Friday, June 29, 2007

Malaysian Site woos UK travellers online

GLOBAL Travel Market has launched a new destination based travel meta-search engine, Malaysia Travel Market (, targeting the 250,000 UK holidaymakers choosing to holiday in Malaysia.

The site offers comparisons of air fares, accommodation, car hire and tour prices. Consumers then click through to book direct on the travel companies' or tour operators' own websites.

Global Travel Market's CEO, Mr Dave Simmons, said in a statement: "The strength of our system remains in the fact that sites are destination specific. This means someone wanting to holiday in Malaysia will only see products relevant to their search. The model is also proving successful for our product partners. By giving our users what they want, we are increasing our booking conversions."

Visit Malaysia Travel Market -

Source : TTG
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Tourists from China like to visit Malaysia

Malaysia remains a popular choice for tourists from China, with many of them making repeat visits.

“We are one of their destinations besides Taiwan and Singapore,” Tourism Malaysia China Market Advisory Council member Datuk Tan Jing Nam said.

He said the Chinese had no problems with food and other things in Malaysia.

They would return to visit as they found it easy to move around because there was no language barrier, he added.

Tan, who is Tanco Holdings Berhad group managing director, was appointed to the council last year.

He was talking to the Malaysian media here while accompanying Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor on a week-long promotion trip to China.

The other members include Lion Group chairman Tan Sri William Cheng (council chairman), Kerry Group’s Tan Sri Robert Kuok Hock Nien and Hua Zong president Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong.

Tan said the council had forwarded to Tourism Ministry its suggestions on attracting the Chinese.

“We have a lot to offer. But there are also a lot we need to improve,” he said.

There are about 30 million Chinese travelling abroad for holidays each year and the number was expected to increase to about 100 million by 2010.

Source : STAR
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

VMY pushes up sales at 1 Utama

Retailers at 1 Utama have enjoyed 10% to 25% increase in sales so far this year, thanks to Visit Malaysia Year 2007 (VMY 2007).

Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd director Datuk Teo Chiang Kok said the outlook for the domestic retail sector was positive, given the boost from VMY 2007.

“VMY 2007 has exposed Malaysia as a global shopping destination,” he said yesterday.

Teo said this at a briefing to announce that 1 Utama had won the Best Retail Category award under the FIABCI Prix d'Excellence International Property Award 2007.

Datuk Teo Chiang Kok and Fiabci Asia-Pacific secretary-general Kumar Tharmalingam with the award.
A company statement said the award was “the most prestigious'' presented by the Paris-based FIABCI.

Teo said the award reflected the capability of Malaysian companies in winning international honours, adding that 1 Utama had many notable features, including being constructed as a “green building”.

The shopping complex has employed, among other strategies, a chilled water storage system, rainwater harvesting system and energy efficient layouts and designs.

For more Shopping & Sales Delights, visit

Source : STAR
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RM20mil complex for Tasik Bera

A RM20mil tourist and recreational complex will be set up at Tasik Bera, Pahang's renowned freshwater lake.

A 400ha piece of land has been earmarked for the complex, which is scheduled to be completed next year.

Bera MP Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the project would help attract more tourists, both locals and foreigners, to the popular site.

“The state government has given the green light for the project. I am confident that it will boost development in the area and benefit the locals,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said that the lake, covering some 40,000ha, was even bigger than Singapore.

He said it had its own attractions in addition to being classified as a Ramsar wetlands site.

The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

“Among others, the complex will be equipped with facilities such as an information centre, offices and conference halls,” Ismail Sabri said.

He said there would also be a public park, jetty, zoo, chalets, camping sites and scenic landscape to cater for recreational activities.

Source : STAR
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Malacca Street Tourism Carnival attracts thousands over two nights

For two nights in a row, the public were treated to two concerts with performances by many local artistes and musicians.

In conjunction with the Malacca Street Tourism Carnival recently, one of the concerts featured four groups, which entertained the crowd at Stadium Hang Tuah.

Kicking off the performance was a gig by Abstract Group, and as the band members played on, the stadium steadily became jammed by the audience flooding in for the fun and celebration.

The next performance was a very energetic one by 6th Sense. Their lead singer was huffing and puffing after each song, but later he admitted that he had a fever.

As the night wore on, the crowd basked in the cooling breeze and cloudy skies to enjoy performances by the third group Sofaz.

However, the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for the popular local band OAG.

The crowd had to wait 15 minutes for their gig because they were stuck in a traffic jam after performing at another venue earlier.

Nevertheless, the crowd did not mind as they cheered and sang along with an alternative band.

Many fans were also seen snapping pictures using their camera phones as the night wore on.

Ikah Kassim, 19, a college student from Bukit Beruang Community College who came with her friends, said she enjoyed the concert.

“Although there were not many people, the crowd made itself heard and the groups performed brilliantly,” she said.

The very next night, DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd organised a free concert called GeGe Riuh at Dataran Pahlawan.

More than 3,000 people thronged the venue to watch famous local artistes perform. Among them were Ella, Dayang Nurfaizah, Saiful Apek and Ruffedge.

The sensational trio, Ahli Fiqir, started the concert, wowing the crowd with a powerful performance that set the mood for the rest of the night.

Queen of Malaysian rock music, Ella, thrilled the fans with her strong vocals in a combination of slow and fast-paced rock songs.

Popular comedian and actor Saiful Apek amused the crowd with his antics and thrilled them when he rendered hilarious versions of several famous local songs.

He also invited more than a dozen enthusiastic children on stage to join him in his act.

A DiGi spokesman said the response was fantastic and more than 10,000 people visited the carnival

Mohd Zainal Fairuz, 29, from Singapore, was visiting the state with his wife when he heard of the concert and took the opportunity to meet his favourite artiste Saiful Apek in person.

“In Singapore, we have Phua Chu Kang. In Malaysia, there’s Saiful Apek. I am a big fan of his comedy and I thank God we came to Malacca this weekend for a holiday,” said Zainal.

Source : STAR
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Royal Brunei set to fly to Sarawak

Royal Brunei Airlines will start flying to Sarawak in November, raising expectations of increased tourist arrivals to the state, particularly from Australia and northern Asia.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) marketing manager Mary Wan Mering said the airline would fly thrice weekly from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching beginning Nov 1.

“We regard Bandar Seri Begawan as an important hub for us because Royal Brunei flies a lot to South Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong,” she said.

She added that STB would team up with Royal Brunei to market the new flights at the airline’s various destinations, starting with Australia.

She said Sarawak currently received about 20,000 tourists from Australia.

Source : STAR
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Firefly to give away 120,000 tickets at Matta fair

VISITORS to the upcoming Penang Matta Fair at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) in Penang can look forward to free flight tickets, courtesy of Firefly – Malaysia’s first community airline.

A total of 120,000 tickets to the airline's destinations will be given away to visitors at the Firefly booth, Firefly managing director Eddy Leong said.

The tickets exclude taxes, fees and surcharges, and are for one-way travel.

“As a Penang-based airline and the official carrier for the fair, we are delighted to offer these free tickets to Penangites as a way of thanking them for their support.

“This is Firefly’s first promotional campaign since our launching in April and we are going all out to reward our passengers,” Leong said.

He said the airline would also offer discounted fares of up to 50% and special online promotions to all destinations on its website ( in conjunction with the fair from June 29 to July 1.

“The special online fares begin from as low as RM9.99 to Lang- kawi, RM29.99 to Kota Bahru, Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan, and RM39.99 to Koh Samui and Phuket.

“In addition to the free tickets and cheap fares, we are also sponsoring 40 flight tickets for the fair’s lucky draw sessions,” he said.

The fair’s organising chairman Ann Tan said this was the first time in the event's history that so many free tickets would be given out.

“To celebrate the country’s 50th year of independence and Visit Ma-laysia 2007,1,500 special goodie bags with exclusive merchandise will be given away at 5pm every day of the fair. This is in addition to the usual door gifts.

“This year we have a record number of 291 booths and had to turn many exhibitors away as we wanted to make sure visitors could browse in comfort,” she told a press conference on Monday. Also present were MAS northern region area manager Wan Mohd Ebrahem and Firefly Penang hub manager Audrey Yu.

Tan said 73 organisations including tour agents, non-governmental agencies and tourism bodies would participate in the fair which will be open from 5pm to 9pm on June 29 and from 10am to 9pm on June 30 and July 1.

She said the fair was expected to attract about 41,000 visitors.

Entry is RM2 for adults and free for children below 12.

“Visitors can expect value-for-money packages and lots of special promotions,” Tan added.

Fireflyz Website :

Tourism Malaysia to resume Urumqi - KL Flights for Tourists

Tourism Malaysia is working with travel agents in (Urumqi) China and Malaysia to resume chartered flights between Urumqi and Kuala Lumpur.

Such flights were established last year between the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and Malaysia's capital through cooperation between Malaysia-Beijing Travel Services Sdn Bhd and a travel agency in Xinjiang.

However, they were discontinued due to low loads.

The region's vice-governor Kurexi Maihesuti said Malaysia remained an important destination for tourists from Xinjiang.

“According to statistics from the local tourism administration, 80,000 people (from Xinjiang) travel abroad for holidays,” he said.

He said the authorities here would encourage the local people to choose Malaysia as their holiday destination.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor said Tourism Malaysia was working towards having more people from the Chinese region to visit Malaysia and vice versa.

Source : STAR
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Tune Hotels Buidling 30 Hotels in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines & Singapore

Istithmar has revealed plans to establish a $50 million joint venture company to roll out limited service hotels in Asia.

The new company, formed in partnership with Tune Hotels.Com and City e-Solutions is expected to build some 30 Tune Hotels in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore over the next three years.

"We have been building our hotel portfolio across many different markets and I am excited that we are able to reach into the Asian budget accommodation market with this innovative, fast growing brand," said Joe Sita, chief executive of Istithmar Hotels FZE, a division of Istithmar PJSC.

"It gives us an opportunity to invest in a segment that is poised for tremendous growth in the years ahead and touches on several key themes such as the increased demand for travel by the rising middle class in Asia and rapid growth of low cost carriers (LCCs) in the region."

Tune Hotels.Com is a no-frills limited-service concept created by the founders of Air Asia - Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun - to address the need for affordable, quality accommodation in Southeast Asia.

Rapidly growing regional economies, coupled with the exponential growth of LCCs, have generated an unprecedented volume of value-based travellers.

"The hotels sector is crying out for clean, safe branded budget accommodation in major cities," said Richard Johnson, managing director of Istithmar Real Estate, another division of Istithmar PJSC.

"The Tune Hotels.Com brand will deliver that need in destinations across Asia.

"Customers can be sure of a quality ‘sleep and shower' experience, in a clean and safe environment, and can then choose which other items they want on top. It's a really exciting model and we're looking forward to rolling it out across the region."

Istithmar Hotels has already announced one venture in the budget hotels sector this year; a deal with UK-based easyHotel to build and manage easyHotels in the Middle East.

Tune Hotels.Com claims to offer "a five-star sleeping experience at a one-star price", with rooms expected to start from as little as $3 for customers who book in advance though the website.

Rooms in Tune Hotels will include a luxury bed, en-suite bathroom, and an electronic key card entry system in a "space-efficient" room of approximately 10m2.

Each hotel has an outsourced 24-hour convenience store, a branded F&B outlet, on-site 24 hour guarded security and CCTV cameras throughout the public areas of the properties.

Tune's no-frills model means that certain items such as air conditioning, towels and bathroom amenities are available for small additional charges.

Vincent Yeo, chief executive officer of City e-Solutions, a listed subsidiary of CDL, said that the deal was important for the region and would bring a new model to the market.

The first Tune Hotel opened in Kuala Lumpur in April and has enjoyed 91% occupancy since opening.

Additional properties are set to open in Penang, Johor Bahru, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

FREE 20,000 durians to be given away at Durian Festival

Foreign tourists, including Europeans, will be well-informed about the Malaysian king of fruits so that the Perak Durian Festival on Sunday will be a success.

"We don't want our Durian Festival to face the same fate as what had happened in Penang when promoting the fruit," said Changkat Jering assemblyman Datuk Mat Isa Ismail, who is co-organiser of the event.

"We want our foreign guests to take part in the event until the end of the programme," he told reporters here on Tuesday.

On June 18, it had been reported that 18 foreign tourists taking part in a durian-eating competition in Penang fled the scene soon after taking a whiff of the fruit as they could not stand its strong smell, resulting in the cancellation of the contest.

Mat Isa said a group of 60 foreign tourists, including Europeans, would be taking part in the durian festival.

He said event organiser, the state Tourism Council, had taken steps to brief them so that they would know what to expect during the programme to promote the fruit.

The move was to ensure the foreigners, who would be arriving in two express buses from Kuala Lumpur, would be able to bear the strong smell of the Malaysia king of fruits.

On the festival, Mat Isa said about 20,000 durians would be given out free during the event to be held at the Bukit Gantang public field in Taiping from 10am onwards.

He said the people would also be treated with all kinds of durian-flavoured foods such as gulai tempoyak, dodol, jam, ice-cream, fritters, yoghurt, and juice.

"The highlight will be a gotong-royong involving 50 housewives to make cucur durian (durian fritters) using eight gunny sacks of wheat flour," he said.

The people could also buy the fruit at bargain prices from the 15 stalls set up at the field, he said.

He added that 10,000 people were expected to attend the event to be launched by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Source : STAR
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AirAsia X firms up option for 5 more Airbus A330-300s

Fly Asian Express (FAX), the operating company for AirAsia Long Haul, the world’s newest long haul low cost airline, has signed a contract for 15 A330-300s, increasing its initial commitment by five aircraft.

This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for 10 A330 firm orders and five options at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur in April 2007.

The first new A330 will be delivered to FAX during the third quarter of 2008.

The A330-300 has a range of up to 10,500km/5,650nm and has flown over five million operational hours.

Source : TravelWeekly
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MAS inks RM62m deal

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is set to buy up to 20 turbo-propeller aircraft worth about US$18mil (RM62.38mil) each for the use of its subsidiary Firefly from an Italian based short-haul aeroplane manufacturer.

The intention to purchase was made in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between MAS and Avion de Transport Regional (ATR), which was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi here yesterday.

MAS executive director and chief financial officer Tengku Azmil Zahruddin Raja Abdul Aziz, who signed the document on behalf of the national carrier, said the ART 72-500s aircraft was for the use of Firefly, which would soon go into its expansion phase.

Under the memorandum of understanding, MAS will buy 10 aircraft initially and a further option to buy a further 10 later on.

He said MAS had been planning to replace its Fokker fleet for quite sometime “but was called off when the domestic route rationalisation exercise took place last year”.

“The ATR 72-500s, which can carry 70 passengers, is suited for Firefly’s expansion programme,” he added.

Firefly was formed earlier this year and is termed by MAS as a community-based airline with low-cost prices. At present, Firefly flies to five destination from Penang.

Its managing director, Eddy Leong, who was also present at the MoU signing, said ATR was expected to deliver the first batch of “two or three aircraft” by October next year.

“The ATR 72-500s will be based in our present Penang hub as well as our new hubs in Subang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu,” Leong added.

ATR is a joint venture by Aerospatiale (now EADS) and Aeritalia (now Alenia Aeronautica, part of the FINMECCANICA group) which specialises in short-haul turbo propeller aircraft.

Source : STAR
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Richard Branson in talks to buy stake in AirAsia X parent company

The company operating AirAsia X, Malaysia's first long-haul budget airline, could sign a deal as early as next month to sell a 20 percent stake to Virgin Atlantic's chairman, Sir Richard Branson, for US$6.9 million (euro5.1 million), industry officials said Monday.

Branson may buy the stake from Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranum, the founders of the company, Fly Asian Express.

The two men own a combined 60 percent of Fly Asian Express, which plans to launch low-cost flights from Malaysia to India, China and Europe later this year.

"We have been in talks and he may take a 20 percent stake,'' one official familiar with the issue told Dow Jones Newswires.

"The talks are continuing though there still are things to iron out,'' he said.

The official declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

Another official said a possible deal could be signed as early as next month and could cost Branson US$6.9 million.

Fernandes and Kamarudin founded Asia's most successful budget airline, AirAsia Bhd.

Fly Asian Express has a 30-year license to use the AirAsia brand and facilities.

Its new airline is seen as a test of whether the highly successful low-cost airline model can be profitable on long-haul flights, which are dominated by full-service airlines.

Source : STAR
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Mobile service on AirAsia flights

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is poised to be the first airline in Asia to provide in-flight mobile communications.

The service will be deployed across AirAsia's entire fleet beginning early 2009, following a signing of a memorandum of understanding recently between it and mobile service provider OnAir at the Paris Air Show.

In addition, AirAsia's new fleet of 150 Airbus A320s are also expected to be fully equipped with the service by 2013.

While further details and call charges remain unconfirmed, an AirAsia spokesman said the service would allow passengers to use their mobile phones to make and receive calls and also to send and receive text messages.

"Users of the service will also be able to send e-mail via their Blackberry devices or smartphones during flights," said the spokesman.

A statement from the airline also quoted its deputy chief executive, Kamarudin Meranun, as firmly believing in the importance of providing the ability to communicate during flight.

"It is vital to offer our clients this service in the era of information technology," he said.

Source : STAR
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Babulang Festival listed for the first time in Sarawak’s tourism calendar

SARAWAK’S Bisaya community put on a colourful display of their culture in a night of music, singing and dancing recently.

The performance, capped by a beauty contest, was the curtain-raiser for the Babulang Festival which the Bisaya have been celebrating since 2004.

The Bisaya is one of Sarawak’s minority ethnic groups, numbering some 10,000 people who mostly live in Limbang division.

Warm gesture: Bisaya girls wearing traditional costumes waiting to welcome invited guests at the entrance of the Kampung Batu Danau Hall.
The festival took place at Kampung Batu Danau, about 30km from Limbang town, on the second weekend of June.

Batu Danau state assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang, a Bisaya himself, said “babulang” was traditionally a feast given to redeem one’s honour if the person had done wrong.

“In the old days, he would invite the person he had done wrong to and as many friends as possible to the feast.

Rhythmic: Sabah Bisaya group performing on the Bisaya gongs.
“The feast could last for days and many buffaloes were slaughtered to feed the guests,” he said.

He said nowadays the practice was felt to be unnecessary as disputes could be settled in court.

“But we want to preserve the tradition of feasting and celebrating together, so we changed the concept to a feast that is shared and hosted by everyone,” he added.

This year, the festival took on an added significance as it was listed for the first time in Sarawak’s tourism calendar.

“I hope the Bisaya community will not waste this opportunity but will continue to improve the festival and attract bigger crowds in future.

Native beauties: Miss Babulang 2007 Marliza (centre) flanked by first runner-up Christina and second runner-up Jesseca (left).
“We believe we have a lot of cultural heritage that we can showcase, such as our traditional dishes and our traditional games, which we hope to include in future festivals,” Paulus said.

In addition, an 80-strong delegation from the Sabah United Bisaya Association, led by its president Datuk Lajim Okim, participated for the first time in the festival.

They included a cultural troupe, which put on several performances including a dance and a medley of tunes played on a traditional gong ensemble.

In the highlight of the evening, 21 Bisaya girls dressed in elegant traditional costumes paraded on the outdoor stage in the “Ratu Babulang” beauty contest.

They were judged not only on their looks and style, but also on the authenticity of their costumes, which were black, trimmed with colourful beads and sequins and adorned with silver belts and necklaces.

Marliza Masniz Martin, 22, from Kampung Tanjung, Limbang, was crowned “Ratu Babulang” in the pageant, winning RM300, a trophy and a hamper.

Christina Low Divid, 19, from Limbang and Jesseca Amy Linggi, 21, from Kampung Anak Tuno, Limbang, were first and second runners-up respectively.

Source : STAR
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Bintulu to host global kite festival from Aug 18 to 26

Bintulu will be turned into a global arena for international kite-making and kite-flying competitions.

Sarawak tourism authorities have decided to make this northern Sarawak town a base for kites following its success in turning Miri into an international jazz venue and Kuching into a world ethnic music platform.

An International Borneo Kite Festival will be held here from Aug 18 to 26.

Top kite-makers from 20 countries have been invited to participate in the competition, said Dr Razali Abon, the event’s organising chairman.

“The event is going to be very special. We will get to see all sorts of uniquely-designed kites from all over the world being showcased at one venue.

“Imagine the variety of kites that will be on display. China alone has so many provinces with their own special kites, unique shapes, colours and patterns.

“We are going to see kites from at least 10 provinces in China, as well as from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, France, Germany, Italy, England, Holland and the United States,” said Dr Razali.

The nine-day kite extravaganza will be held at the old Bintulu Airport in the heart of the town.

The area is as big as three football fields and sited near major hotels and motels.

Razali said the festival would be the grandest ever, and if proven successful, would be featured as the town’s main tourism draw every year.

“There will be kite-making contests for the kids and members of the public, kite-stunt performances, kite colouring contests and the like.

“There will also be cultural and traditional events to make us well-known to the international audience attending the festivities,” he said

Source : STAR
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Saudi Prince Eyes Renaissance KL Hotel at USD190 Million

Billionaire Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is making a USD 190 million bid for a five star hotel in Kuala Lumpur, a local daily reported.

The prince is making a bid for Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, a joint venture between IGB corporation Bhd and Hong Kong's New World Group.

In an interview with London's financial times earlier this year, Prince Alwaleed said his Dubai listed kingdom Hotel Investments has USD 1 billion that would be used for expansion in Asia.

Source : Travelweekly
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Air woes cost Sarawak US$5 million

THE state of Sarawak has lost RM20 million (US$5,844,477) in tourism revenue due to poor air services and lack of international connectivity between the Miri and Mulu sectors since Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) took over rural air services from Malaysia Airlines (MAS) on August 1 last year, Sarawak Tourism Board marketing manager, Ms Mary Wan Mering, said.

This is an important sector as it provides access to the World Heritage Site, Mulu Caves.

The state had seen a drop in tourists from its major traditional markets such as Australia, Singapore and Western Europe when FAX failed to deliver reliable service and overseas wholesalers began pulling out.

Ms Mering said Sarawak Tourism Board would go on roadshows to Australia, Singapore and Western Europe to win back support. Asked when this would take place, she replied: "After MAS takes over the rural air services."

She added Sarawak Tourism Board would also use PATA Travel Mart and World Travel Mart as platforms to meet with major buyers and wholesalers later this year.

MASWings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MAS, will take over the rural air services in Sabah and Sarawak from FAX on October 1 provided two conditions are met - the aircraft are returned in good operating condition and the government provides full subsidy to run the rural air services.

Source : TTG
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Nikko's New Dim Sum Menu

DIM sum offerings are always changing, whether in the way the chef decorates them or the array of ingredients creatively added to them, to make them extra-special and new.

A la carte favourite: Chilled Prawns with Mixed Fruit served in an Orange bowl with Mayonnaise.
Toh chef Lee Chon Hor and his team make it a point to go on frequent trips to Hong Kong – where dim sum is popular round the clock – just to pick up new ideas.

“We go there a few times each year to check out what’s new and popular during that particular season,” said Lee, who would then come back to his kitchen in Kuala Lumpur to re-create the items, adapting the taste to suit Malaysians.

The Baked Puff Biscuit with Red Bean Paste topped with Pineapple Dough, for instance, is derived from the popular Polo Bun by adding red bean to it. “Besides presenting the bun in a new variation, red bean, which is a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking, gives the bun an extra touch of individualism,” said Lee.

Lee has also introduced a smaller version of the popular glutinous rice offering, called the Chicken and Mushroom Glutinous Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf. “We decided to make it smaller as most of our patrons prefer small servings so that they can try other dishes as well,” said Lee.

Somewhat similar to the popular loh mai kai which is steamed in stainless steel bowls, this version has the rice wrapped in lotus leaf, which imparts its aroma and flavour to the contents whilst giving the dim sum a traditional look.

Chef’s recommendation: Chilled Mango Pudding with Cream.
“Nowadays, dim sum items are evolving so quickly; from just a few items back in the old days, they now come in a variety of fusion mix dishes, and hence we have to keep up with developments,” said Lee. To this end, Lee periodically meets up with his friends in Hong Kong to visit several dim sum restaurants and try the offerings.

Among the other items that are available in the new dim sum menu are the Prawn and Jade Abalone Dumplings topped with Tobiko, Vegetarian Bean Shoots and Pine Nut Dumpling, and Deep Fried Water Chestnut and Banana Rolls.

Lee also recommends popular favourites from the a la carte menu such as the Chilled Mango Pudding with Cream, Pumpkin and Dried Scallop Soup and Chilled Prawns with Mixed Fruit served in an Orange Bowl with Mayonnaise.

  • TOH LEE CHINESE RESTAURANT, First Floor, Nikko Hotel, 165, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-2782 6128). Business Hours: Lunch, Mon-Fri (noon to 2.30pm); Weekends and Public Holidays (11am-2.30pm).

  • Source : STAR
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    Renaissance turns 11 and has got some things Dished out for its Birthday

    Variety: Chef Tan with some of his creations.
    RENAISSANCE Hotel is turning eleven and its restaurants are ready to throw a party for customers and guests.

    At a special price of RM111 per person, diners can enjoy special celebration set menus at different establishments in the hotel.

    At the Chinese restaurant Dynasty, Chef Tan Kim Weng has come up with three set menus, which combines both traditional and contemporary elements in the dishes.

    The first menu offers Golden Scallop and Herbs Braised Beef, Braised Shark Fin soup with freshly peeled crab meat, Braised Soon Hock (fish) with Lotus Leaf Sauce, Braised Bean Curd Patties with Fish Maw and Shredded Chicken and Szechuan Spicy Noodles with minced pork and eggplant.

    The second set starts off with a barbequed dish of three meats, followed by Braised Shark Fin Soup with Dried Scallop and Shredded Chicken, crispy Soon Hock with garlic flavoured oyster sauce, poached vegetables with assorted eggs and superior soup and fried rice with seafood and X.O sauce.

    Both these sets are available for dinner and lunch while the third menu is only available for lunch. It starts off with a dim sum platter followed by double boiled dumpling soup with mini abalone, baked prawn with spring onion and supreme sauce, poached Hong Kong cabbage with superior soup and bean curd and steamed chicken and salted fried rice served in bamboo cup. All three sets end with a dessert of the day.

    At the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant Med@Marche, two special menus are available for both lunch and dinner.

    The first menu features Wild Mushroom Escabeche, gruyere and green onion crackers, Chestnut and smoked garlic soup with black truffle cream, seared king prawns on squid ink pasta, rock-melon sorbet, balsamic and crisp parmesan, roasted tenderloin beef, braised borlotti bean with sauteed herb gnocchi and chocolate flan with rhubarb cinnamon compote for dessert.

    Tempting: The Soon Hock fish is cooked in two different ways at Dynasty Restaurant.
    The second menu starts off with home-made pecan and raisin labna with endive apple salad and is followed by Black Shell mussels in chickpea soup, Saute of herb gnocchi, asparagus and currants with sage burnt butter sauce, basil sorbet and minced strawberry, lemon parmesan crusted lamb loin with garlic confit, eggplant and tahini puree and buttermilk.

    Both menus have a selection of fish dishes to replace the mains – grilled white tuna and saffron risotto with peas, bell peppers and lemon butter or steamed fillet of cod scented with roast shallots, sugar snap peas and wild mushrooms.

    Japanese restaurant Sagano also has three different menus with interesting dishes to offer.

    The special set menus will now be available until July 15 and each setting requires a minimum of two diners.

  • RENAISSANCE KUALA LUMPUR, corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Tel: 03-2162 2233).

  • Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Sunday, June 24, 2007

    Terengganu's RM4.5 Milion Ming Star Hotel opens its Doors

    THE 41-room, RM4.5-million Ming Star Hotel has opened its doors for business and is the first hotel to be completed since the Barisan Nasional (BN) government returned to Terengganu in 2004.

    This is also the new dawn for the hospitality industry in the State, with 10 more hotels scheduled to open in the next three years to meet the shortfall of rooms during the peak tourist season here.

    Three hotels that will be opening next year itself are D'Ibai Resort, Terrapuri Heritage Village and the Felda Business Residence.

    In all, the 10 hotels will provide an additional 3,000 rooms.

    State Tourism and Industrial Development Committee chairman, Datuk Mohamed Awang Tera, acknowledged that Terengganu lagged behind in terms of opening new hotels.
    "But that is about to change. Prior to BN taking over, the economic environment was not conducive for hotel operators.

    "They (hotel operators) had then adopted a wait-and-see policy. Now with so many tourism-related programmes organised by the State Government, there will be a chain reaction to what is happening," he told reporters yesterday after launching the hotel here.

    Mohamed said he was also looking into upgrading the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibition) facilities in the State to help expand the market.

    Currently, only the Primula Beach Resort and the Terengganu Heritage Bay Club have facilities for such events.

    "To lure the MICE market, we need more five-star hotels here as these are what such participants would require," Mohamed said.

    Despite still being in its infancy stage, Ming Star Director Chong Fah Ming said that during the first two months from its soft-opening in late April, the two-star hotel saw a 100 per cent occupancy rate.

    Chong has already set sights to add another 90 rooms and include a convention centre by 2008.

    The expansion will cost about RM15 million.

    Source : NST
    [tags : ]

    Saturday, June 23, 2007

    New and improved Holiday Villa Beach Resort Cherating

    The Holiday Villa Beach Resort in Cherating is a pleasant weekend getaway for the weary city dweller.

    CHERATING beach has always been a haven for backpackers and surfers, especially during the monsoon months of November and December. It has the perfect combination of great waves, a wide stretch of white 0sandy beach, a plethora of dining choices and a happening nightlife.

    Since Club Med opened its first Asian venture here back in the 70s, other hotels have quickly followed suit and visitors have a wealth of accommodation to choose from, catering for all budgets. One such lodging is the recently refurbished Holiday Villa Beach Resort, a Malaysian hotel chain founded in 1987.

    Facilities: Catch the sea breeze as you dine outside.
    Resident manager Jan Khan revealed that the beddings were changed, carpets removed and tiles incorporated all at a cost of RM2mil. Their pride is the pillarless ballroom, which can seat 600 guests – the only one of its kind in the east coast.

    “Our last renovation was done about eight years ago so it was time for a change. We couldn’t close the hotel so we did it in stages. We want to promote the free and easy ambience. Our edge is our service,” she said, during a familiarisation trip for media and travel agents recently.

    The 122-room resort offers three types of accommodation. One may sample modern accommodation in the capital wing, relive the glamour of Malay royalty at the palace wing or indulge in complete privacy in the eastern pavilion. We stayed in the palace wing where the rooms are compact yet cosy. There isn’t much space to walk about and although it’s meant for two, the room appears a little cramped.

    The eastern pavilion is a bestseller among families and honeymooners. Each boutique villa (some bigger than an average condominium in the city) is named after a different state in Malaysia and comes attached with a living room, one or two bedrooms and a verandah, which extends out to a private swimming pool and Jacuzzi. For additional pampering, there is also a spa offering all kinds of massages and beauty treatment to soothe frayed nerves.

    To cater exclusively for guests in the eastern pavilion, butler service is provided from 8am to 9pm daily. Holiday Villa not only promotes Malaysian cuisines in its overseas hotels but also promotes locally manufactured furniture and television sets. All rooms come equipped with some sort of local flavour.

    Malaysians are blessed to have good food all year round. If you opt to eat in the resort, there are three restaurants to feast at. However, when we dined at the beach restaurant during lunch, the pesky flies proved to be a menace. After a while, I lost my appetite.

    The pillarless ballroom. — HOLIDAY VILLA BEACH RESORT
    Dinner under the stars was a pleasant change though. Tables and speakers were set up outdoors and thankfully, the night was breezy and beautiful. The flies miraculously disappeared and we had the likes of Lionel Richie crooning his best numbers to provide the entertainment.

    The first night saw us having a barbecue – fresh fish, squid and prawns never tasted better! The next day, a heavenly meal of steamboat awaited diners. Then it was time for some karaoke at the Fun Pub.

    With all those pounds you might have put on from the chow, it’s advisable to work off the calories. For recreation, you can always jump into the two swimming pools or the open air Jacuzzi. Or enjoy a game of tennis, basketball or volleyball.

    While the hotel does offer water sports like water scooters, sailing and kayaking, sadly during our visit, the recreation centre was closed. Since the guest count was minimal, the water sports operator decided to take the day off. It was a pity as the weather was sunny so we chose to sit on the sundeck and bask in the serenity of the South China Sea before dozing off.

    Room rates begin from RM280. School holiday packages are available until June 10. Call for details.

    Holiday Villa Beach Resort
    Lot 1303, Mukim Sg Karang
    Cherating, Pahang
    Tel: (09) 581 9500

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Nod for PD health belt

    The Cabinet has approved a plan for a 10km health and wellness belt in Port Dickson, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim.

    There would be special clinics, including those for traditional therapy, for tourists to relax or recuperate from surgeries, he said at the launch of the 56th Cidesco World Congress & Exhibition 2007 yesterday.

    He said the ministry was collaborating with the Negri Sembilan government to promote the concept.

    “We hope the medical and beauty industries will beef up efforts to attract tourists,” he said.

    Some multinational companies had expressed interest but it was too early to announce which would be involved, he said.

    Lim also said shopping contributed RM9bil or 25% of RM36.3bil tourist spending in the country, which included beauty and cosmetic products.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Tourist beats Penang Hill Rail Worker

    A tourist from the Middle East was arrested for beating up a Penang Hill railway employee who did not let his family sit together in one coach.

    George Town OCPD Asst Comm Azam Abd Hamid said the 27-year-old man had wanted to reserve the coach for his 15-member family to go up the hill but the employee refused his request about 4pm on Thursday.

    “The foreigner punched the employee a few times before he was pulled away.”

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Malaysia to host Arabian Nights, Mediterranean Sensation festival

    Get ready to party with top artistes from Lebanon and Jordan in the next two months.

    Several concerts and gala dinners will be held during the Ziryab International Music and Arts Festival, the first of its kind to be held in Malaysia.

    Several well known artistes from the two countries like Marwan Khoury, Haifa Wehbe, Sobhi & Friends, Toni Qattan, Myriam Fares and El Funuon Group are set to perform and the festival is expected to attract tourists from West Asian countries.

    Stunning celebrities: Haifa Wehbe (left) and Myriam Fares are among Lebanese and Jordanian artistes expected to come.
    The festival themed “Arabian Nights, Mediterranean Sensation” is being held in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2007 and Malaysia’s 50th Merdeka celebrations.

    According to organiser Regal Production and Entertainment’s (RPE) managing director Emile Abusada, the festival was also a way of thanking West Asian tourists who had been flocking to Malaysia in the last few years.

    The one-month festival comprises three key events – Ziryab Grand Premiere (gala dinner and concert on July 24 and 26), Ziryab Pop Opera & Cultural gala dinner and concert (Aug 6 and 8), and Ziryab Glam (gala dinner and concert on Aug 29 and 31).

    Performing alongside the foreigners will be local songbirds Khadijah Ibrahim, Sheila Majid, Ning Baizura, Mawi, Camelia, Noryn Aziz, and Indonesian diva Kris Dayanti.

    Concert tickets are priced from RM100 to RM350 while gala dinner tables are available from RM5,000 to RM25,000.

    For details, contact RPE at 03-2031 6606 or TicketCharge at 03-2241 9999.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Shangri-La Hotel does its part for VMY 2007

    The atmosphere in the Shangri-la Hotel Kuala Lumpur lobby lounge was filled with joy and warmth on June 14.

    A cultural troupe played traditional drums at the entrance to welcome guests while a group of ladies in different traditional costumes greeted everyone who walked into the hotel.

    The special welcoming party was part of the Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts’ efforts to celebrate 50 years of nationhood and Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007, in partnership with Tourism Ministry.

    Innovative launch: Tengku Adnan (left)and Sekercioglu lighting up the miniature ‘Eye on Malaysia’ Ferris wheel to launch the event.
    Among the steps taken to promote VMY 2007 are displaying VMY 2007 logo on the hotel and resort websites (which links to the VMY 2007 website), distributing special music CDs to hotel guests, dedicating a special VMY video channel in the hotel rooms and displaying mini leaflets about places of interest in Malaysia.

    Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts vice-president Cetin Sekercioglu said: “Our main objective is to take Malaysia to the world and the world to Malaysia.”

    Speaking at the launch of the celebration, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor commended Shangri-la for its initiatives and hoped that other homegrown brands would be inspired to do the same.

    “Promoting Malaysia as a tourism destination is a collaborative effort which needs the involvement and active participation of all concerned,” he said.

    He said that Malaysia had 4.8 million visitors for the first quarter of 2007, compared with 4.4 million for the same period last year, representing an increase of 9.8%.

    The promoting of VMY 2007 is done concurrently at the group’s 51 hotels worldwide while each Shangri-la hotel and resort in Malaysia would hold different promotions and activities.

    For instance, Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur is having “The Most Expensive Chicken Rice Experience” promotion, where guests would be taken to Ipoh in a private plane to enjoy authentic chicken rice.

    Rasa Ria Resort Kota Kinabalu is hosting an array of cultural activities including congkak, blowpipe shooting competition, sarong wearing and cultural performances.

    “We have received overwhelming response from our guests who hail from all over the world. They enjoy these activities,” its general manager Alain Borgers said.

    For more information, visit

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Shangri-La Hotel does its part for VMY 2007

    The atmosphere in the Shangri-la Hotel Kuala Lumpur lobby lounge was filled with joy and warmth on June 14.

    A cultural troupe played traditional drums at the entrance to welcome guests while a group of ladies in different traditional costumes greeted everyone who walked into the hotel.

    The special welcoming party was part of the Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts’ efforts to celebrate 50 years of nationhood and Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007, in partnership with Tourism Ministry.

    Innovative launch: Tengku Adnan (left)and Sekercioglu lighting up the miniature ‘Eye on Malaysia’ Ferris wheel to launch the event.
    Among the steps taken to promote VMY 2007 are displaying VMY 2007 logo on the hotel and resort websites (which links to the VMY 2007 website), distributing special music CDs to hotel guests, dedicating a special VMY video channel in the hotel rooms and displaying mini leaflets about places of interest in Malaysia.

    Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts vice-president Cetin Sekercioglu said: “Our main objective is to take Malaysia to the world and the world to Malaysia.”

    Speaking at the launch of the celebration, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor commended Shangri-la for its initiatives and hoped that other homegrown brands would be inspired to do the same.

    “Promoting Malaysia as a tourism destination is a collaborative effort which needs the involvement and active participation of all concerned,” he said.

    He said that Malaysia had 4.8 million visitors for the first quarter of 2007, compared with 4.4 million for the same period last year, representing an increase of 9.8%.

    The promoting of VMY 2007 is done concurrently at the group’s 51 hotels worldwide while each Shangri-la hotel and resort in Malaysia would hold different promotions and activities.

    For instance, Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur is having “The Most Expensive Chicken Rice Experience” promotion, where guests would be taken to Ipoh in a private plane to enjoy authentic chicken rice.

    Rasa Ria Resort Kota Kinabalu is hosting an array of cultural activities including congkak, blowpipe shooting competition, sarong wearing and cultural performances.

    “We have received overwhelming response from our guests who hail from all over the world. They enjoy these activities,” its general manager Alain Borgers said.

    For more information, visit

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Juwita Suwito is the Voice behind the VMY Song

    DIFFERENT faces yet all the same, with a million dreams.”

    "I believe that when the people are high achievers who are always reaching for the sky, the country will have a good chance of going far" - JUWITA SUWITO
    This is part of the lyrics of the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 theme song, Malaysia – One Golden Celebration, and Juwita Suwito's favourite line.

    The enchanting voice empowering the song, Suwito feels those words are special because, “On quite a lot of occasions, I have met with the new generation of Malaysians who have big dreams for themselves.

    “I believe that when the people are high achievers who are always reaching for the sky, the country will have a good chance of going far.”

    When she was given the chance to sing the song, Suwito was overcome with excitement.

    “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and was quite an awesome experience,” said the award- winning singer and songwriter.

    She first sang the demo of the song, which was written by Kieran Kuek from Two Am, for participation in a pitch by Tourism Malaysia.

    The song emerged winner later and she ended up singing its English and Malay versions.

    The song is aired on local radio and television stations, and also played in the background in a television campaign on VMY 2007 featuring the Prime Minister promoting Malaysia.

    While many might think that this song has brought fame to Suwito, the truth is quite the opposite.

    “Most people do not know that I was the singer,” said Suwito, whose full-time job is YWCA of Malaysia national general secretary.

    “After I performed the song at the launch of VMY 2007, I had famous artistes such as Ning Baizura, Nora and Sheila Majid coming up to me and say, 'Oh, patutlah! (No wonder!) You are the one!'”

    “With my humble achievements, it was quite tricky for people to imagine that I was the one singing the song.

    “But when they knew I was the one, their response was always positive,” said Suwito, who is of Chinese and Peranakan heritage.

    Suwito added that she did not feel downplayed as the song was all about Malaysia and thus the focus should not be on her.

    Nonetheless, the song had brought her greater exposure to more people.

    So far, she has officially performed the song three times, and will be performing it during the coming Merdeka countdown at Ikano Power Centre, Petaling Jaya.

    Asked to describe how she felt about the song, Suwito said, “It is a bright song. It makes me smile every time I hear it.

    “It really reflects the culture of the country. It has a soaring effect and is uplifting.”

    With Malaysia celebrating 50 years of nationhood, Suwito hopes to see bridges being formed so that Malaysian musicians and artistes can make their mark internationally.

    “I do not think that it’s difficult. It’s just that we do not have enough effort from every one,” she said.

    “Malaysians should lend their support to artistes who are the cream of the crop, because without their support, we really can’t go anywhere.”

    Suwito has released two solo albums so far – Brand New World and Juwita Suwito – For Real.

    Her plans for the near future include taking her albums overseas, developing her new label, Four Forty Records, which was founded last year, and producing two albums under the label this year.

    For more updates on Suwito, log on to

    Related Posts

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    People factor remains key to tourism sector

    AT last year’s International Monetary Fund financial conference in Singapore, a senior editor of a Nigerian daily admitted he did not know where Malaysia was, but remarked he knew the tune of the popular Cuti-cuti Malaysia jingle.

    He asked for recommendations on local attractions in Malaysia, pleasantly surprised that he would only have to make a short trip across the causeway to enjoy these sights.

    The catchy jingle is part of the Tourism Ministry’s television ad that was broadcast on international stations, including CNN, and had helped promote the country even before the launch of Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 campaign.

    The timing of VMY appears to be spot-on as recent data from the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) shows high growth for the Asia-Pacific region.

    Last year, WTO recorded a 33% rise in international tourists, or some 12 million, travelling to this region, the second most frequented region after Europe.

    So far, the VMY campaign looks on track to meet its targets, with 8.9 million tourist arrivals recorded up to May. Should the trend persist, the targeted 20 million tourist arrivals by end-2007 will be easily achieved.

    This positive trend is also reflected in the data from the Malaysian Association of Hotels where hotel occupancy rates for the first three months rose to 65% compared with 60% recorded in the same period last year.

    Passenger traffic for air travel and land also rose, reflecting an increased movement of travellers.

    More importantly, tourism receipts are expected to surge to a target RM40.5bil by year-end. Last year, receipts were RM36.3bil, up 13.5% from the year before.

    Tourist receipts play an important role in the performance of the retail and hospitality sub-sectors of the service industry, which is vital for the country as it moves towards becoming a service-oriented economy.

    Based on Malaysia's gross domestic product statistics from January to March this year, healthy growth was recorded, a trend expected for the rest of the year, say experts.

    A 9.1% growth was registered in the retail sub-sector and 8.1% in the accommodation and restaurants sub-sector, up from 7.1% and 6.0% respectively in the same period last year.

    But then again, it may be too early to call VMY a success, as high tourist arrivals do not necessarily translate into increased spending.

    However, industry players are hopeful that the high influx of travellers will bolster their bottomline.

    Players lure travellers in with not only attractive tour packages and sightseeing spots, but also through low lodging rates. In March, media reports said Malaysia's rates are 75% lower than in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

    But is that the only factor bringing in the tourist dollars?

    Some players insist so as tourist receipts are the deciding factor on whether industry players will have the returns to reinvest in their businesses in lieu of attracting more tourists.

    Consider this also: Will businesses be able to offer attractive salaries to retain talent as competition heats up in Malaysia and the region?

    Take a look at Resorts World’s RM11.7bil (S$5.2bil) integrated resort in Sentosa Island. The resort is likely to draw not only the tourists down south, but also talented and skilled hospitality personnel, the key ingredient for success in this industry.

    In other words, low hotel rates, airfares and travel packages can’t be seen as the only factors to pull in the business.

    Like in any industry, trained professionals or “the people factor” should play its role to offer quality service, be it in the form of a friendly greeting or a helping hand where needed.

    A country as resource-rich as Malaysia can surely bring together all players to offer quality service and personnel to ensure not only the success of VMY but that Malaysia remains one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Malaysia plans Asia travel mart

    Malaysia will invite travel agents from all over Asia for the first travel mart for them here next year.

    Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai said the event would not only introduce Asian countries to the world but also bring more visitors to Malaysia.

    He said that although numerous travel fairs are held every year in the country, some lacked the involvement of international travel agents, especially those from the Asian region.

    “There is Berlin’s Internationale Tourisme Bourse and London’s World Travel Mart that cater to the European countries.

    Festival-like atmosphere: Lim opening the Greatest Tourism Carnival at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
    “The Arabic Travel Mart in Dubai is for those in the West Asian countries.

    “But in Asia, we still do not have an annual travel fair that gathers all the travel agents from the region and which allows international players to meet with their suppliers in this part of the world,” he told a press conference after opening the Malaysia International Travel Mart, dubbed the Greatest Tourism Carnival, here yesterday.

    The three-day event at the Putra World Trade Centre is organised by the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association and Asia-Pacific Tourism Events. The Star is the official media.

    Lim also launched the “VMY 2007 Domestic Holiday Packages” and “VMY 2007 Special Hotel Packages” free booklets, which feature travel deals and hotel offers selected by Tourism Malaysia.

    He said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had agreed to have the travel mart in Malaysia, although the date had yet to be set.

    He added that the travel mart would not affect the existing travel fairs that are held annually in the country.

    Eighty exhibitors have taken up 380 booths at the Malaysia International Travel Mart, which aims to attract 60,000 to 80,000 visitors.

    Singer-actress Karen Mok, who is the Hong Kong Shopping Festival ambassador, made heads turn when she visited the Hong Kong pavilion.

    Although she stayed for only about 10 minutes, she caught the attention of the morning crowd as she posed for photographs and distributed pamphlets on the Hong Kong Shopping Festival.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Ministry zeroes in on errant tour operators

    The Tourism Ministry will limit the number of Malaysian tour operators who can bring in Chinese tourists to help curb the problem of “zero-cost tours,” said Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor.

    Zero-cost tour packages cover the cost of meals, tours and accommodation, but tour operators recoup their money by bringing unsuspecting tourists to shops selling goods at exorbitant prices.

    Tengku Adnan said Malaysia and China would work closely to eliminate the practice of “zero-cost tours” by sharing and exchanging information on unscrupulous tour operators.

    A working committee would be jointly formed to curb the problem as well as to minimise the problem of overstaying Chinese tourists, he told reporters after opening the new Tourism Malaysia office at Air China Plaza here.

    Tengku Adnan, who met China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) chairman Shao Qiwei on Thursday, said they had a fruitful discussion.

    “I have spoken to them (CNTA) on the (negative) effect of zero-cost tours on the industry and the country,” he added.

    “CNTA together with us will immediately exchange information (on zero-cost tours),” he said.

    Tengku Adnan said CNTA had a similar arrangement with the Australian Tourism Board allowing them to identify errant tour agents.

    “CNTA will also work with Malaysia to strike off tour operators who allow visitors to misuse their tourist visas for other purposes,” he said.

    He added that CNTA had indicated its support for Tourism Malaysia in achieving its target of bringing one million Chinese tourists to Malaysia during Visit Malaysia 2007.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Greatest Tourism Carnival 2007 offers many prizes

    Pack your bags and get your travelling shoes on – the Greatest Tourism Carnival 2007 is back, with great prizes and travel offers up for grabs.

    The annual mid-year event kicks off Friday at the Putra World Trade Centre, offering a variety of holiday packages for both local and international destinations.

    More than 380 booths are expected to be occupied by 100 firms, which include airlines, hotels and resorts, tour operators and travel agents.

    Jointly organised by the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) and Asia Pacific Tourism Events (APTE), visitors to the event stand to win cash and prizes worth over RM300,000 from the early bird surprises, visitors contest, buyers contest and pavilion contest.

    Malaysia International Travel Mart (MITM) and APTE chairman Judy Cheah said, “Coupled with the support of Tourism Malaysia and the on-going Visit Malaysia 2007, the event will definitely be nothing short of a carnival-charged atmosphere of sheer excitement, entertainment and merriment.

    “Simply put, as our theme goes, we are enticing travellers to Explore the World ... Like Never Before!

    “In addition to this, Hong Kong actress/singer Karen Mok will be lending her star appeal to the event. Watch out for her,” she said.

    The 37-year-old performer, who is also the ambassador for Hong Kong Tourism, is expected to grace the launch of the programme at Putra World Trade Centre about 8.30pm on Friday.

    Entrance fee for adults is RM3 while admission for children is free.

    The three-day event opens from 10am to 9pm Friday, while over the weekend, the carnival is open from 9.30am to 9.30pm.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Tourism affected by Crime in Johor

    The recent spate of crime in Johor Baru has adversely affected tourism, and the Cabinet decision to beef up police presence in the city is a welcomed one, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim.

    Speaking to reporters here, Lim said: “We are concerned over the cases of crime, especially the robbery-and-rapes in Johor Baru, and hope efforts will be taken to curb them.

    “We also hope the people will be more alert and try to protect themselves,” he said before opening the Muar MCA division meeting on Wednesday.

    Lim said the people should also act fast by alerting the police if they see a crime, adding that everyone should be committed to curbing crime.

    He said the people should also know the police hotline numbers besides the emergency phone number 999, and they should call the nearest police station for speedy action.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    FAX cuts flight frequency

    Rural air service provider Fly Asia Xpress (FAX) has revised its timetable, with reduced flight frequency to certain locations.

    This comes in the wake of criticisms against the airline, whose services have been described as unreliable and affected rural travel and tourism in Sabah and Sarawak.

    In a statement here, the company said the new schedule took effect from June 16 and would be in force until Aug 31.

    Malaysia Airlines subsidiary MASWings is due to take over the rural air service from Oct 1.

    However, MAS had said that it first wants all the Fokker 50 aircraft used in the service to be in proper condition before it takes over.

    It was reported recently that FAX has a fleet of seven planes but only one was in flying condition.

    FAX chief executive officer Raja Mohd Azmi Razali had said the problems arose because the fleet serving the rural sector was ageing, and the aircraft had to undergo “extra intensive and extra stringent repairs.”

    The airline said yesterday that its revised schedule would make use of three Fokker 50 aircraft, with one kept as a spare.

    It would see a reduction of frequency to certain rural routes covering Sibu, Labuan, Mulu and Lahad Datu.

    However, FAX said the new schedule would minimise disruptions.

    It reiterated that the severe disruptions since early this month were triggered by heavy and periodical maintenance requirements on the fleet.

    FAX said its Twin Otter fleet of five aircraft would be subjected to a similar maintenance review.

    For enquiries, call the FAX customer service hotline at 085-612-442 or the carrier's sales offices.

    Online information on the routes is available at

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Tourism Ministry may make travel insurance compulsory

    The Tourism Ministry may require travellers leaving the country to have insurance coverage in a move to protect their loved ones.

    This will be provided for in an amendment to the Tourism Act, which will also see travellers paying a surcharge to guard them against tour companies that go bust.

    “Many Malaysians do not buy extra insurance, as they assume that existing policies will protect them.

    “Travellers should remember that anything can happen and they cannot assume the coverage given by credit card companies is sufficient,” said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim.

    He was speaking to reporters after launching the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agencies (Matta) Medi Evac Insurance scheme here yesterday.

    Lim said protection for travellers has become an urgent concern following recent events that had left travellers in a lurch.

    These included a bus crash involving some Malaysian tourists in China and the recent collapse of tour company Excellence Holiday Sdn Bhd, which caused scores of travellers to lose the money they had paid in advance for tour packages.

    Lim said consumer groups would be consulted about the travellers insurance before the proposal is forwarded to the Government.

    He commended Matta on its Medi Evac scheme – a cashless insurance that covers medical, repatriation and hospitalisation costs of up to RM100,000 – but added that it was not compulsory for travel agents to subscribe to Matta’s scheme.

    He said the ministry encouraged others to also provide solutions for the industry in the short-term.

    In the long-term, the ministry was studying a compensation model used in Hong Kong, where travellers contribute 0.3% of the cost of the tour package into a trust fund.

    Speaking at another function, Lim said the surcharge based on the Hong Kong model, would protect travellers against tour companies that go bust.

    He said a committee comprising representatives from the Government and Matta would handle the fund.

    The ministry hopes to implement the plan by the year’s end or by early next year, he told reporters after opening the Tapah MCA division annual general meeting in Perak on Monday.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Malaysia-France talks on more flights to Paris

    The Malaysian and French governments will begin formal talks in October on Malaysia’s request for more landing rights in Paris.

    Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said that during bilateral talks with his French counterpart Dominique Busserreau on Tuesday on cooperation in the areas of transportation and maritime affairs, he had requested that Malaysia’s seven times weekly flights to Paris be doubled to 14 weekly in view of the increasing load factor between the two cities.

    Chan was speaking to reporters after witnessing the signing between AirAsia Xpress Sdn Bhd and Rolls-Royce plc for 34 engines from the latter worth a total of US$1.3bil (RM4.8bil).

    The minister said in the first four months of this year alone, the passenger load factor on flights departing Kuala Lumpur for Paris reached a high of 81%, which was significantly higher than the 60% to 70% annual load factor recorded in the past few years.

    He said Malaysia Airlines, which started flying daily to Paris since October last year, had fully utilised the rights, adding that increasing landing rights would be a boost to tourism and investments.

    On whether the additional landing rights would be to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, he said it could be to another airport but did not name it.

    He also said no timeframe was set for conclusion of the talks, but it is understood that the airport could be Orly Airport, less than an hour from the city centre.

    An observer said the additional rights would be a boon to AirAsiaX, which is mounting medium and long haul low cost flights in a big way to Europe, among other destinations, from next year.

    Chan said during his stint in this city, he had officiated at a reception on Sunday night to promote the upcoming Langkawi Air Show (Lima 07) from Dec 4 to 8.

    “The turnout from the major aviation players was overwhelming. We can expect strong participation for Lima this year,” he added.

    Source : STAR
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