Saturday, December 30, 2006

British Couple Writing Travel Guide on Perak

IPOH: A British couple who have been staying here for the past decade are writing a tourist guidebook on 12 places of interest in Perak.

The 24-page book by David Miller and his wife Barbara will contain “honest” descriptions of the places and will be unveiled during the launch of the state-level Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

“But our main intention is to help uncover what tourists should discover when visiting the 12 places,” said David.

The couple from Crieff, Scotland, came to Malaysia under the “Malaysia My Second Home” programme.


David said Perak’s vibrant greenery and other natural attractions could be a major draw among foreign tourists.

“Perak has limestone hills and outcrops which many foreign tourists are dying to see, but the state understates itself and does not want to boast about these attractions,” he said.

Barbara said many of the state’s brochures had not changed in years.

“Tourists sometimes find themselves cheated because what is described in the brochures turn out to be no longer correct,” she said.

Among the couple’s top recommendations are Pangkor Laut Resort and Pangkor Island Beach Resort.

“These places are Perak’s jewels but what impressed us most was the marked improvement in cleanliness on the island,” Barbara said.

“The untidy sight of the island was gross, with rubbish strewn everywhere when I went there four years ago.”

David said he disagreed with the notion that Ipoh was a dead town, describing the city instead as having a good blend of traditional and modern lifestyles.

“There are many places tourists can visit provided they make an attempt to look for them,” he said.

Having been to many cities in the world, the couple said Ipoh had projected itself naturally and did not pretend to be what it was not.

“Most importantly, Ipoh is still much cleaner compared with certain other cities in Malaysia,” said Barbara.



Source : STAR
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Special Unlimited Komuter Tourist Pass

In conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2007, KTM Berhad is introducing a special tourist pass for tourists to travel on the KTM Komuter.

The special KTM Komuter Tourist Pass is valid for unlimited travel on KTM Komuter for one day to any destination within the network.

The pass costs RM12 each while that for children and senior citizens is RM6. Children under four travel free.

Source : STAR
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Pahang Aims for RM4b Tourism Revenue

KUANTAN: Pahang is targeting RM4bil in tourism revenue in 2007 and expects 7.5 million domestic and foreign tourists to visit the state.

State Tourism Action Council general manager Junus Suhit said various activities had been planned to attract tourists to Pahang.

This includes 12 international events like the Monsoon Madness wind surfing at Balok, the National Park Eco Challenge in Lipis, Rafting Expedition and the International Orchestra Festival.

He said efforts would be made to build more facilities and improve existing ones to make tourists stay longer.

Junus said 4.3 million people visited Pahang in the first six months of this year.
The tourists were mainly from Singapore, China and Britain.

Source : STAR
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Errant Cabbies Irk Tourism Ministry

It has lately been an expensive ride for visitors travelling from KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang to the Kuala Lumpur city centre.

And this is not just annoying to the visitors, who feel the taxi drivers have fleeced them, but also to the Tourism Ministry, reported China Press.

The paper said irresponsible cabbies had been charging exorbitant fares for trips between KLIA and the city.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim said
a Japanese tourist had complained that a taxi driver charged RM300 to take him from the airport to a city ho-tel.

“A friend told me that he had to pay RM120 in taxi fare from KLIA to Damansara,” he added, alleging that this was due to the inefficient enforcement of the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board.


Source : STAR
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New World Hotel Renamed to Renaissance KL

THE New World Renaissance Hotel has been renamed Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, East Wing.

The change of name is a move to make it easier for everyone, particularly those in the travel industry, to remember the hotel’s name.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim flagged off a convoy of taxis at the hotel to mark the occasion.

Lim and Renaissance KL Hotel general manager Robert Frager earlier presented goodie bags filled with lunch boxes and gifts to the taxi drivers.


The goodie bag distribution to the taxi drivers was held for two consecutive days to create and increase awareness on the hotel’s East Wing.

About 600 goodie bags were distributed each day to all taxi drivers passing through Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang.

“The renaming is timely as Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 is starting in a few days’ time,” said Lim.

“Tourism is a service-oriented and people-pleasing business. Tourists always remember their travel experiences, especially if they are pleasant and wonderful ones.

“Friendly smiles, courtesy, politeness and assistance can leave lasting impressions on our visitors – from the moment they exit the plane and board into a taxi, to their hotel stay, and more,” said Lim.

“I’m happy that this hotel is working hand in hand with several taxi associations to promote VMY 2007. The VMY stickers on the taxis and the display of non-slip dashboard mats and sun shades given by the hotel are great ways to promote Malaysia as a top tourist destination.”
According to Frager, the Renaissance KL Hotel now has two wings – the 521-room East Wing and 400-room West Wing.

“The Renaissance KL Hotel has undergone a few changes since its inception in June 1996, while New World Hotel opened its doors in July 1996,” he said.

“In 1998, New World Hotel was rebranded to the New World Renaissance KL Hotel and amalgamated with Renaissance KL Hotel, officially becoming Renaissance KL Hotel.

“Effective Jan 1, 2007, the New World Wing will change its name to East Wing, which completes the integration of the whole complex into one hotel with two wings – East Wing and West Wing.

“The purpose of renaming New World Renaissance Hotel to Renaissance KL Hotel, East Wing, is to eliminate all confusion and introduce new packages after the refurbishment is completed,” said Frager.

The East Wing has already embarked on a gradual renovation and upgrading process in the last one-and-a-half years, while its rooms will undergo total renovation from the third quarter of 2007.

The former Tempts restaurant located on the ground floor is now called Temptations, a very stylish and hip restaurant that serves local and Asian specialties. The Stage Lounge has also been given a new facelift.

“Our slogan for the official renaming is ‘You don’t need a compass to find your comfort – Be it East or Be it West ? We provide the Best',” said Frager.

He added that the hotel would promote VMY 2007 at the 2,700 properties located in 66 countries under Marriott International – the operator and franchisor of hotels under the Marriott, JW-Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, and several other brand names.




Source : STAR
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Mandarin Oriental's Lobby Party

Lobby party at its best

THE lobby of the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur will again be the venue for a great year-end party bash as it did last year.

Draped in elaborate floor to ceiling coloured curtains, the transformed lobby will again serve as the stage for renowned DJ Christof Van der Stichele.

Stichele will bring in his unique blend of house music to KL’s party revellers bidding farewell to 2006 and saying hello to 2007.

The partying starts from 10.30pm and cover charge is at RM88++ inclusive of a glass of champagne and a party pack.

Diners who take part in any of the New Year’s Eve promotional offers at any of the five F&B outlets at the hotel are entitled to free entry to the lobby party with complimentary drink.

For enquiries, call 03–2330 8798 or email mokul-fb@mohg.com

Source : STAR
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Swiss Garden's Wonderland

Enter Wonderland

ABOUT 3½ hours from Kuala Lumpur and 1½ hours from Ipoh, the Swiss Garden Damai Laut in Perak is not the most accessible of destinations. However, the management thinks the resort’s remoteness makes it the ultimate getaway.

Located just a little south of Lumut, the Swiss Garden is located on a staggering 425-acre property, much of which remains undeveloped and home to monkeys and wild deer.



From the turn-off on the way to Teluk Senangin, one drives past oil palm estates, fruit orchards, and lush forests before the road opens up to reveal rolling hills of carefully manicured golf courses. In a sense, arriving in Swiss Garden Damai Laut really is like stepping through a mirror and into a wonderland.

The first thing to capture my attention as I walked to the lobby was the open balcony, with its panoramic view of the Straits of Malacca and Pangkor Island. And the breeze blows right through the lobby.

The resort takes full advantage of the spectacular sea view. After checking in, I was off to lunch at The Garden Terrace, an open-air, Caribbean-styled coffee house overlooking the sea, past a bougainvillea-lined garden.

The Garden Terrace, which boasts internationally experienced chefs with over 70 years of experience between them, offers an exciting range of Malaysian and Western cuisine.
After lunch, my host Katrina Chua, the marketing & communication manager, packed me into a coach bound for the private jetty. Here I hopped on a speedboat to Pangkor.

Now I have always had a weakness for speed, and I dare say there can be no more perfect way to enjoy a beautiful afternoon than to have endless blue sky above you, green water below and the wind in your face. Oh yes, it is good to be alive!

Island hopping is just one of the many activities you engage in while at Damai Laut. Snorkelling trips can also be organised at Coral Island, just off Pangkor.

And then there are the sunset cruises, river cruises, island drops, and fishing trips.


If you prefer to stay close to the beach, you can indulge in sailing, banana boat rides, and canoeing, which is harder to navigate than it looks.

As the sun began to set, I met Katrina for dinner at The Gayam Seafood Barbecue and Bar, set on a rock outcrop, and, yes, overlooking the sea. The bar truly is a feast for the senses – the setting sun, a candlelit set-up, the aroma of grilled seafood, and a musical quartet belting out Christmas songs.

Our quick catch-up bite turned into an enjoyable, three-hour dinner. Feeling adventurous the next day, I signed up for the Rope Course in the morning. The six-element rope course comprising obstacles like a beam walk, tyre course, cargo net and flying fox finale was built by the Outward Bound School right smack in the resort’s very own lush forest.

Do not be deceived by how compact the obstacle course looks! An arm tangled in a rope here and a foot stuck in a tyre there, and you’ve worked out quite a sweat.

I had the delightful company of Linda Wong, Swiss Garden Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s marketing & communication manager, and Katrina for lunch at the Noodle House, striking for its wooden finishing and bamboo blinds.

Swiss Garden Damai Laut’s two specialties are golfing and spa.
The Samsara Spa offers various healing and rejuvenation treatments.
Take your pick of essential oils, and indulge in massages, facials, wraps, baths, scrubs and even steam treatments.

The Damai Laut Golf & Country Club boasts an 18-hole (par 72) championship, buggy-tracked golf course.

It was voted the third most scenic course in the country by Golf Malaysia Bi Annual Readers Poll Year 2005/2006.

According to the poll, the signature hole #15 is the second most scenic hole in Malaysia.
Beauty aside, the test of a really good course is in how challenging it is.

The club’s signature hole #13 was rated number three in the prestigious Par Golf’s Super 18 Malaysia this year.



General manager Radzman M. Tajudin said, “We have it all – a beautiful and tranquil resort, an award-winning golf course, an exclusive spa, white sandy beaches overlooking Pangkor Island, unspoilt natural surroundings, a jetty, and, most importantly, our friendly and helpful staff.”

Unwinding at the Blue Chip Lounge later in the evening in the company of the resort’s management team, I felt like I was among old friends.

Even guests who just arrived spoke as if they had known each other for years.
The house quartet belted out nostalgic 80s’ hits as the waves crashed on the rocks below with the onset of the evening tide.

Taking it all in, Radzman said, “What more can I say; I do work in paradise!”





Source : STAR
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Friday, December 29, 2006

Sarawak Tourism Players urged to Use Internet

Sarawak state's tourism industry players have not capitalised on the Internet facilities to sell their tour packages and other related services.

Deputy state secretary (planning and development) Datuk Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani said as many such packages had not been developed to be put on the Internet they were not available on line to foreign tourists.

''The lack of reliable information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and services has been identified as a major obstacle to further progress of the tourism industry,'' he added when opening a seminar on ''Opportunities and economic impact of ICT in Sarawak'' at Kuching Hilton on Thursday.

The event was organised by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC).
Morshidi said as the tourism sector had been identified as the key focus of the state's economy, the usage of the ICT would create a substantial economic impact on that sector.
He said the services industry contributed some 30% to the state's gross deomestic product (GDP).

Morshidi said the Sarawak public sector had been one of the leaders in the ICT usage in the country, adding that there were now more than 100 application systems in the state civil service.

Citing some of the government-to-citizen applications, he said the e-Recruitment system had enabled the public to view job vacancies and submit application on-line.

The public can apply for scholarship on-line through the e-Scholarship system as well as receive and pay utility bills, like electricity and water, assessment rates and telephone bills, by using the e-Billing and payment system.

Source : STAR
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1,900 Tourist Cops will be Deployed

More than 1,900 tourist police will be deployed at designated spots throughout the country during Visit Malaysia Year 2007 to ensure a pleasant stay here for foreign tourists.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Aziz said police had identified 99 areas where police personnel would be deployed to ensure the safety of tourists.
At present, there are only 268 tourist police stationed at selected locations through out the country.

Mohd Najib said the number of police personnel would be increased if there was a need.
He said the Tourism Ministry would be organising courses on safety to better equip the police personnel to handle certain situations.

“This is a good chance for the police to get exposure and be educated on how to protect tourists when they are in the country,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai, who was also present at the ceremony, said the ministry was expecting an influx of 20.1mil tourists for Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

He said, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor would be at the KL International Airport on New Year’s eve to personally welcome the tourists.

“I will be at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal to welcome tourists arriving on AirAsia flights,” he added.

Source : STAR
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Double-Decker Boost for Tourists to KL

Tourists can now go to 42 major attractions in Kuala Lumpur in just one bus – KL Hop-On Hop-Off – a uniquely designed, Malaysia's only semi-glass roofed double-decker bus.

Passengers can stay on for the full circuit, or hop on or off at any of the stops. This one-of-its-kind city tour is complemented by on-board commentary in eight languages.

The bus was unveiled by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor yesterday at the Malaysian Tourism Centre in Kuala Lumpur.


Also present were Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib, Raja Puan Sri Noora Ashikin Raja Abdullah, City Hall deputy director of development Zulkifli Ibrahim, Elang Wah Sdn Bhd executive director Toh Muda Rizal Ashram Tan Sri Ramli and managing director Syed Azhar Syed Nadzir.

Elang Wah is the first company granted the permission to operate the tourist bus. The company also built the body of the buses.

“The KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus service will not only improve the quality and convenience of KL's public transportation, but is also an additional tourist attraction that will definitely give tourists a whole new experience,” said Tengku Adnan.

He said the Government had allocated RM149mil from the 2007 Budget to promote Visit Malaysia Year 2007 in the hope of achieving 20.1 million tourist arrivals and an estimated RM44.5bil tourism income.

“Therefore, the implementation of the Hop-On Hop-Off city tour is suitable and timely.

“I believe Elang Wah will ensure that the service will always be there by heeding various aspects like punctuality, cleanliness and friendly service. These are all in line with Tourism Ministry's ‘Malaysia Welcomes The World’ campaign.

“I hope all Malaysians will be the frontliners to receive guests, so that they will always think and act tourism,” he added.

Tengku Adnan boarded the bus while Toh Muda Rizal Ashram Tan Sri Ramli and Syed Azhar Syed Nadzir gave explanation on the bus' features.

Syed Azhar said the tourist bus service was planned since four years ago.

For a start, four buses will be operating now while two other buses will be added in by April.
“We target 500 passengers per day and the number should increase by day,” he said.

The bus installed with disabled friendly features will operate from 8.30am to 8.30pm every day.
It goes to major attractions and main hotels in Kuala Lumpur through 22 stops at 30-minute intervals.

Tickets valid for 24 hours are priced at RM38 each for adults (RM32 each for group purchase of five and above), RM17 for students, senior citizens and disabled persons. Children under five can board the bus for free.

Mykad holders can enjoy the tour at promotional rate of RM19 per person during the school holidays.

Tickets can be bought on the bus and from travel agents, major hotels, official agents that display the logo or through the internet at www.myhoponhopoff. com

Elang Wah Sdn Bhd can be contacted at 03-2691 1382 or email inquiry@myhoponhopoff.com





By YIP YOKE TENG
Source : STAR
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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Flights to bring in more Visitors to Kedah

KEDAH hopes to bring in more foreign tourists via the AirAsia Bangkok-Langkawi direct flights expected to be launched next month.

Tourism Malaysia Kedah director Ammar Abd Ghappar said the flights would help to bring in tourists not only from Thailand but also from other parts of the world.

“Bangkok will become a transit centre for international tourists to come to Langkawi and we believe that this will help to promote tourism activities on the island re-sort,” he said when contacted re-cently.

He added the airline had already opened its online booking for tickets to the island.

He said Tourism Malaysia and the Kedah Tourism Action Council were also lobbying for more international airlines to land at the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport in Kepala Batas.

He said negotiations were also under way to introduce direct flights from Medan, Indonesia, to Alor Star.

He said in 2005, Kedah received 2.8mil tourists and the number increased to more than 3mil this year.

“Kedah is hoping to lure 4.9mil tourists to visit the state in 2010,” he added.
Ammar also said that 12 tourist attractions on mainland Kedah had been upgraded, especially at waterfall areas, to attract tourists for next year’s Visit Malaysia Year 2007 and Visit Kedah Year 2008.

Source : STAR
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Desaru Hotels Hard Hit by the Floods

KOTA TINGGI: Hotels in the popular beach resort of Desaru are counting their losses, which amount to an estimated half a million ringgit, no thanks to the recent floods.

With roads leading to the resort, about 90 minutes’ drive from here, cut off by the rising waters, business was bleak during the recent Christmas period and is likely to be even worse during the coming New Year holidays.

The current rainy spell is likely to continue and Desaru, a popular destination for Singaporeans, is bracing itself for some hard times ahead.

Already, cancellation of bookings from Singaporeans is piling up and according to Zuraidah Zakaria, sales manager of the 200-room Desaru Golden Beach Hotel, 50% of their business is affected.

“We normally enjoy 100% occupancy during the Christmas and New Year period and the majority of our customers are Singaporeans. But not this time. The Christmas holiday period saw us suffering a 50% drop in business.

“If we go by full-house occupancy, we can expect revenue of RM60,000 per night, but for the two days leading to Christmas, that is on Dec 23 and Dec 24, our revenue was only an estimated RM50,000.”

“Cancellation of bookings for the New Year period is also quite high and already we have lost four group bookings which is estimated to cost us RM100,000,” Zuraidah said.

At the height of the floods which hit Kota Tinggi district last week, the road to Desaru, about 45 minutes’ drive from Kota Tinggi town, was not passable to traffic.

A landslide at the army-training centre on the Johor Baru-Kota Tinggi trunk road made things worse.

“The only way to Desaru is via the ferry from Changi in Singapore to Tanjung Belungkor and from there we arrange transportation for a half-hour drive to our hotel. But Singaporeans love to drive and they prefer to come in their own cars or even take the bus,” Zuraidah added.
The Pulai Beach Hotel, which has 180 rooms, was also hit badly.

A spokeswoman for the hotel said it had lost 239 room bookings for the Christmas period with losses in revenue estimated at RM100,000.

“I don’t see things improving for the New Year holidays. The rainy spell will have its affect on people travelling, especially from Singapore. So, we are prepared for the worst,” she said.

The smaller hotels, campsites and chalets have also seen a drop in business during the floods.
The town of Sungai Rengit, a half hour drive from Desaru and famous for its lobster, also saw a drop in business, especially from Singaporeans.

“Weekends and eves of public holidays in Singapore usually see an influx of Singaporeans coming for the seafood, especially the lobster, but not lately,” a restaurant owner said. – Bernama.

Source : STAR
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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ferris Wheel Draw for KL - Eye On Malaysia



PILING work has begun at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa where a 60m-high ferris wheel with 42 gondolas will be installed as one of the major attractions for Visit Malaysia Year 2007.
According to a contractor, soil testing was carried out about two weeks ago to test the ground before the structure is installed.
“We have been working 24 hours to ensure that the structure is up before the launch date on Jan 6,” he said.
The ferris wheel will be installed for the whole of next year as one of the attractions to attract tourists.

Called Eye On Malaysia, it will provide city folks with a view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline.
“The gondolas will be air-conditioned and can take in eight adults at a time. They will offer a bird’s-eye-view of the KL skyline,” said head of the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 (VMY 2007) secretariate Hashimah Nik Jaafar.
“The ferris wheel is of Swiss technology and will be specially brought in as one of the main attractions for VMY 2007.”
Apart from the ferris wheel, there will activities like jet ski shows, fireworks display and pyrotechnics as well as laser shows at the lake garden during the night.

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 banners with the ferris wheel logo are already up at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa.“A 50ft-by-40ft TV screen will be installed to show scenes of Malaysian history from pre- to post independence,” said Hashimah.
“It is significant as VMY 2007 coincides with the nation’s 50th National Day celebrations, hence our theme ‘Celebrating 50 Years of Nationhood’,” she added.
More news on Eye of Malaysia - Click on Eye

By BAVANI M
Photos by SAM THAM and courtesy of TOURISM MALAYSIA

Facelift For Titiwangsa Lake


A big facelift awaits the Titiwangsa Lake Gardens here to turn it into an attractive tourist spot.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said Kuala Lumpur was not just centred around KLCC and Dataran Merdeka."We want a new tourist destination in the city centre and we don’t have a proper waterfront area, hence the idea."
He indicated the area would be developed to include restaurants, street cafes and pubs surrounding the lake, similar to the Kuching and Langkawi waterfronts which were popular with tourists visiting Sarawak and Kedah.

All this and more, he said, would take place after the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007, which is targeting 20.1 million tourists and over RM44 billion in revenue. "We have to look beyond 2007 and start working on development plans from now because we are expecting 24 million tourists by 2010," he said.
The lake, however, will serve as the focal point in the city as the VMY 2007 will be launched there by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
A three-day festival has been planned from Jan 5 to 7 with various water-based activities and concerts by local artistes. The VMY launch on Jan 6 will coincide with the unveiling of Malaysia’s largest Ferris wheel, the "Eye on Malaysia". Work to erect the RM30-million wheel, also the world’s largest mobile Ferris wheel, is under way. "We will have Ferris rides overlooking the KL skyline, water screen display on Malaysia’s history, fun rides and activities every night for the next one year after the launch," said Adnan.
"We hope that more private firms would help realise our mission to have a waterfront in the city as the latest attraction." The Titiwangsa Lake Gardens was an abandoned mining pool back in the 70s.
Although the lake is popular for family outings and boating activities, it doesn’t have much to offer but a few restaurants and a green surrounding. It is located beside some of the country’s cultural and traditional icons like Istana Budaya, National Art Gallery and Sutra Dance Theatre.
"The lake is clean and beautiful and would serve as an ideal tourist spot," he said.Adnan, who was speaking at a media conference on the launch of VMY 2007, also said the ministry was looking at proposals to open up more night markets in the city."
We are trying to have more open markets around Titiwangsa and several other strategic locations in the city to attract the shopping crowd." Adnan said Jalan Kuantan at Titiwangsa would be closed from 7pm onwards on Jan 6.He said free shuttle service would be made available for the public from 4pm to 2am from Pekeliling bus station, KL Sentral, Ampang Park LRT station, Padang Merbok and Merdeka Stadium. The last two places are the designated parking areas.


Hotel Saujana Brings Xmas to Kids' Ward

It was just five days after his operation and still warded at University Malaya Medical Centre's Paediatric Ward. But 11-year-old Joel Banner has received his Christmas gifts and met Santa during a Christmas Children’s party organised by The Saujana, Kuala Lumpur at the ward.

The hotel's initiative to bring Christmas to the ward brought joy to some 60 children excluding the nurses and hospital staff that care for them.

Mattel Southeast Asia Pte Ltd and Swan Hwa Thong Group sponsored the gifts.
At the event the children, with some moving around with tubes and needles stuck on them, were treated to a fun array of food, prepared by the hotel's outside catering team.

On the menu were chicken wings and drumsticks, satay, fried sausages and mushrooms, and onion mini quiches.


There were also chocolate muffins, cheesecakes and chocolate cakes, which were hits with the kids.

Parents and caretakers, including hotel staff assisted the children with the food.

Also present to share the joy of Christmas with the children were the hotel's general manager Herbert Laubichler-Pichler and celebrity model Amber Chia and Love Perhaps Cornetto winner Sheree Jeiyalachmee Appadorai.

The ward's intensive care unit head Professor Lucy Lum was also present at the event.
They also went from ward to ward to visit other children.

Saujana public relations manager Jasvin Sidhu said the hotel has been supportive towards the hospital throughout the years by organising Charity Jams ever since 2000.

She said the hotel organised the event annually with all proceeds channelled to the ward for the hospital to buy life support machines for the children.

“Earlier this year, we had channelled RM34,000 to buy equipment for the ward,” said Jasvin.


Anita's Dec 31 Bash at Marriott Called Off

The New Year’s Eve dinner-and-dance party featuring superstar Anita Sarawak at JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur has been cancelled.

Its public relations officer, Azimy Wan Ahmad, said the "Anita — Laid Bare" event to usher in the New Year had to be called off as most of Anita’s fans would be out of town to celebrate Hari Raya Haji, which also falls on Dec 31.

"Many fans have been calling the hotel asking for the show to be postponed because they are either overseas vacationing or back in their hometowns celebrating Hari Raya Haji," he said.

However, he said, Anita would still perform at Starhill Gallery’s Shook! for the 2007 countdown party."Initially, Anita was to perform a 90-minute show at the hotel’s Mayang Sari Grand Ballroom before joining other revellers at the 2007 countdown party at Shook!"

As the dinner show was now scrapped, he said Anita would be doing only the one at Shook!, where she would sing three songs to welcome the New Year.

Anita could not be reached for comments as she is in Genting Highlands preparing for the "Four Asian Divas — Christmas Concert" to be held at the Genting International Showroom and Arena of Stars.

At the show, Anita will be sharing the stage with three Hong Kong divas, namely Francis Yip, Maria Cordero and Elisa Chan

Source : NST
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Year's Celebration with a Difference for PG 2007

A fireworks display for Penang’s New Year celebration is called off, for a good cause.

The organiser will instead channel the allocation to flood victims in the country. Instead of fireworks, Creativision D.C. Sdn Bhd managing director Adelyn Lim said the Penang Golden 2007 (PG2007) celebration this Sunday night at Gurney Drive here would see thousands of balloons released.

She said it was a way of wishing for the safety of those affected by the floods and for better weather ahead.

"We will also organise a PG2007 Flood Victim Support Campaign to raise funds to help flood victims. "

The amount collected will be donated to the Malaysian Red Cresent Society,” she said. Lim said Malton Berhad had taken the lead by donating RM50,000 to kick-start the campaign, as well as sponsoring at least 5,000 balloons.

Source : NST
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Friday, December 22, 2006

Tourists seek out old buildings, too

From a settlement of Chinese tin miners to the capital Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur has been transformed into an international metropolitan city after a span of more than 150 years.

Many KLites would proudly identify with the city’s modern structures such as the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower. But there’s more to KL than its newer, modern attractions. Its legacy of colonial buildings with their old world charms win tourists over, too.

I LOVE old places and really enjoy looking at old structures,” declared 25-year-old American tourist Tarek Ghalayini, who had spent the past four months holidaying in Asia and the Middle East.

Jordan ... ‘It’s a pity that KL’s old charms are not highlighted in tourist brochures’His one grouse about Malaysia is the limited information on the older streets and buildings in Kuala Lumpur.
“I love old palaces like the Grand Palace in Bangkok, for example. It is interesting to see past and present royal residence. I think the palace’s architecture is simply amazing.

“I’d usually do some research before visiting a place, and that’s how I first discovered that Kuala Lumpur is more known for its modern architecture,” said Ghalayini.

British tourist Paul Jordan, 20, said he could not see the historical side of Kuala Lumpur as most of the buildings were no older than about 40 to 50 years old.

“It’s a pity that the city’s old charms are not highlighted in tourist brochures as much as the newer attractions. In fact, it is hard to tell where the old areas of KL are,” he said.

Jordan said he could easily access information on old buildings, while he was in Paris, Geneva and London but not in Kuala Lumpur.

Many tourists like Jordan and Ghalayini believe a city’s old structures are important tourism products that should be preserved and protected.

Chinese tourist Gao Jian, 31, said someone had recommended that he visit Malacca while in Malaysia because the city was rich in culture and history.

The Bombay Palace Restaurant in Jalan Tun Razak is a good example of a renovated but well-preserved colonial building.“Nothing was mentioned about Kuala Lumpur’s historical attractions,” he said.

Since the demolition of the 77-year-old Bok House in Kuala Lumpur, many city folks and even visitors to Malaysia have expressed their sadness over the destruction of the building, saying that old buildings like Bok House should be preserved.

Bok House was demolished because it was deemed structurally unsafe and unfit for human occupation. It was also said to be of no cultural and historical significance.

However, there many buildings and structures in the city that can still be saved. Under the National Heritage Act 2005, which came into effect in March this year, anyone can nominate any building as a heritage site but it would be up to the Arts, Cultre and Heritage Ministry to decide.

“While KL has retained some portion of its uniqueness in its old pre-war buildings, many of these buildings have undergone subtle changes, at least on the outside and this should be encouraged,” said Indian tourist Rakesh Wahla.

“For example, the old High Court building that was built in 1912 and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, built in 1897, have been renovated to suit its present functions but their facades remain the same,” he said.

There are many other similar structures in the city that still retain their old world charm although they have been renovated.

The Bombay Palace Restaurant in Jalan Tun Razak is one example.

“Its present tenants are quite adamant about retaining its colonial identity,” said Jane Lincoln a British expat.

“I love the place, it is really charming,” she said.

Indeed it was reported that having spent RM1mil refurbishing the place, its present tenants made sure that 90% of its original structure was retained.

Another pre-war building that has stood the test of time is Syarikat M.S. Ally Sdn Bhd, a pharmacy in Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. The pink three-storey building was built in 1902 have withstood the colonial era and is one of the oldest structures still standing in KL.


By CHOW HOW BAN and BAVANI M.
Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Taking Tourists Back to the Beginning of KL

KUALA LUMPUR: Most city folks know that the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers is where it all started for Kuala Lumpur. Tourists may not.

In the old days, this was the place once used for loading tin ingots, food supply, weapons and wares, and the arrival point of immigrants who would work in the tin mines.

Today, visitors to the city may not really feel they are walking through history because of the lack of organised heritage trails that provide an insight into the historical sites.

Badan Warisan Malaysia is wondering what has happened to its proposal a few years ago for a series of information panels at certain places of early KL.

“There are many examples where cities provide simple yet informative ways to interpret their historical sites, such as through signages, information stands, markers, pamphlets and brochures. KL can learn from this,” said its executive director, Elizabeth Cardosa.

“What would a visitor who walks across the bridge at Lebuh Pasar and sees Masjid Jamek standing at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers understand?”

She said unless the visitors had done some reading up of the city, it was unlikely they would understand its significance or even know how the city got its name.

Historian Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim said the time had come for the Government to pump in money into research and to have an organised heritage tourism strategy.

“We don’t have proper research, and it is hard to get the money to carry out research. Kuala Lumpur will be just one of the modern cities in the world, and people from similar cities will no longer be interested in visiting us,” he said.

“We should go around the city to search for buildings that are worth preserving.”

“I asked tour companies where they start from when taking tourists around the city. They seem to be directionless,” he said.

“They should start from the confluence of the rivers. It is time for the Government to do something to create that awareness.”

By CHOW HOW BAN
Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Air Passengers Have To Pay Security Charge From Jan 15 2007

All air passengers using airports in the country operated by Malaysia Airports Bhd will have to pay a security charge from Jan 15 next year, RM6 for international flights and RM3 for domestic flights.

The charge will make up a part of the cost of the air ticket, similar to the current passenger service charge, Malaysia Airports said in a statement Thursday.

It said the security charge was applicable for all tickets issued on and after Jan 15 but passengers who buy their tickets before Jan 15 for travel on or after that date are not required to pay the charge.

The statement said the charge was being collected in accordance with Regulation 170A of the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Regulations 2006 that states that a security charge shall be payable in respect of any person boarding an aircraft carrying passengers for hire or reward.

Malaysia Airports said the security charge became necessary after the Sept 11 2001 incident when airports had to significantly tighten security enforcement and procedures.

Many airports around the world began to levy the security charge immediately after the Sept 11 incident but in Malaysia the additional cost of the enhanced security measures had so far been absorbed by Malaysia Airports, it said.

It also said that it was the responsibility of airlines to make the collection and payment of security charges for all flights from Jan 15 2007 for ticket purchases done on or after that date.

Malaysia Airports said its security charge was lower than that imposed by airports elsewhere in the world.


Source : Bernama
[tags : ]

Promoting Penang malls

The Penang Government will be getting shopping complex managements to jointly promote Penang as a regional shopping paradise.

State Tourism Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said this would enhance the appeal of each complex.

“We want to see a healthy competition so that there is no wastage of resources in trying to promote every complex.

“By coming together, they can do a bigger promotion outside of Penang because we now have to look beyond our borders and not just at Penang's population of only 1.4 million,” he told newsmen after launching the Year End Sale (YES) 2006 and lighting the Christmas tree at Island Plaza recently.

Teng hoped the complex managements would exchange ideas on how best to work out the group promotion and what kind of assistance they needed from the state.
On efforts to revitalise Komtar, Teng said property consultant Henry Butcher was engaged by the state last month to work out a business plan for Komtar and would submit it soon.

Best Shopping Info : shoppingNsales
Source : STAR
[tags : ]

MAS - Don’t Cut Flights to Langkawi

LANGKAWI: Malaysia Airlines has been urged to review its plan to reduce Penang-Langkawi flights in view of Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor called on MAS not to cut down the number of flights if demand was still there. He also called on the Transport Ministry to look into the matter.

He said this when asked to comment on MAS’ plan to reduce its Penang-Langkawi flights from seven a week to five starting on Jan 2.

A MAS spokesman said the flights on Tuesdays and Thursdays would be cancelled.
Tengku Adnan said Langkawi had recorded 26,000 flight arrivals in the first 10 months of the year.

“MAS comes in 40 times a week while AirAsia has 35 flights weekly. Silk Air has seven flights a week,” he told newsmen before opening the Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa in Kuah on Tuesday night.

“From Jan 6 next year, Thai AirAsia will begin direct Bangkok-Langkawi flights three times a week.”

Tengku Adnan also said the ministry had set up a centre to keep the media informed on tourism matters.

“I hope the media will help Malaysia achieve its aim to be an exciting, value-for-money travel destination for local and foreign holidaymakers,” he said.

Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa general manager Wolfgang Boettcher said about RM20mil had been spent on renovating the hotel.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Khalwat (hotel) Raids by Order Only

KOTA BARU: Kelantan’s enforcement authorities require a Lower Syariah Court order before raiding homes or rooms of couples suspected of khalwat (close proximity).
State Religious Affairs Committee chairman Hassan Mahamood said the state took the tactful approach in handling such cases, bearing in mind the need to observe the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

“Muslims are prohibited from spying on each other or openly disclosing sins. They also cannot constantly find fault with others,” Hassan told a press conference.

In this context, he said, enforcement officers must first verify a complaint about an alleged khalwat case.

He said raids should not be conducted based on rumours but on guidelines where
officers must write down the complaint, investigate and seek a court order
before raiding premises, homes and hotel rooms.

He said Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin was right in determining that it was wrong to embarrass suspected khalwat couples by indiscriminate raids.

Hassan, who is Tawang assemblyman, said the state was increasing its patrols and preventive measures to reduce social ills among Muslims.

“We are more concerned with offences such as consuming alcohol in public and gambling. We want to eradicate them.”

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

MAB has Big Plans ahead for LCCT

MAB has Big Plans ahead for LCCT
By GEETHA KRISHNANPhotos by ROHAIZAT MD DARUS

MALAYSIA Airports Bhd (MAB) has a tough job. After all, it operates 39 airports in Malaysia, including the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT-KLIA) in Sepang. When common problems faced by air travellers, visitors and staff at the terminal were highlighted recently, MAB didn’t take cover. Instead, it decided to address the issue with MAB senior general manager for operations Datuk Azmi Murad having the answers.

MALAYSIA Airports Bhd (MAB) looks at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT-KLIA) as a Malaysian product that isn’t there yet. It has room for improvement and progress. MAB senior general manager for operations Datuk Azmi Murad explains.

Star Metro (SM): What was the basis behind LCCT-KLIA’s deisgn?
Azmi: IT was constructed based on what was required of a low-cost carrier terminal. Many rounds of discussions were held with low-cost airline operator AirAsia to ascertain precisely what was required.
The LCCT fits into the business model of a low-cost carrier terminal. Prior to construction, we visited the Hahn Airport in Germany and Luton Airport in the UK as well as several LCCTs in the United States to gain a better perspective.

Azmi... ‘We are serious in our efforts to get rid of touts.’The purpose-built terminal took nine months to build and cost RM108mil. It has a built-up area spanning 35,292 sq m with 28,000 sq m dedicated to the passenger level.
Four airlines operate out of LCCT, namely AirAsia, Thai Air Asia, AWAIR and Cebu Pacific, the first foreign-owned low cost carrier to utilise the terminal.

SM: What is the current capacity of the LCCT?
Azmi: The LCCT was built for 10 million passengers per annum and since opening this year, five million travellers have passed through its doors.
We have plans to expand the terminal to accommodate an additional five million travellers. If, in future, the number of travellers increases further, we will look for another terminal. We have the space.

SM: Travellers often complain about the lack of seats. Is MAB planning to increase the number of seats in the waiting area?
Azmi: We began with 1,200 seats and eventually increased to 1,800 seats - 800 for domestic departure, 600 for international departure and 400 for the public area. An additional 100 seats have been placed at the common area outside the terminal.
There are 1,500 trolleys for the LCCT and we view this as sufficient as KLIA is equipped with 4,900 trolleys for 25 million passengers.

SM: Is there a shortage of electronic display boards at the LCCT? Why are white boards being used?
Azmi: MAB uses white boards to aid the airlines.

Say a flight from Bangkok lands and the same aircraft is headed for Penang later. To save time, the aircraft will land at the domestic bay but international passengers will pass through a special gate at the domestic arrival lounge, leading to the immigration counters.
Similarly, another special gate is available for domestic passengers near the immigration counters. We have made arrangements with the immigration for nine such flights daily.
Information for these special flights is written on white boards for the benefit of those picking up friends and family.
MAB will also install monitors to display flight information at departure gates to avoid confusion especially for transit passengers.

SM: Passengers have to use an uncovered walkway from the tarmac to aeroplanes. Any plans to address the situation?
Azmi: AirAsia made the request for a covered walkway only recently. Work will start for covered walkways between aircraft parking bays soon and will be completed in six months. We have provided 30 parking bays for aircrafts.

SM: Will there be a covered car park in future for the added convenience of travellers?
Azmi: Plans to build a multi-storey car park are under consideration.

SM: Is public transport sufficient?
Azmi: An airport shuttle plies between KLIA and the LCCT while 800 taxi permits were awarded for the terminal. City taxis are also allowed to send and pick-up passengers. Those using the ERL catch the airport shuttle from KLIA to the LCCT.

SM: How is MAB dealing with touts?
Azmi: We are serious in our efforts to get rid of touts both at KLIA and the LCCT.
There are more stringent rules now with Section 110A added to the Road Transport Act 1987, whereby touts fleecing passengers at airports, and bus and ferry terminals can face up to five years in jail, a fine of up to RM50,000 or both.
MAB is working closely with the police and the Road Transport Department and arrests have been made.

SM: Travellers from KLIA have to bring their heavy luggage with them on board the buses. Will inter-terminal baggage service be available in future?
Azmi: When the terminal began operations, MAB offered the use of four new buses to transfer passengers with heavy luggage between terminals but airline companies refused the offer. We are still willing to offer the service but arrangements must be made for baggage handlers.

SM: How is baggage pilferage being addressed?
Azmi: MAB has taken many measures to address baggage pilferage. We have increased the number of CCTVs, surveillance on staff and carry out random checks to curb pilferage. Any staff found in possession of pilfered items will be removed from the terminal grounds and his contract will be terminated.

SM: Are there plans to add F&B outlets at the LCCT? Travellers and staff say prices are steep.
Azmi: MAB has plans for a food court and it should be operational by the third quarter of next year.
Food prices have been brought down following feedback from travellers and staff. We ensure prices are the same or less than KLIA or KLCC.
Existing outlets also give discounts to staff.

SM: What about additional facilities in future?
Azmi: We hope to increase the number of duty-free shops and introduce a baggage-wrapping service. Shower facilities will be available in future along with a passenger lounge where travellers pay a fee to relax and enjoy food and drinks.



Malaysia Cleans Up Toilets to Lure Tourists


Malaysia unveiled high-tech public toilets Tuesday as part of a campaign to wash away bad toilet habits ahead of a major tourism drive next year.

Ushering in a "national loo culture," Malaysia's deputy premier inspected a roadside toilet in a Kuala Lumpur shopping belt and urged the crowd outside to be cleaner while spending a penny.

"There should be more campaigns to promote awareness on the benefits of clean and healthy toilets," Najib Razak said in a speech prepared for the event, urging Malaysians to learn from the Japanese on clean toilet culture.

The country is preparing for 2007 Visit Malaysia Year and hopes to draw 20 million visitors.
The state of Malaysia's public toilets has become a hot-button issue, with tourists saying they were often dirty and lacked basic items such as soap and paper.

"They can be very messy because people don't seem to know how to use the toilets," Spencer Kaurin, a 46-year-old Norwegian tourist, told Reuters.

"You find black spots, footprints on the toilet seats," he said. "And there's water everywhere."
The Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur will have 23 such high-tech, self-cleaning toilets, Mayor Hakim Borhan said.

The air-conditioned toilets have an automatic seat cleaner that washes, scrubs and dries the bowl after every use, city authorities said.

The entire toilet will be cleaned in a similar manner after every five users, it said.

Eye on Hotels over Hiring of Apprentices

THE Human Resources Ministry is monitoring a number of hotels for abusing their apprenticeship programmes by employing foreign workers at low salaries for several months.

“The ministry is looking into how widespread the practice is and its implications on opportunities for local employees,” Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn told the Dewan Negara yesterday.
Under the programme, the hotels must take students from educational institutions to be trained in certain fields, he said in reply to Senator Tajul Urus Mat Zain.

However, foreign students were also given flexibility to work in certain sectors including at hotels, he added.

Dr Fong said the ministry had implemented several measures to reduce the hotel sector’s dependency on foreign workers, including identifying positions that must be filled by locals.
He said his ministry would enhance the accessibility of unemployed people to information on job opportunities in the hotel sector besides assisting the operators in recruiting local employees.

He also said most foreign workers served as maids and cleaners and did not deal directly with hotel guests. – Bernama

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Sarawak plans 60 events for VMY, expects 3.5 million tourists

KUCHING: Sarawak has lined up 60 core events for Visit Malaysia Year 2007 targeting 3.5 million foreign visitors.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said the state’s Rainforest World Music Festival, the Sarawak Regatta and the Gawai Festival had been listed among the 50 anchor events in the national-level VMY 2007 calendar.

“The Rainforest Music Festival will be held on a bigger scale to mark its 10th anniversary next year,” she said.

Geikie said hotel rooms at the Santubong peninsula where the music festival would be staged at the Sarawak Cultural Village in mid-July had been fully booked.

She said this year’s three-day festival itself had generated an estimated tourism revenue of RM16mil for hotels, the food and beverage industry and other tourism-related components.

Geikie said Sarawak had been asked by the federal authorities to help Penang, which was also planning a similar world music festival next year, to be held one week after the rainforest music festival.

She said all states had been allocated RM1mil each by the Federal Government for VMY 2007, which hoped to see 20 million tourists coming to Malaysia.

This is despite a significant drop in arrivals from traditional long-haul markets, like Europe, due to the disruption to air connectivity following Malaysia Airlines’ domestic rationalisation exercise carried out in August. The exercise has badly hit rural air services, particularly to Mulu National Park, a famous world-heritage site, and the Bario highlands.

Geikie was confident that tourist arrivals from Europe and Australia would pick up next year.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Thai AirAsia sees 75% load on Langkawi route

KUALA LUMPUR: Thai AirAsia Comp Ltd expects a passenger load factor of more than 75% on its new Bangkok-Langkawi route commencing on Jan 6 next year.

The sister company of Bursa Malaysia-listed AirAsia Bhd will serve the Bangkok-Langkawi route thrice a week, with one flight each departing from Bangkok and Langkawi.

Thai AirAsia chief executive officer Tassapon Bijleveld said the airline expected to improve flight frequency from three times a week to daily after three to six months.

Langkawi will be Thai AirAsia’s fourth destination in Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu, and its 10th international destination.

“We have chosen to fly to Langkawi because of the island’s growing tourism appeal, especially for tourists visiting Bangkok. These tourists are always interested in visiting neighbouring destinations and Langkawi is among their favourite destinations,” he told a media briefing yesterday.

Tassapon said Thai AirAsia, which was established in 2004, had flown six million passengers to date.

“We carried three million passengers this year. Next year, we are targeting five to six million passengers and increasing our aircraft to 15,” he added.

Thai AirAsia planned to fly to new destinations such as Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City by the first half of next year, Vientiane in Laos, and Kunming and Shenzhen in southern China by the end of next year, Tassapon said.

“Next year, we will have three to four destinations in China. It depends on the approvals,” he added.

The airline has offered 1,000 free seats (exclusive of taxes and other fees) on the Bangkok-Langkawi route to guests who book their tickets online from Dec 12 to 20 for travel between Jan 6 and 31, 2007.

BY CHAN CHING THUT
Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First World (Genting) is World's Largest Hotel

The hotel has been cited by Guinness World Records under "Feats of Engineering for Big Buildings" for having 6,118 rooms.

The title was previously held by MGM Grand Hotel & Casino at Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States with 5,005 rooms.

Resorts World Bhd president and chief operating officer Lee Choong Yan said: "This definitely adds another tourist attraction to the country.

"We will definitely continue to further improve our infrastructure as well as delivering our service to its best."

Together with five other hotels — Genting Hotel, Highlands Hotel, Resort Hotel, Theme Park Hotel and Awana Genting — the City of Entertainment now boasts over 10,000 rooms.

Last year, more than 18 million visited Genting.

Genting also offers more than 50 rides in its theme park such as the RM10 million Sky Venture (only two of such rides in the world) and the RM30 million Snow World, largest in Southeast Asia.

In line with the citation, Resorts World Berhad are offering a variety of special packages.

For reservations and enquiries, please call 03-2718-1118 or log on to www.genting.com.my.

Source : NST
[tags : ]

“Eye on Malaysia” Ferris Wheel set to be Top Tourist Draw

KUALA LUMPUR: A 60-metre high structure “Eye on Malaysia”, similar to the “London Eye”, will be unveiled at the launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2007 on Jan 6 at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa here.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will, at a click of a button, light up the Ferris wheel comprising 42 gondolas to start the celebrations.

“The Prime Minister will then take a 45-minute ride on the wheel to see the breathtaking view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline,” said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

“Apart from the Ferris wheel, there will be activities like water skiing, fireworks display as well as a laser show at the lake,” he told a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre’s Dewan Tun Hussein Onn yesterday.

“A giant screen will be installed to show scenes of Malaysian history from pre- to post-independence.”

Tengku Adnan said it would cost RM30mil to set up the wheel and discussions were still ongoing on whether the structure would remain a permanent feature after next year.

He said that on a clear day, Ferris wheel passengers could see the KL Tower and as far as 20km.

The structure is in its final stage of construction and will open to the public on Jan 7.
The Swiss technology used to make the giant wheel is the result of a strategic partnership between a Malaysian company known as MST AD Suria Sdn Bhd and an Australian company.

He said Taman Tasik Titiwangsa was picked as the venue for the launch over Dataran Merdeka because the ministry wanted to promote the spot as a new tourist destination.
He said 240 events would be organised nationwide next year, with 50 to be held on a large scale.

The other major events would include a floral parade, an international aerospace exhibition and an international fireworks contest.

“We are targeting 20.1million tourist arrivals next year, and we expect to generate an income of about RM44.5bil. Eighty per cent of the tourists are expected from Asian countries, with more than 60% from Singapore,” he said.

The London Eye is the world's tallest observation wheel at 135m high and is located on the banks of the Thames River, offering an unrivalled view of the city.

Visited by over 3.5 million people a year, it is a breathtaking feat of design and engineering, and passengers in the London Eye's capsules can see up to 40km in all directions.

More news on Eye of Malaysia - Click on Eye

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Mandarin Oriental's Christmas Tree of Hope

Grant needy kids' wishes in Xmas spirit

By HO MENG YEN
Photos by ONG SOON HIN

ONE doesn’t need a fake beard or a red cloak to be Santa this month.


In yuletide spirit, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur recently launched the Christmas Tree of Hope to help grant some 1,000 wishes of children from over 20 orphanages.

Yayasan Harapan Kanak-Kanak (YHKM) head of board of advisors Tan Sri Zaleha Ismail and the hotel's general manager Jonas A. Schuermann lit up the tree at the event.

The wishes, handwritten on fan-shaped cards, were collected with the help of YHKM.
They will be hung on the Christmas tree at the hotel lobby until Dec 30.

“The hotel will be granting 10 wishes from different homes and we hope that by doing that, we would help encourage our guests and public to do the same,” said Schuermann.




Beneficiaries include Rumah Charis, LCMS Bethesda Children’s Home, Good Samaritan Home, Rumah Wake, HIV Hope, Shelter Home, Titian Kasih, Trinity Home, Glad Tidings, Rumah Vivekananda, Pusat Pemulihan Dalam Komuniti, Hope Worldwide, Rumah Sayangan, Gurpuri Foundation, Rumah Kebajikan Anbu Illam, Persatuan Kebajikan Warga Tua dan Kanak-Kanak and Persatuan Rumah Kanak-Kanak Di Sayang.


Wishes were also collected from a Hospital University Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) paediatric ward at a recent visit by the hotel staff, where gifts were distributed to the patients.


Those interested in granting the Christmas Tree of Hope wishes can drop by the hotel to pick the wish cards.

For more details, call the hotel’s Public Relations Department at 03-2179 8861/2.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

The Westin's Christmas Tree-Lighting Ceremony

Xmas treat for special kids
Story and photos by GEETHA KRISHNAN

THE spirit of Christmas is at The Westin Kuala Lumpur with a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, recently.

Special guests of children from the Magic Education Centre, which was established for those with developmental and learning disabilities, witnessed the ceremony with hotel general manager Martin Jones turning on the lights.

The tall tree, decked in shimmering blue and silver baubles, is located at the lobby.

Jones lighting the blue and silver Christmas tree at the hotel lobby.The Westin has been working with Magic since 2004 as part of their Starwood Cares community project.

The hotel has even designed a syllabus to provide students with skills to enable them to gain employment in the culinary and hotel fields.

It teaches them the basics in bread-making, creative cooking, housekeeping, banquet set-up and decorative arts related to the hospitality industry.

Phase 1 was completed last year while Phase 2 commenced in May, this year.
After the tree-lighting ceremony, Jones announced the sale of Christmas Cards designed by the children of Magic.

The cards are sold at the hotel and profits will go towards special education and training programmes conducted at Magic.

Christmas carols were also sung at the ceremony.


Enjoy a Xmas Dinner and Countdown at Cavallini

IT IS a white Christmas this year at the award-winning restaurant Cavallini's at Palace of the Golden Horses.

The hotel, decked in anything and everything white, has adopted the White Christmas in Tropic theme for its celebrations.

The Charbroiled beef tenderloin dish is part of the dishes featured in Cavallini's Christmas menu. Guests will not only get to enjoy the charming decor but also feast on a traditional White Christmas Six-course Dinner on Christmas Eve.

Dishes from the six-course menu feature everything from portabello mushrooms to clam and pasta cooked with truffle oil and aged parmesan.

But one thing to look forward to among all the items featured would be dessert. Italian's traditional Christmas cake Pandoro Alla Verona that is made using chantilly cream.
The White Christmas Six-course Dinner is priced at RM150 (without wine) and RM180 (with wine) per person respectively.

Diners at Cavallini's can also take part in the Christmas Countdown to be held at the Grand Salon Lobby Lounge without paying additional charges.

There will be free party packs, games, spot dances and lucky draws with entertainment by live band D Music Pinnacle.

On New Year's Eve, Cavallini's is serving a six-course dinner priced at RM160 (without wine) and RM190 (with wine) per person respectively.

CAVALLINI'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, Palace of the Golden Horses, Jalan Kuda Emas, Mines Resort City, Seri Kembangan, Selangor (Tel: 03-8946 4888). Business Hours: Mon-Fri, lunch (noon-2.30pm); daily, dinner (6.30pm-10.30pm).


Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Enough Room in Sabah for Tourists

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has dismissed any notion that the state is ill-prepared to accommodate an anticipated increase in tourism arrivals with the onset of Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said the question of a hotel-room shortage in the city should not arise as there were numerous attractions around Sabah and tourists were encouraged to visit them.

“The east coast Sandakan and Lahad Datu districts are gateways to some of the best wildlife attractions Sabah has to offer,” he said in an interview.

Chong, the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said promotion efforts for attractions in these east coast districts as well as those in the interior of the state began more than a year ago.

“The feedback for our efforts have so far been positive. We anticipate visitors will want to spend part of their time during their stay in Sabah in the other districts,” he added.

He said this when asked to comment on concerns voiced by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor who said that Sabah, particularly Kota Kinabalu, may not have enough rooms to cater for increased tourist arrivals next year.

Tengku Adnan said his ministry was trying to sort out the matter by diverting tourists to other states, including Sarawak.

He said the situation was an eye-opener for his ministry on the need for more hotels, particularly budget-type accommodation.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Online Travel Bookings Will Surpass Offline Bookings for the First Time in 2007

According to a new report from PhoCusWright Inc., next year for the first time transactions on the Internet will account for over half (54%) of all U.S. travel bookings.

The report,PhoCusWright's U.S. Online Travel Overview,is now in its sixth edition and is used by members of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries to assess the domestic leisure / unmanaged business online travel market. It analyzes this market by segment, channel and major players, projecting trends through 2008.

Suppliers (e.g., airlines, hotels and car rental agencies) have been outperforming online travel agencies (e.g., Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Priceline) since 2000, but growth rates for the two channels will converge by 2008.For years, suppliers have enjoyed an advantage over online travel agencies, due to their control over their own inventory and the relatively inexpensive task of acquiring online customers from their own offline channels.

In fact, the pressure that travel suppliers put on intermediaries has at least partially spurred significant ownership changes among three of the largest players in the industry: the private equity buyouts first of Cendant (renamed TravelPort) and now of Sabre Holdings, as well as TravelPort's purchase of Worldspan. But, the suppliers' online advantage is disappearing as the majority of travel transactions move to the Web.

PhoCusWright'sU.S.Online Travel Overview, the company's flagship domestic research report, is used by industry executives and other key decision makers in all segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries to make informed, strategic business decisions. Investment firms and industry analysts also use the report as the most authoritative guide to current and future travel industry trends.

Other insights fromPhoCusWright's U.S. Online Travel Overview include:

* While the U.S. represented just one third of total online and offline travel bookings of the combined North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific markets in 2005, the U.S. share ofonlinebookings was over 60 percent of all online bookings.

* Growth of dynamic packaging-the ability of consumers to easily combine airline, hotel, rental car and other product purchases online-is projected to slow significantly from 51 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2008. This trend is partly attributable to the current tight supply of bulk airfares and merchant hotel rates available for packages, thanks to higher load factors and occupancy as suppliers enjoyed strong sales during the recent robust economy.

* Hotels will be the fastest growing segment online, surpassing air travel, which until 2006 had long been the fastest growing product segment.

* The advanced level of the U.S. online travel market creates an atmosphere in which many innovations such as dynamic packaging, metasearch and user-generated content incubate in the U.S. before expanding to other global markets. Many of these innovations include the new online capabilities that PhoCusWright has termedTravel 2.0-the travel industry's application of Web 2.0 practices empowering the online consumer.

* The tipping point of the travel market, with the online channel becoming the norm for travel purchases, is going to further shape consumer behavior that utilizes Travel 2.0 tools and applications.


Source : Ehotelier
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Monday, December 18, 2006

Westin Resort to be Open in Langkawi

Starwood will welcome the first Westin branded resort in Malaysia, the Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, tomorrow.

The hotel has recently gone through an upgrade from the Sheraton Perdana to Westin Langkawi.

Its enhancements include the Westin Lounge, located at the heart of the departure hall of Langkawi International Airport.

The Westin Lounge offers drinks, snacks and meals on its menu, simple spa treatments such as massage and foot reflexology, and high speed internet access.

Source : TravelWeekly
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1 Million Golf Tourists

Mingguan Malaysia reported that more than a million foreign tourists visited Malaysia every year for sporting reasons, especially for golf.

According to Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Malaysia was very popular among international golfers as they felt that its golfing facilities were among some of the cheapest in the world while being on par with those in developed countries.

In fact, he said, foreigners were drawn to golf courses here because they were strategically located near mountains, lakes, rivers, the sea and forests.

He said the majority of foreign golfers were from Japan, Korea and Europe.

Source : STAR

Source :
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Upgrade for LCCT Next Year

Upgrade for LCCT next year
By M. KRISHNAMOORTHY

SEPANG: Overcrowding at the KL International Airport’s Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) will be a thing of the past by the middle of next year.

This is because Malaysia Airports Bhd has plans to expand the terminal and equip it with more facilities like chairs.

Its managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad said the expansion work would start early next year.

“We will be providing better amenities and more chairs for the comfort of those using the LCCT. Our officials have been holding several discussions with AirAsia on the expansion plans,” he said.

Construction of the RM108mil LCCT was completed early last year and the terminal was designed to handle 10 million passengers a year.

Recently, there have been complaints of overcrowding at the terminal, where passengers had to sit on trolleys because of a shortage of chairs while some were found sleeping on the floor.
Bashir said the terminal suffered from overcrowding because of flight delays.

“There is nothing much we can do if there are flight delays and the airport gets overcrowded,” he said.


Factory Shops Fleecing Tourists

FOREIGN visitors are paying exorbitant prices for fake and low-quality products at some factory shops, believing they are authentic international brands.

However, most of these brands are never heard of outside these retail outlets, said Nanyang Siang Pau.

In its special report, the daily said there were at least three factory shops in the Klang Valley selling a wide array of items like jewellery, watches, perfume, clothes, chocolates, batik products and pewter gifts.

According to the daily, the prices were much higher than those sold at other outlets but the quality was poor.

“Most of these shops claim they are selling international brands but, in fact, most of the brand names are never heard of,” it said.

The report said these factory shops were “well connected” to several travel agencies, which would get commissions by bringing tourists to shop there.

The article quoted a tour guide, who only wanted to be known as Lui, as saying that some travel agencies would also arrange for their clients to dine at some selected cafeterias nearby to earn more commission.

The shops mainly catered for tourists who put up at hotels that are situated away from shopping malls.

Source : STAR
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No proper rest areas at LCCT

NIGHT after night the same sad scene plays itself out – people lying asleep on the floor, chairs, and even trolleys.

However, the location is not a disaster relief centre, but the waiting area of the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang, according to a Kosmo! report.

A check by the tabloid at 3am recently revealed that many travellers had to put up with much discomfort to catch 40 winks while waiting for their flights.

Benches and chairs that should seat five were monopolised by a single person lying stretched out.

An even sorrier sight were those sleeping on the cold marble floor.

There were even some who had made the fast-food outlets at the terminal temporary waiting areas, falling asleep at the dining tables out of sheer exhaustion or boredom, while others had chosen to take a nap in the corridors outside the waiting hall to escape the freezing air-conditioning inside.

Siti Fadhila Noordin, who was on her way to Kota Baru, said it was an eyesore to have people lying everywhere, more so when the country would be seeing even more tourists in view of Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

The 32-year-old said she had to wait for 10 hours at the terminal as her flight from Sarawak arrived at the LCCT at 9.30pm and would only leave for Kota Baru at 7.40am the following morning.

“It is very exhausting, and I have to wait so long without proper resting facilities.

“The management should think of preparing more comfortable chairs for those in transit,” she said.

Source : STAR
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