Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Regent Hotel Kuala Lumpur Opening at Avenue K

Carlson Hotels Worldwide –Asia Pacific, one of the world’s largest privately-owned hotel companies, will continue the expansion of its luxury Regent brand into key gateway cities across the region with the opening of The Regent Kuala Lumpur in the third quarter of 2011.
The Regent Kuala Lumpur will be developed by City Properties and joins a growing portfolio of Regent hotels and resorts worldwide, which includes The Regent Beijing and The Regent Shanghai. The 250-room hotel will also feature an additional 102 exclusive luxury apartments which will be branded as ‘The Regent Residences, Kuala Lumpur’.
The Regent Kuala Lumpur, together with the The Regent Residences, Kuala Lumpur, will occupy a prime city-centre location in the heart of the city’s ‘Golden Triangle’, with breathtaking views of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC Park, just 200 metres walking distance away.
“The development of The Regent Kuala Lumpur is an important part of our strategy to establish the flagship brand in the Carlson Hotels portfolio in every major gateway city across Asia”, said Martin Rinck, president & managing director, Carlson Hotels Worldwide – Asia Pacific. “We are continuing to evaluate prime locations for more Regent hotels, as well as for our luxury Regent resorts, and we expect to announce further developments in the near future”.
Bjorn Gullaksen, president of the Regent Luxury Group, which oversees the Regent brand worldwide, noted that this new property in Kuala Lumpur adds further momentum to the global expansion of Regent Hotels & Resorts. “Offering an iconic heritage of luxury that was born in Asia Pacific, we are pleased to be expanding Regent Hotels & Resorts to key destinations around the world,” Gullaksen noted.
In addition to managing Regent hotels in Beijing and Shanghai, Carlson Hotels Worldwide - Asia Pacific has five additional Regent hotels and resorts under development, including The Regent Kuala Lumpur. The Regent Maldives is scheduled to open in late 2008, while another three Regent hotels and resorts will open in 2009: The Regent Bangkok and The Regent Phuket Cape Panwa in Thailand, together with the The Regent Manila Bay in the Philippines.
“This is a signature development that will deliver a unique city experience, and is positioned as one of Kuala Lumpur’s most coveted addresses for style and luxury,” said Dato’ Jeff Yap, the Executive Director of City Properties, part of Duta Equities founded in 1976 by Dato’ Yap Yong Seong. The group’s investments include listed companies DutaLand and Olympia Industries as well as prime real estate developer, KL Landmark, which pioneered the city’s first luxury residences.
Carlson Hotels Worldwide is the world’s ninth largest hotel company ranked by the number of properties worldwide. In Asia Pacific, it is the largest international hotel group operating in India, and has more than 9,000 hotel rooms under management in 11 countries across the region.

Source : Carlson Hotels
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Malaysia's March Tourist Arrivals

A total of 1,819,689 tourists visited Malaysia in March 2008, a drop of 4.5 percent compared to the same month in 2007.

Cumulatively, tourist arrivals recorded from January to March 2008 were 5,342,291, representing an increase of 1.2% compared to 5,280,094 for the same period in 2007.

Singapore maintained its position as the biggest tourist generating market for Malaysia with 882,787 Singaporeans visiting the country in March 2008. Others in the top ten list are Indonesia (185,537), Thailand (115,868), China (85,542), Brunei (70,829), Japan (40,318), India (39,621), United Kingdom (34,407), Australia (33,500) and the Philippines (30,515).

Most major markets also recorded double digit growth in the month of March 2008. They are Russia (50.8%), Canada (47.5%), South Africa (45.9%), Indonesia (43.6%), the Netherlands (42.6%), New Zealand (40.1%), France (36.0%), Germany (31.7%), the United Kingdom (30.4%), China (including Hong Kong & Macau) (27.8%), Cambodia (19.8%), India (19.3%), Australia (18.9%), the Philippines (12.3%), and South Korea (10.1%).

Source : TravelWeekly
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tourism subsidiary under review

The Tourism Ministry will carry out a business review on Tourism Malaysia’s subsidiary Pempena Sdn Bhd in an effort to determine the future direction of the company.

The purpose for the review was to give Pempena a new image – as a catalyst and pioneer in the tourism industry, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman yesterday.

“This is also to ensure that Pempena does not compete with other entrepreneurs involved in the tourism industry but to complement them in enhancing the quality of tourism,” she said after visiting Pempena yesterday.

Pempena, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tourism Malaysia established in 1976, is currently responsible for running the Mega Sales shopping secretariat and the promotional programme Malaysia Truly Asia Kitchen.

“I have asked Pempena to create secretariats on medical tourism, education tourism, eco-tourism and special interest groups and prepare a report for me,” she said.

Her ministry will also contact the relevant ministries, private hospitals and universities on how the various aspects of tourism can be promoted, she said.

The Malaysia Truly Asia Kitchen will also be reviewed to see if the programme should continue or the business be sold or other promotional strategies applied, she said.

There was also a possibility that the restaurants under the programme could be closed down if the project was not a good project, she said.

They would also have to work with the Health Ministry on how private hospitals could be promoted when medical advertising was not allowed, she said.

Azalina said taxi associations had also been critical of Pempena Executive Taxi Service Sdn Bhd whose services overlapped their budget taxi service and that too would be sorted out through the review.

On when the review would be ready, she said no time frame has been given but a review normally took at least two weeks, she said.

Source : STAR
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Big names for Miri jazz fest

EIGHT international jazz artistes and bands will appear along with a local group at the third Miri International Jazz Festival next month.

The line-up includes Habana Sax from Cuba, Charmaine Clamor (the Philippines), Rumba Calzada (Canada), Mood Indigo (Britain), Diamond Dave and the Doodaddies (Australia), Oma Sound (Japan), T’Inventielke (Holland), Amar Sundy (Algeria) and Sarawak’s own Borneo Jazz Quartet.

Self-taught guitarist: Amar Sundy from Algeria.

Organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), the 2008 edition of the festival will take place at ParkCity Everly Hotel, Miri, on May 9 and 10.

“This year we hope to attract at least 6,000 people to the festival,” STB said in a statement recently, adding that last year more than 4,000 attended the festival held over two days.

It said festival-goers could expect a broader spectrum of jazz this year, ranging from laidback blues to jazz fusion with Latin, Caribbean and Oriental influences.

Habana Sax will make its second appearance at the festival after performing last year. Their Latino jazz styling and Cuban rhythms made them a crowd favourite and jazz lovers can expect more of the same this year.

The Latino beat doesn’t end with Habana Sax, as catchy salsa rhythms with Afro-Cuban flavours will come from the Vancouver-based Rumba Calzada.

The feet-tapping continues with Mood Indigo who play a wide repertoire of jazz beats.

Another swinging band is the four-piece Diamond Dave and the Doodaddies from Perth, who play Chicago-style blues with a soulful groove.

T’Inventielke, a 16-piece street band, will perform around the festival grounds.

The sound of Japanese jazz will come from Oma Sound, a six-piece band led by 75-year-old Isao Suzuki, a jazz bassist.

Another big name is Amar Sundy from Algeria, a self-taught guitarist who will perform a Chicago blues repertoire tinged with the exotic rhythms of his Tuareg ancestry.

Representing Sarawak will be the Borneo Jazz Quartet which will showcase original compositions and smooth jazz numbers.

Festival tickets are priced at RM60 for adults and RM30 for children aged between three and 12.

Tickets are available online at and at the Visitors’ Information Centre in Miri.

For more information, call 085-434181 or send e-mail to

Source : STAR
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Hunza spending RM10m to restore heritage building - Malaysian Chijmes

A heritage building in Hunza Properties Bhd's Gurney Paragon mixed development project will be modelled after the famous CHIJMES in Singapore.

Executive chairman Datuk Khor Teng Tong told a press conference recently the group had allocated RM10mil to restore the St Joseph’s Novitiate built by the Christian De La Salle Brothers in 1916.

Also present was the company's conservation consultant, Assoc Prof A. Ghafar Ahmad from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s school of housing, building, and planning.

“This is the first time a developer in Penang is restoring and incorporating heritage structures into a mixed development project.

“We are trying to model the three-storey, 32,000 sq ft St Joseph Noviate building after Singapore's Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, a school converted into an enclave of fine dining and retail boutiques,” Khor said.

He said one of the aims of restoring the building and opening it to the public was to educate visitors on the history of St Joseph Novitiate.

The company's restoration efforts were endorsed by the state tourism action council last year.

Khor said the conservation of the building in the Gurney Paragon project, with an estimated gross sales value of over RM1.2bil, would help raise the value of properties near it.

Ghafar said another heritage structure in the Gurney Paragon project, the 430 sq ft National Shrine of the Boy Jesus, would be dismantled, salvaged and reconstructed at a new site.

Source : STAR
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New Hotel Skyscraper in Kota Baru

The first phase completion of a RM300mil mixed development project in Jalan Raja Dewa here in 36 months will transform the skyline of the state capital.

The Dataran Raja Dewa project was hailed as an iconic real estate boost for Kelantan with the building of a twin towers of 31 storeys, said developer Petraz Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Dr Stanley Chew.

Sited on 6.3ha, the project would showcase Islamic architecture, he said after signing a memorandum of understanding between the Kuala Lumpur-based Petraz and the Kelantan government last Wednesday.

Dr Chew said Petraz had 23 years' experience in the property market with its niche in the warehousing industry in Klang, Selangor.

On Petraz’s foray into Kelantan, he said real estate was reaching saturation levels in other states while Kelantan was an emerging market.

“There is potential here so we have come to seek the opportunities while bringing about modern development to the town,” Dr Chew said.

He said the developer was discussing with potential anchor tenants including five-star hotel operators, hypermarket operators and shopping mall operators about the commercial aspect.

The shophouses would likely be leased by state government departments and local merchants, he said, adding that the first phase would be ready in 36 months and the second by 2014.

Besides bringing in new commercial enterprises and investments, the project is set to become a new landmark for Kota Baru.

The project comprises 40 units of three-storey shophouses, four blocks of five-storey office lots, twin 31-floor office lots, an eight-storey building which can house trade exhibitions and a three-storey car park.

There are also two 12-storey service apartments and 126 town houses in the project.

Source : STAR
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The Beijing Olympic Torch in Malaysia

The past greats and current top Malaysian athletes all shared in the joy of being part of the Malaysian leg of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay here yesterday.

For some of the Beijing-bound athletes who took part as torchbearers, it was the perfect tonic before they compete in the biggest sporting event on earth in August.

Shuttler Lee Chong Wei, who carried the torch for the section near Istana Hotel, said: “I’m now motivated to train harder and prepare for a good outing in Beijing.”

Flame on in Malaysia: Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tuanku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar, the first torchbearer in the Malaysian leg of the Olympic torch relay, running with the torch surrounded by security personnel at Dataran Merdeka Monday. There were few incidents in the relay that ended at KLCC.

Chong Wei is Malaysia’s best bet for a medal in the men’s singles.

“It reminds me of my goal in the Olympics. There is only slightly more than three months remaining before the Olympics and that was what flashed through my mind while I was holding the torch. I am inspired to train harder after this,” said Chong Wei.

And 18-year-old diver Bryan Nickson Lomas, who was the youngest of the Malaysian torchbearers, said he felt honoured to be taking part in an Olympic Torch Relay.

“Hopefully, it will boost me to put up a good performance for the country in the Olympics,” said Bryan, who became the first Malaysian athlete to qualify for the Olympics after reaching the men’s 10m platform final in the World Championships in Melbourne last year.

World number one woman squash player Nicol David, who also carried the torch along the section near Jalan Sultan Ismail, said it was as close as one could get to the Olympic Games.

“It’s really a good feeling to be an Olympic torchbearer, especially when I don’t get the chance to compete in the Olympics. I will not miss it for the world. I really hope squash will get into the Olympics one day,” said Nicol, who flew back from her training base in Amsterdam just for the occasion.

The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah lighting up cauldron at the KLCC to mark the end of the Olympic torch relay Monday. Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar started off the torch relay at the Dataran Merdeka. The flame from the cauldron is transferred to a canister and taken to Jakarta for the next leg.

Like Nicol, top woman bowler Shalin Zulkifli was also excited to be among the 80 torchbearers.

“It is another way to be involved in the Olympics. Bowling is not in the Olympics and this is as close as I can get to feel what it’s like to be involved,” said Shalin.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar was the first person to carry the torch in the relay which kicked off at Dataran Merdeka at 2pm.

It ended with Sultan Azlan Shah, the Sultan of Perak, as the final torchbearer and he lighted up the cauldron at the Esplanade area in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).

Malaysia last hosted a leg of the Olympic Torch Relay when Japan became the first Asian country to host the biggest sporting event in the world in 1964.

All five Malaysian Olympic medal winners – shuttlers Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock and the Sidek brothers – Razif, Jalani and Rashid – also took part in the relay.

Proud moment: Datuk Soh Chin Aun, the former national footballer, carrying the Olympic torch at the Merdeka Stadium Monday.

Soon Kit-Kim Hock claimed the men’s doubles silver in the Atlanta Games in 1996. Razif-Jalani bagged a bronze when badminton made its debut in Barcelona in 1992 while Rashid was the singles bronze medallist in 1996.

OCM deputy president Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan hailed the event as a big success for Malaysia.

“Considering all the apprehensions following protests in most of the previous cities where the torch visited, I am glad to say that we managed to pull it off without any hitches. There were no major incidents. It’s just a pity that the rain fell in the later stages and drenched everyone. Otherwise it would have been a perfect show.”

Source : STAR
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Malaysia to mount Ramadan tactical at ATM

TOURISM Malaysia is optimistic it can lure the Middle East to travel during Ramadan and celebrate Eid Ul Fitr overseas although it has no previous track records to go by.

At the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) next month, Tourism Malaysia will embark on a special tactical to encourage visitors from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East to experience Ramadan in Malaysia.

The tactical will promote Malaysia as a “cool” haven to escape from the intense heat, the shorter fasting hours in Malaysia compared to West Asia, easy access to Muslim places of worship, and many varieties of halal food that is easily available throughout the country.

Tourism Malaysia director, South Asia, Oceania, West Asia and Africa, Mr Azizan Nordin, said Tourism Malaysia would increase its collateral and distribution in Arabic so Saudi buyers would be able to know more about the country. A website to promote Malaysia in Arabic will go live this year.

This year, the holy month of Ramadan, comes right after the school summer holidays for Gulf countries, except Saudi Arabia which has extended its holidays to October 13.

From 2009 right up to 2013, Ramadan will fall during the summer holidays in the Gulf.

Source : TTG
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Malaysia steps UK, German tacticals

TOURISM Malaysia has embarked on a tactical to increase arrivals from its traditional longhaul markets, UK and Germany.

Its London office is in partnership with the big brands, Harrods and Selfridges, for a lifestyle-themed promotion showcasing the destination’s culture, heritage, food and sports aimed at the affluent UK market.

It is also leveraging on gastronomic and luxury travellers by participating in two consumer shows, Taste of London, from June 19 to 22 and Taste of Birmingham, from July 10 to 13.

For Germany, a tactical with Singapore Airlines for travel from April to June was concluded on March 30. A possible joint marketing with Malaysia Airlines may take place next month, the NTO’s deputy director-general, Datuk Razali Mohd Daud, said.

The NTO’s office in Germany also encourages travel agents selling Malaysia to enrol for its e-learning programmes to learn more about the destination. According to Datuk Razali, 2,100 agents have registered since March 2007.

Source : TTG
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Malaysia banks on Indonesian carriers’ ban

LOCAL Malaysian agents are taking opportunity of the European Union Aviation Commission’s ban on all Indonesian carriers, to attract European wholesalers and outbound agents to sell Malaysia as a stopover before continuing onwards to Indonesia.

Kuala Lumpur-based Triways Travel Network managing director, Mr Akil Yusof, said he would work with wholesalers in Indonesia and operators in Europe to sell stopover packages in Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands.

He added: “We will also contact local insurance agencies to see if they will consider selling travel insurance policies to foreigners to cover internal flights within Indonesia. If they are game, we will include them in the packages.”

Johor Bahru-based New Asia Holidays general manager, Mr Raaj Navaratnaa, said he would contact European operators and entice them with value-added packages combining Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“The attraction is that with one ticket on Singapore Airlines, you can cover three countries,” he added.

Source : TTG
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Monday, April 14, 2008

The elegance of E&O

THE sun gently slips into the cloudy horizon, casting a pearly pink over the greyish blue waters. The waves lapped gently against the low stone wall which divides the lawn from the Straits of Malacca. Swimmers leisurely lose their calories in their laps in swimming pool.

At Sarkies Corner, waiters lay out the evening’s fare with anticipation. Will the restaurant have another full house this evening? As in yesteday’s evening? Executive chef Bob Lee checks out the Peking duck, giving his efferverscent smile as he welcomes his guests.

Welcome to the famed E&O Hotel in Penang, which boasts of having the longest sea-lined lawn in the country.

Well-placed lights emphasise the beautiful structures of the hotel

Although the famed E&O Hotel in Penang is once again undergoing another round of refurbishment, the movements are hardly noticeable. Unlike its massive restoration programme in 1996, this time around, discretion is the key.

“It’s business as usual. The guests would not even notice it,” says general manager Michael Saxon.

And how true! One could hear a pin drop as one walks along the corridor to seek the solace of one’s temporary sanctuary. Nary a bang nor the whisper of a drill.

After spending some RM60mil in an 18-month restoration programme, Malaysia’s only heritage hotel is being refurbished for a smaller amount of RM5mil, which also includes training and software, for several reasons.

Says Saxon: “As in any properties, maintenance is an ongoing process. We also want to make sure the hotel stays in pristine condition.”

The other reason is the business the hotel has been garnering of late. For the past 18 months or so, business has increased dramatically, both in terms of occupancy and food and beverage (F&B).

While the rule of thumb in most hotels is 70:30, with revenue from F&B contributing the smaller portion, it is 60:40 over at E&O. Out of eight months in a year, the hotel does about 20 weddings a month.

For a 101-suite hotel, Saxon says there have been times when he counted more than 2,000 guests in the hotel.

Leveraging on its marque as the grande dame of heritage hotels, the E&O Hotel in Farquhar Street has been most popular with foreigners from Britain, USA, Australia and Japan. About 70% of its guests are Westerners.

So far, about 10 suites in the 100-suite hotel have been refurbished and given an all-new modernity set along heritage lines. New carpets and upholstery, new curtains and a more localised use of pictures are being used. Each of the rooms are being upgraded one by one to keep up with the times.

Saxon: Maintenance is an ongoing proce

“The move is necessary as the hotel would like to continue garnering premium room rates in today’s competitive hospitality industry,” says Saxon.

Beginning April this year, average room rates increased to RM500, compared with RM250 the last three to five years.

He says the industrial norm is a 10% increase annually, but they have doubled their average room rate in three years.

“But within these three years, there have been a lot of improvements,” he said.

E&O suite tariff vary extensively. A superior suite is about RM900 while the E&O suite is RM10,000. The hotel, which dates back 1885, has several types of suites.

The Rudyard Kipling suite, for example, has been given tastefully austere interiors, with taupe walls and jute rugs on timber floors, predominantly dark stained teak furniture, including an imposing four-poster bed. For contrast, two wicker chairs and a comfortable sofa in a bold black and white floral print.

Says Malaysian interior decorator Mimi Merican: “The challenge for me was to draw inspiration from what we know of Kipling the man, writer and traveller, and have that set the style for the suite.”

To complete the ambience, a specially commissioned portrait of the man himself, aptly bearing the lines from his book From sea to sea and other sketches: Letters of travel.

The Rudyand Kipling suite

Since the E&O group took over Malaysia’s one and only heritage hotel in the late 1990s, the turnaround in terms of look, ambience and maintenance has been dramatic.

“We would like to keep the momentum,” he says.

There have been times when it is fully occupied and the owner Datuk (Terry) Tham has to stay in another hotel.

Its F&B business has been so good that they have set out tents to promote outdoor dining on the Esplanade.

“Sarkies Corner was simply not big enough. So we set up tents outside last year. We did not want to turn away guests. So this current round of refurbishing is really important. It will enable us to have proper set-up for outdoor dining,” says Saxon.

“We upped our prices, guests complained and after two weeks, they were back as before. We are not complaining at all. We are delighted with the situation,” he says.

“In terms of service, we always listen to our guests. There was a time when a guest dining at its fine dining restaurant 1885 requested his table to be taken outdoors under the huge Java tree on the lawn which overlook the Straits of Malacca.

“He wanted to savour both the food and the ambience. We obliged. Another time a former British soldier in the 80s came and asked about the old lift, whether it still worked. He stayed here decades ago and I personally accompanied him on that lift ride. There were tears in his eyes when he got off,” says Saxon.

With Penang becoming a popular spot for medical tourism of late, guest-patients are provided total in-suite service until they are confident enough to leave their sanctuary.

“E&O is not just another hotel. It is history, service, ambience and romance all packaged together under the tropical sky on an island that has become well-known around the world,” says Saxon.

Source : STAR
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Ambulift launched at LCCT

AirAsia launched its first ambulift at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) here to allow disabled passengers to board the aircraft instead of being physically carried into the plane by AirAsia workers.

The airline bought two ambulifts, one to be placed at LCCT and another one at Kota Kinabalu airport.

Ambulift is a lift that is attached to the back of a van to lift passengers from the aircraft to the ground so they do not have to use the steps.

Disabled-friendly move: An AirAsia flight attendant posing with disabled people in front of the new ambulift at the LCCT at the KL International Airport on Saturday.

Nine months ago, members of the Barrier- FREE Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) representing the disabled community gathered at the LCCT to protest the carrier’s “discriminatory” policy and demanded disabled-friendly services by AirAsia.

They asked the airline to provide an ambulift to allow disabled passengers to board the aircraft instead of being physically carried into the plane by AirAsia workers.

Former Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy then ordered Malaysia Airports Berhad and AirAsia to solve the problem.

AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandez said providing the ambulift was only one part of their initiatives to be disabled-friendly.

He said they were also in talks with Malaysia Airports to provide free aerobridge usage at airports that do not have ambulifts and give staff hands-on training by engaging those from the disabled community.

“We will also enhance our services and accessibility where possible and we hope to set the example for other LCCTs and airlines to work towards an improved environment for our disabled friends,” he said.

However, he hoped Malaysia Airports would improve airport facilities and provide level walkways and designated car parks.

Fernandez also said that the AirAsia’s A320 aircraft could only take a maximum of four disabled guests per flight and two of the seats could accommodate quadriplegic flyers.

BEAT coordinator Christina Lee welcomed AirAsia’s move to introduce disability equality training for the cabin crew and staff.

“This will give them a better understanding of “disability” issues as well as tips on how to relate to and assist disabled passengers,” she said.

Source : STAR
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

KK to host sports tourism meet

Tourism ministers from nine countries have confirmed their participation in the inaugural Commonwealth Conference on Sports Tourism in Kota Kinabalu next month.

Commonwealth Tourism Centre’s director-general Abdul Rahman Shaari said some 100 participants from 18 nations had registered for the three-day event from May 13 at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was expected to open the event.

“We have secured an impressive line-up of keynote speakers and presenters whose information-packed presentations would be of a great interest and relevance to all sports tourism industry players,” he said during a mini-roadshow on the conference at Sarawak Tourism Complex here.

Abdul Rahman said the conference would examine three themes – sports tourism development, issues and case studies.

He said Commonwealth countries would host several international sports tourism events between 2010 and 2014.These include Singapore, which will host the Youth Olympic Games in two years’ time.

Abdul Rahman said Sabah and Sarawak had great potential as sports tourism destinations with national parks, diving, river regattas and rafting.

“What is needed is to enhance these tourism products,” he added.

Source : STAR
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Malaysia bats for 15 percent increase in UAE arrivals

Leveraging on the appeal of the Visit Malaysia Year, which has been extended until August 2008, Tourism Malaysia is targeting a 15-percent increase in arrivals from the United Arab Emirates by year-end. Arrivals from this market hit 38,000 in 2007, a nine-percent increase over the previous year.

With the extended Visit Malaysia Year come new events and extra additional flights from Eithad, Emirates, Malaysian Airlines and Yemeni Airlines.

Currently, the most popular destinations for UAE nationals are Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi. Malaysia has also started introducing new destinations to the market, specifically, Terengganu, Sabah, Malacca and Johor.

Source : TravelWeekly
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Kedah denies sabotaging tourism programme

The Kedah Government has denied that its raids on entertainment outlets in Langkawi were to sabotage tourism activities.

State tourism and community development committee chairman Mohammad Radzhi Salleh said the local authorities and police initiated Ops Noda Khas to check social problems.

“The Tourism Ministry should thank the local authorities for enforcing existing law to check social menace,” he said, in response to Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s call to the Pakatan Rakyat states not to sabotage the ministry’s activities.

Azalina had said that the state authorities had carried out raids at entertainment outlets during the National Water Festival in Langkawi last weekend.

“I want to make it very clear that the state government did not give any directive to the local authorities to carry out the enforcement operations.

Mohammad Radzhi said Azalina’s statement that the raids were carried out to sabotage the festival was baseless.

“The event attracted more than 100,000 people. We were also informed that 19,000 people participated in the 118 games and activities during the two-day event on April 3,” he said.

“We hope tourism programmes are not politicised,” he added.

Source : STAR
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

World’s largest giant observation wheel opens in Singapore

Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest giant observation wheel, opened here yesterday.

“Located at the perfect spot in Marina Bay, Singapore flyer is proud to be the first gem of a necklace of developments to be completed over the next three years,” Florian Bollen, chairman of Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd, said in his opening speech.

The 165-metre tall Singapore Flyer was planned, developed and constructed over a period of five years at a cost of S$240 million (about US$176.9 million).

“The way the Singapore Flyer has been realized is a great example of how the world comes together in this cosmopolitan city to achieve truly out standing results: Japanese and Chinese construction companies, German funding and certification, English engineering and cables, Indian and Italian software, Singapore governmental support and marketing, Australian project management, just to name a few who came together for this truly great global project,” Bollen said.

From 28 spacious, air-conditioned Singapore Flyer capsules, visitors can admire 360-degree views of Singapore’s cityscape and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Source : TravelWeekly
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Malaysia posts continued visitor arrival growth

A total of 1,742,468 tourists visited Malaysia in February 2008, an increase of 5.5 percent compared to the same month in 2007.

Cumulatively, tourist arrivals recorded from January to February 2008 were 3,522,602, representing an increase of 4.4 percent compared to 3,373,790 for the same period in 2007.

Singapore maintains its position as the biggest tourist generating market for Malaysia with 877,078 Singaporeans visiting the country in February 2008.

Others in the top ten list are Indonesia (145,462), Thailand (126,451), China (99,599), Brunei (67,181), India (38,664), Japan (37,395), United Kingdom (33,438), Australia (28,443) and the Philippines (27,759).

The top ten tourist generating markets from January to February 2008 were Singapore (1,738,093), Indonesia (325,310), Thailand (235,181), China (172,832), Brunei (144,729), India (77,058), Japan (71,641), Australia (67,311), United Kingdom (62,162) and South Korea (52,819).

Source : Travel Weekly

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Macau eyes Malaysian visitors

MACAU will be celebrating its 55th year in Grand Prix racing in November this year and the country hopes to see more Malaysians joining in the fun.

“It is now so easy to get to Macau, whether it is for the GP or for leisure, especially with the expansion of air routes and more flights between Macau and Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Johor Baru,” said Tunku Datuk Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah during the launch of “Experience Macau'' recently.

Macau beckons: (From left) Chui, Gu Jingqi and Antunes launching the ‘Experience Macau’ event recently.

Iskandar said Air Asia had 46 flights weekly to Macau while Malaysia Airlines had more than 50. Last year, tourist arrivals to Macau exceeded 27 million, a surge of 22.7% over 2006. In the first two months this year, visitor arrivals were up 4.7 million, including 400,000 Malaysians, – an increase of 13.9%It achieved a growth of 98% over the same period in 2006.

The three-day promotion held in Kuala Lumpur themed “See, Feel, Touch and Hear the Difference of Macau'' was attended by travel industry representatives, media and tourism officials of both countries.

“The five senses depict the image of Macau’s multi-faceted tourism products of both heritage as well as the new developments which we hope will attract more Malaysians to experience the destination,” said Iskandar.

The event was held to strengthen ties and exchange knowledge with the travel industry in the country and increase tourism cooperation between Malaysia and Macau.

Also at the launch were Macau Special Administrative Region Government Social Affairs and Culture secretary Dr Chui Sai On, China Embassy deputy head and counsellor Gu Jingqi and Macau Government Tourist Office director Joao Manuel Costa Antunes.

Source : STAR
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AirAsia flying to more places from Kuching

AirAsia’s four new regional routes from Sarawak will further improve the state’s connectivity.

Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said the new destinations were Jakarta, Bali, Bandar Seri Begawan and Singapore.

The Kuching-Jakarta flight commenced on Tuesday while Kuching-Bali will begin on May 2 and Kuching-Bandar Seri Begawan on June 12. The Kuching-Singapore flight will follow later.

Wong said the increased connectivity would boost Sarawak’s tourist industry by enabling more visitors to fly to the state.

“With the new regional flights, we can tap into the foreign tourist market.

“For example, there are many Australian tourists in Bali and they can extend their holiday by coming here on the new AirAsia flight,” he said during a media appreciation night organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board and Sarawak Convention Bureau here on Tuesday night.

He called on tour operators and other industry players to work together with the airline to ensure the new routes could be sustained.

He also urged the media to help promote Sarawak to other parts of the world.

Source : STAR
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Azalina: Tourism MoUs with Opposition-ruled states to be terminated

Tourism memorandums of understanding with Opposition-ruled state governments will be terminated given the change in leadership, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

She said this was in line with the termination of Tourism Action Councils in the states which were previously chaired by Barisan Nasional’s state executive councillors in charge of tourism in each state.

“Normally, the council works together with the state executive council and local authorities.

“But now that the leadership in the state governments have changed, we have to terminate the MoUs and the councils,” she told a post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday.

Perak, Penang, Selangor and Kedah fell to the Opposition in last month's general election.

Azalina said that a committee would instead be set up, with members appointed by the Federal Government similar to the format implemented in PAS-held Kelantan.

“We will appoint committee members from the tourism community to help develop tourism in these states,” she said.

Azalina said some tourism events, such as the Penang Music Festival (in May) and the Langkawi Water Festival (this weekend), would go ahead and contracts with state contractors would be honoured.

“However, we will re-evaluate plans for other events if they have not started or if the contractors have not been appointed.

“Maybe we have to look at other venues or options. But there is no total boycott in tourism. We have to play it by ear and see what these state governments do,” she added.

Azalina said industry players she met recently, including hoteliers and travel agencies, had expressed concern over tourism in Opposition-held states, given the players’ huge investments, especially in Penang and Kedah.

“They hope there will not be any negative policies in these states that will affect tourism,” she added.

On PKR, DAP and PAS’ decision to form Pakatan Rakyat, Azalina said it would not last long given their different policies, unlike Barisan which had the same manifesto for all.

“Politics is a marriage of convenience. Politicians can say anything they want to gain the people’s support.

“Maybe Pakatan Rakyat will work for a month or a year but it will break up in the end as they are too different,” she added.

Selangor govt says move by Tourism Minister foolhardy

The Selangor Government strongly feels that Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s decision to terminate all tourism memorandum of understanding with Opposition-ruled states as foolhardy.

Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment state chairman Elizabeth Wong said such a decision is reckless for the Federal Government especially to sideline Selangor, which is the gateway into the country and a premier destination.

On Wednesday, Azalina had said that the decision was due to the change in leadership in the state governments that was in line with the termination of the Tourism Action Council in the states.

Wong said Selangor is one of the top destinations in the nation’s first stop for most international tourist and to sideline other states like Penang, Perak, Kelantan and Kedah is not wise.

“Initially, we had been looking forward to working with the Tourism Ministry for the betterment of the industry and the country. Selangor accounts for some 30% of the national Gross Domestic Product and this callous move might have adverse impact on our national economy as well as the industry,” she said.

She added that one should not cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

“For us in Selangor we will persevere in supporting the tourism industry and this in fact gives us a better opportunity to work even more closely with the private sector. We are committed to improve and to develop the tourism sector in the state in several new initiatives in eco-tourism and heritage tourism,” she said.

Wong also called upon Selangorians to visit the state’s historical attractions and push forward the industry with a greater zeal in the light of this development.

Source : STAR1 STAR2
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

MAS buys 35 planes

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is buying 35 aircraft with an option for 20 more of the narrow body Boeing 737-800 which will cost the carrier a total of US$4.2bil.

The national carrier also decided that it still wants the super jumbo A380 although it would have to wait until 2011 for the aircraft to be delivered.

In a statement yesterday, MAS said a firm order had been placed for 55 B737-800 at the list price of US$4.2bil (RM13.39bil). It is unclear at this point whether the carrier would eventually get a discount on the large order.

But the order will put MAS in good stead as these aircraft are said to be more fuel efficient per passenger per mile than others. The short- to medium-range airplane has a fuel capacity of 6,875 US gallons, or 0.1387 gallons per passenger per mile, and can fly up to a range of 3,060 nautical miles.

MAS said it intends to use the aircraft for the Asean region, including the domestic sector and China and India.

“Clearly we are gearing ourselves to benefit from the growth of this region, which is projected at 6% per annum,” managing director/CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala said in the statement.

Jala said aircraft for the airline's core network would always be the latest in terms of technology and “we will likely partially purchase the B737-800 on our own and partially lease them as that would give us the flexibility to manage our balance sheet and financing commitments and sell some of them when the timing is right.”

MAS first announced its fleet replacement plan last year. The airline currently has 111 planes in use, of which 90% is leased from its parent, Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd (PMB).

Chief executive officer Tengku Azmil Zahruddin was reported to have said that the airline had a healthy cash position of RM5.3bil to purchase aircraft.

MAS also has the option to swap the B737-800 for the larger B737-900 as part of its plan to transform MAS into the world’s “five-star value carrier''.

To Jala, the new fleet would form a strong platform for MAS to grow profitably. The aircraft are not expected to be delivered until the next few years when the global economic situation would be less of a concern.

The B737-800s are expected to be delivered from September 2010 onwards and would be replacing the airline's B737-400 fleet.

On the six A380-800, MAS said the first delivery was expected next January and the sixth in August 2011. Technical problems at Airbus have resulted in delays in the plane maker's delivery schedule.

Even Singapore Airlines, the first customer for the A380, got its first aircraft only late last year.

MAS was to have taken first delivery in January 2007 and the sixth in December. The statement did not say if MAS had been compensated for the delay.

But Jala believes it would be good to keep the A380 order although the airline could have cancelled it. Airbus claims that the A380 burns 17% less fuel per seat than other big aircraft, thus reducing the carbon footprint per passenger.

“We are now looking at wide body aircraft replacement and will intensify our discussions with the manufacturers.

“MAS is committed to expanding its network for the medium and long haul market,” Jala added.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tiger Airways keen to fly to Sabah, Sarawak

SINGAPORE’S Tiger Airways is akin to a tiger on the prowl.

The pace of its expansion since inception over the past three years has been phenomenal.

A Tiger Airways aircraft lands at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal at KL International Airport – Bernama

This tiger is not about to take a break. East Malaysia is the next destination to add to its network besides three more bases in Asia.

Group chief executive officer Tony Davis believes that the airline could provide alternative linkages to East Malaysia from Singapore and the rest of the world.

He said passengers flying Tiger from China to Australia were asking for access to East Malaysia and Tiger believes it can play a part to promote tourism in Sabah and Sarawak.

“People in East Malaysia have asked us many times to fly into East Malaysia, and so have those in Ipoh and Penang. We are a willing party but it really depends on the Government.

“We are in talks and hope to reach an agreement soon,” Davis told StarBiz in an interview recently.

»Now is the time for the market to operate freely« TONY DAVIS

To him, Malaysia is an important market for the Singapore-based carrier not just from the neighbourly perspective, but both cultural and commercial basis.

He said: “It makes sense for Tiger to be given more rights to fly more routes in Malaysia ahead of liberalisation.

“Travellers want more access and with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) recently announcing a fantastic set of financial results, I would say well done to MAS. But I would also like to say, now is time for the market to operate freely.

“We are ready to compete and they (MAS) should be ready to compete,’’ he said, adding that “for a country like Malaysia, the tourism sector should be more important than only a company.”

“It must be frustrating to fly to Malaysia because of restricted access and the tourism industry is missing out.

“People from Australia and China want to go to East Malaysia via Singapore, but as the fares are high and access from Singapore is limited, they are just bypassing Malaysia,” he added.

Tiger had requested for two daily flights for the KL-Singapore route, but obtained one. To Davis, it was a small feat compared with the “unlimited flights Tiger got for the Singapore-Thailand route”.

If Tiger wants more, Davis will just have to wait till December for the liberalisation of the Asean capital city air sector. Airlines will be able to mount unlimited flights.

Davis said: “Tiger is indeed planning for significant flights in December.”

He believes Malaysia will be Tiger’s biggest market over time and “that means any airport that can take a A320 will see us flying there and Malaysia will hugely appreciate the increase in its air traffic”.

Tiger is also eyeing to be a Pan-Asian carrier. For Davis, the Tiger brand is “not overtly Singaporean” but an Asian brand. The objective is to have operations in Asian countries and employ staff from all over Asia.

Since its maiden flight in September 2004, Tiger, which first operated from Singapore, has managed to set up a domestic low-cost airline in Australia.

It is in the final stages of operating a low-cost airline – Incheon Tiger Airways – with the South Korean city of Incheon.Over the next 12 to 18 months, another new base will be established.

Davis said talks were on going with three potential partners to set up three bases in Asia as ideally, Tiger would like to have six bases in the region.

”We would like to provide the Tiger connection from Vladivostok in Russia and all the way down to Tasmania, Australia.

“The areas we are going to cover is comparable to the landmass of the north and south poles, so we really like to be known as the pole-to-pole airline,” Davis said.

This means a passenger departing for Vladivostok will have to change flights on Tiger-operated routes along the way to reach Tasmania.

Tiger now flies 20 routes in Asia, and Brunei will be its next destination in April. By June, it will have flights to Bangalore, India.

In Australia, Tiger Airways Australia serves 12 destinations, and Alice Springs is its next route.

“Our geographic reach is the widest as we are in South-East Asia, India, China and even flying to Australia,” Davis said.

The cost of setting bases is “very modest” and given the airline's positive cashflow, funding its expansion plans will be via internal funds.

The airline has 70 planes with 58 new orders, and believes its cost is only second to AirAsia, whose cost is the lowest among all global LCCs.

To Davis, competition will be the mainstay of any business.

However, he said, incumbent airlines need not worry over competition because the markets will grow bigger and the airline that offers good products and attractive pricing would gain more than others.

Source : STAR
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LCCT to get bigger and better

THE number of passenger arrivals at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT-KLIA) in Sepang is expected to reach nine million by the end of this year, an increase of 1.4 million from last year, said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) senior general manager (operations) Datuk Azmi Murad.

And in line with this MAHB has made expansion plans for the LCCT and the project starting next month is expected to be completed in eleven months.

“The project will be located next to the LCCT international departure area and would increase the terminal’s capacity by 50%,'' he said during the LCCT-KLIA second anniversary celebrations held at the LCC Terminal.

Also present were MAHB chairman Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman and managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad.

Azmi added that so far the LCCT had been able to handle the increasing number of passengers.

Time to celebrate: (L-R) Azmi cutting the LCCT-KLIA second anniversary cake with Aris, Schuil, Khairuddin and Bashir.

However, he added that it is imperative that the expansion be completed on time due to the increase in the number of passenger arrivals on AirAsia and the Tiger Airways that services the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route.

Meanwhile Aris said that the expansion is expected to increase the capacity of LCCT from the current 10 million to 15 million passengers annually.

“We should reach our maximum capacity once the expansion project is completed. We want to improve the level of comfort for airport users,'' said Aris.

Aris said the LCCT currently houses AirAsia, Thai AirAsia, Cebu Pacific Airways, Tiger Airways and AWAIR operations.

At the ceremony MAHB rewarded Muham-mad Khairuddin Abdullah from Shah Alam for being the 8.3 millionth domestic passenger and Simone Schuil from Holland, the 14.4 millionth international passenger of LCCT.

Source : STAR
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