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.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Some of us who were at the closing ceremony of  The Malaysia International Tourism Exchange (MITE) last night were wondering how could this event be graced by a Tourism Minister when the crowd was hardly 200 people mostly not from the industry.  A word must have gone to the Minister about the situation on the ground and she decided not to come.

So the obedient Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau chief executive officer Zulkefli Sharif was asked to stand in for her. While reading her speech the Minister said that MITE 2012 has achieved its objective of promoting the country’s tourist attractions to outsiders like it has never been done before.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen then went on to  say that Malaysia had all the attributes that made it an ideal holiday destination as well as a magnet for investors.

“This major event (MITE) has awakened the interest of investors, tourism and travel trade members whose nature of business involves marketing tourism services and building up of a good network of business contacts for the trade,” she said.

For saying that MITE had received the support of 370 Malaysian registered sellers and those from 11 other countries, as well as 115 buyers from 23 countries, of which 70 per cent were from ASEAN, she was lying to her teeth.

She noted that the event had definitely created smart partnerships among the invited buyers and sellers during a two-day business-to-business session.

The minister also announced that the next edition of MITE would be held from June 6 to 9 next year. And we have this to say:

Without a post event report, she already committed to continue with the event with the same event manager. She has no sense of ROI with the RM5million investment. The Minister has been talking about  niche market tourism many times over the last few years but MITE is still the same pasar malam promotion selling domestic “Cuti Cuti Malaysia”

The Malaysia International Tourism Exchange (MITE) 2012 has failed in  its objective of promoting the country’s tourist attractions to outsiders.  There were 115 overseas buyers as claimed. With RM5million, it is a very expensive sales and marketing operations which work out to approximately RM43,478.26 per buyer. Unbelievable but true.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak hopes that the Malaysia International Tourism Exchange (MITE) 2012 will emerge as among the best travel trade shows in this region, if not in the world. 

The Prime Minister said targeted to strategically bring together the relevant vendors and service providers under one roof to explore and seize opportunities from the tourism industry globally, MITE also opened doors of opportunities to would-be investors to consider Malaysia as an avenue to invest in tourism-related business.
"In this regard, MITE inevitably creates a platform for networking, collaboration in the development of value-adding complementary services and for sharing ideas," he said at the launching of MITE 2012, here, today. Also present were the prime minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
The four-day event is said to have  attracted more than 600 exhibitors from 33 countries, but only 7 were seen during the opening ceremony.  120 dedicated " buyers"  from 23 countries were expected to be present as the Ministry has paid for their travelling expenses and full board during their stay here. 

A direct grant of RM 4.5 million has be given to the organisers not inclusive of the gala dinner and the huge advertising budget paid for by the Ministry of Tourism.  How they can  expect to draw some 600,000 visitors to this event is everyone's guess.

Friday, June 1, 2012


The so called "largest tourism exchange event in Malaysia, MITE 2012" has turned out to be a local fun fair event, close to a pasar malam.

Yesterday's opening clearly shows how tired we are Malaysians with all this so called tourism event that has bleed the country of scare resources  money.

The organisers has claimed in their high tech website that they  are not only inviting the domestic and foreign travel agencies and tourism companies like one would usually find in a common tourism fair. Advocating the extensive growth of the tourism industry by a more proactive approach, MITE 2012 has also secured the participation of ministries, foreign missions in Malaysia, members of the media, trade members and tour operators both from Malaysia and abroad to support the effort.

With a budget of close to RM 6 million by the Ministry of Tourism MITE 2012 will also be filled with non-stop fun-packed activities such as international performances and showcases, seminars, games and competitions. Meanwhile, the event will also share and exchange international cultural habits and practices, festivities plus a mouthwatering food showcase which will definitely make MITE 2012 an inspiring and exciting experience.

How they will get 600,000 people to visit the show is everyone's guess. Indian magic will be needed here. May we suggest the organisers arrange 15,000 buses to ferry Malaysians from all over the country for a free trip to Serdang with makan and pocket money thrown in.