Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Foreign Tourists Generate RM24 Billion Revenue For Malaysia

Revenue from foreign tourist expenditure rose 45.9 per cent to more than RM24 billion in the first half this year compared with RM16.4 billion for corresponding period last year, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai said tourists from the Asean countries were the main contributors, spending RM15.1 billion, up from RM11.3 billion for the corresponding period last year.

Revenue from tourists from non-Asean countries also saw an increase of 75.2 per cent to RM8.8 billion, from RM5 billion.

"The main contributor to Malaysia's tourism revenue is Singapore with tourists from the country spending RM10.8 billion, followed by Indonesia (RM1.7 billion).

"Brunei contributed RM1.1 billion, Thailand (RM1 billion), China (RM751.9 million), Middle East countries (RM641.9 million), India (RM620.4 million), Australia (RM557 million), United Kingdom (RM488.9 million and Japan (RM392.3 million)," he said in response to Che Azmi Abdul Rahman (BN-Kuala Nerus), who wanted to know the government's expenditure for tourism and revenue earned from the industry.

On expenses of individual tourists during their stay in Malaysia, Lim said it saw an increase of 16.9 per cent from RM1,922.80 between January and June last year to RM2,247.90 over the same period this year.

Lim also said that the Mega Familiarisation Tour organised by Tourism Malaysia generated RM46.8 million in publicity value between January and July this year, involving 3,471 participants.

"The mechanism used to determine revenue from foreign tourists is through studies by Tourism Malaysia at the main entry points into the country and the immigration complex.

"Interviews are held with tourists when they leave the country at the respective locations," he added.

Lim said the tourism sector had indirectly enhanced the socio-economy of other sectors in the country through the creation of employment opportunities and improvement in the living standard of the rural community and the country's image.

Source : Bernama
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Government wants to build a ‘tourism bridge’ with Indonesia

The Government wants to build a “tourism bridge” with Indonesia, to exchange visitors between both sides.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said he wanted to work closely with his counterpart in Indonesia on a programme to exchange tourists who visited both countries' popular destinations.

Citing an example, he said during the season when tourists from the Middle East visited Malaysia, the ministry would promote Indonesia to them.

On Indonesia's part, he said it could help promote Malaysia to Russians and Australians who visited Bali often.

He added that both sides had discussed this during his recent visit to Jakarta.

“We also want them to promote Langkawi, Penang and other interesting islands as an alternative to Bali,” he said at the official launching of the Malaysian Open Polo Tournament 2007 at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort yesterday.

The prestigious tournament will be held from Sept 2 to 9 at the Putrajaya Equestrian Park, attracting some of the world’s best polo players, including 10 professionals from Argentina.

Tengku Adnan said the tournament would help bring in more tourists with this being Visit Malaysia Year 2007 and with the ongoing 50th Merdeka celebrations.

“We want to promote Malaysia as a sports tourism destination, as trends over the last decade have shown that sports has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

“For example, the European Commission Report estimated that globally, sports tourism can generate a yield of US$1.3tril (RM4.5tril)” he added.

Source : STAR
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Federal Hotel Turning 50 too, like Malaysia!

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi cutting the 50th anniversary cake of the Federal Hotel in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, yesterday. With him are (from left) Low Yat Group chairman Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan and his sons Gee Tat and Gee Teong and daughter Su Ming. Yow Chuan’s late father Tan Sri Low Yat rushed to complete the Federal Hotel just in time for the declaration of independence on Aug 31, 1957.

Federal PM Message

Source : STAR
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AirAsia to expand southern hub to tap Iskandar region

AirAsia will continue with efforts to expand its southern hub at Senai Airport in view of the great potential of the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).

“We have seen the plans for Iskandar, and we are big believers in it. When Iskandar is ready, we will already be a part of it,” said chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes.

“We are not waiting to see if Iskandar happens or not. We have faith in the state,” he added.

AirAsia simultaneously launched direct flights from Johor Baru to Macau and Palembang in Indonesia yesterday.

Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, Fernandes and AirAsia Deputy CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun welcomed 150 passengers from Macau who flew in on a new Airbus A320.

Fernandes said he was happy with the response from the Macau flight which recorded a load factor of 85%, compared to an average of 70%.

“It usually takes 18 months to develop a route but we have seen a 85% load factor already,” he said.

Fernandes said the airline was targeting one million passengers via Senai Airport next year. With Macau and Palembang, AirAsia now has 84 flights weekly from Senai Airport.

He added that he plans to open the no-frills hotel Tune Hotel in Danga Bay, Johor Baru.

Abdul Ghani said he was honoured that AirAsia had chosen Senai Airport as the first destination to fly its new Airbus.

“This signifies the airline’s commitment to enhance the connectivity in the region,” he said.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kuala Lumpur-Jogjakarta Air Links, A Possibility?

THE regional government of Jogjakarta has called for the Department of Communications to grant a license to AirAsia, allowing the budget airline to fly between Kuala Lumpur and the Indonesian city.

Jogjakarta regional tourism office director, Mr Tazbir, said: "The Jogjakarta trade together with my office have done a number of road shows and participated in the MATTA Fair in Kuala Lumpur and we have identified a great potential and interest in Jogjakarta from the market, but air connection is a problem.

"AirAsia has long been keen to serve the destination but approval has not been given. Sultan Hamengku Buwono has sent a letter to the Minister of Communications requesting for the route to be opened to the airline."

Commenting on the request, Department of Communications director of air transportation, Mr Tri Suroko told TTG Daily News: "We have received the Sultan's request and understand the desire of the local trade for the direct service. However, we want to give the opportunity to the national carriers first.

"We have sent letters to the Indonesian carriers and given them until September to apply for the licence. If nobody is interested then we will consider AirAsia."

Garuda Indonesia used to serve the route but it stopped the service last year due to poor load factors.

Garuda general manager Jogjakarta, Mr Didi Triatmojo, said: "We found that the route did not need a premium airline like Garuda as most of the passengers were workers, with some tourists - markets which are price sensitive."

Source : TTG
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MASwings Helps To Achieve 3.2 Million Visitors In Sarawak

MASWings Sdn Bhd (MASWings), a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) which is set to take over the Rural Air Services (RAS) on Oct 1, will boost Sarawak's tourism industry to achieve the projected 3.2 million visitors during the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007.

State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said Sarawak recorded 1.3 million tourist arrivals for the first five months, from January to May this year.

He said tourist arrivals in the state was on track although visitors for the long-haul market had plunged, due to poor connectivity since last year.

"However, the domestic tourists make up for the target this year. With MASWings officially taking to the skies and resolving the issues on interlining and connectivity, it would give more confidence to the market, knowing it (MASWings) is a subsidiary of MAS.

"I believe MASWings will put Sarawak back on its map of international travel routes to achieve the 3.2 million visitors this year," he told reporters after the press conference on 4th International Borneo Tourism Conference (BTC) 2007, here today.

MASWings, with four Fokker 50 (F50) and four Twin Otter aircraft, will serve a network of 23 destinations in Sarawak and Sabah as well as the Federal Territory of Labuan.

Wong said MASWings received encouraging response since it opened for bookings through Malaysia Airlines Call Centre 1300-88-3000, as more than 3,000 bookings had been received since Aug 1.

"Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has started an e-blasting through the Internet to our oversea operators (tour and travel agents) to announce about MASWings' interlining," he said.

On the BTC to be held at the Sarawak Tourism Complex from Sept 11 to 13, Wong said the conference would be participated by renowned international speakers specially flown in to present papers related to tourism, including the `father' of ecotourism, Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, who is also the special advisor to World Conservation Union and World Tourism Council.

He said the other tourism `heavyweights' participating are Professor Ross K.Dowling, Mark Exeter, Costas Christ, and Jill Henry.

"This is not a chance to be missed especially by tourism operators, hoteliers, and people who are directly involved in the business of tourism," he said, adding that those interested could contact STB for further information or register directly via the website at

Wong said a total of 120 delegates comprising industry practitioners, hoteliers, and institutions of higher learning students from Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand had registered so far.

The conference, jointly organized by the Borneo Integrated Service and supported by the STB, aims to develop and market the Borneo regions as a major international tourist destination as well as to popularize and promote tourism related activities and programmes and events showcasing the uniqueness of Borneo as a tourist destination.

Source : Bernama
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Sizzling Combination of Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine at Parkroyal Hotel

For the mooncake lovers: Si Chuan Dou Hua Chinese chef Eric Chew Chee Kuong showing the array of moon cakes on sale.
For most Malaysians, the spicier a dish, the better the eating experience would be.

We are not alone however, in pushing the limits of our tastebuds.

Take Sichuan cuisine, for example, and its trademark peppercorn ingredient that blazes a path straight to one’s stomach.

So if you’re one of those who are always on the search for the next spicy ‘high’, look no further than Si Chuan Dou Hou Restaurant for the experience.

Located in Parkroyal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, this restaurant also offered authentic Cantonese cuisine as well as Sichuan.

Led by Master Sichuan Chef Sun Wei Liang, all ingredients are imported from China and no MSG or preservatives are added to any of the dishes.

This was definitely the reason behind the juicy freshness of the Large Prawn with Hot Garlic and Chili in Basket that was bursting forth with honey and garlic goodness.

However, it was the Braised Cod Fish with Beancurd in Spicy Bean Paste that exemplified the hot and numbing reputation of a classic Sichuan fare.

This controversial dish with its chilli oil and peppercorn-based sauce didn’t fail to impress the true chilli lover.

It was therefore surprising when the hotel’s marketing communications manager Wendy Yap said, “In our restaurant, we serve a more mellow form of Sichuan cuisine because the actual spicy level of Sichuan cuisine would have been too much even for Malaysians to handle.”

A wake up call for the tongue: The Braised Cod Fish with Beancurd in Spicy Bean Paste.
If the spicy fare is too much for the uninitiated, then they can opt for the mildly spiced Cantonese dishes.

To begin, the top-quality ingredients make the Braised Eight Treasure Soup with Seafood a tasty treasure find.

Heartily coloured by the green spinach, the soup was a delectable combination of fresh and dried scallop, shark fin, crabmeat and roe, and Chinese mushroom.

Another harmonious medley of ingredients was the Stir-Fried Squid in Rainbow Style that captured the eye (and tastebuds) with its dried squid on top of the fresh squid, carrots, peppers and beansprouts.

Even the Cantonese favourite Fried Rice dish had surprise ingredients with the crunchy dry shrimps and small cubes of yam garnishes.

To cleanse one’s palate and blood circulation, the restaurant offered 8 Treasures Premium Tea that was a fragrant blend of red dates, wolf berries, dried longans, chrysanthemum, rock sugar, dried lily buds, jasmine tea leaves and ‘mai dong’.

Furthermore, in preparation for the Mid-Autumn Festival, there are nine traditional and tantalising mooncake flavours available to order from now until Sept 25.

These are White Lotus with Double Egg Yolks, Jade Single Egg Yolk and Red Bean Paste, Ginseng Wolf Berries Paste, Dragon Fruit Paste and Chocolate Durian Paste.

Spicy and tempting: The specialities of Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine available in Si Chuan Dou Hua.

The restaurant is also having an All You Can Eat promotion for the month of August available only for dinner with a minimum of 4 persons above. This is priced at RM 68.00++ for adults with a 50% discount for children five to 12 years of age.

Lunch is served daily from 12.00 noon to 2.30 pm while dinner is from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

For more enquiries and reservations, call 03-2782 8303 or email to

Source : STAR
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Monday, August 27, 2007

MAS Returns To The Black With Pre-Tax Profit Of RM118.94 Mln

Malaysia Airlines returned to the black in the second quarter ended June 30, 2007, chalking up a pre-tax profit of RM118.94 million from a pre-tax loss of RM161.59 million in the same period last year.

Attributing it to higher passenger revenue and marked improvements from the business turnaround plan (BTP), the national carrier said revenue rose to RM3.551 billion from RM3.032 billion.

MAS said it chalked up RM3.079 billion from airline operations, RM647.93 million from cargo services and RM2.54 million from catering.

With global passenger growth set to expand by more than six percent for the next five years, MAS said it would strengthen its presence particularly in Asean, China, India and Middle East markets.

MAS Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Datuk Idris Jala said Q2 net profit was at RM113 million, improving its performance by RM290 million from RM177 million in losses a year earlier.

This marks the airline's fourth successive quarter of net profit since the launch of its BTP in February 2006, and tracks well for MAS to achieve its stretch profit target of RM300 to RM700 million this year, he said in a statement here today.

He said MAS made a huge improvement with sales increasing 17 percent to RM3.55 billion from RM3.03 billion a year ago.

Revenues rose RM519 million, with passenger revenue increasing 20 percent to RM2.5 billion.

Yield, the average fare per passenger per kilometer flown grew 13 percent while seats filled or seat factor rose 1.2 percentage points to 70 percent.

This enabled MAS to post an operating profit of RM48 million from losses of RM163 million previously, said Idris Jala.

International routes turned a profit of RM7 million compared with losses of RM163 million a year ago while domestic operations made RM41 million.

Idris Jala said: "We made good progress, turning an operating profit of RM48 million in the second quarter which traditionally has been the airline's worst financial period."

"But to sustain profitability, we need to make radical changes. Malaysia Airlines must transform into a 5-star airline with low-cost carrier (LCC) cost.

"To achieve this goal, we must change totally. Our services have to be top-class. What we offer our customers must be different and compelling.

Its newly-launched community airline, Firefly, has obtained two government approvals to fly from Johor Baharu and Kota Kinabalu, in addition to Penang and Subang.

"We have also submitted requests to fly to more local and regional routes," he said.

Looking ahead, he said he was upbeat about the second half as it has been traditionally better as air travel peaks during this period.

"We want 2007 to be the year where we make the highest profits in our corporate history. I have confidence in the MAS people, we are seeing the results and above all, we know what it takes to win."

Source : Bernama
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Tourists urged to Stay Outside of KL for Merdeka Day

Tourists coming to Kuala Lumpur for the National Day celebrations are encouraged to stay outside the city because there might be a shortage of rooms in the federal capital during the festivity.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim said there were enough rooms in Seremban, Bangi and Putrajaya.

He said there were not enough rooms to cater for the increasing number of foreign visitors to the city each year.

“To overcome this, we are encouraging developers to build more hotels, not just in Kuala Lumpur, but nationwide,” Lim said at the prize presentation of the 50 Years of Nation Building photography contest, organised by the MCA, yesterday.

On Friday, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the influx of tourists for Visit Malaysia 2007 had exceeded the Government’s expectation.

Source : STAR
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Gearing to become Medical Tourism Hub

Can Malaysia be the preferred healthcare hub in the region? If so, what needs to be done to ensure it becomes a reality and not just wishful thinking?

MALAYSIA has the potential to become the preferred healthcare hub in the region, but players in the industry believe it is not capitalising on the full potential of the medical resources, including expertise available locally.

KPJ Healthcare Bhd chief financial officer Alvin Lee said Malaysia was lagging behind Singapore and Thailand as a healthcare hub for medical tourism in the region.

“Our medical facilities are at least at par with these countries in terms of service and price but we still lose out as a preferred destination for treatment,” he told StarBiz.

KPJ is a leading public-listed healthcare company in Malaysia with 17 hospitals nationwide and six hospitals abroad in Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Middle East.

Lee said 20% to 30% of KPJ's revenue, which was approaching RM1bil this year, was derived from its overseas medical hospitals. The figures are growing fast, indicating that medical services are in great demand in the countries KPJ services.

“Ironically, healthcare services for foreign tourists in Malaysia represented only about 3% of our total revenue, despite us being an established healthcare provider,” he said.

However, Lee said profit margins were attractive in this segment of the healthcare industry.

So what is holding Malaysia back?

To be fair, countries such as Singapore and Thailand had been promoting themselves as a healthcare hub several years ahead of Malaysia and had gained a strong reputation as good service providers, especially for medical tourism.

According to Lee, income generated from health tourism in the more established private hospitals in Thailand were currently contributing about 30% to their total revenue, while some prestigious private hospitals in Singapore managed to achieve 50% revenue contribution.

“Private hospitals there know that many foreigners seeking healthcare service are prepared to pay well if they are satisfied with the service levels,” he said, adding that these hospitals had gained their clients' trust.

“We in Malaysia have to play catch-up with the rest of the players in the region.”

Lee said for the country to develop a competitive edge in medical tourism, it would require a concerted effort by all parties.

Alvin Lee
The Government (especially the Health Ministry) and private healthcare providers needed to collaborate further to promote, educate and develop delivery systems and logistic channels that directly impact the industry in a positive manner.

“For instance, in Thailand, they have the Green Lane visa issued to foreigners within 24 hours to allow them entry into the country for medical treatment,” he added.

The Singapore government works closely with private healthcare providers participating in overseas exhibitions by sharing a booth and extending their support and network.

A managing director of a local private healthcare hospital said Malaysia also promoted healthcare services to foreigners.

“The website was launched a couple of years ago to promote health tourism to Malaysia. It's a one-stop destination or platform for healthcare services as well as a medical and holiday consultant,” he said.

The managing director said the website provided useful information on medical services available here and suggestions on private hospitals for tourists.

“While the collaboration between the Health Ministry and private hospitals is a positive one, we believe more can be done to further promote medical tourism in Malaysia,” he said.

He said based on the number of foreign tourists seeking medical treatment/services here each year, it would probably take at least another five years for the country to reach the current levels of such tourist arrivals in Thailand and Singapore.

On what Malaysia could do to leapfrog ahead, he said: “We need to be much more aggressive with marketing and promotional activities locally and abroad and channel those interest to a platform that delivers what we (the Government and private hospitals) promise.”

He also cited the country's excellent tourism promotional campaign “Malaysia Truly Asia” which benefited many hotels that were affected by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

“There was a deliberate focus and action plan to aggressively market the country as a favoured tourist destination. The Government even provided grants to ailing hotels during the crisis period to revive the industry. Now, many hotels are enjoying good occupancy rates,” he added.

He said medical tourism should piggyback on the "Malaysia Truly Asia'' promotional campaign and be included as an optional facility to the whole package.

A medical specialist with Assunta Hospital said Malaysia's healthcare providers were second to none.

“It's unfortunate there are insufficient opportunities locally for many medical practitioners as well as other healthcare providers such as nurses to show their talent and improve their income despite being highly skilled in their profession. This is due to the lack of creativity to increase demand for their services,” he said.

On whether local patients would be sidelined if private medical hospitals treat more foreign tourists, the specialist said there was always a possibility but it was unlikely as medical practitioners were duty bound to help all patients.

The specialist said the Government and private healthcare organisations should work together to ensure local patients were not neglected.

“A workable structure and system can be achieved if the authorities and healthcare providers meet regularly under a consultative approach to find ways acceptable to all parties and possibly have it legislated,” he said.

Source : STAR
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Miss Malaysia Global Beauty Queen at G Hotel

AFTER making to the last eight, she had to talk about a crown. And she ended up winning one at the 2007 Miss Malaysia Global Beauty Queen grand final held recently at G Hotel.

The Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman student and part-time model, Moo Yan Yee drew out a photo of a crown and had to say whatever that came to her mind about the object.

Being tested for her intelligence and creativity, the 19-year-old from Kuala Lumpur said that the crown represented power.

“A woman must have her own freedom, not just confidence and wisdom.

“If I win the crown, I will share my victory with the community by doing charity and introducing Malaysia’s beauty to the world,” she said at the Q & A session.

Now she will have to live up to her word as she beat 13 other finalists at the finals to win the title and the chance to represent Malaysia in the 19th Miss Global Beauty Queen 2007 pageant in Ning Bo, China on Sept 16.

Winning first runner-up in the Miss Malaysia Tourism Queen Inter-national 2007 in May was perhaps just a warm-up for her before being crowned the ‘queen’.

Pretty women: Moo (second right) with the other seven top finalists.
Moo, who dreams to be a top model, told a press conference that she looked forward to gaining more experience in her trip to China.

“I will have to do some homework before I go. I will travel around Ma-laysia to learn as much as I can about tourism, the local cultures and tourist destinations.

“I hope to take many photos of the unique cultures and places of interest to take along with me when I leave for China. I can then show and tell others about the many colours of Malaysia,” she said.

Moo won RM3,000, air ticket to China, crown, sash, flower bouquet, pewter trophy, RM10,000 property cash voucher, pearl necklace worth RM1,500, cosmetics worth RM1000, hair care products worth RM300, RM1,000 lingerie product voucher, RM300 photo cash voucher and RM200 spa treatment voucher.

She was also the queen of sub-sidiary titles, winning five out of the 10 titles, including Miss De’ Santia Photogenic, Miss B & J, Miss Palace Beauty, Miss Blue Nun and Miss Esui.

First runner-up was Penangite Faye Chai Lee Cheik, who was also Miss Beautility Crowning Glory.

The 25-year-old model was very happy to win second place and was looking forward to celebrate with Moo.

In third place was Han Chiang College’s Mass Communication stu-dent Amanda Somar Mahtani from Malacca. The 21-year-old said that she did not expect to win at all.

Winners of the other subsidiary titles were Penangites Stephanie Wong Wei Ying (Miss De’ Santia Elegance and Miss Copra) and Lilian Choo Li Lian (Miss Congeniality), and Linny Neoh Siew Ling from Johor (Miss Flix).

The 2007 Miss Malaysia Global Beauty Queen was presented by property developer Emerald Capital Group and organised by Catvogue Enterprise.

Source : Star
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Tourism Malaysia switches VMY2007 Campaign Focus

TOURISM Malaysia plans to extend its Visit Malaysia Year until 2008 but will tweak the campaign to be more destination-centric instead of being event focused as it now is.

Director-general, Datuk Mirza Muhammad Taiyab, said this shift to a destination-based promotional campaign would enable tourists to learn about more destinations and what each could offer.

He added: "An event-based campaign does not address what a tourist can do once the event is over."

The theme of Visit Malaysia Year is "One Golden Celebration", in line with the country's 50th year of Independence.

Mr Mirza hoped the destination-based marketing campaign would see a better distribution of tourists throughout all the key arrival points.

Tourist arrivals are targeted at 20.1 million with the aim of increasing the figure by at least four per cent next year.

Source : TTG
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Saturday, August 25, 2007

VMY 2007 To Be Extended To Aug 31 Next Year, Says Tengku Adnan

The Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 will be extended to Aug 31 next year under the "One Golden Celebration" campaign, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said today.

He said this was to capitalise on the country's 50th Merdeka celebrations starting Aug 31 which should be a year-long affair.

More major events would also be organised during that period, he said.

"I have mentioned this to the Cabinet a few months ago but have yet to officially propose it," he told reporters after opening the Food and Hotel Malaysia 2007 exhibition here.

On the reported shortage of hotel rooms in Pahang, Langkawi, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur, he said that at a meeting earlier today, key industry players had agreed to encourage new players to build more hotels to provide a long-term solution to the problem.

Other measures include postponing some major events.

"One of them is the Malaysian International Space Adventure. We're trying to push it to the end of the year or early next year to enable more visitors to come in," he said.

Meanwhile, Tengku Adnan urged budget hotel operators to install safety features such as emergency exits at their premises and also register their businesses with the authorities.

"There're about 3,000 unlicensed budget hotels nationwide. We're working to get them registered with the local councils. We can't be harsh on them because they also provide rooms for tourists," he said when asked to comment on a recent fire at a travel lodge here.

Source : Bernama
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Whopping RM22.4 Bln Tourist Ringgit Pours In by Foreign Tourists

A whopping RM22.4 billion! That was the amount of money that foreign tourists spent in this country in the first six months of this year, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said today.

He said 10.7 million visitors came to Malaysia during the period, and each spent an average of RM2,100 (US$600).

"This is within the range of our target of getting them to spend RM45.5 billion (US$13 billion) during Visit Malaysia Year (VMY 2007)," he told reporters after opening the Food and Hotel Malaysia 2007 exhibition here.

Tengku Adnan said VMY 2007 would be extended to Aug 31 next year under a campaign known as "One Golden Celebration", to capitalise on the country's 50th Merdeka celebrations starting Aug 31.

On the reported shortage of hotel rooms in Pahang, Langkawi, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur, he said that at a meeting earlier today key industry players agreed to encourage more new players to build hotels as a long-term solution to the problem. Other steps included postponing some major events.

"One of them is the Malaysian International Space Adventure (Misa). We are trying to push it to the end of the year or early next year," he said.

Meanwhile, Tengku Adnan urged budget hotel operators to install safety features such as emergency exits in their premises and to register their business.

"There are about 3,000 unlicensed budget hotels nationwide. We are working to get them registered with the local councils. We can't be harsh on them because they are also providing rooms for the tourists," he said when asked to comment on a recent fire at a travel lodge here.

Source : Bernama
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Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Travel Fair to Promote Growth Triangle

Thailand is organising an international travel fair next year that will involve its partners in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT).

The fair will be held in conjunction with an international trade fair in the southern Thai city of Songkhla from Jan 11 to Jan 20.

Thai IMT-GT joint-business council (JBC) chairman Somkiat Anuras said the travel fair was expected to increase traffic volume in the three countries by 30% next year and expected to draw more than 100,000 international visitors.

“This is only one of many programmes to be held in the three countries,” he told reporters at the end of the 23rd IMT-GT JBC meeting here yesterday.

Somkiat said there would be 120 tourism booths at the fair, with half of them operated by Thai tour operators.

Bull fighting, cock-fighting and bird singing contests would be among the events at the fair, which would also include cultural performances from the three countries.

There would also be football, basketball, volleyball and sepak takraw matches.

Somkiat said the Songkhla provincial government would be spending RM3mil on the fair.

On the two-day meeting here, Malaysia IMT-GT JBC chairman Datuk Faudzi Naim Noh said issues that were raised would be brought to the ministerial and senior officials meeting in Songkhla from Sept 4 to Sept 6.

Source : STAR
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Encouraging response to Borneo Tourism Conference

Over 70 participants have signed up for the 4th Borneo Tourism Conference and more are expected.

Besides Malaysians, those who have confirmed their attendance are from Brunei, Thailand and New Zealand.

Organised by Borneo Integrated Services with the support of the Sarawak Tourism Board, the conference will be held from Sept 11 to 13 at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here.

It aims to develop and market Borneo as a major tourist destination, promote tourism-related activities, stimulate domestic tourism growth and increase the number of tourists to Malaysia, Brunei and Kalimantan.

It also looks to consolidate best practices in the hospitality sector, build knowledge and appreciation of nature and develop networks among tourism players.

Speakers include Hector Ceballos-Lascurain from Mexico, Prof Ross Dowling and Mark Exeter (Australia), Costas Christ (United States) and Sarawak Convention Bureau chief executive Jill Henry.

A key feature of the conference will be a series of professional development workshops on topics such as developing an ecotourism masterplan and designing an ecolodge, attracting the cruise industry to Borneo and going green.

Registration for the conference is still open and forms are available online at

For more details, contact the conference secretariat at the Sarawak Tourism Board at 082-423600.

Source : STAR
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Matta Fair to offer Tour Cover Scheme

Visitors to the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agents (Matta) fair next month will be offered the Medi Evac insurance scheme.

This optional scheme will offer them protection against their travel agents absconding or going insolvent.

Matta fair organising deputy chairman Joseph Xavier said all exhibitors had been told to inform visitors about the scheme.

Travellers would be insured for up to RM5,000 for reimbursement or full payment of air tickets or tour packages should the travel agent go bust.

Matta officials said discussions were ongoing to increase the sum to RM10,000, but added that 90% of tour packages were below RM5,000.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai urged all travellers to get insurance protection to ensure the debacle involving tour agent Excellence Holidays Sdn Bhd did not recur.

The company went bust suddenly, causing customers to lose money paid in advance for tour packages to Europe, China and Hong Kong.

The directors are still on the run.

Xavier said they were discussing goodwill packages for those affected.

Underwritten by Kurnia Insurance Malaysia Bhd and RHB Insurance Bhd, the Matta Medi Evac premium is set at RM7.50 per person for the first three days and RM2.50 for each subsequent day.

It also covers medical treatment, repatriation of mortal remains and injuries.

Lim said an amendment to the Tourism Industry Act 1992 was expected to be tabled in Parliament early next year to better protect travellers, including making travel insurance compulsory and the setting up of a compensation fund.

The fair will be held at the Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, from Sept 7 to 9, with a RM3 entrance fee for adults.

Admission is free for children under 12.

There will be more than 850 booths from 16 countries and the fair is expected to attract 80,000 visitors and generate some RM85mil in sales.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Westin Hotel gets Award for Excellent Service

We did it: Staff of the Westin KL celebrate the hotel's win.
The Westin Kuala Lumpur was recently acknowledged at the 15th Annual Malaysia Tourism Awards for the Excellence in Hotel Services in the 5-star (city) category held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The award was presented by Tou-rism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansur to Westin general manager Kim Powley and director of communications Tiang Li Ming.

The tourism award is deemed as the highest benchmark for the hospitality standards in the country, with more than 500 nominees vying for 43 awards in 11 categories.

“I am very proud of each and everyone for their contributions towards achieving this prestigious award. This award is not a result of one person or from a group of people; it takes an entire hotel’s team effort to get this recognition,” said Powley.

The Westin was also the recipient of the FIABCI Pri d’ Excellence Award 2006 in the Hotel and Resort Development Category, and FIABCI Malaysia Property Awards in the Hotel Development category for its Best Design Concept.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Not Enough Rooms in KL for VMY2007

The influx of tourist arrivals for Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 is more than what the Government bargained for and is resulting in a shortage of hotel rooms.

This has prompted the Tourism Ministry to come up with measures to remedy the situation.

Some of the measures discussed at the Tourism Malaysia board meeting on Thursday included delaying or spacing out activities as well as extending the VMY 2007 into next year.

“We discussed that some events be spaced out to prevent a sudden influx of visitors coming, such as the Malaysian International Aerospace Adventure, which will probably be held at the end of the year and carry through to next year,” said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor at the launch of the Ninth Food & Hotels Malaysia 2007 exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Thursday.

“I also mentioned to the Cabinet a few months ago – but have not made an official proposal – about extending the Visit Malaysia Year campaign to Aug 31, 2008, because we will still be celebrating our 50th independence until then.”

Tengku Adnan said the latest statistics showed some 10.7 million tourist arrivals as of June, and that room shortage problem has been acute in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Pahang and Sabah.

“I am worried that tourist arrivals may reach 24 million!” he said, when asked if he was confident of VMY 2007 achieving its target.

He said the ministry had already urged tour operators and hotels to advise walk-in guests to stay at hotels in Bangi, Nilai, Seremban and Putrajaya, as “even Shah Alam is packed.”

The minister also called on industry players to build more hotels or extend rooms to counter the shortage, which was also caused by visitors who overextend their stay in the country.

He added that despite the influx in tourist arrivals, the ministry was not satisfied with tourist spending.

“Their expenditure is not as good compared to the same period last year, because of the visitors from Asean countries whose average expenditure is lower than tourists from the Middle East and other countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ministry is encouraging local councils to relax their regulations in licensing budget hotels and travel lodges.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Andaman, Langkawi completes room renovation

The Andaman, a luxury property managed by General Hotel Management (GHM), has launched a new look for its room interiors and bathrooms.

Renovation works to the room interiors commenced in August 2006 and are now complete. The entire refurbishment programme will feature the upgrading of all its 187 deluxe rooms and selected facilities around the hotel and is scheduled to complete in July 2008.

Source : TravelWeekly
[tags : ]

Toastmaster Convention in Sarawak

THE Sarawak Convention Bureau has won the bid to host the District 51 Toastmasters International Annual Convention 2009, which will be held in Kuching in May that year.

The bid was won by Azam Toastmasters Kuching. This conference is expected to attract a total of 500 participants.

To date the bureau has won 12 conference bids with seven under development.

Source : TTG
[tags : ]

Proposed new Ipoh airport a boon to Perak’s tourism

THE proposed airport in Ipoh can be a boon to Perak’s tourism as the existing airport is under-utilised.

Locals as well as tourists and investors need hassle-free and convenient travelling in and out of Perak.

Having the airport in the Seri Iskandar area can be a catalyst for tourism growth for the surrounding areas.

It’s undeniable that Ipoh/Perak doesn't lack scenic destinations that can be promoted extensively (Pangkor, Lumut, Gua Tempurung, to name a few), so why is a new airport a waste?

As for high-rise buildings in Ipoh, I do not see why they shouldn’t be built in Ipoh.

New projects like the Ipoh Tower and Ipoh Tourism Hub beautify the skyline of Ipoh.

High-rise buildings don’t cause Ipoh’s old charm and its natural beauty to fade.

I think the new airport will not become a white elephant if there is proper planning and ambitious plans to turn Ipoh/Perak into a tourist-bound area.

A new airport as well as other infrastructure such as the Ipoh-Penang and Rawang-Ipoh double-tracking railway can bring tremendous growth as well as opportunities for many job-searching youths.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Taxi drivers acknowledged by hotel

THE Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa treated taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur to packed lunches in appreciation of their efforts in ferrying people around the city to their destination.

The hotel also distributed special car stickers with the Malaysian flag in commemoration of 50th Independence to the drivers.

The campaign was part of the Impiana's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program inline with Visit Malaysia 2007.

Impiana general manager Mark Rummery, said that this was their way of saying thank you to them.

“Taxi drivers play an important role but are often overlooked in promoting both public transportations and tourism.”

Happy to be appreciated: One of the taxi drivers putting the special sticker on his window.
“Personally, I think taxi drivers are the intermediaries in our hospitality industry.

He added that with Merdeka around the corner, guests can look forward to more interesting events. Some of the highlights include a Malaysian infused fashion show on 18 August by local designer Amir Johari, a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley on August 25 and a 14-hour non-stop charity salsa, which is endorsed by the Malaysian Book of Records on September 7.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Friday, August 17, 2007

How can we make our Tourists feel at Home during VMY2007

IN TWO weeks, we will be celebrating 50 years of independence, marking all our successes as a nation with a multi-racial population that's able to live in peace and harmony amidst all the terror and tension in the world. Whatever our shortcomings, we should mark this endeavour with pride.

Integrity: Vendors should be honest and offer tourists a fair deal instead of trying to overcharge them.
We will be welcoming visitors from all over the world to celebrate with us. My spouse has organised his 35th class reunion, to be held in Langkawi, which will be attended by over 30 doctors and their families.

They will also see what Malaysia has in store for visitors. As hosts, we must know what to do and do it well. It all boils down to hospitality and good manners.

For many visitors, it will be the first time they’re visiting our country, and first impressions are important.

What will it take for all Malaysians to be excellent hosts? Here are some tips for those who will be in the “eye of the visitor”:

  • All officers in the Immigration Department should offer a welcoming smile and a warm greeting. As visitors, people are often nervous around these officers; many have horror stories to tell about their experiences. So imagine their surprise if our officers were to extend them basic courtesies.

  • Customs officers have to do their duty and it can be done without frightening the visitors off. Visitors and tourists should be treated with respect and not as potential criminals.

  • Cab drivers should not take tourists on unwarranted “scenic tours”. Curb your greed and be fair to the visitors. Use your meters or stick to the apportioned fare. Be a self-appointed guide and talk about the lovely sights they can see in Malaysia.

  • Hoteliers should know what customer service and satisfaction are all about. Roll out the red carpet. Do more than what the visitors expect. Surprise them with your hospitality. Do Malaysia proud. Not everything is about money; goodwill can neither be bought nor sold. Simple things can make a difference.

    If you have a visitor who has not made a reservation, take the trouble to find him a place to stay at another hotel, at least, instead of telling him that your hotel is fully booked and turning him away. Imagine what the grateful guest will tell his friends back home!

  • Bus/ taxi/ limousine drivers are responsible for driving people all over the country. Our highways are not F1 circuits, so please drive carefully. People’s lives are in your hands; they trust you to take them to their destination safely. “Better late than never”, as the adage goes.

  • Food vendors should practise “quality control”. Take pride in what you dish out to your customers. Do you taste the food you serve? Can you stomach what you cook? The food you sell should be fresh, hygienically-prepared and served in a clean environment so that no one has to spend a night in the hospital. Do not compromise on quality and hygiene.

  • Shopkeepers should be honest. The “buyer beware” line of thought is common but there is also something called “trust”. To some degree, the buyer trusts you to be fair in a deal. Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.

  • Now is the time for all Malaysians to show the world who we really are – courteous, helpful, generous of spirit and hospitable. Extend hospitality when the need arises. Allow your visitors the opportunity to see the best of our nation.

    Consider the little courtesies that make a difference: Give up your place in the queue when you see a visitor standing behind you; explain the types of food on the menu if a visitor is puzzled or help him if he is struggling to place an order; give them directions if they look lost.

    As hosts, Malaysians should make our visitors feel that they have made a good choice by coming here.

  • Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Federal Hotel turns 50 with nation

    THIS month, Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur will be celebrating its 50th anniversary together with our country, and recently launched a special logo to commemorate this special occasion.

    “The logo was specially designed to symbolise the double joyous celebrations this year,” said Federal Hotels International (FHI) regional sales and business development director Ooi Lee Ping.

    “The gold on the number 50 signifies one golden celebration, with the Federal Hotel building and its revolving restaurant next to it,” Ooi said, adding that the five petals on the hibiscus on the logo was a tribute to Malaysia’s five prime ministers.

    New look: Mirza (left) launching the new Federal Hotels International 50th anniversary logo as Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur general manager Lee Lian Terk and Ooi look on.
    The Federal Hotel is the country’s first international-standard hotel and opened just three days before independence was declared.

    It played host to foreign dignitaries and guests who were invited for the celebrations at Stadium Merdeka.

    “This hotel was seen as more than just a hotel as it has served the nation and now it is also part of our history,” said Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, who launched the logo.

    Earlier this month, FHI together with Malaysia Airlines and LSG Sky Chefs, launched the Merdeka Inflight Dining Experience featuring six dishes from the cookbook Favourite Dishes from Tunku’s Kitchen.

    These dishes will be served by the airline until September on selected routes.

    To commemorate its golden jubilee, the hotel has planned a series of events, including the monthly Malaysian food promotions featuring food from the different states in Malaysia, the Merdeka Inflight Dining Experience,

    The Federal KL Merdeka Taxi campaign, We Care Gotong Royong Bukit Bintang campaign as well as the 1957 album project with StarMetro.

    Federal Hotel :

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    1,105 Chefs to Battle it Out at Food and Hotel Show

    ABOUT 15,000 trade visitors, 10% of whom will be from overseas, are expected to attend the Food and Hotel Show 2007 (FHM07) at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Aug 22-25.

    The event is being held in conjunction with Culinaire Malaysia 2007.

    Malaysian Exhibition Services (MES) general manager Alun Jones said FHM07 would also play host to PROPAK 2007, the Asean Food Congress and the World Association of Cooks Societies (WACS) Asia Pacific Forum.

    “A total of 600 exhibitors from 32 countries will be at this premier show and the spin-offs to the tourism sector will be substantial,” Jones said.

    The competition first started in 1993 with 300 participants but this year, there will be 1,105 participants. It will showcase 30 categories of competition with three new additions – Battle of the Chefs, Dream Team Challenge and Truly Malaysian Challenge.

    The Battle of the Chefs participants will showcase live hot cooking with the team having to prepare a three-course menu while the Dream Team Challenge is a competition to prepare an All-Day Dining F&B experience and the Truly Malaysia Challenge is a challenge to prepare Malaysia’s traditional dishes.

    For details on the event, visit

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Fewer Arabs visiting Penang

    BEACH hotels in Penang are experiencing an unprecedented decline in the number of tourist arrivals from the Middle East this season.

    The decline is due to a lack of exciting shopping activities as most Arab tourists fancy designer goods which are hardly available in Penang.

    Poor taxi services and the lack of pristine beaches are also reasons why the tourists have stayed away.

    An industry player said shopping for branded items was top on the list of tourists from the Middle East.

    “Apart from the Klang Valley, we do not have impressive outlets selling branded goods and these tourists are looking for the latest designs, not discounted items,” he added.

    A hotel spokesman said the hotels already had an indication that the number of Middle East tourists would drop this year when they recorded fewer bookings compared with last year.

    “Our counterparts in the Klang Valley are getting increased number of bookings, while the situation here is not encouraging,” she said.

    She said the hotel resorted to offering discounts on room rates to pull in tourists.

    “We still have a lot of rooms available for walk-in guests. Even during the school holidays next week, we still have rooms available,” she said, refusing to disclose the percentage of discounts offered.

    It has been reported several years ago that Penang received about 8,000 Arab tourists every season, generating about RM80mil in downstream revenue.

    The Arabs, who come between June and September, usually spend about two weeks in one destination.

    Another industry player said Arabs had also complained about the unsightly beaches.

    “They also complained that the taxis are too small and some are too old.

    “Some of them were uncomfortable being chauffer-driven in small cars. They prefer MPVs and bigger cars,” he said.

    Association of Tourism Attractions Penang (ATAP) chairman Eddy Low said most Arab tourists were not keen on group tours.

    “Most Arab tourists are not keen on group tour packages. They prefer to make their own flight and travel arrangements as well as choose the hotels which they want to stay in,” he said.He said tourist arrivals from the Middle East should increase if there were more direct flights.

    “Most of the Arab tourists come to Penang via KLIA,” he added.

    Related News

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    The Disabled and Everyone Can Now FLY

    RECEIVING bad news is something that most of us would avoid, if possible. But imagine if the bad news suddenly turned into incredibly good news!

    That sums up my (and countless other elderly and disabled persons’) feelings and experience when AirAsia recently announced that it would make its skies friendly to wheelchair-users and other disabled passengers.

    The low-cost carrier will take on the challenge of providing suitable equipment
    for passengers who use wheelchairs. These include specially-designed moveable
    mechanical contraptions called ambulifts. At the press of a button, these gizmos
    will be able to transport passengers in wheelchairs from ground-level up to the
    entrance of the aircraft.

    I’ve used them before on trips aboard Malaysia Airlines aircraft, as well as on other smaller aircraft overseas.

    Everyone can fly: A recent demonstration of disabled persons being transported into an AirAsia aircraft via an ambulift. – Filepic
    Ambulifts are more practical, gentler and much safer than airstairs – the current traditional staircase-climbing method which AirAsia employs for non-disabled passengers.

    Of course, ambulifts will not solve all problems for passengers in wheelchairs. There are other equally vital measures that must go into force. AirAsia must ensure that the equipment is not only in tip-top condition all the time, with regular servicing and proper maintenance being carried out, but also that it is available 24/7 for passengers who need them.

    I recall some unexpected and unnerving episodes during my past flights.

    On a couple of occasions, the ambulift was out of order. I had no choice but to face the treacherous situation of being carried down the plane, on the long airstairs, by inexperienced airline crew.

    The other problem was the late arrival of the ambulifts. I once waited for nearly one-and-a-half-hours due to the airline’s poor coordination.

    The flight crew were so embarrassed that they offered me free fresh orange juice on the plane, when what I really needed was to get to the airport’s toilet, urgently!

    Airlines should thus be prepared for some “surprises”. For instance, having a good aisle chair (a wheelchair that fits into the aisles in the aircraft), similar to the one I used in Oregon, the United States, many years ago.

    It was made of lightweight material, with special bars for the airport staff to grab onto when transporting a passenger.

    It had no wheels or castors (the small front wheels of a wheelchair), as it was designed only for carrying.

    It came with safety belts for the arms, waist and legs, making the passenger feel safe and secure before being transported into and off the aircraft.

    The way that it was designed, the contraption didn’t get in the way of the crew or passengers whilst the disabled was being carried to his seat.

    Of course, the aisle wheelchairs which AirAsia plans to bring in (I presume, the ones with removable wheels except for the castors) are the most suitable for an ambulift.

    The real test lies in the hands of the persons operating the contraption.

    Any person who has used a wheelchair as long as I have – almost 40-years – will be able to tell you that the moment someone touches your wheelchair, one is able to tell almost immediately if it is going to be a pleasant journey or one hell of a rollercoaster ride!

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    AirAsia sees 700,000 readership for in-flight magazine - Travel 3Sixty

    AirAsia Bhd expects its newly launched in-flight magazine, Travel 3Sixty, to achieve a monthly readership of 700,000 with its extensive routes in the region, said group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes.

    The inaugural issue of the magazine made its debut on board AirAsia flights on Aug 8 and is currently available only on AirAsia flights departing from Malaysia.

    Fernandes was confident that the in-flight magazine would be available on board flights departing from Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore within a month.

    “Our in-flight magazine represents an important extension of AirAsia’s diverse portfolio of products. We recognise that many businesses have a need to reach deep into narrow segments and we are excited to develop products such as this to meet those needs,” he said at the launch of the magazine yesterday.

    From left: AirAsia deputy CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, Travel 3Sixty publisher Lim Su Ching, Datuk Tony Fernandes and Travel 3Sixty editor Richard Augustin at the launch of the magazine.
    Travel 3Sixty will serve as a platform to showcase AirAsia’s routes, services, fares and promotions.

    Passengers and staff are also encouraged to contribute to the magazine by sharing their travel experiences, holiday snapshots and other forms of contributions.

    “We are confident Travel 3Sixty will reflect our understanding of guests’ interest and contribute towards an interesting and engaging in-flight experience. We want to provide guests on board a relaxing ambience and reading our in-flight magazine would allow them to feel at ease,” he said.

    Fernandes also said that there were plans to grow Travel 3Sixty beyond being an in-flight magazine and launch an online version within the next six months.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Kelantan Hoteliers see red over power outages

    THE Kelantan chapter of the Malaysian Hoteliers Association is unhappy over four power outages since May in several parts of the state.

    Hitting out at Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) for the power failures between 3pm and 5pm, its president N. Subramaniam said it had affected power distribution to the hotels.

    “Despite various complaints, the problem still persists,” he told a press conference.

    He said he was made to understand that TNB was facing an acute shortage of transformers in the area.

    TNB needed to be cautious in power supply as this was Visit Malaysia 2007, he said.

    “Some of our customers have demanded a refund when their rooms did not have electricity,” Subramaniam said.

    He said not all hotels in Kelantan had the funds to install a back-up generator to deal with the outages.

    “Some hotels have to scrap events due to the problem,” he said.

    To make matters worse, two wooden chalets in Kota Baru caught fire when a power re-supply caused a short circuit, he said.

    A state TNB spokesman said they would investigate the claims made by the association.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Avant-garde designs for the daring

    PATRONS enjoying high tea at Tonka Bean Café, Impiana KLCC Hotel and Spa, recently had a pleasant surprise when models strutted into the swanky outlet in unconventional creations from the Kenneth Vernon label.

    The works by Kenneth Cheong Yuing Harn, as well as those who paraded them, would perhaps be best described as “daring”.

    Asymmetrical lines, raw edges, inside-out folds and cuttings that might seem weird to the untrained eye characterised the creations made of chiffon, linen and cotton.

    In the casual wear range, for instance, there were bizarre buttons adorning hemlines, wide, multiple-layered collars and trench coats with interesting details that looked like skirts from afar.

    “I am interested only in making something new, something that has never been seen before,” said the designer, who was one of the finalists in the 2004 MIFA (Malaysia International Fashion Award) upcoming designer category.

    “I’ve always done what I believed in. I want a risky design; no thanks if the clothes are too safe and too sleepy,” he said.

    Even though the works were avant-garde, Cheong was confident that they would be commercially viable.

    Adorable: A baby doll dress that appeals with its gathers.
    He wanted to show that the deconstructed designs were nevertheless aesthetically appealing, and elegant enough to be shown off at evening functions. This was demonstrated by his evening wear collection.

    Featuring large pieces of cloth resembling canvases splashed with earthy tones, the dresses were definite head-turners but one would have to be bold to wear them.

    Stealing the limelight were crochet pieces lavishly adorned with ruffles and tassels, as well as playful designs, such as the pantsuit that combined five pairs of pants and a head-to-toe stocking-like suit that cocooned the wearer.

    The Kenneth Vernon creations are available at Isetan KLCC and Sew & Soul, Jalan Telawi, Bangsar.

    The fashion show was followed by a soulful rendition of My Way by Frank Sinatra impersonator Bourne.

    The Tonka Bean Cafe features a fashion designer during high tea on Saturday every fortnight.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Hotel treats its 300 workers to a durian feast

    Party of a different kind: The hotel workers enjoying themselves at the durian party.
    EMPLOYEES of the Grand BlueWave Hotel Shah Alam were treated to a durian feast recently.

    “Instead of the usual monthly birthday celebration where we serve either buffet lunch or high tea, we came up with the idea of a durian fest,” human resource and administration director Mohd Gazali Sayed said.

    “Not only did we enjoy the delicious D24 durians, we had a good time interacting with each other,” he said.

    A one-tonne lorry transported loads of D24 durians, rambutans and mangosteens for the 300-strong staff of the hotel.

    “We had to make sure the staff members didn’t overeat as the durians were incredibly good,” Mohd Gazali said.

    He said it was the management's way of thanking the staff for their hard work during the month of July, the busiest time for the hotel.

    “It was definitely a good change from having buffets. Even though durian is not my favourite fruit, I thoroughly enjoyed the mangosteens and rambutans. It was fun seeing my colleagues enjoying their durians,” said purchasing assistant Nik Khamsiah.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Hotel-Distributed Toothpaste Recalled

    A chemical that thickens antifreeze has turned up again in a Chinese-made toothpaste, this time under a brand that serves luxury hotels around the world.

    Gilchrist & Soames said on Monday it is recalling its 18g tubes of complimentary toothpaste with the company name on it. The company said some samples showed the toothpaste contained diethylene glycol, a chemical that can lead to liver and kidney damage.

    It was the latest in a series of recalls of Chinese-made goods – toothpaste, children's toys, tires and pet food – because of manufacturing methods that many say are shoddy or dangerous.

    In June, the US Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to avoid several brands of toothpaste made in China because the products may contain diethylene glycol.

    Chinese manufacturers have used the chemical, known as DEG, as a cheaper alternative to glycerin, an ingredient that thickens toothpaste, said Mengshi Lin, a University of Missouri food scientist.

    “The two chemicals, actually, are pretty similar,” he said. “They are like cousins to each other.”

    Diethylene glycol, however, can cause kidney and liver damage if someone is exposed to it over time. Low levels of it do not harm humans, Lin said.

    The FDA allows only trace amounts of DEG in toothpaste. The Chinese government announced last month that it was banning DEG from toothpaste, Lin said.

    China is also shutting down a chemical plant linked to dozens of deaths in Panama from tainted medicine, and it closed two companies tied to pet deaths in North America.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    World's First Budget Hotel (Tune Hotel) in an Airport

    Malaysia will have the world's first budget hotel housed in an international airport when Tune – the hotel chain of budget airline AirAsia – opens in the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) at KL International Airport next year.

    The move will see Tune adding yet another hotel to its fast-growing chain, which already includes hotels in Johor, Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

    Its deputy chief executive officer Mark Lancaster said in a press conference here yesterday that the hotel would offer a five-star sleeping experience at one-star price for the 20 million-odd passengers who transit at the LCCT each year.

    “This is to fulfil the needs and to provide convenience for all low-cost carrier passengers, going with the theme of 'Now everyone can fly, now everyone can stay'.

    “The new hotel will have 260 rooms on six floors, spread over more than 4,000 sq m. The ground floor will house the lobby and the rest will be taken up by renowned food and beverage retail outlets,” he said.

    Working together: (From left) Melka, Fernandes, MAHB managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad Majid, Tune director Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan and Umar at the MoU signing ceremony on Wednesday.
    The event saw Tune and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) signing a memorandum of understanding with MAHB represented by its general manager of commercial services Umar Bustamam and Tune by its co-founder and director Dennis Melka.

    Also present was Tune founder Datuk Tony Fernandes, who at a separate event earlier had launched AirAsia’s new in-flight magazine named Travel 3Sixty.

    The glossy 96-page monthly English magazine covers an array of topics including travel, entertainment, lifestyle and fashion.

    Produced by an in-house team, the magazine is also aimed at being a platform to showcase AirAsia’s extensive routes, services and fare promotions.

    While it is currently only available on flights from Malaysia, Fernandes, also AirAsia Bhd group chief executive officer, said the magazine “should also be available on flights from Thailand and Indonesia in about a month's time.”

    An online version of the magazine is also on the way.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ bags three gold awards

    Tourism Malaysia’s Malaysia: Truly Asia international campaign won three gold awards at the recent PATA Gold Awards 2007 marketing media category for broadcast, print and website.

    “Indeed the Malaysia: Truly Asia campaign has been an enduring brand since its creation in 2000,” said Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg.

    “Not only has it created worldwide recognition for Malaysia, it has also attracted more visitors to the country. And these three gold awards are testimony to our success,” he said.

    Open to both PATA and non-PATA members, this year’s competition attracted a record 339 entries from 132 travel and tourism organisations.

    Over eight years, the campaign has won more than 25 awards worldwide including the region’s Media Magazine’s Marketing Effectiveness Award last year.

    Related Links

    VMY2007 VIDEOS
    1. One Golden Celebration
    2. Visit Malaysia Year 2007 Video - Celebrating 50 Years of Nationhood
    3. Promotional Videos for Visit Malaysia Year 2007
    4.Malaysia Truly Asia 2007 - Europe

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Tioman's Airport Fails To Take Off

    What has happened to the proposed RM150 million airport in Tioman Island as highlighted four years ago?

    The new airport in Kampung Paya was supposed to take off in 2003 as soon as the environmental impact assessment (EIA) was completed.

    The new airport is to help promote tourism growth in this duty free island.

    Yet four years have lapsed, there is still no sign of the airport project taking off and all parties concerned are at a loss.

    The project now is not only a poser to the islanders but also the Pahang state government that gave its blessing for the new airport.

    "It is a Federal Government's project, we are yet to be informed of its status whether it would be implemented or not, the state government on its part has given its approval," said Deputy Menteri Besar Datuk Tan Mohd Aminuddin Ishak to Bernama.


    On 27 April 2003, the Second Finance Minister at that time Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said work on the project would begin the same year as soon as the EIA report is ready.

    Dr Jamaluddin said the airport would be built parallel to the coastline and its runaway can accommodate Boeing 737s.

    The government even had planned to convert the current airport in Kampung Tekek as a shopping haven.

    Dr Jamaluddin was quoted saying the existing airport in Kampung Tekek was no longer suitable. Currently only propeller-powered planes can land there.


    "The government has agreed to replace the existing airport, it poses hazard to flights because the aircraft is actually landing on the foot of a hill.

    "Thus to develop the island, it must be well connected through air, land and water. If not, we can't add value, we have to market the island, the people will ask whether the island is easily accessible," said Dr Jamaluddin.

    Meanwhile the Tioman Development Board General Manager Datuk Hashim Mat Tahir also agreed that the proposed airport would serve as a catalyst to lure more tourists to the duty free island.

    According to the latest statistics about 300,000 tourists made their way to the island, listed among the 10 most beautiful in the world, with 80 percent of them using the sea as their transport mode.


    When asked whether the islanders are hoping the project to go on, Hashim replied: "The majority are agreeable though some opposed, like in the construction of the marina in Kampung Tekek but when it was completed they knew it benefited the tourism industry here."

    In 2004, the marina worth RM40 million was strongly opposed by those who feared it would endanger the reef in the underwater park.

    Meanwhile, many including the islanders want to see the project proceed knowing well it will boost tourism in the island.

    A villager, Abdul Latif Salam, 45, from Kampung Mukut here is confident of more tourist arrivals with the new airport that will improve the accessibility to the island.

    Berjaya Tioman Beach, Golf & Spa Resort' General Manager Gordon Koh is also confident the new airport will bring in more tourists.

    Tioman was declared a duty free island effective 1 Sept 2002. With the new status, it was hoped that Tioman will be able to stand at par with Indonesia's Pulau Batam and Bintan that are wooing Singaporeans in droves.

    Nevertheless, the dreams of Tioman islanders to see Boeing 737s filled with tourists land in the island remain no more than a dream.

    Source : Bernama
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