Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Royal Jordanian and MH sign free sale code-share agreement

Royal Jordanian and Malaysia Airline (MH), the national carrier of Malaysia, signed a unilateral free sale code-share agreement, whereby MH is the marketing carrier, placing its code on RJ flights operated on Amman-Kuala Lumpur-Amman sector.

The agreement has been effective since September 1, 2010.

RJ President/CEO Hussein Dabbas, who signed the agreement with MH Managing Director Tengku Dato' Azmil Zaharuddin, said: "The code-share agreement between RJ and MH is a free flow agreement whereby MH may sell unlimited seats on each Amman-Kuala Lumpur-Amman flight.”

Dabbas added: “After resuming its regular flights to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on June 2, after a 7-year suspension in operations between the two countries due to the weak economic feasibility of the route over the past years, this move comes as a result of the economic revival and the growth of commercial activity and tourism between the two countries.

“This will offer new opportunities for passengers and will boost the tourism sector as Malaysia is considered a gateway to Southeast Asia, particularly in the economic field where it will serve the traffic of businessmen and students.”

Royal Jordanian operates three flights a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, using its recently introduced Airbus A330s.

Dabbas added that RJ is also preparing to transform a code-share agreement from bilateral to unilateral with British Airways; it comes after having implemented the Amadeus system in October 2010. Next year, RJ is planning to increase the number of code-share agreements with its oneworld partners.

Currently, Royal Jordanian has marketing alliances, through code sharing, with several international airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, US Airways, Iberia, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Siberia airlines (S7), Tarom, Gulf Air, Syrian Airlines and Yemen Airways.

Zaharuddin expressed satisfaction with the agreement with Royal Jordanian:

“RJ is a highly appreciated airline, and thus clients will enjoy the high-class services RJ offers them on board its aircraft.

“MH guests will enjoy the same services as those provided to the RJ passengers. Crown Class passengers will have the opportunity to benefit from the extended services provided by the operating carrier.”

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New Visit Packages At Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers will be offering new visit packages from Oct 1 to give the public an enhanced and more exciting experience when they tour Malaysia's popular tourist spot.

In a statement Monday, Petronas said the packages to be introduced, in addition to the existing Skybridge tour on Level 41, will include a visit to an observation deck on a top floor of Tower 2 and a meal at the Malaysian Petroleum Club (MPC) within Tower 2.

Fees for the packages will start from as low as RM3 per person for the basic Skybridge tour to RM350 per person for the premium package, it said, adding that the premium package will also include a fine dining experience at the exclusive, members-only MPC, almost half-way up the world's tallest twin towers.

The packages were introduced in support of the government's aspiration to realise the tourism potential of the Petronas Twin Towers and the attractions within their vicinity, such as the Suria KLCC Shopping Complex, the KLCC Park, Petrosains, Gallery Petronas, Aquaria and the Malaysian Philharmonic Petronas, the statement said.

These attractions would help position the towers as a premier tourism attraction enjoyed by other iconic buildings around the world, it added.

Petronas has plans to enhance the tour experiences of the buildings in the near future, including extending the visit operation hours, providing a more spacious viewing deck, and enhancing the Visitors Centre, ticketing facilities and other related visitor amenities.

Source : Bernama

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tourism Malaysia targets MICE market

Tourism Malaysia is targeting the meeting, incentive, conference and events market after recording consistent growth in MICE visitor numbers in recent years. There were an estimated 1.18 million MICE arrivals in 2009, a 150% increase since the opening on the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in 2005.

For Australians, Malaysia’s state of the art facilities, value for money, close proximity and stability make it a popular choice. In the first six months of 2010, 2.7% of short term departures from Australia to Malaysia travelled for a conference or meeting, which was stable compared to the same period the previous year.

Kuala Lumpur has also recently leaped five spots to the 22nd position in the latest ICCA International Congress and Convention Association city rankings while Malaysia moved up one position to 32nd in the country rankings.

With a booming industry, product development in Malaysia has been significant. In 2010 no less than five new luxury resort developments will open with a total of 270 rooms. An additional 14 new resorts are planned before 2014.

Shahrin Mokhtar, director Tourism Malaysia Sydney says that Malaysia has maintained its position as a premier MICE destination in what was a challenging time for the overall industry. “Malaysia has been able to capitalise on conference organisers looking for destinations that offer value for money, are close to Australia and still offer attractions with a point of difference,” he said.

Malaysia is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best value for money destinations. This year Malaysia was listed as one of the best value destinations in the world by Lonely Planet and in 2009 Malaysia ranked as the 4th most price competitive country in the world according to the Travel and Tourism Competitive index by the World Economic Forum.

Malaysia has a growing number of venue options for small to large conventions including two well developed conference hubs in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre opened in 2005 and the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching opened in 2009.

“Malaysia’s conference hubs are conveniently located in areas with plenty of air capacity and also within easy reach of Malaysia’s amazing tourism attractions. Malaysia offers a huge variety of pre and post touring options. From climbing South East Asia’s tallest mountain in the UNESCO World Heritage Kinabalu National Park, taking the head hunters trail through beautiful Borneo, volunteering in an orang utang or turtle sanctuary or just relaxing in five star luxury along Malaysia beautiful beaches,” said Shahrin.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tourism Malaysia Makes Strong Pitch In Frankfurt For MM2H Programme

Tourism Malaysia, which is making a big push for its Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Programme to Europeans, made a strong pitch at a seminar in Frankfurt Monday night for the MM2H programme before a large German audience that included not only retired pensioners but also business entrepreneurs, government officials, professionals and others under 50, some of whom had come from as far as Switzerland.

Tourism Malaysia's Frankfurt-based director Syed Yahya Syed Othman explained the merits of the MM2H programme and its special appeal for Germans. He said this was the first seminar of its kind to be held in Germany. Syed Yahya played up Malaysia as an attractive destination, pointing out that it had been voted as the best long-stay destination in the top 20 list of retirement destinations by International Living.com magazine.

The reasons for this distinction include its value-for-money factor, location in Asia, tropical climate, well-developed infrastructure, wide use of English, educational and healthcare facilities, security, and variety of housing options available.

"Germany is the second largest source of participants, after the United Kingdom, in the MM2H programme," Syed Yahya said in an interview with Bernama as he highlighted the significance of Germany for the MM2H programme.

According to data from Tourism Malaysia, the total number of participants from around the globe in the MM2H programme is currently 14,358. The UK, with 1,750 participants, was the leading source of participants in the programme, followed by second-ranking Germany (192 participants), the Netherlands (182), France (108), Switzerland ((77) and Belgium (31).

Syed Yahya was supported by a group that had arrived from the Kuala Lumpur headquarters to answer MM2H-related questions. Dayang Balkis Ramli, the assistant director from the MM2H Centre at the Tourism Malaysia headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, was accompanied by two licensed agents, Hosanna MM2H Sdn Bhd of Petaling Jaya, and Optimal Home International of Kuala Lumpur, that offer specialised services to participants in the MM2H programme. "By licensing such agents whose performance is reviewed each year, the Malaysian Government becomes actively involved and thus ensures that the MM2H participants get the right services for which they pay," Dayang Balkis told Bernama.

However, some of the Germans seemed unsure of whether the MM2H provided them with adequate safeguards in their old age when participants want a hassle-free retirement devoid of any red-tape entanglement. The 10-year validity of the social pass that each MM2H participant would be getting seemed to dampen the spirits of some Germans who preferred, instead, to have a permanent resident status, as granted by some countries.

"The MM2H assumes that the 10-year life of the pass would satisfy the participants, many of whom find it restrictive. I have visited Malaysia and am impressed by its scenic beauty and level of development. I believe that Malaysia would benefit even more if it issued, instead, a permanent resident status to MM2H participants. After all, the Malaysian Government is, basically, interested in attracting capital from Germany and other countries, even though this will be deposited in Malaysian banks," an elderly German participant told Bernama.

The permanent resident status would, also, attract business people and others with professional skills who would help Malaysia's future development and catapult it to become Southeast Asia's leading economic power.

Keeping this in mind, Tourism Malaysia in Frankfurt sought the assistance of the Frankfurt-based German-Asian Business Circle, whose president Bodo Krueger was also present at the seminar, and the Japanese-German Business Group. Both these organisations had urged their members to participate in the seminar which was well-attended. According to Syed Yahya, there are some 300 German companies present in Malaysia, of which 70 operate plants.

Dayang Balkis said she discerned some "serious enquiries" from the participants in Frankfurt. "Many of the people said they would like to go to Malaysia and see for themselves the facilities available there. Indeed, I have been asked by some of the participants to organise a similar seminar in their company premises for those who are about to retire," she claimed.

The delegation, along with some staff members of Tourism Malaysia in Frankfurt, departed Tuesday for Stuttgart where they are organising a similar seminar.

Source : Bernama

AirAsia X optimistic over Tokyo route in December

Long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X will fly to Japan in December, with three non-stop flights a week from KL International Airport to Haneda in Tokyo.

Chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani said considering its status as the world’s largest metro­politan city, Tokyo was an important feeder market for the airline to move into the growing international network.

“The three weekly flights will strengthen our historic business and tourism links with Japan’s commercial centre,” he said.

Azran said he estimated that more than 60% of the passengers between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo would be first-time visitors, adding that new market segments could be created from the tourism growth.

To mark its new destination, Air Asia X is offering promotional fares for a one-way ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo from as low as RM99. The tickets will be available from Sept 23 to Sept 26 for travel period Dec 9 to Jul 31, 2011.

The seats are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and tickets are only available online via www.airasia.com and mobile.airasia.com.

Passengers will travel in a brand new A330 aircraft with standard business class “Premium Flat Bed” seats that feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities, such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen.

AirASia X currently flies to destinations in Australia, India, Taiwan, China, Europe and Korea.

Source : STAR

Tourism industry to raise GNI to RM104bil by 2020

The tourism industry aims to raise its contribution to the Gross National Income (GNI) to RM104bil by 2020 through 12 entry point projects (EPPs) and new business opportunities.

This would require the sector to raise its annual contribution by RM67bil, tripling its GNI from RM37bil in 2009.

At the Economic Transformation Programme Open Day, the National Key Economic Area laboratory on tourism disclosed the 12 EPPs which are expected to deliver RM28.4bil and three business opportunities that would deliver RM28.6bil in incremental GNI.

Declaring Malaysia as a global biodiversity hub and positioning the country as a duty-free shopping destination for tourist goods are among the EPPs expected to deliver significant results in the industry within a 10-year time frame.

The other EPPs are developing the world’s first eco-nature integrated resort in Sabah, designating KLCC-Bukit Bintang as a vibrant shopping precinct and establishing three new premium outlets in Malaysia.

There are also plans to create a Straits Riviera, targeting more international events, establishing dedicated entertainment zones, developing local expertise and better regulating the spa industry, establishing Malaysia as a leading business tourism destination, improving rates, mix and quality of hotels and enhancing connectivity to priority medium-haul markets.

A total of RM204bil in funding would be required over the next 10 years to achieve these aspirations. Of this funding, only 2% is expected to come from the public sector.

Malaysia’s growth in tourism has mostly relied on growth in arrivals rather than yield: 75% of growth has been from increased arrivals and 25% from increased yield.

The laboratory on retail also proposed the setting up of 21 1Malaysia malls in emerging markets overseas by 2020, starting with Vietnam, to expand local retailers abroad

Source : STAR

Friday, September 17, 2010

Malaysia International Gourmet Festival back in town for 10th time

The Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) to start on Oct 1, will feature an excotic variety of local and international cuisine from Malaysia and other countries.

The annual festival held since 2001 is aimed at promoting Malaysia's fine dining on the world food tourism map and participated by 30 local restaurants located in five-star hotels and stand alone restaurants in the city.

Apart from authentic local cuisine, various international cuisines including Lebanese, Japanese, Swiss, Chinese, Italian, French, Thai, Indian, European and continental food would also be served.

Before the launch of the MIGF, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen and a group of chefs were flown in by five helicopters, courtesy of Eurocopter, and landed at Dataran Merdeka before proceeding to Restaurant Warisan, the venue of the launch.

During the festival, each restaurant will serve special menus at special prices, besides offering other promotions.

Speaking to reporters after the launch, Dr Ng said MIGF which is part of the ministry's three tier "Fabulous Food 1Malaysia" initiative, is hoped to elevate and popularize Malaysian cuisine at the international stage.

Apart from fabulous beaches, shopping complexes, authentic food from the various races in the country is also seen as a tourism product with the potential to attract tourists.

"The Ministry wants to raise the status of Malaysian cuisine because we want Malaysian food to be served at exclusive restaurants to attract tourists," she said.

She said last year tourists spent RM1 billion in a week and hoped tourists would spend more through the launching of MIGF.

Among the participants of this year's festival are The Olive from Maxims Genting, Seasonal Tastes from the Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, restaurants like Al-Amar, Celadon, China Treasures, Neo Tamarind, Tamarind Springs, High Tidem Nerovivo and Vansh.

Also in the list are Chynna, Iketeru and Senses from Hilton KL, Lai Po Heen and Mandarin Grill (Mandarin Oriental), Lafite, Shang Palace, Zipangu (Shangri-la), Dynasty, Med@Marche-Live, Sagano (Renaissance), Sheraton Imperial's Villa Danielli, Equatorial's Chalet, Grand Millennium's Zing, The Royal Chulan's Bunga Emas and L'Heritage, Holiday Inn Glenmarie's Fu-Rin, The Club at The Saujana's The Restaurant, Doubletree's Makan Kitchen have also joined the MIGF.

Source : MalayMail

AirAsia X opens tickets to Tokyo from next week

Airline will be first foreign low-cost carrier serving Haneda airport from Dec 9

AirAsia X will begin flights to Haneda airport in Tokyo on Dec 9 and open ticket sales for the sector next week.

The airline plans to mount three weekly flights and it will be the first foreign low-cost carrier serving the airport that is expected to open for international flights in late October.

Asashi newspaper in Japan reported that AirAsia X was expected to price fares far lower than those charged for existing services between the capitals of Japan and Malaysia offered by Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani declined to reveal any pricing when contacted yesterday by StarBiz. But the market is abuzz with talk that the introductory price could range from RM99 to RM199.

Azran said that flying to Tokyo would be “super exciting as finally people will have choices and low fares to go to great places.’’

Three flights per week may be too few for AirAsia X but for now the airline does not have much of a choice.

It is learnt that the Japanese authorities had accorded seven rights and the Malaysian authorities awarded three each to AirAsia X and MAS, and one to Transmile.

Japan is a high fixed cost city and with so few flights it would be difficult to make the sector sustainable so we will have to convince the authorities to grant us daily flights,” Azran said.

MAS will introduce three flights a week between Kota Kinabalu and Haneda from Nov 15.

Haneda airport is the main domestic hub for Tokyo but due to congestion in Narita, it will start receiving international flights next month. Haneda is just a 20-minute monorail or cab ride from downtown Tokyo whereas Narita is at least an hour’s train ride, and the trip can take over two hours by car on clogged roads.

To beat potential competition from six foreign low-cost carriers from China and South-East Asia, both Japanese carriers – Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) – want to set up low-cost airlines.

ANA has inked a deal with Hong Kong’s First Eastern Investment Group to set up a new airline that will start operations in the second half of 2011. ANA will own 39% in the venture and Far Eastern 33%. The balance equity will be sold to other investors.

Source : Star

Floating Hotel With Naval Museum Another Attraction For Lumut

A RM160 million floating hotel equipped with a naval museum will be another tourist attraction here.

The four-star hotel will be built by Plus Asia Jaya Sdn Bhd (PAJ) on a 1.99ha site next to the Lumut Waterfront Public Park here, said PAJ chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Azizul Hassan.

He said a decommissioned frigate, Ex-Rahmad would be restored and turned into a naval museum as part of the hotel complex.

"The ship had ended its mission after serving the Royal Malaysian Navy for 22 years and was handed over to the Perak government on Jan 22," he told reporters here Thursday.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir is expected to officiate the ground-breaking ceremony of the 25-storey hotel on Saturday.

Abdul Wahab, who is also Orang Besar Jajahan Manjung, said the hotel, which would have 310 rooms, would be completed in two years' time.

He said the facilities include the biggest banquet hall in the state which could accommodate 1,500 people for banquet and 2,500 for conferences, a two-storey floating restaurant, 45 shops, three floors of offices and an underground parking area.

It will also provide Sungai Dinding and mangrove swamps boat tours for guests, he added.

Source : Bernama

Growth In Negeri Sembilan's Tourism Industry

Negeri Sembilan recorded 2,103,837 in tourists arrivals last year, State Tourism, Unity, Culture, Arts, Heritage and Malay Customs committee chairman Datuk Mohammad Razi Kail said.

He said about RM546 million was spent by tourists in the state last year.

"Studies show that each foreign tourist spend an average of RM351.20 a day, while domestic tourists spend RM210.72," he added.

Source : Bernama

InterContinental may be Nikko's new management

THE management of Hotel Nikko Kuala Lumpur may change hands after 15 years, sources say.

Japan-based Nikko Hotels International's management of the hotel in Jalan Ampang may not be extended when the management contract comes to an end in February next year.

Instead, it is understood that owner MTJ Development Sdn Bhd may bring in InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) - which operates brands like InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn - to operate the hotel.

A source told Business Times that the new brand is likely to be the five-star InterContinental.

According to sources, hotel staff were briefed on August 27 by the owner's representative. They were assured that they would be able to keep their jobs when InterContinental comes on board.

It is learnt that the hotel has some 400 employees.

Nikko general manager Michael Borostyan, when contacted, said: "Hotel Nikko will be undergoing changes in 2011. However, at this point in time, the board members have not officially signed a new management company agreement for the hotel."

A quick check with Japan Airlines' (JAL) Hotels Co Ltd website for Hotel Nikko showed that there were no more rooms available for booking from March 1 next year.

IHG vice-president of communications for Asia Pacific, Eric Lee, responding to questions on whether IHG will manage the hotel from next year, said that it did not have any news to announce at this time.

However, there is talk in the market that InterContinental has started to conduct interviews for placements at the hotel.

The 473-room five-star hotel has been managed by Nikko since July 1995.

Early last month, JAL announced the sale of a 79.6 per cent stake in JAL hotels to Hotel Okura.

The Japanese airline, however, was planning to retain an 11.1 per cent stake in the hotels as well as the brand names of the hotel chain it owns, including Hotel Nikko.

IHG hotels in Malaysia currently include Crowne Plaza Kuala Lumpur (563 rooms), Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie (260 rooms), Holiday Inn Melaka (275 rooms) and Holiday Inn Resort Penang (358 rooms).

Source : BTimes

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Singapore Hotel Rooms Most Expensive in Asia

Singapore is the most expensive city in the Asia-Pacific region for hotel rooms, according to a survey of hotel prices in major destinations across the world.

A Singapore hotel room cost an average of S$230 (RM716) per night in the second quarter this year, up 22 per cent from the same period last year, according to a survey by online hotel booking operator Hotels.com.

Tokyo was the second-most expensive at US$156.80 per night, but was down 6 per cent year-on-year, while Sydney was the third at US$148.50 and up 16 per cent.

“We are definitely on a trend up in Asia. When you have more money, travelling quickly becomes an interest and that is going to be reflected in prices in the near future,” Johan Svanstrom, Hotels.com managing director for the Asia-Pacific region, said in an interview.

“The majority of the Asians travel within Asia. China is clearly going to be a very big driving factor for hotels anywhere in Asia,” he added.

Svanstrom cited a recent report by the China Tourism Academy which estimated that 54 million Chinese travellers would go abroad this year.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, this number would nearly double to 100 million by 2020.

Source : TMI
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Ritz-Carlton launches loyalty program

Beginning September 15, 2010, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. will introduce its highly-anticipated luxury frequent guest stay program – The Ritz-Carlton Rewards.  Creation of The Ritz-Carlton Rewards is based on strong customer feedback and demand for a world-class loyalty program that goes far beyond providing complimentary stays and airline flights, and recognizes its members with a broad selection of unique travel experiences.

“No other luxury hotel company comes close to providing such a full range of opportunities to earn and redeem points and experience some truly exceptional and exotic adventures,” said Herve Humler, president and chief operating officer, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.  “We have already brought together some of the most exclusive names in travel and retail including world class travel provider Abercrombie and Kent; fashion icon, Vera Wang; National Geographic Expeditions photography workshops; and Neiman Marcus, one of the top luxury retailers in the U.S.  This is just the beginning.  We will continue to add global partners offering our members the very best in customized and one-of-a-kind memorable experiences.”

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards’ partners offer unique access available only to members, including Abercrombie & Kent members-only tours in locations such as China, Turkey and Egypt; special customer events and a half-day personal shopping experience with fashion experts at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman featuring a private consultation, fashion presentation, lunch, facial and make-up application and the opportunity to redeem points toward wedding gowns and other select products from the world of celebrated designer Vera Wang.  Another special opportunity for members will be four-day photography workshops with National Geographic’s renowned photographers at Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts in locations such as San Francisco and Miami. Members will also be able to redeem points for flights on 30 of the world’s major airlines and luxury cruise lines, including Crystal Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn and Silversea.

Membership will be complimentary and guests are invited to enroll by going online at ritzcarltonrewards.com; visiting any Ritz-Carlton hotel front desk; calling toll free reservation at 1.800.241.3333, or, by contacting The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Guest Services at 1.866.922.6882.

As the premier luxury brand in the Marriott International, Inc. (MAR:NYSE) portfolio, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels will lead the high-end luxury hotel segment by offering a rewards program that enables guests to access benefits at more than 70 Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts, plus enjoy the full portfolio of Marriott brands worldwide – nearly 3,300 properties.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards will partner with the award-winning Marriott Rewards program, whose members will now be able to earn Marriott Rewards points at The Ritz-Carlton hotels.  Elite Marriott Rewards members will also receive special benefits when staying at The Ritz-Carlton’s properties. 
For complete program details, visit www.ritzcarltonrewards.com

Source : HNN
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hyatt Hotels and iPads

Enhancing guest services globally with iPad.

For over 50 years, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts have aimed to make guests feel more than welcome by providing amenities and services that meet their needs as quickly and directly as possible. With iPad, Hyatt now has the ideal platform to deliver the kind of seamless guest services the company prides itself on — not to mention a powerful, portable business tool for executives in Hyatt’s corporate headquarters.

“We’re all about home away from home,” says John Prusnick, Director of IT Innovation & Strategy for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. “We’re also all about ‘high touch,’ meaning the interaction with the guest. We’re enabling that with iPad. The combination of the two has been very powerful for us to reach that operational vision.”

From Hyatt’s Chicago headquarters to individual properties throughout the world, iPad is changing the way this hotel empire does business. Features like instant-on power, fast Internet access, and a large, easy-to-use onscreen keyboard make iPad a valuable contributor in meetings — and many Hyatt executives now take iPads on business trips in place of laptops.

With iPad, Hyatt managers have an immediate, full-size view of their email, contacts, calendars, financial data, and other business resources wherever they are. “You can write up notes during a meeting, automatically make a PDF, and email it,” says John Wallis, Hyatt Hotels Corporation's Global Head, Marketing & Brand Strategy. “In our office, iPad has already become part and parcel of the way we do business.”

“I don’t carry my diary anymore,” adds Harmit Singh, Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s Chief Financial Officer. “I don’t carry a calculator. I used to subscribe to all the journals: the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times. That’s all disappeared. It’s all on iPad."

Boardroom to Guest Room

With hundreds of iPads already in employees’ hands and thousands more in the works, Hyatt keeps finding new ways to use iPad to streamline operations. Plans are now underway to deploy iPad throughout the organization, enhancing everything from registration to in-room services.

“We’re looking at ways to make things simpler for business travelers,” Singh says. “Making check-in easier after a flight or a long day’s work, making it easy to access the Internet.”
When guests walk into Hyatt’s boutique-style Andaz hotels, they’ll be greeted by hotel staff with iPads. “We can swipe your credit card, capture your signature, and check you into the hotel,” Prusnick explains. “We even have the ability on iPad to encode your key so you can go directly into your room.”

Hyatt is also developing iPad-accessible apps that allow guests to order room service, view hotel amenities, review charges, and check out. “Business travelers are bringing their own iPads on trips,” says Prusnick. “We want to enhance their experience and allow them to manage their stay, leveraging iPad.”

Guest Services Go Mobile

The portability, large screen, and long battery life of iPad make it uniquely suited to the round-the-clock, perpetual-motion world of hospitality. “Imagine a large convention center hotel where there are 1000 people wanting to check out,” says Prusnick. “Now we’re able to empower hotel staff with iPads and allow them to quickly and easily check out guests.”

iPad is also a natural fit for the concierge staff, he notes: “They’re showing guests how to get to restaurants or the theater, and showing them the capabilities of the hotel. If guests want to see what the spa looks like or book a golf tee time, they use iPad.”

And for Hyatt’s sales team, iPad has been transformative. Rather than carrying bulky portfolios, they can show potential clients crisp digital images on iPad, or even display videos of property highlights. “It’s a great tool to sell the hotel,” Wallis says. “Especially in this industry, where you’ve got to show bedrooms, banquet space, all the things we have to offer guests.”
Secure and Simple

For the IT staff, supporting iPad has been a straightforward process requiring no formal user training. Using the same infrastructure and messaging platform Hyatt has already established for iPhone, users simply enter their account information and immediately begin using the device.
“We use Lotus Traveler as the core platform to integrate with our messaging collaboration system, Lotus Notes — and users have full access to our VPN infrastructure,” says Prusnick.

“Through the Exchange ActiveSync technology enabled within iPad, we’re able to get instant synchronization of mail, contacts, and calendars without any IT involvement.”
Another non-issue is security. “Hyatt is confident that iPad meets security requirements,” Prusnick states. “It’s fast, it’s secure, and it’s easy to use. iPad has integrated Cisco IPsec, so we can securely authenticate users into the environment.”

Up and Running

Once the devices are activated, users can expand the capabilities of their iPads by downloading business apps such as Keynote, Documents To Go, and Dropbox from the App Store. “With the App Store and the iOS platform, users can find and implement their own solutions without IT intervention,” says Prusnick.

From Hyatt’s headquarters to individual properties throughout the world, iPad is changing the way this company does business. “With iPad, the interaction between the guest and ourselves is now seamless,” Wallis says. “iPad has changed our world forever.”

Source : Apple.com

MAS to boost its sales with innovative services

NATIONAL carrier Malaysia Airlines is relying on new technological devices such as iPhones, iPads, android and blackberry phones to ramp up its marketing efforts and rake in more sales.

Its senior general manager of commercial strategy Dr Amin Khan said the airline was using innovation to make travel easier and to offer good value.

MAS recently embarked on a three-phased upgrade of its passenger service system (PSS) for a total investment value of RM480 million. MAS' decision to upgrade its PSS, now in the final phase and to be completed in 2013, is to cut cost and drive revenue.

The traditional distribution channels for the airline are travel agents, other airlines and ticketing outlets. However, it has expanded the reach of its distribution by utilising call centres, Internet, mobile and iPad kiosks.

"Instead of just focusing on the marketplace, we are moving into the market space using e-commerce," Dr Amin said. He said the market space will allow the airline to recognise its customers as individuals and give them choices at their own convenience.

With 45 per cent of airline bookings done on the Web (based on an Airline Business report in June), MAS is focused on addressing three basic needs on the Web: giving information, getting a transaction done and providing help.

The airline is also using social networking sites such as Facebook and Flickr to generate news of its offers. Aside from this, Dr Amin said that MAS was the first airline in the world to introduce MHmobile with a complete suite of products.

The airline is also using augmented reality for iPhone users, through the global positioning system (GPS), for its offers on fares.

Among other services it has adopted are the introduction of iPad kiosks for booking and purchasing of tickets.

The airline plans to improve its call centre services by increasing its capacity through cloud computing. It will also introduce Web chat services to guide customers who book tickets online.

In line with innovative services, MAS is also looking at a similar model operated by low-cost carriers, such as unbundling its product offering. Dr Amin said that MAS was considering unbundling its low fares, more so for the MHlow category.

"The unbundling will probably happen for services at the ground level, like, if a customer chooses to select a seat." MAS will not look to unbundling meals, or comfort items like pillows and blankets, he said.

Source : Business Times

China Is Third Largest Tourist Market For Malaysia

Strong cooperation and friendship between Malaysia and China has paid dividends in the form of continued growth in trade and tourism.

This has led China to overtake Thailand into becoming the third largest tourist market for Malaysia, after Singapore and Indonesia.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said, last year alone, a million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia, an increase by 7.4 per cent as compared to the previous year.

"Malaysia attracted 23.6 million tourists to Malaysia last year, and we are now placed ninth in the world tourism branding.

"The China market is important to us for its quantity and quality...We are targeting 1.2 million Chinese tourists this year.

"Tourism Malaysia has changed its strategy accordingly, to attract high- yield Chinese tourists who will stay for five days or more, and those who visit frequently," she said, adding that as China had become more prosperous, Chinese tourists were now eyeing quality and luxury vacations overseas.

She was speaking to the media after officiating Malaysia Pavillion Day Celebration at the Shanghai EXPO Centre here Sunday.

Dr Ng was representing Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak at the event.

She said the ministry was in the midst of introducing focus packaging and do away with general sight-seeing tour packages which include Singapore and Thailand.

Tour packages have been re-designed and re-packaged to suit the Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia for shopping, delicious food, cultural heritage and adventure.

"China's tour operators are asked to develop focus products, such as to attract clans and associations and companies to hold annual gatherings and conventions in Malaysia, under the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions concept for tourism," said the minister.

Apart from famous Malaysian pop singer Michael Wong (Guang Liang), renowned Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Datuk Ooi Chean See has also been appointed Tourism Goodwill Ambassador for Germany and Europe to lure tourists, she added.

Ooi works with the equally-renowned Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, having put together a unique orchestral performance at the Shanghai Concert Hall, in conjunction with Malaysia's 53rd independence anniversary celebrations here Sunday night.

Source : bernama

MAS flyers can buy train tickets online

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) passengers can now purchase KL International Airport (KLIA) Ekspres train tickets via online, through the national carrier and MASholiday websites at malaysiaairlines.com and holiday.malaysiaairlines.com.

MAS senior general manager (Commercial Strategy) Dr Amin Khan said via the service which was available since August 23, customers only needed to follow three simple steps -- purchase, print and scan.

"Passengers can now avoid the rush and long queues at the KLIA check-in counters by simply checking in and collecting their boarding pass at the KL Sentral.

"All they have to do is purchase the train ticket through the website, print it from their email and scan the ticket at the gate before taking the train," he said in a statement today.

The high-speed and low carbon train service takes passengers from Kuala Lumpur to KLIA in just 28 minutes at an affordable price.

"We are constantly looking for ways to provide more convenience to our customers and provide them with seamless connectivity when they travel with us," he added.

Source : BusinessTimes

Monday, September 13, 2010

Penang Records Increase In International Tourist Arrivals

Penang has recorded a 40 per cent increase in the number of international tourist arrivals between January and June this year.

There were 405,932 tourists up till June, as compared to 244,146 in the same period last year.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said she was happy to note the increase in foreign tourists flocking to Penang as it reflected the island's good heritage, history, gardens, beaches and food.

Of the tourist arrivals, she said Indonesians topped the list at over 92,000, followed by Singaporeans (51,392), China (16,000), Australia, Japan, Latin America and India (12,000 each), United States (10,000) and Middle East countries (1,360).

"The federal government played a key role to attract more tourists to the state, such as allocating about RM51 million under the Budget 2010, for development projects such as the Penang Hill funicular train and Botanical Gardens," Dr Ng told reporters here Thursday.

The minister, who is on a working visit to the state's Contemporary Arts Gallery, said another factor contributing to the increase in international tourist arrivals could be the number of direct flights offered by various airlines.

Noting a poor response from Middle East tourists, Dr Ng said her ministry would hold discussions with the Emirates airlines to increase the number of direct flights.

On art, she said it had been identified as a new product to boost the country's tourism sector, with events such as art auction among activities on the cards.

She said, after the three-month 1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival ended next month, her ministry would work with a Penang-based artist to develop a Penang Art Tourism trail featuring the state art gallery in a booklet for distribution to tourists.

"We hope the booklet serves as directory for tourists who are keen in art. Apart from that, we will also be organising a seminar themed, 'Penang as a Sustainable International Hub for Contemporary Art Tourism', on Sept 29," she said.

Source : Bernama

Malaysia Amongst Top 10 Tourist Destinations

For a variety of reasons, Malaysia has emerged as one of the world’s top tourist destinations - in fact appearing in the top 10. Both the public and private sectors have contributed towards the success of a nation many people would choose to ignore as a major tourism power.

In 1998, Malaysia welcomed 5.5 million foreign tourists. 11 years later, the situation has changed and that figure is over 18 million higher, despite the challenges to the tourism industry in recent years.

Last year, Malaysia jumped into the list of the top 10 world tourist destinations. This pleased Malaysian authorities very much particularly because tourism is the 2nd biggest foreign exchange earner in the country. So what is the reason behind this huge success story?

There is not one single reason and the Malaysian boom has to be explained by numerous factors. The most impressive aspect of Malaysia is the way it is able to offer a multitude of cultures in one go.

The people of Malaysia are far from being uniform. The country is a mixture of religions, foods, colours and cultures. Whereas the huge metropolitan areas in western countries host different nations, which tend to adapt to local conditions, the Malaysian people have always preferred to remain the way they are.

A second factor is the availability of tours and flights. Flying to far away destinations has never been easy or cheap.

Moreover, whilst many Southern European nations and other classic tourism giants suffer for various reasons, Malaysia is able to take advantage of wounded opponents.

Improved visa conditions for many nations have meant that more people are able to get to Malaysia than ever before and with a lot less hassle.

Source : TourismReview.com

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Airlines leverage on social media sites

As travellers become more Internet and social media-savvy, airlines have started to leverage on social media sites for branding, promotion and marketing.

Airlines including Malaysia Airlines (MAS), AirAsia Bhd, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Delta Air Lines are using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and even blogs to market themselves and engage with the public. Some airlines turn their Facebook page into a fan page whereby they can connect with their fans on the Internet. Some promote their business, products, and new offerings on Twitter to reach out to more people.

MAS senior general manager, commercial strategy, Dr Amin Khan said the carrier had a two-pronged approach for its Facebook and Twitter accounts. “For Malaysia Airlines Travel on Facebook, @MAS Twitter account and blogger engagements, our primary objective is to inspire travel by engaging and building a connection with our fans and followers.

Our efforts here are focused on engaging our younger audience and customers, around 20 to 35 years old. This includes promoting our fares and deals, destinations, travel stories and competitions,” he told StarBiz.

Amin said MAS started its social media outreach including the Malaysia Airlines Travel on Facebook in March 2009. “To date, we have more than 125,000 fans on Malaysia Airlines Travel on Facebook and some 16,500 followers on @MAS Twitter account.”

He added that the MH Deals by Malaysia Airlines on Facebook, which started in January, had 37,000 fans and it had 3,500 followers on @MHdeals Twitter account. “We also have 11,500 fans on MH Students Facebook pages. A majority of them are students who are currently studying in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India.”

MAS has managed to generate great interest with its lunch hour sales on Facebook. “The idea for the lunch hour sale came from our Facebook fans. We are constantly engaging with them to get their feedback on what they would like to see. We are also planning other promotions according to ticket availability and seasonality,” Amin said.

A quick search on Twitter revealed that AirAsia has one of the most followers on its Twitter account with some 50,086 followers. The budget carrier had previously operated under AirAsiaDotCom on Twitter. However, last Friday it announced to its followers that it had managed to secure back its @AirAsia twitter handler.

AirAsia has 478,708 fans on its main Facebook site. On top of the country specific sites that AirAsia has on Facebook and Twitter, it has a dedicated AirAsia YouTube channel, AirAsia Blog: Just Plane Thoughts and Flickr account as its official gallery of AirAsia pictures.

Media specialists see social media as a great platform to get the online community involved, to motivate them to travel, get them to spread the word on which airline to use.

“Most of these airlines make use of Twitter to introduce new events, offer a limited number of air tickets at discounted prices, etc,” a media specialist said. She added that airlines were beginning to use social media productively. “Facebook is an excellent way to engage customers. And both MAS and AirAsia are doing it well.”

She said both carriers managed to encourage their customers to engage with one another. “They made it easy to access the airlines and build relationships. Potential customers can also ask questions and get help. If their customers are happy, it means returning customers to the carrier.”

She said it was good to note that AirAsia had managed to put links on its websites to generate interest on its Twitter and Facebook pages and vice-versa. “It (AirAsia) manages to interact well on Facebook. Every news item it posts seems to get feedbacks and there are heaps of praises from fans.”

Last month, US-based Delta Air Lines had introduced the Delta Ticket Window, a Facebook application that allows its fans to find, book and share flights via the “Book a Trip” tab on its Facebook Page. The carrier believes it can capitalise on a captive audience given that Facebook is the most trafficked website on its inflight WiFi service. It is a cutting edge offering for the airline which is unparallelled by other airlines.

Asked if MAS would start offering such service, Amin said its offerings would tie in closely with its digital strategy. “For example, we are revamping our MASTraveller portal as part of our strategy to inspire travel. In line with this, our Facebook and Twitter accounts will be promoting destinations and encouraging user-generated content.”

“We also have a social media feature on MHmobile. After a customer books his ticket on flymas.mobi, he will be able to share his itinerary on his own Facebook page, Tripit or Dopplr. This ensures that all his friends are aware of his travel plans, and he is also able to make other travel arrangements such as hotel bookings and car rentals via Tripit or Dopplr,” Amin said.

Amin said all its channels were focused on attracting consumers to its main website, www.malaysiaairlines.com. MAS employee bloggers also share their experiences on its official blog. The carrier has a team managing the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts beside traditional media and other digital initiatives such as the website, applications for our mobile site, flymas.mobi, mobile gadgets and others.

Source : STAR

Friday, September 03, 2010

MATTA Targets 80,000 Visitors To Exhibition

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) is targeting 80,000 visitors to its three-day fair and exhibition at the Putra World Trade Centre, here, starting Friday.

The organising committee chairman John Tan said more than 300 tourism organisations including tourism offices, travel agencies, hotels, airlines and other related companies would be displaying their products at 858 booths occupying a total space of 20,500 sq metres.

He told reporters here that three bridal companies tying up with travel agents offering wedding packages such as wedding photograph and honeymoon packages were expected to be one of the attractions at the exhibition.

Among the major exhibitors are Apple Vacations and Conventions Sdn Bhd which took up 36 booths, Taiwan Visitors Association and Culture and Tourism Ministry of Indonesia (20 booths each), and Tourism Malaysia, Sabah Tourism Board and Langkawi Development Authority (12 booths each).

SEDANIA Travelneeds2u Sdn Bhd, an MSC Malaysia-status company, will contribute 10 per cent from the sales of its Global Starter Pac (GSP) product at the fair to Rumah Anak Yatim Amal Kasih Bestari.

Its chief executive officer, Radzib Ariff, hoped that as a complement to the various travel services and packages, the product could attract travel agencies and the public to understand more about GSP.

Source : Bernama

Ministry strives to achieve 36 mil tourist arrivals by 2020

Teamwork among employees of the Tourism Ministry should be enhanced in an effort to turn it into an effective organisation and achieve the Key Performance Indicators (KPI), said its minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said this was in line with the ministry's objective of achieving the target of 36 million tourist arrivals with a turnover of RM168 billion by 2020.

"The Ramadan Bazaar in the fasting month of Ramadan is yet another Malaysia's tourism products as well as a culture of togetherness among the people.

"The promotion of the bazaar will be intensified by the ministry as no other country has such a wide array of delicious fare sold at numerous places nationwide," she said when attending the breaking of fast at the Putra World Trade Centre here Wednesday.

For the record, Malaysia received RM1 billion a week in tourism revenue last year.

Ng said the breaking of fast enhanced the spirit of togetherness and cooperation among fellow employees.

Source : Sinchew

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tourism Ministry Launches Booklet On Nasi Lemak, Laksa And Bak Kut Teh

The Ministry of Tourism on Monday launched its 'Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Trail 2009' booklet featuring ten best and must try food in three different categories - nasi lemak, laksa and Bak Kut Teh (meat bone tea).

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the main objective of producing the booklet was to provide a definitive guide in helping to navigate food aficionados.

Dr Ng said it was also to harness upon the attractions in the food sector and entrench them as outstanding products of Malaysia's food tourism.

"Food tourism is very important. In 2009, the food bill alone from tourists to Malaysia stood at RM8.5 billion. It was the third highest expenditure among tourists.

"As such, based on public feedback, we came up with this booklet where the best 50 outlets for each category are listed as per the recommendations of the www.fabfood1malaysia.com website.

The booklet will be distributed nationwide," she told a press conference after launching the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Food Trail 2009 here Monday.

She said the listing was also based on the quality of food, customer service and cleanliness.

She said since the launch of the website, over 30,864 visitors from 47 countries visited the website to report their recommendations from the rich diversity and variety of local food served by the best Malaysian restaurants and street food stalls.

For this year, Dr Ng said the ministry would continue the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia 2010 programme, which would be held from October until December.

"This year we choose three more types of food - sate, roti canai and nasi ayam. This way we hope to uplift our restaurants to be international standard.

"Malaysia wants to be known as food heaven, good food variety, exotic, traditional, fine dining and green," she said.

The Fabulous Food 1Malaysia campaign which was launched last year, is a three-month campaign divided into three segments - Malaysia International Gourmet Food Festival in October, ASEAN Heritage Food Trail in November and Street Food Festival and Restaurant Food Festival in December.

Source : Bernama

Eco-tourism ranks high on Arab travel plans

Beyond the well-known destinations of Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi, Arab travellers appear to be keen on exploring Malaysia’s resort islands such as Redang, Perhentian and Tioman.

This was the outcome of a recent online survey, devised in a multiple-answer format, undertaken by Tourism Malaysia here.

It drew 4,172 respondents, including 3,536 United Arab Emirates (UAE) nationals, according to Mohamad Ibrahim Masri, Tourism Malaysia marketing manager for UAE, Gulf and Iran.

He said 1,471 respondents (35.25%) were in favour of island escapades, followed by vacationing at hill resorts like Genting Highlands, Fraser’s Hill and Cameron Highlands (1,139 respondents of 27.29%).

Arab tourists would also like to experience Malaysian culture as well as adventure with nature, such as those on offer in states like Sabah and Sarawak, he said.

On the type of activity they would indulge in on vacation in tropical Malaysia, 2,379 respondents (57.01%) picked ecotourism above shopping, spa and wellness programmes, diving and golfing.

Mohamad Ibrahim said: “You can see that ecotourism is high on the list, and this means enjoying nature and greenery.

“People in this part of the world live in an environment pretty much lacking in greenery, which can be found in abundance in Malaysia. So, it makes sense if they want to indulge in activities associated with nature when they go on vacation,” the tourism official explained.

Golfing garnered merely 319 positive responses of the 4,172 survey respondents.

Queried on festivals organised in Malaysia that they would likely attend, 911 respondents (21.83%) opted for the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia event, followed by Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival and Colours of Malaysia extravaganza.

A question on spending Ramadan in Malaysia was also featured in the survey.

A total of 2,663 respondents (63.82%) said they would like to experience the Ramadan night bazaar while 1,692 (40.55%) had savouring Malaysian food and delicacies in mind.

Source : STAR

Kemaman Has Potential As Shopping Destination

Emirates Airline, Dubai's award-winning international carrier, through its selected travel agencies, is offering attractive fares from as low as RM2,871 for over 25 European destinations.

These fares will be offered at the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) fair this year, starting Sept 3 to Sept 5, Emirates said in a statement here, Wednesday.

Emirates Malaysia's Country Manager, Kavin Martinus was confident of a good take-up for the offers, saying Malaysian travellers were savvy and always on the lookout for better value and services.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Malaysians who are planning their holidays. The fares offered at the MATTA Fair will not be available elsewhere.

"Additionally, we hope that Malaysian travellers will recognize the benefits of enjoying Emirates' extensive global network, award-winning in-flight services and for selected destinations transiting in Dubai, complimentary stopover services," he added.

MATTA is the country's largest travel fair that attracts thousands of visitors hunting for the best travel bargains.

Source : Bernama

Kemaman Has Potential As Shopping Destination

The district of Kemaman has the potential to be developed into a prime shopping destination in Terengganu, said state Tourism Malaysia deputy director, Zaini Sulaiman.

She said besides the beaches which are popular with tourists, the Mesra Mall in Kemasik, here, was also a strategic location for this purpose and to help the local economy flourish.

"Although it is situated far from Kuala Terengganu, the location is strategic as people pass through to get to Kuantan and vice versa," she said.

Zaini was speaking to reporters after holding a dialogue session with tourism industry players including Terengganu tourist guides at the shopping mall, here. Also present was Mesra Mall manager, Michael Vong.

She said the element of shopping was still lacking in Terengganu, despite it being a state which receives the highest number of local and foreign tourists annually.

Meanwhile, Vong said Mesra Mall, which was opened in Oct 2008, received about 3.6 million visitors with profits of RM64 million per year. Besides its 51 outlets, the mall owned by Metro Kemasik Sdn Bhd and managed by Suria KLCC Sdn Bhd, also has a futsal hall and squash court.

Source : Bernama

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Malaysia ranked 13th in freedom to travel global survey

Malaysia has been ranked 13th in a global survey conducted to gauge travel freedom enjoyed by the citizens of various countries.

The Henley Visa Restrictions Index-Global Ranking 2010 was compiled by Henley & Partners, a firm which specialises in international residence and citizenship planning.

Britain, Denmark and Sweden topped the list with scores of 166, 164 and 163 respectively.

The index ranked countries according to the visa-free access its citizens enjoy to other countries, Henley & Partners said on its website.

Malaysia, with a score of 151, was ranked above countries and territories such as Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, Brazil, South Africa, Monte­negro, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, India, Egypt and China.

Henley & Partners said it had analysed the visa regulations of all countries and territories in the world.

“This is the first time that a global ranking shows the international travel freedom of the citizens of the various countries, as well as the international relations and status of individual countries relative to others,” it said.

The company noted that in today’s globalised world, visa restrictions played an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders.

“Almost all countries now require visas from certain non-nationals who wish to enter their territory,” it added.

Source : STAR




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