescentrating.com, a travel portal for halal-conscious Muslim travellers, said Malaysia was placed in top spot because it had much to offer Muslim travellers.

This was followed by Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Brunei and Qatar.

According to the survey conducted by the portal, the rankings were compiled based on facilities and services provided by those countries to Muslim visitors, such as halal food, halal-certified restaurants, availability of mosques and family-friendly attractions. The portal also conducted a survey of halal-friendly holiday destinations in non-OIC countries for 2012.

Bosnia and Herzegovina topped the list, followed by Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Gold Coast (Australia), New Delhi, London, Bangkok, Munich and Vienna.

Consultancy group AT Kearney, a global management firm, said the halal market was estimated to be around US$2 trillion. – Bernama

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Domestic tourism will be among the focus to be given by Malaysia in future following the success of the domestic vacation programme which contributed significantly to the national economy.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the data showed that in 2010, Malaysians had made 110 million trips to go on vacation in the country which contributed an income of RM34 billion.

The success, which was achieved through aggressive promotions including the 'Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia' programme indicated that the tourism industry had the potentials to make a significant contribution to the country's income.

"Many of us may have forgotten that Malaysia has numerous tourist destinations which are attractive and must be visited. Thus, our focus in future is to give emphasis on domestic tourism because this segment offers considerable returns to the country," she said on the sidelines of the Asean Plus Three (China, Japan and Korea) Tourism Ministers' Meeting, in Manada recently.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Shaky economy notwithstanding, Americans intend to travel farther and spend more in 2012, according to a nationwide poll of Reuters.

Long-haul bookings to Europe, Asia and Australia are up in 2012, comprising 11 of the top 20 destinations for U.S. travelers, compared to nine in 2011, the survey of 640 travel agents showed.

Over 90 percent said their clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2012. The top two international destinations for 2012, based on actual bookings, remain Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, as they were in the 2011 survey.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong, China, missing from the top 20 in 2011, made the list in 2012, and Sydney, Australia, ranked 19th last year just missed making the top 15.

"We are very encouraged to see the rise in popularity of such a diverse group of international destinations," said Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, which conducted the poll.

He said along with the expected list-toppers, such as London and Rome, it was nice to see Americans' interests are diversifying and in large enough numbers to 'bump up' destinations such as Hong Kong and Beijing in Asia, and Amsterdam and Barcelona in Europe.

Asked to pick the top up-and-coming international destinations, over a third of the agents chose Croatia for Europe, and one-half said Vietnam led in Asia. Panama edged out Ecuador and Brazil among destinations within Central/South America.

So Tourism Malaysia must put their act together and make more effort to promote arrival into Malaysia.