Friday, July 11, 2008

George Town to have 3-day celebration

Fireworks will light up the night sky at the Esplanade here on July 26 as Penangites celebrate George Town's listing as a World Heritage Site.

A three-day celebration will be held within the historical enclave of the city, with cultural shows, free trishaw rides and clan jetties' visits for tourists, flower mural painting and tree planting to commemorate the occasion.

Penang Municipal Council president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman said Friday the council was allocating about RM150,000 for the celebration which would start on July 25.

On July 26, the Yang di-Pertua Negri (TYT) Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister will grace a cultural show at the Esplanade from 8.45pm to 11pm.

"There will be some fireworks display that night to commemorate the historic event and an acceptance of a declaration of George Town's listing by the TYT. The whole event will be held in a very traditional setting,'' Zainal told reporters after Friday's full council meeting.

The three-day event will kick-start with thanksgiving prayers held at various places of worship.

* Students from five inner city schools will take part in a flower mural painting on the road along Jalan Padang Kota Lama at about 9am on July 25

* Cultural activities will be held at the marina bay at Weld Quay on July 26. Tourists and locals will get to enjoy free rides on 50 trishaws and visit the homes at the seven clan jetties to experience for themselves the living heritage of the city from 9am on July 26.

From 6pm to 9pm, tourists will get a chance to enjoy cultural programmes held at the various heritage buildings such as the Khoo Kongsi and the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion.

* On the final day, another cultural show featuring ghazal and dondang sayang performances will be held at the Upper Penang Road flea market from 10am to 6pm.

Zainal said in view of George Town's listing, the council faced more issues and challenges.

"Our main priority now is to keep the town clean and for this, we would need the co-operation of the people,'' he said.

He added that the council would have to ensure a comprehensive and proper traffic system to ensure tourists would be able to move around the heritage enclave without any hindrance.

"Council officers would be going around the heritage trails to ensure that any barriers which obstruct pedestrians or hinder the smooth flow of traffic would be removed,'' he said.

He added that the council would also be trying its "very best'' to track down owners of dilapidated buildings in the inner city so that they could improve the image of the buildings.

Source : STAR
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AirAsia opens HCMC sales office

AirAsia has officially opened its new sales office in one of the busiest areas of downtown Ho Chi Minh City, in a bid to bring the airline closer to its Vietnamese guests. The new office opening also signals AirAsia’s commitment in playing a larger role in one of the fastest growing economies in the Southeast Asian region.

AirAsia currently operates daily flights to Ho Chi Minh City from Kuala Lumpur with a combination of 11 flights weekly to Ho Chi Minh City as a group.

Source : TravelWeekly
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Piccolo Hotel sets itself apart in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

PICCOLO Group aims to make a difference in the hospitality sector with the scheduled opening of its maiden hotel, Piccolo Hotel, in Bintang Walk, in Kuala Lumpur, this month.

The 239-room boutique hotel, located between KL Plaza and Lot 10 in Jalan Bukit Bintang, is looking to offer a value destination for tourists and business travellers.

An artist's impression of the Piccolo Hotel.
Director and chief operating officer Suzianna Wong-Svrcula said the hotel would leverage on its excellent location and unique ambience of a cosy and fun boutique hotel to become a favourite destination.

“There is much potential to be tapped in the hospitality business, and we are putting in all the finer details to make Piccolo Hotel a success. We will also look at expanding to other regional markets,” Wong told StarBiz.

Through its associate company Absolute Prestige Sdn Bhd, Piccolo is keen to build up a chain of boutique hotels in Malaysia and other emerging markets to take advantage of the robust growth in the regional tourism business.

With a “green concept” theme, Piccolo Hotel's contemporary design concept depicts the rich marine life and eco-system in Malaysia.

The hotel's reception, hallways and rooms are adorned with canvas prints of the abundant marine life and ecology that can be found in Malaysia’s diving havens.

The photos were taken by her husband and Piccolo director Dr Kurt Svrcula, who is an accomplished diver, underwater photographer and writer with a strong leaning towards environmental issues.

Among his books are Diving in Malaysia and Layang Layang - Diving Malaysia's Last Frontier.

He has a collection of more than 20,000 pictures from his many diving outings in East Malaysia, including in Layang Layang, Sipadan and Miri.

Suzianna said: “Despite the gruelling hours and hard work of working with the consultants, contractors and interior designers, we persevered in the past two years to ensure Piccolo Hotel starts on the right footing and meet our business objectives of being a well managed and designed boutique hotel.

“The aqua-inspired hotel is built out of passion, especially my husband's love of the underwater world.”

In 2001, Absolute Prestige paid RM45mil for a 60-year lease on the 13-storey Wisma Peladang building to turn it into a boutique hotel.

“We seized the opportunity to sign up the lease for the building as we believe in its strategic location in the heart of the city's tourism belt. Our project will be a fresh addition to this bubbly area,” she said.

To make the building intelligent, Kurt said the company had invested close to RM1mil to equip Piccolo Hotel with the latest multimedia technology and dedicated high-speed Internet access, Internet protocol (IP) telephone and television, and a 32ft flat panel LCD television in every room.

By the second year of its business, Suzianna said the hotel should be able to see a growth of 75% to 80% to record annual revenue of RM20mil. Room rates start at US$100 per night.

Meanwhile, Piccolo Galleria, a lifestyle activity centre with over 30,000 sq ft of rental space, occupies the ground, first and second floors of The Piccolo building.

It leases out the space for bar, restaurants, a spa and beauty centre. Its anchor tenant is Ristorante L’Opera, the House of Italian Dining managed by Piccolo Mondo Gastro Sdn Bhd.

Suzianna said Berjaya Land Bhd's (BLand) recent acquisition of a 51% stake in Absolute Prestige for RM15.3mil was a stamp of confidence in the hotel-cum-retail building project.

Wong will remain as the company's chief operating officer and head the hotel's management team.

BLand said the acquisition represented an opportunity for the company to add a city boutique hotel to its portfolio of 12 hotels and resorts around the world.

Source : STAR
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Royale Chulan KL to open end-2008

The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur, currently under construction, has scheduled December 2008 for its opening.

The hotel is a mid-scale development with two towers rising five and 13 storeys above the street. Most rooms have panoramic views of the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the world’s most identifiable landmarks. The u-shaped building reflects the local architecture to provide guests with a truly Malaysian experience. Handcrafted wooden design elements are discretely located throughout the hotel’s public areas and guestrooms.

Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur, General Manager, Mr Leo Kuscher said, “The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur has set out to offer its guests gracious Malaysian hospitality as one of the hallmark features of the luxurious five-star hotel centrally located in Kuala Lumpur’s downtown business district.”

“The hotel has been designed to reflect local Malaysian heritage architecture. While it incorporates contemporary services and facilities, the hotel features elements of Malaysia’s unique architecture. Guests will have the opportunity to relax in one of 305 deluxe hotel rooms and suites or for longer staying guests, in one of the 98 well-appointed serviced apartments or studios,” Mr Kuscher added.

MICE business will be integral component of the hospitality offered at the Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur. In all, up to 2,000 people will be able meet in one of ten meeting rooms, the Taman Sari Ballroom and a courtyard conservatory at the one time for various functions ranging from formal dinners to casual cocktails. There will be separate vehicular access to the grand ballroom and two secure VIP holding rooms will be located immediately adjacent to the entrance. The pillarless ballroom will have high ceilings and can be partitioned into three smaller meeting rooms according to customer requirements. All meeting rooms will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and dedicated professional service staff will ensure seamless backup support. Some 900 covered car spaces will be available on three levels of on-site parking.
The hotel will feature the latest telecommunications and business support services while all guestrooms are to be wired for broadband internet and all public areas will have wi-fi connectivity.

For a city hotel, location is everything and the Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur site is central to most inner city attractions, services, restaurants and bars. Bukit Bintang, KLCC (including Petronas Twin Towers) , the Convention Centre, Aquaria KLCC, Star Hill Gallery, the Pavilion and Lot 10 are between five and fifteen minutes walk or a short taxi drive from the hotel. While centrally located, the hotel is situated in a leafy oasis and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Immediately adjacent to the hotel are Badan Warisan (Malaysia’s National Trust) and Kompleks Kraf (Craft Complex). Travelling time to or from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the hotel via limousine takes less than one hour.

Source : TTG
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Festive Launch for Malaysia Mega Sale Shopping Carnival


Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival

THE Pavilion Kuala Lumpur's shopping carnival, which is being held in conjunction with the Malaysian Mega Sale Carnival that runs from July 5 to Sept 1, was launched on Saturday with lots of colour and music.

Tagged “Sale and The City”, the official launch by Tourism Ministry secretary general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng began with full fanfare in the mall's forecourt.

The event attracted many local and foreign shoppers with its variety of shows. These included synchronised performances by drum percussion group Rabak and the Assemble Marching Band by the Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur.

One for the album: Visitors posing for photographs with some of the performers.

They were also busker-style street activities in the vicinity.

Shoppers at the mall also enjoyed extended shopping hours for the day until 11.30pm at participating anchor tenants such as Parkson Pavilion and Tangs and more than 100 specialty stores mall-wide.

Shoppers can expect themed sales promotions, shopping contests, redemption programmes, weekly activities and fashion shows over the coming weeks.

“The Sale and the City is to excite both novice and seasoned shoppers as they will be able to indulge and experience the mall's different precincts with the very best in shopping, dining and rejuvenating – with the shopping centre's astounding discounts and special offers,” said Pavilion marketing general manager Kung Suan Ai at the launch.

Source : STAR SNS
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Budget Hotels Secretly Filming Sexual Acts of their Hotel Guests

BUDGET hotel operators videotaped their customers having sex and then sell the “movie” to VCD and DVD operators for RM1,000 to RM3,000 each, according to Harian Metro.

The activities were uncovered by the daily’s reporter who posed as a member of a pirated VCD syndicate.

He met the hotel operator who showed him a specially decorated room for rent to couples.

The operator, identified as Jimmy, 30, told him that hidden cameras were fitted in the room facing the bed.

According to Jimmy, he would choose a suitable couple, mostly teenagers and college students, for his movie.

After recording their act, the copies were sold to the syndicates to be made into pornographic VCDs.

Jimmy also received RM5 as royalty for each copy of VCD sold.

The reporter found that the VCDs were sold at outlets in Petaling Jaya as Asia Bagus Vol. 1 to Vol. 27 on its cover.

An outlet owner, known as Peter, told the reporter that there were VCDs of couples making love taken from all over the country.

He said the ones in demand were those from Malacca as the women were beautiful.

THE police will investigate claims that budget hotels in Klang are being used to film couples having sex before selling the footage to pornographic VCD and DVD sellers.

Klang OCPD Asst Comm Mohamad Mat Yusop said police had not received any reports of rooms at budget hotels in Klang being fitted with hidden cameras to capture couples in action before this.

“The report in the Malay daily is the first that we have heard of such incidents taking place and since it is illegal to have such cameras in hotel rooms we will definitely carry out investigation soon,” he said.

He said fitting rooms with cameras without the knowledge of the occupants was a serious offence as it was an invasion of privacy.

He said the making and selling of pornographic VCDs and DVDs was another offence and the police wanted to put a stop to it if the claims were true.

He said police would also interview the journalist who wrote the article to shed more light on the matter and assist in investigations.

It was reported in a Malay daily yesterday that some budget hotels in Klang had special rooms fitted with hidden cameras placed in the television set and the air-condition unit.

The DVDs and VCDs were sold for between RM10 and RM18 each and featured mostly teenagers and students from institutions of higher learning.

The journalist, who claimed to have gone undercover and spoken to some hotel owners, wrote that a 23 volume set of DVDs of the sex romp was worth up to RM3,000, besides the royalties on each copy sold.

Source : STAR STAR2
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Malacca and Georgetown listed as historical cities under Unesco’s World Heritage Sites

THE inscription of Malacca and Georgetown as historical cities under Unesco’s World Heritage Sites (WHS) after eight years of waiting is seen as a timely blessing for inhabitants.

Perhaps the most relieved of persons in Malacca is Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who played a personal and vital role in seeing the state through the arduous process towards WHS inscription.

Malacca Historic City Mayor Yusof Jantan, who was with Mohd Ali in Quebec, Canada, at the 32nd World Heritage Committee meeting to receive the good news, said the Chief Minister was all smiles.

Famous: Visitors encircling the Princess Hang Li Poh well at the foot of Bukit Cina.

“He was very happy and relieved. He couldn’t wait to convey the good news to the Prime Minister,” he said when contacted in Quebec after the announcement.

Under the joint inscription with Georgetown in Penang, the Malacca site comprises 214.6ha in two protected areas within the city's conservation zone demarcated by Malacca River.

The first area is the St Paul's Hill Civic Zone comprising government buildings, museums, churches, the original fortress town from the 16th century Portuguese and Dutch period and Bukit Cina.

Prominent: The 17th Century Kampung Kling Mosque in Jalan Tukang Emas is included.

The second area is the Historic Residential and Commercial Zone comprising 600 shophouses, commercial and residential buildings, religious buildings and tombs on four main streets.

With a target of eight million tourist arrivals by 2010, Mohd Ali realised that successful inscription as a WHS would do wonders for the state’s tourism industry while preserving the city’s cultural heritage.

“The inscription will bring in millions of tourists, including conservation and heritage experts, and this will bring economic benefits to the people and the tourism industry,” Mohd Ali said.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 property owners within the heritage zones will experience immediate benefits as the value of their buildings would appreciate.

Monuments: The 17th Century Dutch Stadhuys is now part of Unesco's World Heritage Sites.

This is true for more than 200 17th Century Dutch homes in Jonker and Heeren streets at the core of the heritage zone.

The homes were valued at RM200,000 fifteen years ago and can now fetch RM800,000 to RM1,000,000 depending on the condition.

Property evaluators CH Williams, Talhar and Wong director Foo Gee Jen said the properties were valued at RM120 a square foot three years ago but this shot up to RM200 a square foot recently.

“The inscription will push prices up almost immediately by 20% to 30%,” he said, adding that investors were willing to pay for such properties because of their heritage value.

Historical: The 1728 Kampung Ulu mosque is among the structures within the zone.

Despite the all-round elation, some quarters voiced caution, saying the inscription could be retracted by Unesco if authorities here did not maintain a strict code to ensure continued preservation and conservation of the city.

Malacca Heritage Trust vice president Michael Benerji said the city council must employ more officers trained in conservation to ensure that building guidelines and regulations were implemented and enforced.

He noted that the inscription did not entail a total prohibition of construction or renovation of buildings in the heritage zone.

“Re-adaptive use of the buildings is allowed under strict conditions. This is why the council needs adequate staff to ensure the rules are followed,” he said.

He added that the state could consider incentives such as waivers of quit rent and assessment and tax relief for owners who restored and preserved the buildings.

Source : STAR
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Don’t expect windfall, Penangites warned

Penangites should not expect a financial windfall from Unesco with the listing of George Town as a world heritage site.

George Town Heritage Committee member Khoo Salma Nasution said the people should instead rely on their own initiatives.

Admiring the conservation work: Friends Teh Hui Ching (left) and Tan Soo Ching admiring fully restored pre-war heritage buildings at Nagore Road, Penang.

“The main benefit is that people are taking notice of us. The listing means that we will be included in Unesco's activities and while we may get some funds, I don’t think it will be substantive.

“Of course, now the Unity, Arts and Heritage Ministry will have a very good reason to allocate a bigger budget for Penang.

“This is a new beginning for the state.

Many Penangites are coming back to invest and restore the heritage buildings, so that is a good sign,” she said, adding that locals must “take advantage” of the listing to prevent the inner city from turning into a “foreigner's paradise” like Luang Prabang – a Unesco site in Laos.

Khoo noted that “wholesale” buying up of properties and businesses in the inner city should not be encouraged.

“Local businesses should be encouraged to start small and grow. Smart partnerships between hotels, private companies, NGOs and the government must be formed to take advantage of the listing. We definitely have a lot to do.

“We already have a management plan for George Town. Now we have to implement and communicate it to property owners, businesses and residents in the area because they are the primary stakeholders of the inner city,” she said, adding that Penangites should not be too “obsessed with tourist arrival figures” but attract quality long staying visitors.

She said this at the Lebuh Acheh heritage centre here yesterday. Also present were State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law and newly crowned Miss Asia World Tania Batatarjee.

“We can look forward to more domestic arrivals in the coming months,” Law said, adding that 20,000 heritage trail brochures have been printed for distribution.

Tania, 21, a British psychology student, described Penang as one of the most beautiful places in the world.

She will be visiting Malacca next.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Off-peak promotions to boost hotel trade

HOTELS hit by government cost-cutting measures can heave a sigh of relief as Tourism Malaysia plans to concentrate on the off-peak season to help them cope with the losses.

Hoteliers have estimated a loss of RM100mil in revenue barely a month after the government limited the number of events at hotels to cut costs.

Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohd Taiyab said since the belt-tightening exercise, more than 450 hotels nationwide had reported that about 2,000 government events had been cancelled.

He said the hotels could cope over the next three months as most of them were fully booked because of tourist arrivals from the Middle East.

“Irrespective of the star rating, most of the hotels are fully booked. However, it is the off-peak season that we should concentrate on,” said Mirza

Mirza was speaking during the launch of the three-day Malaysia International Dive Expo (MIDE) by the president of the Malaysian Sport Diving Association Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC).

He said Tourism Ministry was looking at increasing occupancy by offering discounted room rates and promoting affordable holiday and accommodation packages.

The hoteliers had also asked for lower electricity rates and are even prepared to lower their rates so that it would be affordable and they were hoping the government would not impose a blanket ban on events.

“We will propose to the Cabinet to review the ruling to reduce government events at hotels,” Mirza said.

Although cost cutting does not mean complete withdrawal of events in hotels and as pointed out in a circular that meetings, seminars and workshops can be carried out in hotels, there has not been any improvement recently.

Meanwhile, Mukhriz said MIDE was aimed at promoting the Best Diving Destinations in Malaysia and its surrounding waters and the three-day exhibition from July 4 to 6 was all about diving, water sports and travel adventure the country had to offer.

“We are now among the top 10 dive destinations in the world. We have the potential to better our standing if we can aggressively promote the sports, especially among the younger generation,” he said.

Mukhriz added that even the dive masters of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia came to Malaysia to dive during their off days.

The organisers are expecting more than 15,000 visitors to the exhibition where MIDE 2008 is geared to showcase and promote a wide range of international brands and products, technical developments, training programmes and market opportunities in the diving industry.

Source : STAR
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RM27m Felda hotel opens in Kuala Terengganu

The city's new multi-storey Felda Residence Hotel will not only cater to tourists but also serve as a convention and conference hub for Felda.

The RM26.5mil three-star hotel in Jalan Hiliran here started accepting patrons after its soft launch on Thursday.

Felda chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Noor said the hotel would serve the needs of 40 Felda subsidiaries and related agencies.

Outstanding: The Felda Residence Hotel in Kuala Terengganu.

“Each subsidiary forks out RM60,000 for conferences and other activities at other hotels and this adds up to an exorbitant sum.

“We are not worried about the occupancy rate as the Felda population is enough to ensure the hotel is full. The hotel will also help cut our expenditure,” he said after the soft launch.

He said the hotel was situated at a strategic area and would be the city's latest landmark.

It has first-class banquet and meeting facilities, he added.

He said, in appreciation of Felda settlers, the hotel with 100 rooms would offer special rates for a certain period.

Dr Mohd Yusof said that children of Felda settlers nationwide would be given priority in regard to employment at the hotel.

It is the seventh in the chain of Felda hotels in the country.

Source : STAR
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Unesco accepts George Town and Malacca as World Heritage Sites

The historical sites of George Town and Malacca have finally been listed as World Heritage Sites – a much sought after listing by nations across the globe.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) accorded the two cities the status yesterday when the Paris-based World Heritage Council met in Quebec, Canada.

The recognition will see historical and cultural properties in both cities to be listed on the Unesco World Heritage List.

Malaysia had been bidding for the prestigious listing since 2004.

The core areas encompass the historical sites of George Town, including the Lebuh Acheh historical enclave and sites such as the Lebuh Acheh Malay Mosque, Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Kling Mosque, the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple, Khoo Kongsi, St George’s Church, Assumption Church, St Xavier’s Institution, Convent Light Street, Little India, the museum and court building, the commercial area of Beach Street, Fort Cornwallis, Esplanade, City Hall, the clan jetties and the port areas.

In Malacca, the historical sites near the St Paul’s Hill, the 17th century Dutch Stadhuys buildings, Jonker Street with its Dutch-era buildings, Jalan Tukang Besi, Kampung Morten and Malacca River have been recognised as part of the world heritage sites.

Penang Tourism Development, Cultural, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang said a state representative who were following the meeting in Canada informed them of the success bid yesterday evening.

“Listing George Town and Malacca on the World Heritage List would definitely help to boost the tourism in both states in a long run.”

Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the success in the bid is a boost to multiculturalism and tourism for Malaysia.

Source : STAR
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Tough job finding honest taxi drivers

MALAYSIA may have one of the lowest taxi rates in the world - a great tourism tool to sell the country, but, paradoxically, it is this element that is also tarnishing the nation’s image.

Despite the plentiful number of taxis, getting one in the city has become a challenge. Often times, the whole affair becomes a haggling exercise that most often results in tempers flaring and customers’ stomping off in anger with threats of lodging complains with the authorities.

Abdul Jalil: Taxi drivers are always at the losing end.

And when people do lodge complaints, nothing much is done to resolve the problems, resulting in rogue cabbies getting bolder by the day.

It has been reported that the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) hotlines receive hundreds of calls daily regarding errant drivers and the bulk of it concerns taxi drivers.

CVLB chairman Datuk Markiman Kobiran keeps threatening to revoke or suspend drivers' licenses and permits if they were found to increase their rates, but he isn’t able to do much due to a lack of manpower.

However, consumers are still encouraged to be pro-active and report to CVLB’s toll free number, 1-800-88-9600, and SMS number, 39900, and hope for the best.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Klang Valley Taxi Operators Association (PPTLK) president Abdul Jalil Maarof said.

“Taxi drivers are always at the losing end no matter what the circumstances are,” he claimed.

According to Abdul Jalil, the recent petrol hike has caused a chain reaction resulting in the price of everything from food to spare parts to go up and the drivers are suffering.

Federal Territory and Selangor Taxi Operations president Datuk Aslah Abdullah agrees with Abdul Jalil.

Aslah, who used to drive a taxi, blames the government for not revising taxi rates in the country.

“In the past 12 years, Singapore has raised their fares three times already. Over here, we are still waiting and, in the meantime, the drivers are breaking the law and giving the country a bad name,” he said.

Aslah said the high cost of living as well as the breakdown of the quality of life in KL due to congestion was making things worse.

KL resident Nanda K, who often relies on cabbies to get around, said it was getting increasingly difficult to find an honest taxi driver.

“Most of them quote a high rate and I would normally negotiate when I’m desperate, but when I do find one who uses the meter, I’m just simply grateful that I tip him extra anyway,” he said.

While Nanda has an option, some don’t, and that includes both consumers and cabbies. Perhaps it’s time a compromise was made, one that would benefit all parties.

Source : STAR
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Penang plans to fly high

FIREFLY, Tourism Malaysia and the Penang Tourism Action Council (PTAC) will embark on a roadshow to promote the state as a tourist destination and northern region air hub for low cost carriers.

The Penang Travel Trade Members Roadshow for inbound and outbound air travel, scheduled from July 9 to July 30, was announced by PTAC chairman Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen recently.

“Penang’s location is very strategic and Firefly will position the state as a gateway to the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT). With the arrival of five new ATR72-500 Firefly aircrafts, Penang will soon be connected to Medan and Acheh,” she said.

“We want to promote the state as an air traffic hub. We will be out to establish smart partner-ships with other tour operators in the region to develop packages and marketing strategies,” she said.

The roadshow will be held in Phuket and Koh Samui (Thailand), Medan and Acheh (Indonesia), and Langkawi, Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur.

“This roadshow is aimed at providing tourism industry players with the opportunity to network and develop their businesses with their counterparts around the region.

“There will be seminars, presentations and a travel mart on the state with 100 participants from travel agencies, hotels, tour operators and educational institutions. I am sure this can help to boost tourist arrivals to the state,” she said.

Kee said that for Penang to be successful, the state must also be promoted alongside other popular tourist destinations in the region.

“We must be pragmatic. Penang can no longer stand on her own. We want more connectivity but can we sustain the passenger load?

“That is why I want to promote closer cooperation with other countries and come up with joint packages that add value for visitors,” she said.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

KL targets 14 million tourists

IN AN effort to brand Kuala Lumpur city centre as the destination for holidays, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions as well as sporting activities, KL mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan has unveiled the Visit KL logo.

Hakim said the new logo combined a few main iconic elements of KL.

”The logo has the Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower and Sultan Abdul Samad building with a river that takes us back to the making of the city.

“As for the flowers, they represent the rich diversity of KL folks while the sun adds the shine.

“These icons have been merged in a contemporary manner to give a cheerful impression, especially when we are welcoming tourists.

“This branding of KL as a premier destination in the region is a combined effort between the government, the private sector and city folks.

“It is important for us to love and be proud of our city before convincing the tourists,” said Hakim at the launch on Wednesday.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will use the logo officially for the next 10 years to promote tourism-related activities and as an endorsement for private sector events.

Hakim also launched the Picture KL photography contest in conjunction with the new logo.

“This competition is held to promote KL through the camera lens. It requires the people to capture the best essence and sights of the city.

“We want to get people to get out and about, and record the happenings and the multiple facets of the city they may not know,” he said.

Hakim added that the photo contest was chosen for its healthy way of creative expression, especially among youth.

The second KL Samrah Festival 2008 was also announced by Hakim.

“Last year, the festival managed to pull in 40,000 visitors, especially from the Middle East, and we expect more this year.

“A total of 245,302 tourists from the Middle East came to Malaysia last year and about 171,711 of them visited KL.

“The total number of tourists to Malaysia last year was 20.8 million, and KL had about 13.5 million who spent about RM33bil.

“For this year, the number of tourists to Malaysia is targeted at 22.5 million. We are expecting 14 million to visit KL, who will spend an estimated RM35bil,” said Hakim.

The festival will be held from July 4 to 27 and will feature performances by artistes from Indonesia and Singapore, including Kumpulan Orkes Gambus Al-Ikhwan, Nizar Ali Alhaddad, Fahmi Makawi, Ferbri Wilyanti, Rizki Amelia, Iqwal Bamajbur and Mustafa Alhadar.

The free concerts will be held at Bintang Walk from 8pm to midnight on July 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 and 27.

The festival is organised by the KL Tourism Action Council and the DBKL with sponsorship from Celcom (M) Bhd.

The photo competition has three categories – Open, Youth and Junior – with two themes, “KL Sky” and “KL Life/KL Humour”. It will run for 45 days, from June 25 to Aug 15.

The top three winners in the Open category will take home RM5,000, RM3,000 and RM1,500.

In the Youth category, the best three stand a chance to win RM3,000, RM1,500 and RM800.

Junior category winners will take home RM1,500, RM800 and RM500.

For the KL Sky theme, the first prize is RM10,000 followed by RM5,000 and RM3,000 for the second and third placed entries.

Canon cameras will also be given away with the prizes.

Sponsors for the competition are Canon, Soho KL and KL Tower.

The competition is open to all Malaysians, foreign residents and tourists. The prize presentation will be held on Aug 27 in conjunction with the Merdeka Day celebration.

For details on the competition, log on to

Tourism Malaysia to continue with hardsell

Tourism Malaysia will continue with aggressive promotional activities in countries which provide high tourist arrivals, its deputy director- general (planning) Amiruddin Abu said.

Amiruddin said, despite the cost-cutting measures initiated by the Government, its planned roadshows overseas would not be called off.

“Instead, we will strategise and prioritise our activities to hit the target of 2.5 million foreign visitors this year.

Greetings: Amiruddin (left) receiving a souvenir after launching the dialogue with participant s of the Fraser's Hill Internation al Bird Race event.

“I was told, so far, there is a 2% increase in foreign tourists arrival compared to the first five months of last year.

“Our target markets are China, Hong Kong, Europe, Australia, Britain, Russia, the Middle East and, of course, Asean countries,” he told Star Metro when met here recently.

Amiruddin said that tourism was a sectors, which had to march on despite an economic recession.

He said they would have to do some re-branding of certain ecotourism products and activities to lure visitors.

“Political stability is still among the main reason for a high influx of foreign visitors.

“Besides, the warm reception of locals, industry players such as hoteliers, tour agents and guides played an important role,” he said.

Citing the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race as an example, he said the event attracted participation from all over the world.

“This race has been successful in enhancing awareness and appreciation of Fraser's Hill as an attractive eco-tourism destination.

“Last year, 50,128 visitors were recorded at Fraser’s Hill,” he said.

Amiruddin said they were confident the targeted number of tourist arrival would be met by the end of the year.

Source : STAR
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Colourful launch for KL Festival

MALAYSIANS are set to embrace a month filled with activities encompassing everything from performing arts, visual arts, heritage, traditional games to literature and language when the much-awaited KL Festival 2008 kicks off on Tuesday.

“This festival is an important platform to showcase the beauty, culture, arts and heritage elements of the different races in the country, whether it is for the appreciation of the locals or foreigners,” said Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal during the launch on Saturday at KLCC.

Perfect timing: The Pangkuliang group, comprising schoolchildren aged between seven and 10 years from Tambunan in Sabah, performing a traditional dance from the state.

Shafie added that since the festival’s inception in 2006, the KL Festival had united Malaysians of all generations and races through the spirit of creativity and unity.

The launch on Saturday was also the first time that the organisers had chosen an outdoor location for the occasion and the concept for the night was to incorporate a park atmosphere with elements of water and wind for its Nature theme.

Floral touch: Shafie (third from left) sprinkling flowers on the audience to mark the launch of the fest.

Ushers for the night were dressed in bright colours with headgear of flowers and leaves, and they proved to be a favourite among foreign tourists.

During the launch, guests were given a glimpse of what they could expect to see this month, through several performances at the ceremony.

The national choir kicked off the night with City of Arts, the theme song for this year’s festival.

It was followed by performances by local artistes, schoolchildren from Tambunan, Sabah, and an Indian classical music performance by Grammy award winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

Activities for this year’s programme have also increased, from 68 last year to 82 this year, giving the public more choices and a wider range of activities to look forward to.

All together now: Dancers from Istana Budaya, the Temple of Fine Arts, the Petaling Jaya City Council and Dua Space Dance Theatre performing the Unity Dance.

The KL Festival 2008 is jointly organised by the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry, the Tourism Ministry, the Information Ministry and the Federal Territories Ministry through Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

For the full listing of the KL Festival 2008 activities, visit

Source : STAR
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MAS chief issues dire warning

Malaysia Airlines has become the latest airline to predict dire times for the world’s airlines.

Managing director and CEO Idris Jala wrote in an open letter last week that MAs is prepared to "take the lead" in increasing fuel surcharges and raising fares.

Fuel surcharges are set to rise between 25% and 80%.

"Change, and I mean drastic change, is absolutely vital for our survival. That, and a willingness to reinvent the way we operate, including through mergers and acquisitions," Jala said.

He said MAS "kept our head above water" with a first-quarter profit of MYR120.5 million (US$37 million) but that it will "face more pressure in the near future."

The MAS chief warned that more airlines are going to be “forced out of business, while the majority of us are going to bleed red ink yet again”.

The bottom line, he said, is the general public everywhere “must be prepared to face sharply higher prices for air travel now”, or be prepared to “stomach even higher prices later when the number of participants become fewer and competition fizzles out in favour of consolidation”.

Jala said MAS would be "focused on cutting costs right down to the bone"--including cutting capacity--and would "continue to innovate" to lower costs and increase revenue through programmes like its Everyday Low Fares initiative.

Commenting on the state of the industry in Asia-Pacific, Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general said, “For the first five months of the year, international passenger traffic registered growth of 3.5% in RPK terms, slightly slower than the 4.2% growth seen in 2007."

He added,“Airlines are being severely pressured by the relentless increase in oil prices, and expectations of slower economic growth.

"Fuel hedging programmes may soften some of the immediate impact, but the painful reality is that the doubling of oil prices over the past year is making travel significantly more expensive. Weakening consumer confidence could further dampen the outlook for the rest of the year.”

Source : TravelMole
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Langkawi hotels in dire straits

Sixty-eight hotels here stand to lose more than RM20mil a month following the government’s decision to cancel bookings for meetings, seminars and courses on the resort island, said Kuah assemblyman Datuk Nawawi Ahmad.

He said these hotels, which have four-star ratings and below, would stand to lose between RM300,000 and RM500,000 each.

“We hope the Government will not impose the cost-cutting measures on Langkawi and other resort islands such as Tioman and Pangkor which are heavily dependent on government programmes,” he said.

Nawawi said this in response to a Finance Ministry circular sent to hotels on June 6 informing them that bookings at all hotels had been cancelled, effective immediately.

“We appeal to the Government to review this decision as it has far-reaching implications on the livelihood of 70% of the population in Langkawi who are directly involved in the service sector.

“Some 10,000 people are working in the hotel sector and about 15,000 are in the retail business. The 700 taxi drivers will soon lose business.

“Car rental operators also risk going bust as most of the cars are still under finance,” he said, adding that there were more than 3,000 rental cars on the island.

Nawawi said that among the first to lose their jobs would be hotel workers as the hotels would be forced to retrench them.

“Even farmers and fishermen are dependent on the service sector as the bulk of their produce and catch are sold to hotels,” he said.

Nawawi appealed to the Government to consider the long-term socio-economic impact of its cost-cutting measures.

Source : STAR
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