Monday, December 28, 2009

RM6m refurbishment, rebranding for Mint Hotel

Property tycoon Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, the owner of Mint Hotel, is now drafting a business plan to turn the hotel around

The three-star Mint Hotel along the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban highway will undergo a RM6 million refurbishment and rebranding programme and re-open by the first half of next year.

Property tycoon Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, the owner of Mint Hotel, said he is now drafting a business plan to turn the hotel around, which had ceased operations since February 2005.

This follows the conclusion of Lee's acquisition of Mint Hotel from Ambank (M) Bhd for RM45 million, which Lee said was not voluntary.

A sales and purchase agreement was signed with the liquidator, Ernst & Young, in June this year, via his privately-held firm Lambang Raya Sdn Bhd.
"The hotel is not worth that much now. I am a victim. If i don't buy it, the bank will sue me. I will end up in a legal suit. I am caught because of the undertaking I had with the bank a few years ago," Lee, who is also the founder and executive chairman of Country Heights Holdings Bhd, told Business Times.

Property valuers have estimated Mint Hotel to be worth some RM23 million.

Ambank declined to comment.

The issue started when Jennico Associates Sdn Bhd, which is 50 per cent owned by Lee through Lambang Raya, was liquidated by a creditor in January 2000.

At that point, Jennico had already defaulted on a term loan of RM47 million granted by AmFinance Bhd in 1995, under the stewardship of Datuk Major (R) Zulkifli Abdul Mokti and KifliMokti Sdn Bhd, who owns the balance 50 per cent of the company.

Mint Hotel was then auctioned by Ernst & Young in 2005 and this attracted many bidders, including Lee, Lotus Family Group and Majestic Hotel.

They were keen to buy the 413-room hotel as it overlooks the Selangor Turf Club race course and is close to the Mines Exhibition Centre, Mines Wonderland, the Mines shopping mall and a golf course.

Business Times reported in August 2006 that Lotus won the bid to buy the hotel.

But a tussle broke as Lee claimed he was the rightful owner of the property.

According to Lee, he had submitted a bid for RM55 million for the hotel in October 2005 after being advised by AmBank, and a 5 per cent, or RM2.75 million, deposit was made to Ernst & Young.

Lee said his bid was based on a letter of undertaking he signed with Ambank in October 1995 stating that he will buy the hotel for RM55 million in the event of default of a loan taken by Jennico.

Source : BusinessTimes
[tags : ]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Naza plans 5 new hotels in KL

The Naza group plans to invest some RM780 million to open five new hotels in Kuala Lumpur over the next two to six years.

It is looking at opening three three-star category hotels under the Naza Talyya name in Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle.

The remaining two will be five-star properties; one scheduled for opening at its Platinum Park development next to the Petronas Twin Towers and another near the proposed Matrade Centre on Jalan Kuching.

Naza Hotel Management Sdn Bhd director Nur Nadia SM Nasimuddin said that investment in each of the three-star properties could be between RM50 million and RM60 million.

She was speaking to reporters after the launch of Naza Talyya's newly-refurbished hotels in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd group managing director SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin said the hotel to support the proposed exhibition centre could cost some RM300million.

"It will be ready at the same time as the Matrade Centre in 2014," he told Business Times.

As for the hotel building at Platinum Park, he estimates that it too could cost RM300 million for a 350-room hotel.

It is looking for a foreign operator to manage this hotel, which is slated for completion in 2014/2015.

It is open to foreign investors pumping money into the project.

The Naza group now operates three hotels in Penang, Johor and Malacca under its Naza Talyya brand name.

The name "Talyya" means bloom or blooming in Arabic.

Source : NST
[tags : ]

MAS bags best maintenance award

Malaysia Airlines Engineering & Maintenance (E&M) Division has been awarded the 2009 Best Asia-Pacific Airline MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) Operation Award by Aviation Week and Overhaul & Maintenance, two of the industry's leading magazines.

The MRO Asia Awards programme is intended to honour companies operating in the Asia-Pacific region for excellence in aviation and aerospace aftermarket operations.

This is the second award won this year, attesting to MAS E&M's creditable reputation in the marketplace. Earlier this year, MAS E&M was selected as the 2009 Asia-Pacific Airframe MRO of The Year by Frost & Sullivan, Singapore.

Malaysia Airlines senior general manager (E&M) Mohd Roslan Ismail said: “We are delighted to receive this award which is testament to the team's focus on quality, safety and timely deliverables."
"Our customers are important to us and we are turning ourselves into a one-stop shop MRO that will meet their needs. With six Hangars offering 24 maintenance bays that can accommodate even A380 aircraft, we are able to offer maintenance service support for all aircraft type and size," he said in a statement today.

MAS E&M is transforming into a subsidiary, Malaysian Aerospace Engineering Sdn Bhd, in 2010.

Mohd Roslan said the company's vision is to be the preferred global MRO.

"To achieve this, we are developing new capabilities and diversifying our portfolio. We are also exploring strategic partnerships," he added.

To be at the forefront of new technologies, MAS E&M sealed two memoranda of understanding, one with Pratt & Whitney, USA, and the other, with KRAUSS GmbH Aviation Technologies, Germany, at the recent LIMA 2009.

It has also set up a JV MRO company with GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd in Hyderabad, India. Other partnerships include a JV company for the provision of MRO services for turboprop commercial aircraft with Alenia Aeronautica of Italy.

Source : NST
[tags : ] - New website for local delicacies

Tourists visiting Malaysia now have another source to check out popular and delectable local dishes.
Through the new website,, they will be able to find the
best outlets serving local cuisine.

Launching the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia website at PWTC yesterday, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the website was a platform for food recommendation.

She said the website would help tourists to savour the many rich and flavourful dishes in Malaysia.

By the end of January, a panel of judges from Tourism Malaysia will then choose 50 outlets for each of the chosen dishes and a commendation plaque will be awarded to those outlets.

The criteria to select the outlets will be based on taste, presentation, cleanliness, service and pricing of the food.

The chosen outlets from all over the country will be included in a Fabulous Food 1Malaysia Tracker which will be used to promote Malaysia globally.

Visit Now!

Source : NST
[tags : ]

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New MAS mobile booking system to bring RM2b savings

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) expects RM2 billion from both cost savings and and revenue over the 10-year period with the new Passenger Services System (PSS), which MH Mobile is a component of.
“With over RM480 million invested on the integrated platform over 10 years, MAS customers can enjoy seamless service delivery and a suit of new services,” managing director and chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin said.
The PSS component,, is the world’s most comprehensive mobile booking system.
Developed together with SITA Lab, it offers more choices and convenience for the airline’s 14 million passengers, allowing them to book, pay, check in and board flight using mobile phone.
It is also the first mobile airline application that connects bookings to Facebook, Triplt and Doppir, enabling friends and colleagues to be informed about each other’s travel plans.
Speaking to reporters after launching here, Azmil also said that MAS was projecting a 20-30 per cent participation in internet bookings compared with about four to five per cent before the PSS project started.
In terms of domestic bookings, about 50 per cent of customers presently used the internet to do so, he said.
In conjunction with the launch of, MAS will enter into a marketing partnership with Maxis Bhd as telco partner.
From Dec 8 to 31, customers who purchase a first class or business class ticket will receive a complimentary iPhone while economy class customers stand to win ten iPhones via lucky draw.

Source : TMI
[tags : ]

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sales At Shopping Complexes To Experience Growth This Year

Sales at all shopping complexes in Malaysia is expected to increase an average of seven to ten per cent this year from the three per cent recorded in 2008.

The president of the Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management, Joyce Yap said the reason behind the expectation, is the growth in consumer traffic flow nationwide which has seen an average of 12 to 15 per cent growth from last year.

Yap said the association was also aiming for a three to four per cent additional growth in sales, next year, from this year's figure.

She was speaking to reporters at the "Creativity Seminar", focusing on the five senses integral to keeping the shopping experience alive and exciting.

According to Yap, this year's sales forecast is based on the rise in promotions,campaigns and good co-ordination with the government, through the Ministry of Tourism.

She said no new openings of shopping complexes is planned for next year or by the end of this year.

Source : Bernama
[tags : ]

Friday, December 04, 2009

Dynasty Hotel goes through RM30mil upgrading work

AFTER 15 years in the service industry, Dynasty Hotel will be greeting its guests with a new look.
The hotel is undergoing a RM30mil upgrading work over three phases.
Under its executive director, Lim Soo Ka, the company has decided to refurbish the rooms, public areas and the food and beverage department.
“It has been a long time since we have had renovations.
“We want to attract new market segments especially from the Middle Eastern countries while maintaining our current India and China markets,” he added.
Lim said the management also saw this as an opportunity to add value to the customer’s stay in the hotel.
Welcome: Lim (left) and Tan are looking forward to rolling out the red carpet for guests.
Located in Jalan Ipoh, KL, the hotel is situated just a walking distance from the Putra World Trade Centre, LRT station and the monorail station.
The hotel has 788 rooms and the first phase of renovation began at 27 corporate floors and will end at the end of this month.
“We have removed the carpets and put tiles in its place and wooden flooring near the bed, the first floor involves 255 rooms in total,” added Lim.
The second phase is focused on the tower block and involves the same concept, however, there will be a difference between the corporate floors and the other markets.
As for the third phase, the management is looking at upgrading the hotel’s apartment suites, the two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites.
“We are planning to run a Home to Hotel Suites (H2HS) Programme where the suites will be offered to guests at a package price depending on the type of membership they choose to have,” added the recently appointed general manager Tan Jin Seng.
This package is aimed at frequent travellers who need accommodation while travelling.
A cosy place: The Executive Lounge serves tea and is a perfect place to enjoy a quiet afternoon.
This programme according to Lim would benefit clients as they will save on room rates.
Tourists and business travellers looking for a private and personalised experience can check in at the executive floors.
There is a private check-in counter and guests will receive a basket of fresh fruits and cookies.
The executive floors located at the 25, 26 and 27 also comes with a butler service and internet access coupled with a lounge serving afternoon cocktails and drinks.
The entire hotel will also have wi-fi service and each room will have environment-friendly merchandise.
“We have always been looking at energy-saving bulbs, we also have placed green messages inside the bathrooms to remind our guests to help save the environment,” added Lim.
The four food and beverage outlets will also see a revamp in menus with a concept called “preserving the traditional but know the new”.
He was also happy to add that Empress KL, an addition to the Empress Sepang, Grand Pacific and Dynasty Hotel both in KL, is set to be launched in the first quarter of next year.
It is a three-star, 20-storey hotel in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman is set to wow business travellers and budget travellers alike.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Health tourism generated RM299mil revenue in 2008

A total of 374,063 tourists visited Malaysia for health purposes last year which generated a revenue of RM299.1 mil, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.

She said in 1998, health tourists only numbered 39,114 and contributed RM14.1mil to the nation's coffers.
She said this when replying to questions from N.Gobalakrishnan (PKR-Padang Serai) and Datuk Ismail Kassim (BNArau) in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.

Rosnah said some 35 private hospitals offered services in health tourism and that the Health Ministry was working together with the private sector to make Malaysia a centre of excellence for health tourism.

As to migration of health specialists from the government sector to the private sector because of the growing health tourism industry, she said it had been on a downward trend the last two years with the rate of health practitioners leaving at 2.4 percent compared to 5.1 percent in 2003.
She added that the ministry encouraged hospitals involved in the health tourism industry to obtain the needed accreditations, both local and international, among them from Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) and Joint Commission International (JCI).

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

World's Top 20 Business Hotels

World's top 20 business hotels
SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Hotels that combine service, technology and comfort have topped a list of the world's best business hotels with the winners offering their guests those added extras that can make all the difference to a trip.

Readers of travel magazine Travel + Leisure ranked hotels on a list of services and amenities to come up with their 20 top business hotels, part of the publication's annual World's Best survey.

Some offered free Internet access and a 24-hour business centre, some had rooftop pools, while one had an award-winning Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Free parking was also a plus.

Boston's The Eliot had touch-screen monitors for guests to order room service and print boarding passes. The Peninsula Hong Kong transported one guest in a Rolls Royce and treated her to tea upon arrival.

This list is not endorsed by Reuters. :

1. Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires (top photo)
2. Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei

3. St. Regis, Shanghai
4. XV Beacon, Boston
5. Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong
6. The London West Hollywood, West Hollywood
7. Eliot Hotel, Boston
8. Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas
9. Sofitel Shanghai Jin Jiang Oriental Pudong, Shangai
10. Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

11. Peninsula Hong Kong, Hong Kong
12. Pudong Shangri-La, Shanghai

13. Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas, Dallas
14. Intercontinental Buckhead, Atlanta
15. St Regis, Beijing
16. Peninsula Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills
17. Mandarin Oriental, New York

18. Conrad Centennial, Singapore
19. Four Seasons Hotel, Buenos Aires
20. Ritz-Carlton Central Park, New York

Source : AsiaOne
[tags : ]

Malaysia Legoland to open in April 2012

A LEGOLAND theme park will open in Malaysia's south in 2012 at a cost of RM700 million (S$286 million), one year earlier than scheduled, developers said on Thursday.

Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB) president and chief executive officer Arlida Ariff said the theme park covering 26 hectares in Johor state is now slated to open in April 2012.

'The selection of Legoland is very deliberate. The (planned) theme park in Singapore by Universal Studios is for young adults. Our is for families. It will be complementary rather than competition,' she told AFP.

The Malaysian attraction will be the first Legoland in Asia.

IIB is an investment holding company linked to the 17.7 billion ringgit Iskandar Development Region (IDR), a major infrastructure project in Johor. 

Source : NST
[tags : ]

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

More than two million visitors came into the country via the state in October this year, an increase of 14.35% compared to last year.

State Tourism and Domestic Trade Committee chairman Hoo Seong Chang said that 1.82 million people had entered the country last year.

“Johor receives more visitors from Singapore and Indonesia than any other state in the country,” he said.

Hoo said the state’s main advantage was its proximity to the two countries and its location as the southern gateway to Malaysia.
 “Despite challenges such as Influenza A (H1N1) and the economic downturn, tourism has not been affected much,” he said.
Hoo said that tourists from China were the third-largest group after the Singaporeans and Indonesian.
He was speaking at a press conference after launching the Malaysia Year End Sale here on Nov 22.
Hoo said the Tourism Ministry had always recognised the importance of shopping in developing the tourism industry and contributing to the country’s revenue.
“Shopping is the second-biggest source of revenue after accommodation, contributing RM13.3mil last year compared to RM12.3mil in 2007.
“The event is part of the Tourism Ministry and Tourism Malaysia’s marketing strategy to position Malaysia as an international shopping destination,” he said.
Hoo added that the event would increase tourist arrivals and boost revenue and urged retailers and tourist guides to co-operate with agencies such as Tourism Malaysia and Johor Tourism Action Council.

“There are more than 47 shopping complexes and hypermarkets in the city, proving that it is a shopping haven. The retail industry in Johor reflects what consumers expect in terms of standards, value for money and the shopping experience,” he said.

Hoo added that Singaporeans enjoyed paying 50% less compared to shopping in their own country due to the favourable exchange rate.

He said the state had organised and supported world-class activities in Johor to increase tourist arrivals. “These events include the International Kite Festival, Desaru Pengerang International Trai-thlon, Johor-Singapore Second Link Bridge Run, Johor Baru International Orchid Festival, FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and the upcoming 10th World Scrabble Championship,” he said.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

KLIA Ekspres, Amadeus Sign Partnership Deal

Travel and tourism firm, Amadeus, has signed a partnership deal with KLIA Ekspres to allow travel agencies to book the train service via its distribution solution.

KLIA Ekspres, a train service that connects the Kuala Lumpur International Airport with the city centre, would now be available to more than 102,000 travel agents in 219 markets through Amadeus Airport Express.

In a statement, Amadeus Asia Pacific president, David Brett, said the rail was an increasingly common mode of transportation in many countries in the region.

"High-speed rail services are also growing rapidly as a convenient option for business travel," he said.

He said offering travellers the ability to book rail transport in addition to their airline tickets would help rail providers increase passenger bookings and help travel agencies to add value.

The addition of KLIA Ekspres further expands Amadeus's service which already features Heathrow Express (London), Arlanda Express (Stockholm) and Friendly Airport Limousine service at Narita Airport (Tokyo).

Source : BERNAMA
[tags : ]

Malaysia Year-end Sale To Continue, Says Tourism Minister

The Malaysia Year-End Sale introduced by the Tourism Ministry to boost the country's tourism industry and economy will be continued in the coming years.

Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the programme was part of the government's initiative to make Malaysia a major international shopping destination.

"Realising the success of the nationwide mega sale carnivals previously which had boosted our retail trade and tourism industry, the government wants the Malaysia Year-End Sale to continue in the coming years," she said when launching the "Magnifique Christmas" programme at Sunway Pyramid in Bandar Sunway, near here, Monday.

Dr Ng said tourists should realise that "shopping in Malaysia is worth it because of the reasonable prices of goods compared to other places as many are duty-free".

In conjunction with Sunway Pyramid's Christmas-themed year-end sale this time, shoppers who spend at least RM250 (RM200 for American Express cardholders) in two receipts (maximum) can redeem two complimentary Sunway Lagoon Nite Park tickets.

The Malaysia Year-End Sale from Nov 23, 2009 to Jan 3, 2010 nationwide sees several shopping complexes like Pavilion, Suria KLCC and Mid Valley Mega Mall having special themes to attract shoppers.

Source : Bernama
[tags : ]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Shopping hub in Johor - Genting and Chelsea Premium Outlets

Malaysia is set to become a shopping paradise with the opening of a world class premium factory outlet centre that is targeted to attract about four million visitors annually.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the project, a joint venture bet-ween Chelsea Premium Outlets and Genting Group, would be developed in Johor as part of the Iskandar Malaysia project.
The Prime Minister had a discussion with representatives from the Chelsea Property Group here on Monday and was informed the project was now on track, with construction expected to take off early next year and scheduled for completion by mid-2011.
Chelsea Premium Outlets is owned by Chelsea Property Group, which is the world’s largest owner, developer and operator of upscale outlet centres in the United States, Japan and South Korea.
“It is the first (Chelsea) centre in the (Asean) region and I’m very happy that they have chosen Malaysia,” Najib said, adding that he understood other countries in the region had been trying to woo the Chelsea Group to set up the centre.
Getting together: Najib (right) dining with American fund managers in New York yesterday. Also present is CIMB Group CEO Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Razak (fourth from right). — Bernama
Its centre in New York – Woodbury Common – lures millions of shoppers to its discounted items of designer brands like Coach, Gucci, Zegna, and Burberry. Items, which are a season old and are between 25% and 60% cheaper.
Najib, however, said there was a slight delay in the Malay-sian project earlier as the Chelsea Group had wanted to regroup its finances during the economic crisis. “Now that they have done so, they’ve got additional reserves for the project.”
He was confident that the centre would not only boost the tourism industry but also spin off secondary business and economic activities for supporting industries.
On the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) to replace sales and service taxes, Najib said the Cabinet had decided that the Bill be presented at the end of the Parliament session for first reading.
“This will allow the public to make their comments. If we find it necessary to fine-tune, we will fine-tune.
“We will announce the rate later. It will not be a burden to the poor or even the middle class.”

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) reported a net loss of RM299.6mil for the three months ended Sept 30 compared with a net profit of RM38.1mil in the previous corresponding period mainly due to the loss of RM202mil in derivative mark-to-market on fuel.
At its results briefing yesterday, managing director/chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin said the fourth quarter continued to be tough although there were signs of improvement in passenger traffic.
“Forward bookings for fourth quarter have been very encouraging. We are seeing some signs of recovery but yields remain under pressure.
Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin (left) and MAS chief financial officer Mohd Azha Abdul Jalil at the results briefing Wednesday.
“Our strategy is to continue to strengthen our domestic and Asean operations and position ourselves for the recovery and growth of the long haul sector,” he said.
For the third quarter, the carrier posted pre-tax loss of RM297.1mil from a pre-tax profit of RM19.7mil a year ago, while turnover dropped to RM2.96bil from RM4.1bil before. Its loss per share stood at 17.93 sen from an earnings per share of 2.28 sen.
As at Sept 30, MAS’ cash and negotiable deposit balance stood at about RM2.5il.
“It’s (cash) lower than quarter two but we can still buy a lot of planes,” Azmil said.
MAS narrowed its operating loss to RM73mil for the third quarter from RM421mil losses reported in the preceding quarter, due to aggressive sales campaigns and highly competitive pricing which resulted in seat factor gaining 6.9 percentage points to 76.7%. The average yield for the period stood at 23 sen.
Its total operating expenditure decreased by 26%. Fuel cost and non-fuel cost dropped by 50% and 4% respectively.
The national carrier carried 3.3 million passengers during the quarter, the highest registered since early 2008. Its domestic operations remained strong with traffic volume up 20%.
For the nine months ended Sept 30, MAS posted a net loss of RM119.5mil against a net profit of RM198.1mil previously. Revenue was lower at RM8.3bil compared with RM11.6bil before while net loss per share stood at 7.15 sen.
Year-on year, the airline reported an operating loss of RM73mil compared with RM44mil operating profit previously.
Despite MAS’ RM202mil loss in derivative mark-to-market on fuel, Azmil said it would continuously review its competitive fuel hedging strategy.
“Fuel prices are on an uptrend. Competitive hedging is the right way to go as fuel prices remain volatile,” he added.
MAS hedged 57% of its fuel requirement for the remainder of 2009 at US$90 a barrel and 60% of its fuel needs at US$100 per barrel for 2010.
To a question, Azmil said forward bookings for 2010 were better compared with the current year. “It’s good news after all the gloom and doom. Our blueprint remains the business transformation plan 2 and we aim to transform into the World’s Five Star Value Carrier and we are accelerating the key business initiatives,” he said.
Without elaborating, Azmil said MAS had plans to introduce new destinations in the Middle East.
Asked if MAS would be increasing its fares due to its low yield, Azmil said MAS would continue to offer competitive and compelling fares.
“Increasing yield is not the same as increasing fares and it is not necessary to increase fare to boost yield,” he added.
MAS will lease two additional Boeing B737-800 aircraft next year to increase domestic and regional capacity.
“We have received 13 new ATRs for Firefly and MASwings and we have new aircraft deliveries from 2010 to 2015 which will allow us to deploy capacity in profitable routes and optimise yields through our new fleet and offerings,” Azmil said.
On the funding of its new aircraft, he said MAS had yet to decide as there were many options available. “We have a year from now before we receive the first aircraft in October 2010,” Azmil said.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Yen Yen Proposes VOA Fee Reduction For China Tourists

Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said here she would propose that Malaysia reduce the visa-on-arrival (VOA) fee for China tourists to encourage more of them to visit Malaysia.

She said she would propose to the Home Ministry that the current fee of USD100 be reduced to RM50, which is equivalent to RMB100.

"I believe the fee reduction to RM50 will attract more China tourists to Malaysia," Ng told Malaysian reporters at the end of her visit here Wednesday.

Ng, who is on an eight-day working trip to China, has been to Chengdu, Chongqing and Zhongshan to hold seminars promoting Malaysia's high-end tourism products, such as golf tours, honeymoon packages, homestays and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).

The minister introduced Malaysia's high-end tourism products at the seminar, and received various feedback on visa issues during the Q&A sessions.

A total of 146 media organisations, 180 travel agencies and 25 enterprises sent their representatives to the seminars.

Ng also said that she would forward to the Home Ministry a proposal of Sichuan Province Vice-Governor Huang Yan Rong for a Malaysian consulate to be set up in Chengdu to enhance bilateral collaboration in the economic, trade, tourism and cultural sectors.

The minister said the working trip was a fruitful one.

"We always focus on travelling to the big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai. We need to expand our route to the second-tier cities to widen options in developing new packages," she said.

Ng also encouraged Malaysian tour operators to develop new packages in line with demand.

During the trip, Ng visited art galleries and museums in each city as she planned to promote contemporary art in Malaysia next year.

Source :  Bernama
[tags : ]

AirAsia X starts flying to Middle East

Long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X has started flying five times a week from Kuala Lumpur to Abu Dhabi, expanding its network into the Middle East.

The inaugural flight on its Airbus 340 culminated with a launch event at the Yas Island Rotana hotel here yesterday.

AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said Abu Dhabi has the potential to become a hub for the carrier to expand its network into the Middle East.

"I take it (Abu Dhabi ) as a priority market. We are now focusing on adding more capacity and working on the service's efficiency. We will focus on Abu Dhabi first, before expanding our network further into this region," he said after the launch.

Also present were Malaysian High Commissioner to the United Arab Emirates Datuk Yahaya Abdul Jabar, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority deputy director-general Ahmad Hussein and AirAsia X chairman Datuk Kalimullah Hassan.

Abu Dhabi serves as a gateway to the Middle East, which has a population of about 300 million.

Abu Dhabi is the ninth destination offered by AirAsia X, after Chengdu, Hangzhou, Taipeh, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, London and Tienjin.

To celebrate its launch, AirAsia X is offering 1,100 free tickets under the AirAsia Go Holiday packages from now until Friday. The travel period is for December 1 until January 31 2010.

It is also offering an online promotional offer of a number of seats through its website at RM99 or 99 dirhams, for one-way travel between now and July 31 2010.

Source : Business Times
[tags : ]

Malaysia Airlines posts Q3 loss

MALAYSIA Airlines said on Wednesday it sunk back into the red in the third quarter, blaming losses on its fuel-hedging positions.

In the three months to September, the airline posted a net loss of RM299.6 million (S$122.7 million) compared with a net profit of RM38.1 million a year earlier.

That included fuel hedging losses of RM202 million for the quarter.

'The outlook for the fourth quarter 2009 continues to be challenging,' the national carrier said.

'There is an early sign of improvement in passenger and cargo traffic, partly stimulated by intensive marketing campaigns but yields remain under pressure.' Malaysia Airlines has had a turbulent year, with a second-quarter profit of RM876 million due to fuel price hedging gains, but losses of RM695 million in the first quarter due to weaker demand and overcapacity.

It said its operating loss for the third quarter narrowed to RM73 million from a loss of RM421 million in the second quarter, helped by an improved load factor.

Source : NST
[tags : ]

Services not just goods attract Australian shoppers to Malaysia

With the Australian dollar powering through the three to one mark, and no indication of slowing down, it's no wonder that Australians are in the top three countries for tourist spending in Malaysia.

Over the weekend Malaysia's Year End Sale, or better known locally as simply M-YES, officially began, with participating outlets rolling out the discounts.  But amidst the lucrative hauls of goodies, the services market shouldn't be overlooked.

"Australians love to shop! And shopping in Malaysia is so cheap in comparison," said Wendy Lee, Tourism Malaysia Marketing Executive, to e-Travel Blackboard.  "But that's not all you can do here."

"There's spa treatments, facials, massages, manicure and pedicures, hair treatments - and all for much cheaper than Australia."

Wellness, health and beauty travel has been on the rise throughout South-East Asia over the last few years, and Malaysia is also seeing an increase of travellers seeking some rest, relaxation and pampering.

In Bukit Bintang Starhill Plaza is renowned for its upmarket boutiques, but on the top floor travellers can find the "pamper level" which sees several spas and salons all housed in the one area.  Due to this, prices are quite reasonable, for example a two and a half hour scrub, massage and facial at Kanebo will put you back by around AU$90.

For something a little more exotic, a foot massage and a session with the doctor fish can be had at nearby Pavilion.  "Doctor Fish" is the more friendly term for the Garra Rufa breed of fish who happen to enjoy nibbling on dead skins cells (but will leave your healthy bits alone).  A half-hour session with these little beasts can also be joined with a half-hour reflexology treatment at the chain store Kenko for around AU$25. 

Doctor fish can also be found at local markets and other shopping locations for cheaper.  But as the fish are notoriously hard to keep, travellers are advised to do their research on the store.

Salons and hair-dressers can also be found scattered around the city, with your average cut, wash and blow dry ranging between AU$10 and AU$20.  The unique selling point here is that most salons will also include a head, neck and shoulder massage as part of the package.  And of course they will try to up-sell their treatments and products while they have you entrapped in the chair - still the end price will still be significantly less than Australia.

Manicures and pedicures can be had whilst getting your hair done, or can be bought on its own, with your typical French Manicure set to cost you roughly AU$10 to AU$15 depending on the store, with pedicures priced roughly at the same price-point.  Again massages are part of the treatment, and a "mani-and pedi" session will easily take an hour to complete.

While many hotels do already include these services in their in-house spas, those not staying in a property with these offers won't have to miss out, with most shopping malls or megamalls all offering these services.

Source : Travel Blackboard
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

New LCCT To Be Ready By End Of 2011

The building of a new Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) will be completed by the end of 2011 although its construction faced some delay, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.

This was established at a weekly meeting between the project's management consultant and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) on Nov 10, he said when replying to a supplementary question by Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) in the Dewan Rakyat here Tuesday.

"The project's progress should be 15.5 per cent but right now it is 13.5 per cent. Based on the current status the delay is two per cent or 18 days," he said.

The delay was caused by the delay in approval by the Finance Ministry for certain packages besides delay in design and procurement for the control tower, said, Abdul Rahim.

In that regard, he said the ministry will monitor the progress of the project which was now in the design preparation stage.

When answering the original question by Datuk Ab Halim Ab Rahman (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa) as to whether the number of AirAsia passengers would be between 10 and 15 million by 2015 as well as the government's action to build or expand the LCCT, he said the new LCCT could handle up to 30 million passengers a year.

The government agreed to the project after we found the number of AirAsia passengers was rising and we estimated it can reach up to 15 million by 2015," he said.

Source : Bernama
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TA sees jump in hotel earnings

CEO positive with acquisition of Swissotel
KUALA LUMPUR: TA Enterprise Bhd expects earnings from its hotel operations to triple next year following the completion this month of the acquisition of its fourth hotel, the Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore.
“There will be four hotels contributing to the segment from Nov 30 onwards and we are positive,” managing director and chief executive officer Datin Alicia Tiah said after the company EGM yesterday.
Sales from hotel operations totalled RM76.6mil, or about 14% of the group’s sales, for the financial year ended Jan 31, 2009, the company’s 2009 annual report showed.
Datin Alicia Tiah ... ‘The injection will see better synergistic management.’
The group, via its property division TA Global Bhd, already owns three other hotels - the Westin Melbourne, Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney and the Aava Whistler Hotel in Canada.
Tiah said the RM635.8mil Swissotel proposed purchase, which received shareholders’ approval yesterday, would be conducted under TA Enterprise and not TA Global as the “opportunity to purchase Swissotel came in after the submission of TA Enterprise’s application to the Securities Commission for the listing of TA Global.”
TA Enterprise, which saw its share price rise more than 50% this year before softening, has consolidated all of its property assets under TA Global and the company will be listed on Bursa Malaysia on Monday.
Swissotel would be injected into TA Global post-listing, Tiah said, for “better synergistic management.”
The four-star hotel had an average occupancy rate of 78.5% last year, she said, adding that the proposed purchase came with a S$19mil earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) guarantee for the years 2010 to 2013.
The ebitda guarantee is secured against a cash deposit of S$10mil held by the escrow agent, i.e. a party that has fiduciary responsibilities in the transfer of property from one party to another.
Future plans for Swissotel include an estimated capital expenditure of about S$5mil budgeted for the next five years for refurbishment and upgrade activities, Tiah said.
The budgeted capex has been taken into consideration in the pricing of the hotel.
Asked on the prospects of more acquisitions, Tiah said: “We are looking; we are always looking. There are so many distressed assets all over. The thing we look for is the right price.”

Source : STAR
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Hotel plan gives PJ folk the blues

PETALING JAYA residents are fuming over a proposed development of a 19-storey hotel along Jalan Utara which will aggravate the traffic chaos in the area.
The site is located between an ongoing commercial development and the SMK Bukit Bintang, at the junction of Jalan Utara and Jalan Semangat.
Residents in the area got to know about the development when a signboard was put up at the currently vacant land, informing the public about the proposed development and giving them until Nov 3 to submit their objection.
The sign states the proposed development would be a 19-storey hotel built on top of three levels of basement and one level of semi-basement carpark.
High traffic volume: PJ residents say the proposed hotel plan (on the left) along Jalan Utara will only add to the congestion in the area.
Section 12 Residents Association chairman R. Rajasoorian said that the area was already overdeveloped and building a hotel there would make matters worse.
“That stretch is going to be a mess and the hotel is going to be located right at the T-junction. Traffic is already bad now without the hotel,” he said.
He added that besides the secondary school (SMK Bukit Bintang), there was also the SK Sri Petaling primary school across the road.
All Petaling Jaya Residents Association (Apac) chairman Liew Wei Beng said that he was concerned about the density of the developments in the area.
He said that there was also a church next to the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital which would also add to the congestion.
“Once the high-density commercial blocks are ready, the traffic impact would be mind-boggling,” he said.
He said that an existing hotel down the road has already proven to create traffic problems when there were big functions and cars would be double-parked along the road.
He echoed Rajasoorian’s concern over the hotel’s proximity to the schools.
“I’m not sure if its advisable to have a hotel next to a school,” said Liew.
A spokesperson for Malton Berhad, who submitted the proposal to the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), said that they have addressed the traffic problems in the area.
“A traffic impact assessment (TIA) has been done and the impact from the hotel would be minimal.
“It’s a mid-ranged hotel that would cater to the short- and mid-term stays of the business people from the offices around the area, so we are not expecting a high volume of traffic. There would be no big function rooms in the hotel,” he said.
He said that as part of the council’s requirement to build the commercial development, they would widen a stretch of Jalan Utara starting from the Jalan Semangat junction.
“We would be adding an extra lane on both sides of Jalan Utara,” he said.
Rajasoorian also expressed his disappointment at the then Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) councillors who approved the commercial project without residents’ knowledge.
“If the present council under the current state government closes an eye to the problems we are facing here, we would be back to square one,” said Rajasoorian.

Source : STAR
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Asian Countries Contribute To Increase In October Tourism Arrivals

Asian countries are the top 10 markets which contributed to an increase in tourist arrivals for October, with 1.1 million arrivals from Singapore followed by Indonesia, Thailand, China and Brunei, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Tuesday.

"The tourism arrivals for October 2009 were from Singapore (1,104,415), Indonesia (223,238), Thailand (143,973), China (95,235), Brunei (75,517), Australia (56,601), India (54,206), the United Kingdom (38,842), the Philippines (37,902) and Japan (35,028)," she said at the launch of The Malaysia Year End Sales (M-YES) 2009, here.

The arrivals for the month of October recorded a significant increase of 14.3 per cent, which was 2,078,485 compared to 1,818,304 in October 2008.

Even though the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported a global slowdown in tourism movement this year, Malaysia recorded a fantastic growth in tourist arrivals with an increase of 14.3 per cent, she said.

Dr Ng said that despite the global challenges that the tourism industry had to contend with, the strong support from tourism industry partners both locally and overseas and the continuous promotion locally and abroad had made this significant contribution to the country's economy.

She said that for the period of January to October 2009, the cumulative tourist arrivals were 19,456,525, an increase of 7.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2008 (18,148,159), thus meeting the target of 19 million arrivals set for 2009.

"Shopping holds the second biggest share of tourist expenditure after accommodation, with its contribution of RM13.2 billion in 2008, compared to RM12.2 in 2007, signifying an increase of 8.4 per cent," she said.

On the Malaysia Year End Sales 2009 (M-YES), Dr Ng said the sales carnival took place simultaneously nationwide for 44 days, bringing shoppers a line-up of retail therapy, great dining experiences and fun entertainment.

Organised for the ninth time, M-YES will go on from Nov 21 to Jan 3, 2010, with some 350 retailers across the country participating by offering discounts and promotions, and will see a much-anticipated annual event by both locals and tourists.

Source : Bernama
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Penang hotels wooing business travellers

Move to exploit state’s good potential in business process outsourcing
GEORGE TOWN: Branded hotels along the famed tourist belt in Batu Ferringhi here are aiming for a slice of the corporate travellers market, shedding their image as leisure oriented resorts which cater only to families and holidaymakers in the process.
These hotels include the newly refurbished Golden Sands Resort and the just-opened Hard Rock Hotel.
Opened on Nov 12, the 328-room Eastin Hotel, located at the southern part of the island, will also compete for the corporate market, given its proximity to the Free Industrial Zone, where the multinational corporations (MNCs) are located.
Bruno Cristol ... ‘We are receiving about 2,800 delegates from India in two batches.’
The move to woo corporate clients comes amid Penang’s new reputation as an international business process outsourcing site, as highlighted in the KPMG’s Exploring Global Frontier report.
After spending about RM36mil on refurbishment, Golden Sands Resorts, a member of Shangri-La International Hotels Group, is repositioning itself to capture the corporate as well as MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) markets.
The refurbishment, now over 90% completed, is scheduled for completion by mid-November.
“In the last two weeks of November, we are receiving about 2,800 delegates from India in two batches from an internationally known multi-level marketing company to take part in an annual conference.
“Our sister hotel, Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, will help provide accommodation for the guests, as we won’t have enough rooms.
“This is the largest delegation to arrive from a single company and country in the past 15 years. We are now targeting also the corporate and MICE segment and not just the leisure crowd.” Golden Sands Resort general manager Bruno Cristol said adding that it also provide unlimited free wireless services for all the rooms and in the lobby.
Cristol noted that Australians and Indians were coming to Penang more frequently due to frequent direct flights, and as Penang carved up new tourism markets, such as Eastern Europe.
The newly opened RM150mil Hard Rock Hotel in Batu Ferringhi is also wooing the corporate market segment.
Operations director Thomas Blachere said a delegation of 400 people from an MNC in the country would be staying at the hotel this month for an incentive meeting.
“We will be packed with visitors from South-East Asia, as we have received many enquiries from corporate clients in the region to hold incentive meetings here,” he said.
Blachere said the hotel would be tying up with airlines such as AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and Firefly soon to promote domestic and regional tourism.
“We have special rates for visitors who fly with these airlines,” he said.
Eastin Hotel manager Mary Ann Harris said besides the normal leisure crowd, the hotel aimed to attract customers from MNCs, MICE, the travel industry and the medical tourism market.
The hotel is targeting guests from countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Japan, Australia, United States and Europe.
“We are aiming for an over 80% occupancy rate for the final quarter of the year,” Harris said.
Marco Battistotti, the Penang chapter chairman of the Malaysia Association of Hotels, noted that over the last two years, Penang had seen an increase in the number of visitors from the corporate and MICE market segments.
“There is regular demand by business and MICE groups from emerging destinations such as India, China and Taiwan to host small-scale incentive and corporate meetings in Penang.
“That is why there are hotels that want to shift away from the traditional resort and leisure market segment and focus on expanding the corporate and MICE market segment,” Battistotti said.
He expects the performance of hotels in the state for the final quarter of 2009 to be better than the same period in 2008.
“Because of the economic crisis, the hotel occupancy rate dropped to about 55% in the first half of 2009. But the occupancy rate of hotels here is gradually climbing back and should hit about 65% by the end of 2009,” he said.

Source : STAR
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Sheraton Langkawi Recognised As Malaysia's Leading Resort

The Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort won the award in "Malaysia's Leading Resort" category at the World Travel Awards event in London last Saturday.

The hotel's sales and marketing director Stephanie Choi said the achievement was a proud one and raised the image of Langkawi as a world class tourist holiday destination.

"The hotel had previously won the Langkawi 2008 award for Outstanding Resort from the Langkawi Development Authority and the Langkawi Tourism body," she added, in a statement here, Friday.

The World Travel Awards is organised to give recognition as well as honour excellence in the global travel and tourism industry.

Stephanie also said that to ensure maximum satisfaction for its clients, the 238-room hotel will continue to enhance its services in line with the recognition just received.

This years voting was the highest in the history of the World Travel Awards, with 183,000 professionals voting to pick the best promoters of the travel, tourism, hospitality and services industry in Asia.

Source : Bernama
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MAS Among Top 10 Airlines In Global Local Monitor

Malaysia's national carrier, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), is among top 10 airlines in the first Global Local Monitor on airline websites.

Although MAS was No. 10 in the top list, trailing behind other Asian rivals such as Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific and Asiana, the fact that MAS could make it to the Global Local Monitor is quite an achievement.

This year, the User Experience Alliance (UXalliance), a global network of leading user research firms, celebrated World Usability Day by unveiling the preliminary findings of the first-ever Global Local Monitor.

The monitor assesses the efficacy of a site and its level of localisation or adaptation to local language and culture.

Localisation is based on factors such as the proper use of local languages, character sets, weights and measures, currencies, dates and times and culturally sensitive imagery.

In this case, it examines how well an airlines' website is localised by gauging its impact on a customer's ability to complete travel bookings or find important information.

Ultimately, it impacts brand perception and sales.

The Global-Local Monitor for airlines drew upon the talents and expertise of over 70 user experience professionals from 17 countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

This is the broadest systematic localisation review ever conducted by user experience professionals. The Global-Local airline monitor involved five local user experience experts in each country, each reviewing the 10 websites on 30 localisation criteria.

The 10 websites surveyed were those shortlisted for the Skytrax Airline of the year award which annually rates airline performance by more than 16 million air travellers.

The UXalliance investigated whether the airlines was recognised by their outstanding service in the air also deliver the same outstanding service in their online customer experience to users in various locations around the world.

The findings reveal that of the world's 10 top-rated airlines, Emirates, Quantas and Qatar Airways were rated highest in terms of meeting of the needs of local users around the world.

The determining success factors were information in the local language, culturally appropriate character sets, colour schemes and imagery and well-localised calendar formats.

The airlines rated lowest tended to be less developed or representative of the local markets.

Following are the full localisation ratings and rankings:

Airline Rating Rank Emirates 7.76 1

Quantas 7.32 2

Qatar 7.27 3

Singapore 7.26 4

CathayPacific 7.21 5

NewZealand 7.15 6

Thai 6.88 7

Etihad 6.76 8

Asiana 6.49 9

Malaysia 6.37 10

Through its extensive experience in global user research, the UXalliance knows companies that excel in localising their sites have a higher probability of connecting with their customers and maximising profitability of their local websites.

Surprisingly, not a single European or North American airline figured in the top 10 airlines.

Source : Bernama
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Singapore Hotels here going the extra mile to welcome Apec visitors

They're ready to handle tall orders
[Photo above: WELCOME TO SINGAPORE: Guest services manager of Orchard Hotel Rajagopal Rajkumar with a tray of mocktails specially prepared for Apec delegates. With him are three members of his team.]

WHAT do you do when a hotel guest says he can’t touch any electrical appliances?

That was the predicament staff at Rendezvous Hotel Singapore faced recently when they had to host a group of Jewish guests.

Mr Kellvin Ong, the hotel’s general manager, told The New Paper: “(They were) escorted up the lift by our staff as they (could not touch the lift button).

“The room was also kept in darkness and the door was kept open.”

Although the guests did not say why they could not touch any appliances, it is believed the reasons had to do with their religious beliefs.

Some Jewish schools of thought say the use of electricity is prohibited during the Shabbat (the Sabbath, in Hebrew), which is observed on Fridays and Saturdays.

With a flood of high-powered individuals converging in Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings, hotels here are bracing themselves for unusual requests.

After all, the rich and powerful can have their quirks.

Take Ms Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the Republican running mate in the US presidential elections last year.

Entertainment website reported that she takes her mocha very seriously – no whip, with a specific “thin red straw”.

Red, after all, is the Republican colour.

Local hotels would not say if they had received outlandish demands from Apec visitors, citing privacy concerns. But they said they were ready for any unusual requests that may come their way.

Mr Antoine Chahwan, regional vice-president and general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, said: “As long as the requests are legal and above-board, we’ll try our best to fulfil them.”

The Regent Singapore – reported to be where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be staying - also believes in going above and beyond the basics.

A spokesman for the hotel said they once had a guest from Hong Kong who insisted on Chinese medicated oil from a Chinese medicinal shop.

But the nearest shop to the hotel in Tanglin Road was at Bugis.

So a concierge offered to buy it for her, as there was a shop near his own home. He got her 10 bottles.
Said a spokesman: “The guest from Hong Kong was touched and very appreciative of the gesture.”
At Orchard Hotel, Mr Rajagopal Rajkumar, 51, has been appointed its Apec ambassador to handle the delegates’ concerns.

Recently promoted to guest services manager from chief concierge, one of Mr Rajkumar’s new tasks is to ensure the delegates have newspapers from their own countries, as well as sufficient copies of the International Herald Tribune (IHT).

He said that because Singapore is the host country for Apec, it’s significant that they understand the needs of their guests.

“So we have swung into full gear, running into details to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.”
With 30 years of hospitality experience under his belt, he is no stranger to dignitaries. He said he once served former US president Bill Clinton, who visited Singapore in 2005 as a special United Nations envoy for the tsunami reconstruction efforts.

Mr Rajkumar said: “My impression is that he’s a down-to-earth gentleman.”

Orchard Hotel will be hosting delegates from eight countries and has ordered newspapers from those countries.

The hotel’s spokesman said they have also ordered extra copies of major financial newspapers such as the IHT, Asian Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Business Times.

She added: “Other foreign papers are also available on request as we work with foreign newspaper vendors.”

Other delegates have asked for non-smoking rooms and specific types of pillows which includes feather, therapeutic, anti-snore, hypoallergenic, high-density foam, cotton and buckwheat.

Mr Rajkumar said: “We have to be very careful because people can be sensitive to smoke and dust.”
The hotel also has stocks of extra ties, tuxedos and cuff links in case the delegates lose their luggage.

Mr Rajkumar said: “We have associates available 24 hours to provide these things. Sometimes, incidents such as lost baggage may occur so the guests may not have the clothes they need.”

Over at Fairmont and Swissotel the Stamford, at Raffles City, a group of delegates have asked for access to their local TV channel to keep abreast of the news in their native language.

The hotel spokesman said: “We’ll be specially subscribing (to the channel) just for this period, to cater to their needs and, in the process, turning the moments into beautiful memories for our delegates.”

At the Royal Plaza on Scotts, there are dedicated staff members attending to the VIPs, which include finding out their likes, dislikes and dietary requirements.

All the hotels hosting Apec delegates have been given the recipe for the Apec mocktail, to be served at check-in and on request.

Source : AsiaOne
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

MAS sees gains from new booking system

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) expects to gain RM2bil in revenue and cost savings over 10 years after implementing a new reservations system called SITA, said managing director and chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin.

The new reservations system, which is barely two weeks old, will also result in the launch of a new mobile booking platform next month, according to Azmil.
From left: MAS GM of transition management Salleh Tabrani (partially hidden), MD/CEO Tengku Azmil Zahruddin and SITA senior VP – sales & relationship management, Richard Stokes.
“This is a significant milestone for MAS and it opens up a future of great commercial possibilities through the use of SITA’s Horizon portfolio. It is the critical piece in the jigsaw puzzle we have been assembling with SITA over the last three years,’’ Azmil told reporters at a press conference in Subang yesterday.
“We are going to be one of the first few airlines to offer air travel bookings via mobile phones. It is providing a convenience and we hope more people will be (attracted) to book with us with this new mobile facility,’’ he said, referring to the upcoming mobile booking service.
The national carrier decided in 2006 to spend RM480mil, over a 10-year period, to upgrade its passenger service system, with MAS now enjoying the cost efficiencies the new booking system brings.
The early adoption and migration to the latest technology has seen MAS benefiting from a rise in online bookings from 4% initially to 30% now. Its unit, MAS Wings, makes 45% of its sales from online bookings.
The shift from the outdated Kommas reservation system began at the end of last month where the records of 1.5 million passengers were transferred to the new SITA system.
MAS has trained over 3,000 reservations and ticketing staff worldwide to handle the new system.
The national airline also offers interlining with 100 partners, including United Airlines, its latest partner.
The new booking system allows for more than just making air ticket reservations, with the upcoming mobile booking platform allowing travellers to do mobile bookings, check-in and check the flight status and even the flight timetable using their mobile phones.
MAS will not charge more for the mobile service and consumers need only pay the normal data rates charged by their respective mobile service providers. The new booking system has resulted in greater reliability, with the national carrier also looking to enhance its call centres, according to Azmil.

Source : STAR
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