Saturday, March 31, 2012


In an attempt to prevent Batu Berendam airport becoming a white elephant, Melaka Air will start its twice-weekly flights from here to Penang from April 6, said chairman of Melaka Holiday Sdn Bhd, Syed Mahaza Syed Dakian. He said the flights, on Mondays and Fridays, would use planes with a capacity to carry 72 passengers, rented from Firefly.

Syed Mahaza said the flight, which would take over one hour, would be convenient to local and foreign tourists and allow them to enjoy the unique tourist attractions in both states.

“There were many requests from foreign tourists in Penang to come to Malacca to see the Unesco World Heritage sites. The introduction of this new route will shorten the distance and help the tourists save cost to visit the historical city,” he told a media briefing yesterday. He said currently, Melaka Air only operated flights from here to Medan, Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Melaka Air general manager of tourism promotion division, Abd Kadir Md Idris, said the division would cooperate with Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents to promote the route and boost tourism arrivals in Malacca.

Friday, March 30, 2012


THE recent cancellation of flights by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia to both domestic and international destinations has caused great concerns. We have seen a drop in tourist arrivals in Kuala Lumpur, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit.

“We are concerned because if the cancellation continues, the growth of the tourism industry will become stagnant,’’ he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Wan Abd Rahim Wan Abdullah (PAS-Kota Baru) in Parliament.

He said the cancellation of 1,820 flights to Sabah and Sarawak last year had resulted in the loss of an estimated RM698.8mil in domestic tourist revenue.

Dawos agreed with Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) that the cancellation of flights to destinations in the Middle East and Europe had also impacted tourist arrivals. According to Dawos, the cancellation of flights to Dubai had caused the number of tourist arrivals from the United Arab Emirates and Europe to drop by 5.6% and 3% respectively in comparison to tourist arrivals from both destinations in 2010 and last year.

He said the Government had given the airlines sufficient time to carry out their rationalisation plans, including allowing third-party airlines to assume the cancelled routes. Dawos said his ministry was aware of the need to streamline the industry adding that the Government would find ways to initiate talks with other airlines.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Secretary General of MTF, Taib Wahab was in Mindanao 21 – 28 March 2012 as guest of the Dominican Province. Father Ramonclaro Mendez hosted him during his stay in Davao.

During the fact finding mission he toured Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Islamic city of Marawi, Coto Bato and General Santos. Despite the many military and police road blocks along the way he was able to see and speak to many people about the tourism potential of the area.

In this photo he is seeing having discussions with several tour operators based in Davao.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


PATA, Tourism Malaysia, and Taylor’s University are inviting students in travel and tourism to participate in the 2012 PATA Social Entrepreneur Challenge, part of the 2012 PATA Annual Conference.

Students are invited to form a team and submit a video on a socially responsible tourism business idea on YouTube.

Three final teams will be sponsored to present their idea live in front of a panel of the judges. Two awards will be granted to a champion judged by travel and tourism experts and the audience via the competition’s Facebook page.

The deadline for students to submit their idea by video is March 31. Website: Email:

Monday, March 26, 2012


Can you bring in the numbers from abroad in addition to the present level of tourist numbers to Malaysia? The answer is no. This is because art is only for the special interest groups. People do not come to Malaysia for art. They do it elsewhere.

But the tourism ministry has an ‘art of the deal’ to ring the cash register for Malaysia.

It has begun canvassing for the country to become the new art tourism destination in the region, said the minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. To do this you spend more money for promotion. This is what they are after…spending.

She said the ministry recognised the growing importance of art with regard to tourism to lure high-yield tourists to visit Malaysia to achieve its target of bagging RM168 billion in tourist ringgit by 2020.

Let’s see if it will work for us.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


In conjunction with the Malaysian Grand Prix, Malaysia Airports has put together exciting activities for travellers and the public from now until March 25, 2012 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

In a statement Monday, it said customers who spend a minimum of RM50 up to a maximum of three accumulated receipts will be eligible to participate in any of the activities offered. Among others, travellers and the public can participate in the Racing Simulator available at the stage area, Level 5, Main Terminal Building and Centre Hub Area, Satellite Building.

"Our goal is to heighten travellers' awareness of the offerings and services at KLIA and add to their overall travel experience," said Faizah Khairuddin, Senior General Manager Commercial Services, Malaysia Airports.

In line with its focus to position airports as lifestyle destinations, Malaysia Airports is aggressively expanding its food and beverage offerings particularly at KLIA, its flagship gateway.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


By Farrah Naz Karim

IT could be argued that genuine tourists drawn to the nation’s first-class shopping, the magnificent vistas and the warmth of her citizenry, could be persuaded, or even encouraged, to return.

They will be happy to spread the word to their friends, citing a safe and secure environment, free of “black money scams” and offerings of “Shag-hai” nights — thanks to strict border controls.

The premise is not at all impossible. After all, millions fly in to popular tourists destinations such as London, Singapore, Australia and the United States, the biggest bulls’ eye in every terrorist organisation’s sight, and the border controls in place here are so tight that even an Alabama tick can’t even get through.

A simple analogy would be the quintessential Malaysian tradition of the open house. We open the doors to our home on every festive occasion. We share the food, invite our friends and loved ones to partake in the festivities, but there is a screening process that takes place, whether one realises it or not.

It may be in the form of a subtle, unobtrusive “Hello, how are you? I’ve never seen you around here before. Where exactly do you live?”, or the more direct “Party’s over. Please leave.”

The Tourism Ministry has steadily increased tourist arrivals to the country by at least a million for each year for the last three years and is hoping to hit the 29 million target by 2015. The reason behind the easing of the security measures is naturally to promote tourism but the entry of the “extra” will harm the nation’s reputation.

The more pressing issue is security. Already, law enforcement agencies are overwhelmed by the crushing load of cases involving foreign nationals. The cost of hiring additional boots on the ground and deploying equipment, and to boost police presence is another drain on our resources.

It must now be asked if foreign crime gangs from South America, Eastern Europe and China were exploiting the no-questions-asked circular.

A more cost-effective solution would be to free the Immigration Department of its shackles and let it do its job.

In the case of spousal visa abuse, the National Registration Department can also play a role as a Tier One security checkpoint since it is the one tasked with marrying these couples in the first place.

The Immigration officers are, after all, the nation’s first line of defence and gatekeepers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


KUALA Lumpur Tourism Development Council has been established to ensure that the city's tourism industry progresses in the right direction.

Twenty-four representatives from government and corporate sectors and non-governmental organisations were appointed as council members to help identify potential tourism products and services. Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail is the council chairman.

The council was recently launched at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), where it also held its first meeting.

"The purpose of the council is to create a platform for the members collaborate closely to develop the tourism industry of KL," said Fuad. "City Hall has allocated a launch grant of RM1 million to the council to carry out its initiatives."

He thanked the members for accepting the appointments, and said he was confident that the council would contribute ideas and initiatives for the advancement of tourism as well as address the challenges faced by the industry in Kuala Lumpur.

The members were appointed in consideration of their roles and experience in the industry, he said. "I believe their experience and expertise in their respective fields will benefit the team in mapping out the development of the tourism industry," he said. Fuad said a council meeting would be held every two months to discuss issues, challenges and developments.

"We are not really far behind Singapore. In fact, Malaysia has many advantages, especially the shopping in KL. Tourists love shopping here simply because the prices are cheap and affordable compared to Singapore."

He said KL had the potential to grow as a tourism hub, which would generate more income and job opportunities for city residents. He said there were many places to visit here, and one of the ways to see the sights was by tram on the "Hop On Hop Off" programme for just RM2. City Hall has six trams running for the programme. City Hall is also upgrading the landscapes of the city parks, he said.

Last year, KL was named "Asia's Leading City Destination 2011" at the World Tourism Awards. In 2010, KL was the sixth most visited city by international tourists, with 8.9 million visitors.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Hotels and resorts here were told to step up the ‘greening’ of their premise to complement the government’s effort in developing a sustainable tourism sector.

Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Musa Aman said the hospitality sector should be mindful of the need to reduce its carbon footprint as Sabah was known for its biodiversity, clean environment and nature-based destinations.

“It is crucial for players in the tourism sector who depend on Sabah’s natural products to lure tourists to implement greener policies. Look for innovative ways of reducing energy and water use, recycle what you can, and try to start sourcing for organic detergents,” Musa said.

He said businesses that showed real commitment in going green would draw in environmental conscious clientele apart from helping to create a safer and better environment.

Musa also called on hotel and resort operators in Sabah to create their own niche and offer something different to guests and make use of the feedback from their customers to update and improve their services.

He added that Malaysia has a variety of products that cater to the needs of tourists, from nature destinations to rich cultural heritage and premier shopping malls. “There is something for everyone who visits Malaysia. It is projected that in 2020, the country’s tourism sector will grow by three folds with 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts,” he said.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Difficulty in convincing foreigners that Malaysia is a peaceful and stable country is the key barrier to them joining the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, said Tourism Minister.

She said street demonstrations have negative impact on promotional efforts undertaken by the ministry."This is the key barrier preventing foreigners from staying in Malaysia for long period," she said in a written reply to Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh) who asked about the breakdown of MM2H participants and barriers faced by the ministry.

The industry cannot accept such statement especially when it comes from a Minister who spend millions on promotion and overseas travel.

Dr Ng said 17,203 foreigners from 119 countries joined MM2H programme from 2002-2011 and the most were China nationals with 2,857 applications.

"They are followed by citizens of Bangladesh (2,082), United Kingdom (1,789) and Japan (1,629).

"The profile of 8,479 participants established since 2007 found that 90.6 percent are male while the remaining 9.4 percent are female," she added.

Initiatives taken to promote MM2H include encouraging foreign tour operators to offer "MM2H Inspection Tours" to tourists wishing to stay for long period. And of course spending a lot of money on unnecessary trips abroad to do only God knows what.

The key to the success of MM2H is not about security, rather it is about administration. So the less is spoken by the Minister the better it is for the industry.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


The main building of the old Istana Negara will be preserved as a national heritage and opened to visitors with its original features and furnishings maintained, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Information Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the decision was made by the Cabinet at its meeting on Jan 18.

The ministry also plans to set up a gallery on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as a constitutional monarchy at a building behind the old National Palace.

Rais said the old Istana Negara, which had been the residence of 13 Yang di-Pertuan Agongs since independence in 1957, would also be capitalised as an exclusive centre for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions).

On its ownership, he said the old palace was still owned by the government, but it was proposed to be run by a private company.

"For the time being, the cost maintenance and cleaning of the palace is borne by he ministry until the contract is awarded to the successful company," he said.

The Istana Negara was officially handed over to the ministry on Feb 21.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Penang once again receives international recognition as National Geographic Music features the vibrant island and its upcoming world music festival. On 6 March, National Geographic promoted the Plenitude Penang World Music Festival in its website together with a brief history of Penang and an introduction to George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Alongside New York Times’ article – “36 Hours: Penang”, Yahoo! Travel’s mention of Penang in “10 Islands To Explore Before You Die” and other recognitions by CNN and Lonely Planet, Penang is gaining much international attention, and with so much to offer in terms of history, heritage, culture and food, Penang is certainly making its way to be one of the top destinations in the world.

The Plenitude World Music Festival is happening from 30 March to 1 April at the Penang Botanic Gardens featuring 20 bands from all over the world, as far as Russia, Guinea, Mongolia, Vanuatu, Columbia and more. There will also be preview shows on 28 March at Hard Rock Hotel and 29 March at Straits Quay. Tickets can be purchased online at, or at the Penang Tourism Office at Level 53 KOMTAR, Tourist Information Centre at Beach Street, Switch Outlets (, Penang Botanic Gardens, Hard Rock Hotel Penang, Queensbay Mall, Discovery Overland Holidays and more.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


By Audrey Melani Dermawan

This year is Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2012. however the promotional exercise for the state's highly-anticipated event has been greatly lacking.

There are hardly any posters, billboards or buntings promoting the event yet Perak hopes to attract some three million in tourist arrivals. I am not saying it is impossible for the second largest state in Peninsular Malaysia to achieve the target, but even if it did, it cannot be solely attributed to the VPY 2012 campaign.

At least 31 tourism activities have been planned for VPY 2012, if not more. Among them are the just-concluded Royal Belum World Drums Festival, Golf Challenge (next month), Citrawarna Perak (May), Travel Fair (June), Ipoh International Run (July), Moh Kite Bowling (September), International Youth Rainforest (November) and Fiesta Pelancongan (December).

The state had allocated RM2 million from the Budget 2012 to promote VPY 2012 alone. It is understandable that the state hopes to capture a large number of tourists during the VPY 2012, making Perak one of the top tourism destinations in the country, but at the rate things are moving, my guest, my friends and I are rather doubtful.

To compound matters, the surrounding environment is not of great help either. Take for example the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh, if one can even regard it as a full-fledged airport. There is only a single airline operating here and the only flight is from Ipoh to Singapore and vice-versa.

There were only two check-in counters, one grocery shop, an information counter, a security counter and a police base. There was also a single eatery outside the main terminal.The seats are not unlike those in the old Puduraya. I am not exaggerating. I was even told by locals that sometimes the roller-shutter at the main terminal is brought down. But thankfully, the airport is undergoing some major expansion work now.

There is also the filthy Medan Gopeng bus station -- the first impression tourists will have of the state upon their arrival to Ipoh. The taxis are also ripping-off passengers. I was told that the public transport service is pathetic.

Perak is endowed with many natural attractions like the Royal Belum, which is the world's oldest rainforest, Gua Tempurung, which is the largest limestone cave in Peninsular Malaysia, the Matang mangrove swamp, the Lenggong Heritage Valley and Pangkor island. It is just a matter of how we package these attractions to draw in tourists.

It is still not too late for the authorities to address whatever shortcomings to ensure visitors to the state have a pleasant experience here and spread the good words around when they return home. It would be useless to cry over spilled milk when we read about negative comments about Perak in Tripadvisor and other travel portals at the end of the VPY 2012 campaign. It is the responsibility of each and everyone in the state to work together to present the best of Perak to the world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


MALAYSIA'S government investment arm Khazanah Nasional is on a drive to expand its hotels and attractions portfolio across the country, with its crown jewel being the Desaru Coast Integrated Tourism Destination that will include upscale resorts, golf courses and theme parks.

A 30-minute ferry ride away from Singapore, the revamped Desaru will target well-heeled Malaysians as well as families from existing core markets such as Singapore, the Middle East, South Korea and China.

Scheduled to open in 2014, it will feature a marine life park offering dolphin encounters, a water theme park, a golf club with 18-hole and 27-hole courses designed by Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, a Riverwalk Dining & Retail Village, and hotels including Aman Country Club and Villas, Sheraton Desaru Resort and a five-star resort. There will also be 5,000m2 of exhibition and conference space, including a 1,000-pax hall and four breakout rooms.

Undertaking the development are two wholly-owned subsidiaries of Khazanah, Destination Resorts and Themed Attractions Malaysia, both present at ITB Berlin to kickstart marketing for the project and establish partnerships with airlines and operators in Singapore and Malaysia.

Eliena Ahmad Gaman, director, corporate strategy, Destination Resorts, said: “It’s a repositioning for Desaru, which has been sleeping and under-managed for some time. We realised a fresh coat of paint wouldn’t be enough, so we decided to alter the product mix and add new accommodation options.”

Raja Zafura Raja Zain, senior vice president marketing, sales & communications, Themed Attractions Malaysia, added that the goal was “to create a reason for families to spend extra days in the country”.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


MALAYSIA is going for the high-end jugular with its new Luxury Malaysia branding, targeting key Asian markets and Europe. Speaking during a press conference to introduce the branding at ITB Berlin, Malaysia’s tourism minister Ng Yen Yen said efforts were being made to turn the country into a premier duty-free shopping destination, including the abolishing of all import duties on comestics, jewellery, watches and electronic goods starting this year.

Other initiatives implemented to draw high-end visitors include the organising of annual fashion and cultural events such as the 1Malaysia International Shoe Festival, as well as premier sporting events like the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia golf tournament.

Junaida Lee Abdullah, deputy secretary general-management & monitoring, Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, said: “The Luxury Malaysia initiative will allow us to inform people abroad that you can have a luxurious holiday in Malaysia. We have a lot of potential to offer as a high-end destination, with plenty of first-class products , dining options, hotels and attractions, but they may not have been marketed so well before.”

Susan Soong, assistant general manager, Borneo Eco Tours Kota Kinabalu, said she was planning to introduce more luxury products soon. “Sabah has many tour operators catering to high-end clients, and also plenty of luxury jungle resorts and five-star accommodation options. Up to 40 per cent of our clients are high-end, ” she added.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Kelantan's latest intention to impose attire policing on Western tourists will discourage tourism in the state. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said. “It is bad enough that Kelantan remains the poorest state in Malaysia and it is worse that the hardline state government is relentless in its pursuit of its attire policy, with foreign tourists being the latest target.”

Dr Ng is also MCA vice-president and the party's Kelantan state chief.

“As long as tourists and investors, be they foreign or local, are decently clad, there should not be any attire policing,” she said.

Rather than being judgmental and punitive about people's attire, Dr Ng said the local authorities should focus on hygiene and cleanliness of premises.

It was recently reported in a Malay daily that Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat wanted the state's Tourism Information Centre to pay attention to how tourists dressed. He directed the centre to ensure that tourists abided by the dress codes of local authorities and in accordance with Islam.

“To station moral enforcement officers or snoop squads to be on the lookout for tourists who are indecently attired only encourages voyeurism,” said Dr Ng.

Being born and bred in Malaysia, with an Australian PR, the Tourism Minister should by now understand religious sensitivities. What has dress code got to do with tourism? Only the Minister can tell.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


The 2012 official World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations will be held in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain (27 September 2012). Under the theme “Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development”, WTD 2012 highlights the need to bring the tourism sector and energy stakeholders closer together to spur tourism’s contribution to sustainability.

“Tourism is at the forefront of many of the latest and most innovative sustainable energy initiatives,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “One only has to think of the investments being poured into renewable energy sources for aviation, or the energy technology solutions implemented in hotels around the world, to know that sustainable energy is a major priority for the sector.”

“The message at the heart of World Tourism Day 2012 is that these initiatives and commitments are not only helping to protect the environment, they are also creating economic opportunities and jobs for millions, whether in tourism, energy or other sectors,” he said.

Official celebrations will take place in the town of Maspalomas in the Canary Islands, Spain, as was announced during the UNWTO Press Conference at the ITB Travel Trade Show with the presence of the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Borrego.

“Spain is among the top five countries investing in renewable energies worldwide and 20% of the energy consumed in Spain comes from renewable sources,” said Ms. Borrego. “We are convinced that the celebrations of World Tourism Day 2012 will be of great interest given the high caliber of participants, as well as the other events being organized to raise awareness of World Tourism Day among the general public.”

Holding this year’s celebrations in Spain is particularly fitting given its reputation as “one of the world's top tourism destinations and a global leader in renewable energies,” said the Secretary-General. As well as being a major tourism destination, one third of the island of Gran Canaria, including the town of Maspalomas, where the celebrations will take place, is a Biosphere Reserve of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Official WTD celebrations will include a High-Level Think Tank on the 2012 theme, at which public and private tourism stakeholders will join leaders from the energy sector to further the use of sustainable energy in the tourism sector. Confirmed participants include the Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, and the President of Acciona Energy, Carmen Becerril, of Spanish multinational Acciona.

WTD 2012 coincides with the UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, offering the opportunity to further highlight the shared responsibility of the tourism and energy sectors to the wider sustainability objectives of the UN.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen will lead a Malaysian delegation to the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Messe Berlin, Berlin, Germany, for five days from Wednesday in a clear show of the country's focus on European tourists.

A statement issued by Tourism Malaysia on Tuesday said 124,670 German tourists visited Malaysia last year, reflecting a strong German presence in the overall tourist arrivals in the country.

"Malaysia's presence at ITB will mark the country's 38th year of participation in the event," said the statement.

The delegation will comprise representatives of 57 organisations, including 31 hoteliers and 17 tour operators, national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS), as well as representatives from eight state governments.

Dr Ng is scheduled to launch the Malaysia Pavilion Wednesday and promote several key tourism products and events. – Bernama

Friday, March 9, 2012


Experts have revealed the sneaky strategies restaurants use to get you to spend more money.

Expect the Unexpected
We've all been there: You head out to dinner with a friend, a ballpark amount in mind that you want to spend. You have a great time, laughing and catching up, and before you know it, the beer is flowing, you've ordered the extra appetizer, that tasty-sounding special, and life is fantastic-until the check arrives, and it is double what you wanted it to be.

It's not a coincidence.

Smart restaurant owners know how to boost their profits by using subtle strategies that encourage you to spend more. Here, a restaurant insider and a behavioral psychologist dish about these secrets, so you won't fall for them.

Menu Design

A menu's layout, language, and other factors can subconsciously shift our ordering patterns. For instance, a study found that when menus omit the dollar sign (using 25 instead of $25), patrons are less likely to focus on cost.

Restaurateurs also entice patrons with juicy descriptions. "It could sound tasty by using keywords like succulent, tender, organic, blah, blahh. Often the prices come after the descriptions to get your mouth watering before you know what it costs. Prices are often also tucked at the end of a description instead of to the right, so patrons can't run their eyes down the list and choose the cheapest item.

Price Anchoring

Price anchoring attempts to shift your perception of reasonable pricing, like when a real estate agent shows you a house that's way out of your price range, followed by a more moderate one that feels like a bargain in comparison. Restaurants do this, too.

Strategic Servers

Specials are usually offered orally-and it's not just because servers like to practice their memorization skills. Providing tasty descriptions of dishes off the menu means servers can omit prices (and they often do), and restaurants know that people won't want to appear cheap by asking for pricing information. They also know that, statistically speaking, men on a date are more likely to accept a server's offer for expensive wine, dessert, or apr├Ęs dinner drinks.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


The Kelantan government today denied allegations by certain parties that it purportedly did not carry out efforts to attract local and foreign tourists in conjunction with the Visit Kelantan Year 2012 (TMK12).

The Chairman of the State Committee on Local Government, Tourism and Culture, Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan on the other hand said all plans to promote the TMK12 had been made a year earlier.

"The state agency through the Tourism Information Centre and the central agency such as Tourism Malaysia and so on had carried out the TMK12 promotions several times.

"The allegation that Kelantan did not carry out any promotion or implemented them hastily is not true," he said when winding up the debate at the State Legislative Assembly sitting at Kota Darulnaim, here today.

Yesterday, Datuk Abdul Aziz Derashid (BN-Kuala Balah) claimed that the Kelantan government was not committed in implementing the TMK12 with no concerted efforts to woo tourists. Instead of giving a hand in promoting his own state the BN Rep is busy critisising the PAS government of efforts he himself is not aware off.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Homestay operators in Sarawak earned RM978,703.62 last year, an increase of over 25 per cent compared with RM780,952.36 in 2010.

According to the Tourism Ministry's statistics, 12,612 tourists took up the homestay packages in the state in 2011, compared with 9,384 previously.

To date, a total of 409 homestay operators have been registered by the ministry in Sarawak to provide 539 accommodation facilities.

The accommodation provided is either in the form of individual traditional houses or longhouses.

The homestay operators come from several ethnic groups in the state

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


When it comes to Kelantan this is what Bernama has to say and nothing more:

KOTA BAHARU, March 3 (Bernama) -- Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said the state government could achieve its target of six million visitors this year, in conjunction with Visit Kelantan Year 2012 (VKY 2012).

He said the event was expected to contribute about RM1.8 billion to the state's coffers.

The state's tourism industry needed to be further promoted, such as through its organic agriculture and 'ikan kelah' (mahseer fish) products, he said at the launch of the VKY 2012 by Tengku Mahkota Kelantan, Tengku Muhammad Faiz Petra Sultan Ismail Petra last night.


Monday, March 5, 2012


Tired of the “ugly American” stereotype of U.S. travelers abroad? A new LivingSocial survey conducted among more than 5,600 respondents in five countries by Mandala Research discovered that Americans ourselves believe we are the world’s worst tourists. The survey found that Americans, Canadians and Australians all gave U.S. tourists that dubious distinction, while the Irish identified their British neighbors as the worst, and the British called out the Germans for bad travel behavior.

“Americans turn out to be pretty active globetrotters, with the average person having visited at least four countries. Unfortunately, Americans have pretty low opinions of themselves as travelers, so it’s time to turn on that Yankee charm and improve our global image.”

Despite these self-doubts, respondents dismissed another common misperception: that most Americans have never traveled abroad. The survey found that 78 percent of Americans have visited at least one foreign country, 61 percent have visited multiple countries, and 36 percent have traveled to four or more foreign destinations. The average number of countries visited was more than four.

“Our survey puts the old wives’ tale to bed that only 15 percent of Americans own passports,” said Dave Madden, GM of LivingSocial Escapes, North America. “Americans turn out to be pretty active globetrotters, with the average person having visited at least four countries. Unfortunately, Americans have pretty low opinions of themselves as travelers, so it’s time to turn on that Yankee charm and improve our global image.”

This watchdog feels that it is about time we Malaysian do our own survey to determine what sort of travellers are we.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


by Lee Hester

Forget First Class! Find out who’s sitting next you on your next flight. Remember the days when you sat at your airport gate wondering and worrying who might be sitting next to you? Those days are over now for travelers who can’t get enough social networking on the ground. Airline travelers no longer have to be nameless and unknown. In fact, with ‘social seating’ now available on a number of airlines, you can find out all kinds of things about your fellow travelers. Welcome to the new “mile high” media club.

In January, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Malaysia Airlines made it possible for passengers to share photos, social networking profiles and have even gone as far as letting them pick their seatmates prior to takeoff. These social seating programs are viewed as a dream come true for social networkers although some passengers are concerned about privacy issues and even possible stalkers. KLM calls their voluntary social seating plan “Meet and Seat,” available on flights between Amsterdam and New York and San Francisco and Sao Paulo. Malaysia Airlines call their program (also voluntary), “MHbuddy.”

Here’s how it works. On KLM’s “Meet and Seat,” once passengers have booked their flight, they can access the option through “Manage my Booking” on the airline’s website. They have from ninety days to forty-eight hours to get to know their potential seat mates. Social networking flyers can share their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles with other passengers and the information shared in the profiles and their photos can even be edited.

Seating maps display seat choices and Facebook or LinkedIn profiles of other passengers who want to participate. Passengers can contact each other before the flight and choose their seating assignments ahead of time if the seat is available. Participating passengers are notified via e-mail when other passengers select the option to share their social network profiles. Prior to takeoff, travelers can change their seat or withdraw their social media profile and after the flight, profiles are deleted.

MHbuddy, Malaysia AIrlines’ program is a Facebook application. Passengers can book their flights and check in on Facebook. They have the ability to view photos and seat selections for any of their Facebook friends on the flight. MHbuddy also lets passengers know if any of their Facebook friends are planning on traveling to the same destination in case they want to meet.

JetBlue, American Airlines and Delta are all showing interest in the social-seating trend. A JetBlue spokeswoman, Allison Steinberg said, “We haven’t ruled out social seating or similar concepts, but it’s not something we’re actively pursuing. We’re conscious of some of the privacy concerns it might raise and are careful to listen to cues from our customers on what they want.”

Fasten your seat belts.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) recorded a net loss of RM2.52 billion, on the back of RM13.9 billion in revenue, for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2011. For the fourth quarter, the national carrier recorded RM1.28 billion in net loss, on a turnover of RM3.68 billion, said group chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

He said the bottom-line group losses for 2011 underscored the imperative need for the airline to immediately adopt strong measures to stop the "bleeding".

"These includes staff redeployment, increasing productivity and efficiency, relentless cost control and making further reviews. We are also implementing an aggressive sales and marketing strategy," he told a press conference here today.

Ahmad Jauhari said the group's full year performance was severely impacted by a 21 per cent increase in expenditure of RM16.2 billion, from RM13.41 billion in 2010, previously. He said the higher expenditure was due to a 33 per cent increase in fuel cost of RM5.85 billion and a 15 per cent increase in non-fuel expense of RM10.43 billion.

The rise in non-fuel expense was mainly due to provisions totalling RM1.09 billion made in the fourth quarter for stock obsolescence, redelivery of aircraft and impairment of freighter aircraft.

Whatever accounting reasons you can think of does not discount the fact that for years now MAS has been plagued by abuses by the government itself and the working culture of its employees, who neither could shaped up or be shaped out.

Long live MAS.

Friday, March 2, 2012


About 4,000 taxi drivers in the Klang Valley will be appointed tourism taxi ambassadors in an effort to enhance the service industry and promote the country. The move followed complaints from tourists about taxi drivers, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She added that the pilot project was to provide the drivers with “capacity building” to understand their roles better in nation-building.

“This is part of the Government’s initiative under the Malaysian Tourism Transformation Plan to achieve RM168bil in tourism revenue and 36 million tourists by 2020,” she said after visiting the covered walkway between the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre to Pavilion Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The Minister said the ministry would collaborate with taxi associations and ask them to recommend drivers who could become tourism taxi ambassadors. “The taxi must be clean, the driver must possess basic communication skills and not smoke while driving,” she added.

The taxi drivers would be briefed on various new tourism products and government initiatives. They would also have to attend a one-day course. “The training will be made for batches of 100 people each, which will begin in the middle of March,” she added.

The taxi drivers will be monitored for six months after the course and the selection will be done by a panel comprising taxi associations representatives, Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the ministry.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


All Forestry Department in the country should be inspired by the efforts being done their Sabah counterparts.

The newly upgraded Mangrove Discovery Centre in Sepilok Laut, near here is slated to become another tourism attraction for Sabah, specifically the east coast town of Sandakan.

The centre, upgraded and completed on Jan 12 2012 at a cost of RM1.04 million, is 5.5 kilometres away via a jungle trail from the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan said the centre aims to provide a unique and magnificent experience to visitors who will get to experience a natural mangrove habitat.

"A 700-metre Belian wood boardwalk connects the existing information centre to a camping site. Other facilities include resting areas, bridges and a multipurpose tower.

"The Department plays an important role in operating and maintaining this centre, which is also in line with the Sustainable Forest Management principles," he said in a statement issued here today.

More such centres should be built in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.