Friday, August 28, 2009 & Bintan Resorts Ferries in Partnership, A Leading Online Hotel Reservation Service, Signs A Preferred Partnership With The Bintan Resort Ferries, The Operator Of Ferry Transportation From Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Singapore To The Island Resort Of Bintan, Indonesia. With This Exciting Development,�s Guests Who Book Their Bintan Hotels Can Now Make Booking Request On Bintan Resort Ferries On Our Websites.

Bintan Resort Ferries currently operate four Catamarans, the first two - a 270-seat Aria Bupala and a 306-seat Indera Bupala plus two new additions to our fleet; Wan Seri Beni and Wan Sendari , each with 300 seating capacity. Both new generation ferries have Emerald Class on upper-deck, the premium class service whereby passengers can enjoy wider leather seats with more legroom, complimentary hot & cold drinks, dedicated check-in and use of Executive Lounge at Bandar Bentan Telani terminal. All vessels are in compliance to International Safety Standard, equipped with advance technology and managed by professional & experienced crew. A wide range of food and beverages are also available at BRF Deli on-board.

Source : Bernama
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Felda to open two more hotels in two years

Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) is set to open two more hotels in the next two years.

Felda chairman Tan Sri Dr Yusof Nor said the first hotel, with a resort concept, was being built on an 8ha site in Tanjung Leman, Johor.

Once completed by end of 2010, he said the RM31mil hotel would offer 200 rooms.

Apart from Johor, Felda had also received approval to build a hotel in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, he said after launching the Ramadan buffet at the Felda Residence Hotel here recently.

Dr Yusof said the Port Dickson hotel was being designed by a consultant.

The two new hotels would expand Felda’s diversified businessdealings, he added.

Dr Yusof said Felda presently owned two resorts in Pekan, Pahang and one in Perak apart from the Felda Residence Hotel here.

He said priority would be given to children of Felda settlers when filling management positions at the upcoming hotels.

Source : STAR
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Robert Kuok Says Concerned About Things Back Home in Malaysia

Although he and his family have been residing in Hong Kong for many years, Malaysian tycoon Tan Sri Robert Kuok says he is always concerned about things back home.

Kuok, 85, who is also known as the Sugar King and is the richest Malaysian, expressed this when meeting Malaysia's Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen who is on a working trip here.

At the meeting held before lunch, Ng had requested Kuok to display a promotional video titled "Malaysia, Truly Asia" in his Shangri-La Hotel to which Kuok obliged.

He said, as a Malaysian, he felt honoured to lend a hand to Malaysia's Tourism Ministry in promoting Malaysian tourism.

Meanwhile, Kuok pointed out that public security was the main concern among tourists when they were travelling in foreign countries, as they were frightened of ending up as snatch theft victims or robbed.

"Nowadays, tourists are very concerned about their personal security, especially tourists from China and Japan. Therefore, public security must be taken into account in attracting tourists," he said.

Ng said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced the lead ministers for six national key results areas (NKRA) recently and crime prevention was one of them.

She said she was confident that with the NKRAs, crime rates in the country could be reduced effectively, and public security would be further enhanced as well.

Source : Bernama
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Regency Hotel Eyes Overseas Expansion

The operator of Regency Hotel, Regency International Hotel Incorporated Sdn Bhd is planning to expand its hotel network into London, New York, Bangkok, Jakarta and Istanbul, said executive chairman Datuk Matshah Safuan.

"We are still looking at it. It depends on the property market. We will go for it when the time is right," he told Bernama recently.

Established 23 years ago, Regency currently owns nine hotels, of which one is in Bali, three in Sarawak, two each in Kedah and Negeri Sembilan and a newly launched hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Located strategically in front of the Chow Kit wet market, more than RM100 million has been invested for the new hotel, Matshah said.

The 330-room hotel opened it doors for business in April 2008, giving a new aura to the area.

Since its opening, the hotel has been receiving business visitors as well as tourists mostly from the East Coast, with most of them getting to shop around the many shopping centres and malls in the area.

Together with its expansion plans overseas, Matshah said Regency was also looking to expand its presence locally in strategic areas in Johor Baharu, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Baharu and Kota Kinabalu.

"It new areas that we want to go," he said. However, he did not disclose any specific investment amount for the hotel group's expansion plan.

The hotel also expects to launch its new hotel in Jitra, Kedah by end of this year while another hotel in Bukit Tinggi is still under construction.

Source : Bernama
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Tourism Ministry Gets Apology Letter From Discovery TV Network

Malaysia's Tourism Ministry has received an apology letter from the Discovery TV network over the issue of featuring Balinese Pendet dance in its television advertisement on Malaysia.

The television commercial titled "Enigmatic Malaysia", which featured Balinese Pendet dance in its promotional video clip, had caused outrage on the Internet.

However, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen confirmed here that she had received a letter of apology from the Discovery TV network this evening.

"I contacted the Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik just now to clarify that the promotional video clip was not done by Malaysia's Tourism Ministry but solely by the Discovery TV network," she told Malaysian reporters after attending a meeting with the local media here.

She said Jero had also received an apology letter from the Discovery TV network, and at the same time, the production company had also removed the advertisement.

Dr Ng said she had also referred the matter to Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman and if it was necessary, Anifah would reply to Indonesia on the matter.

Source : Bernama
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Farmer Bala and friend open their fourth hotel in Camerons

ONE man, simply dressed, with a smile on his face, walks daily from Brinchang to Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands, calling out to anyone he meets on the road.

One look and you would never have guessed that the cheerful man is a millionaire farmer who worked hard to become who he is.

Bala: `I started on my own at 27. I was a farmer then and I always will be’

S. Bala Krisnen’s is a story of rags to riches, of hardship and hard work.

Born into a family of seven, his mother, who plucked tea leaves for a living, could not afford to educate him after Form Three. So as the fifth son in the family, Bala began working in a vegetable farm to make ends meet.

Later at 27, he acquired his own farm and has never looked back since. As years passed by, he branched out into building townships and buying hotels but his first love is still farming.

“I started on my own at 27. I was a farmer then and I always will be,” he said with a smile.

For Bala, he has come this far due to his friends who are partners in his hotel business.

Yee: Bala’s business partner and close friend.

Among his close friends is Datuk Yee Shan Kon, a familiar face in the highlands and who also worked his way up despite his father’s influence in society.

Yee’s father, who was in construction, fell ill in 1973, leaving Yee to run the business at the age of 20.

Bala and Yee’s friendship is almost 20 years old and they ventured into development in 1987.

However, their most notable collaboration was in 1990, when Yee and Bala developed the Bandar Baru Brinchang township. A year later they opened up their first hotel, the Rosa Pasadena, and thus became hoteliers.

Today, they are proud developers of a fourth hotel owned by Bala but managed by their company.

Located just three minutes away from Tanah Rata, Hotel De’ La Ferns is a boutique hotel and the latest addition to the town’s growing wonders.

Cosy touch: Each floor has a theme like this Autumn splash on the ground floor

Although Bala and Yee are simple men, their ideas and designs for the newly opened hotel says otherwise.

According to them, the English Tudor themed hotel was inspired by their travels abroad.

The architecture of the building is to be marvelled at as it takes the shape of a fern leaf just like its name suggests.

“We wanted to build something different so people would want to come back,” Bala said.

The entrance is quite unique with a chandelier and the parking lot is spread around the hotel with bricks resembling a grand red carpet.

As you proceed into the hotel, the sofa set with arm chairs often found in English homes gives the place a warm and cosy feel.

Plush: The interior of one of the suites.

The place is lit with specially designed rose lamps and the Fern restaurant has timber resembling heavy beams often found in old Irish bars. The al fresco dining area is set before a wall of Vietnam marbles that sparkles in daylight.

The restaurant is popular for steamboat for dinner and scones for high tea.

Each floor has a theme, be it summer, winter, autumn or spring and the five-storey hotel personifies the themes with coloured carpets, lighting and fixtures.

The 75 rooms are a luxury by itself with ample space for an extra mattress and with beautiful views of the countryside or golf greens.

Apart from that, the room has beautiful furnishings to complement the hotel. No two room is alike, whether in architecture, the fittings or the furniture. Each room has its own appeal.

There are also two pent suites, the Cameron Ferns and the Highland Ferns which cost RM1,800 each per night.

There is a lounge area on the lower floor to greet guests and a more intimate cosy lounge with bed and sofa upstairs. The bathroom has a powder room.

“We wanted to give the hotel one year to see its progress but the hotel including the pent suites have been full every weekend since it was opened three months ago,” he said.

The rooms are equipped with HD LCD TV, satellite television and movie channels plus broadband facilities. There is also a private electronic safe deposit box, an integrated coffee and tea making set and a fully stocked mini-bar as well as ironing facilities.

The hotel can accommodate 200 people for meetings at its largest meeting rooms and smaller rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi services.

Like true Cameronians, both Bala and Yee have displayed pictures of various Cameron Highlands landmarks, flora and fauna along the corridors and in the rooms.

“What better way is there to promote the Highlands than by displaying pictures with the names of places so tourists would be interested in visiting these?” asked Bala.

He also prefers employing locals, especially from the orang asli settlement, to help them earn a living.

For Yee and Bala, there is no end to their work and they want to continue bringing new things to Cameron Highlands and its people.

He hopes his three children would some day be able to take over his business and make Camerons’s a better place for everyone. His eldest son Saravana Kumar, 23, is already involved in the business.

The other three hotels in Cameron Highlands are Hotel Rosa Pasadena, Casa De La Rosa and Hotel Rainbow. Room rates for Hotel De’ La Ferns ranges from RM380 for the Superior Double and Superior Twin to RM 780 for the Family Suite that can hold a family of five.

> For details on Hotel De’ La Ferns, visit or call 05-491 4888. For enquiry on the other hotels visit

Source : STAR
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Resort’s Ramadan buffet focuses on traditional home-cooked dishes

EVER heard of satay tulang? Well, this dish – a twist on the popular satay – is one of the many dishes one can indulge in this Ramadan at the Klana Resort in Seremban.

Executive chef Abdul Razak Abdul Ghani said the satay tulang, made famous by stalls in Jelebu, near Seremban, was bound to be a crowd-pleaser with hotel guests.

“The meat from the (chicken) bones makes for a more flavoursome satay and, served together with our spicy peanut sauce, it’s the perfect way to break fast.

“But, that’s not all. Diners will be spoilt for choice this Ramadan with more than 100 dishes, ranging from appetisers to desserts, to choose from daily,” he said.

Be our guest: Chef Abdul Razak inviting guests to sample the traditional Malay cuisine on offer this Ramadan.

Items on the menu for the buka puasa buffet will be rotated on a daily basis throughout Ramadan, giving diners a chance to sample everything on offer, but popular favourites like the whole-roasted lamb will be available every day.

“The lamb is still a crowd-puller and to keep up with the demand, we usually roast between eight and 10 whole lambs a day during the fasting month,” he said.

However, he said, the hotel’s focus this Ramadan was on traditional home-cooked food as many people were often reminded of mum’s cooking during the fasting month.

“We have many other dishes on the menu, including Chinese, Indian and Western dishes, but the highlight of our Ramadan food promotion is kampung-style food.

“This is the best time to sample traditional dishes from the different states as our menu items are not restricted to only traditional Negri Sembilan fare. Come and try our asam pedas ikan parang – a Johorean favourite – or our rendang tok from Perak. I’ve also included a family recipe – daging dendeng (braised beef with chillies) that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser,” said the chef, whose specialty is Malay cuisine.

Other interesting dishes on the menu include masak tempoyak ikan sungai (fish cooked with fermented durian paste), gulai ikan sembilang salai (smoked catfish curry) and masak lemak udang sungai dengan pucuk tangkis (prawn in coconut broth with local herbs).

If kampung food is not your cup of tea, fret not.

There is still plenty to choose from as the hotel has a wide array of dishes to please every one; these include pasta, Chinese favourites like dim sum and kuey teow, and even sushi and tempura for fans of Japanese food, in addition to the 11 “action” stalls that will be whipping up goodies from murtabak to refreshing cendol daily.

Finish your meal with sweet treats that include local kuih such as apam Johol, kuih sopang, and kuih penaram, and cakes and pastries, among others.

Adding to the festive atmosphere, the hotel will be holding Malam Tujuh Likur during which traditional favourites such as rendang, dodol, kuih bahulu and kuih goyang ros would be served in a traditional kampung setting at the hotel’s nature park on the seven days leading up to Hari Raya.

The hotel’s Ramadan Buka Puasa buffet is priced at RM48++ for adults and RM26++ for children, and diners who purchase 10 tickets will get another free.

Hotel general manager Shamsul Kamar Ahmad said Muslim patrons would also be able to perform their maghrib, isyak and terawih prayers in specially provided prayer rooms during the period.

To avoid disappointment and enjoy a 15% discount, make your reservations early as the hotel expects an average of 500 guests a day.

> SELERA COFFEEHOUSE, Klana Resort Seremban, PT4388 Jalan Penghulu Cantik, Taman Tasik Seremban, Seremban (Tel: 06-766 7888). Business hours: 6am to 10.30pm daily. The buka puasa buffet is available from 7pm to 9pm.

Source : STAR
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Glass barriers at KLIA - a match for touts

THE recently completed glass barricades at the international arrival hall at KL International Airport have effectively slashed touting by half, according to KLIA general manager Daud Hosnan.


ANTI-TOUT: Glass barricade in KLIA stops touts from approaching arriving passengers

And this has been achieved even before the approved counters for taxis, limousines, travel agencies and hotels have been effectively relocated inside the arrival hall — another step in the plan initiated by Malaysia Airports Bhd (MAB), besides erecting the glass barricades.

“We don’t have any figure on how much touting activities have dropped, but after the glass barriers had been put in place, the touting activities in the terminal have dropped significantly,” Daud told Malay Mail.

“I would hazard a guess that touting activities have gone down by 50 per cent,” he said, adding that the relocation of the counters — 18 in total — is expected to be done after Hari Raya.

“Right now, enforcement officers from various agencies — airport security, police and the Road Transport Department — are deployed all round the terminal to keep a close lookout for touts. Once the relocation is completed, I think we will see even less touting at KLIA,” added Daud.

The glass barricades, measuring 2.5m high, effectively stop touts from approaching arriving passengers. The area within the barricades is also heavily guarded by security and police officers, making life more difficult for touts.

Although passengers still remain exposed to potential touts after passing the barricades, the relocation of the counters is expected to help solve this problem.

The idea is to ensure passengers are provided with transport options before leaving the arrival hall, hence closing them to any offers by approaching touts. The plan was announced in May by MAB to solve its long-time tout woes.

On May 14, Malay Mail highlighted how a travel company, Fleet Holidays Sdn Bhd, had its customers conned by touts pretending to be its agents.

The customers — a couple — were approached by a tout upon arriving at KLIA, and were told by the tout that he was a replacement driver.

After taking the couple to their hotel in the city centre, the “replacement driver” demanded a hefty RM690 from them for the transport, telling them they could get the amount reimbursed by the travel agent.

Source : MalayMail
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Special Committee Set Up Promote Malaysia In Hong Kong

The Tourism Ministry has set up a special committee to further promote Malaysia in Hong Kong.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said one of the roles of the committee was to disseminate information to every officer in Malaysia's consulate in the special administrative territory on ongoing programmes held by the Tourism Ministry.

She said the committee would also be responsible for taking action on issues related to tourism, such as complaints on getting visas.

She also said the committee would assist Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) in identifying potential investment areas and carry out consumer awareness programmes to train frontliners in order to give better service to Hong Kong tourists.

"After having a dialogue with major Hong Kong tour operators last night, it has been learnt that competition is very keen from Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Therefore, we have to find every opportunity to promote Malaysian tourism, and that's the reason for the setting up of this committee," Ng said after a meeting with officers of Tourism Malaysia for Hong Kong, and the Consulate General of Malaysia here on Wednesday.

She added that the committee would be headed by the Consul-General of Malaysia in Hong Kong, Cheong Loon Lai, while Zaliha Zainuddin, who is Tourism Malaysia director in Hong Kong, would be the secretary of the committee.

Meanwhile, during the dialogue, Hong Kong tour operators pointed out that Hong Kong tourists mainly faced transportation problems when they were travelling in Malaysia, especially Malaysian taxi drivers not charging according to the meter and difficulty getting taxis when it rains and during rush hour.

Ng said she regretted this as it was a never ending complaint and that she would bring it up with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin at the next cabinet meeting so that a permanent solution could be found.

Regarding the issue of Hong Kong filmmakers facing bureaucracy when applying for permits to do shooting in Malaysia, Ng said the Tourism Ministry would study the possibility of establishing a "One Stop Assistance Centre" to facilitate their applications.

She said the film industry had contributed in promoting Malaysia, for instance, the Hong Kong movie "More More Tea Inn" had successfully made Redang Island become a famous tourist attraction.

Source : Bernama
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No decrease in number of tourists

An increased interest among foreign visitors in local tourism products and packages is an indication that the tourism sector can generate revenue worth RM200mil this year.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Malaysia’s rich flora and fauna, and diversified cultures, were the main attractions enticing foreign tourists. Dr Ng said the ministry with the co-operation of state governments, would go all out to aggressively promote Malaysia’s uniqueness to countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Europe.

“Despite the outbreak of A(H1N1) flu, the number of visitors entering the country recorded an increase in July to 2,003,724 people compared to 1,928,082 in the same month last year. For the first seven months this year, 13,350,168 people visited Malaysia compared to 12,891,202 in the same period last year, an increase of 3.6%.

“Statistics also show that tourists from Japan were the highest with 216,680 people and this is a good sign that the Japanese have a strong interest in our tourism products,” she said after launching the website of Malaysia Village Homestay Association and witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between homestay and tour operators in Sungai Pasu near here recently.

Also present were the association’s chairman Sahariman Hamdan and the Malaysia Japanese Association secretary Arai Takuji.

Dr Ng, who is also Raub MP, hoped homestay operators would give due emphasis to rebranding their products on the global scale as it had good potential to generate income for rural folks. She said the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity coupled with a rich natural environment and good infrastructure would provide the right formula to ensure visitors enjoyed their stay.

“For the first six months, the village homestay concept has generated RM4,886,437 in revenue for the operators all over the country. To-date, we have 140 operators nationwide involving 227 traditional villages with 4,512 rooms available,” she said.

Dr Ng urged the operators to be more organised in their activities and professional in their operations by creating a guest registration book for proper records. She said based on feedback from overseas roadshows and promotional campaigns, the concept had attracted strong interest among foreigners.

She said among the reasons given by foreigners on why Malaysia was their choice destination were its peacefulness, friendly people, comfortable accommodation and good food. “Efforts are also in place to promote education and health tourism to foreigners since facilities in both sectors are of international standard,” she said.

Meanwhile, Takuji said the homestay programmes were very popular among Japanese since the 1990s and was one of the top five choices back home. He said many schools and associations involved in exchange programmes chose to take part in homestay activities.

“Many of our students will make a return trip here after completing their tertiary education,” he said.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

‘Pendet’ not a Tourism Malaysia ad

Promotional clip was put together by Discovery Channel

THE so-called Tourism Malaysia advertisement that ruffled the feathers of Indonesians over depiction of its Balinese pendet dancers was not even a Tourism Malaysia advertisement after all.


MISUNDERSTOOD: You Tube posting of Indonesian news Metro Hari Ini, which aired part of the controversial promotional clip, featuring images of two Balinese dancers performing the pendet

The controversial commercial in question was actually a promotional clip put together by Discovery Channel to highlight a series of documentaries, produced by KRU Studios, called Enigmatic Malaysia aimed at highlighting Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage.

In a statement sent to Malay Mail, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific stated the image of Balinese dancers were used in a clip, aired on Discovery Channel, to promote the documentary series Enigmatic Malaysia and the image of the dancers, performing the pendet, were sourced from an independent third party.

It added, “Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific regrets that the image of a Balinese dancer, sourced from an independent third party, was used in the promotion of the series Enigmatic Malaysia”.

It said the dancers were not featured in any way in the actual programme and the clip had since been removed from all feeds.

The statement further read, “Discovery has the deepest respect for the traditions, cultures, and practises of all races and nations, and it is not our intention to cause any misunderstanding or distress to any party”.

Indonesian artists, its media and citizens had condemned the advert, which one Indonesian TV news segment Metro Hari Ini, posted on YouTube, claiming it was part of Malaysia Truly Asia 2009 advertisement.

They stated the traditional pendet dance is of Balinese Hindu origin and had no place in a Malaysian Tourism commercial. One of the Enigmatic Malaysia series entitled The Melakan Portugese — Preserving Their Heritage had last year been awarded the Sarasvati Award 5th Special Jury Prize at the sixth Bali International
Film Festival 2008 on Oct 11.

At press time Malay Mail was unable to get a response from KRU Studios with regards to the allegations.

Yesterday Malay Mail reported the furore of the Indonesians over the commercial in which the Jakarta Post reported a rally was staged on Aug 22 by dozens of Balinese artists, as well as the Regional Representatives Council members representing Bali and ISI scholars, at Denpasar Cultural Park.

In the Jakarta Post report, it stated the Antara news agency had quoted rally coordinator Prof Wayan Dibia of Denpasar Indonesian Institute of Art (ISI) that the two dancers featured in the clip were alumni of ISI.

In the Metro Hari Ini news segment posted on YouTube, it stated the depiction of the two dancers in the clip was tantamount to Malaysia staking claim over the cultural dance and stated this was not the first time Malaysia had sought to claim part of its neighbouring county’s heritage as its own.

Aside from Malaysia’s claim on batik in 2007, controversy reigned when the Rasa Sayang folk song was used in a Malaysian Tourism commercial, a song that the Indonesians claim hails from Maluku of the Indonesian archipelago.

Indonesia seeks clarification on pendet dance

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government will check if the use of the popular Balinese pendet dance in Malaysia’s tourism ads was the latter’s attempt to claim it as their own, reported the Jakarta Post.

Its Culture and Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, reportedly said there were no reasons for Malaysia to exploit the pendet dance without permission from the Indonesian government.

“I will directly talk with the culture minister of Malaysia on the use of pendet dance and to find out who made the advertisements,” Jero said in an interview aired on a private televison channel on Sunday.

“The entire world knows the Pendet dance belongs to Bali. So it is a must for Malaysia to get the permits first from Indonesia before using it. I will also find out whose project it was and if it was funded privately or by the Malaysian government.”

He said Malaysia’s tourism ads for “Visit Malaysia Year” with the pendet dance were aired on the Discovery

Member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) Ida Ayu Agung Mas and Balinese artists staged a protest against the Malaysian government at the Denpasar Art Centre on Saturday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah also said on Sunday that his office would clarify the case with the Malaysian government.

“It is very unlikely Malaysia wants to claim it since the dance has been very popular in Bali.”

Faizasyah called on Indonesians to avoid being emotional in response to the issue, since it was not clear whether the ads were made by the government or private firms.

Source : MalayMail

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Hard Rock Hotel Penang Opening Offer

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From 24 August 2009 onwards

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Source : shoppingNsales
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Australia Langkawi's New Tourism Target

Australia is the Langkawi Development Authority's (Lada) next target to attract foreign tourists, after its success in Singapore, India and Germany.

Pishol Ishak, Kedah branch chairman of the Malaysian Association of Tour and travel Agents (Matta), said that towards this end, the branch and Lada, in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS), would hold a roadshow in Australia in October to promote the resort island.
He said 43,000 Australians visited Langkawi last year and the number for the first six months this year was 15,000.

On the three-day mission to Singapore last month, he said it had been successful with many queries received from tour agencies there.
Lada statistics showed that 37,988 tourists from Singapore visited Langkawi last year compared with 34,643 in 2007, the fourth highest number, after tourists from the United Kingdom, Thailand and Australia, he said.

Source : Bernama
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Tourism Malaysia to leverage on World Heritage sites status

TOURISM Malaysia is ready to leverage on the heritage listing status accorded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to Penang and Malacca to attract more foreign retirees to participate in the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.
Tourism Malaysia board of directors member Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen said Australia and Europe - where heritage conservation efforts are widely promoted - would serve as target markets.

"Dilapidated pre-war houses in George Town and Malacca have great potential as second homes and the MM2H participants can restore these properties to their former glory while adding in modern-day comforts," she told Business Times.
Last July, George Town and Malacca became World Heritage sites which were recognised by Unesco for their cultural heritage qualities.

Penang for example is home to Southeast Asia's largest collection of pre-war buildings estimated at over 15,000 structures.
Kee, who recently led a MM2H delegation to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in Australia, said that from the feedback she had obtained from successful MM2H participants, an average cost of RM1 million is incurred by a participant of the programme via pre- and post-purchase expenses in Malaysia.

"This also includes air fares for repeated travel between their home country and Malaysia, before they finally decide on making Malaysia their second home, the amount they invest in property, tax-free cars and the transfer of funds into local banks for their daily living expenses," she added.

Between 2002 and 2008, Malaysia has welcomed a total of 12,566 participants of the MM2H.
The top 10 countries these participants hail from are Australia, Bangladesh, China, South Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore and the UK.
MM2H allows foreigners who fulfil certain criteria, to stay in Malaysia for as long as possible on a multiple-entry social visit pass.
The social visit pass is initially for a period of 10 years, and is renewable.

Kee said apart from promoting the historic value of old properties to potential MM2H investors, Tourism Malaysia also continues to assist property developers and real estate agents throughout Malaysia when promoting the programme overseas.
"Affluent people overseas looking for second homes," she noted, "are also interested in houses by the sea, condominiums and summer houses like bungalows.
"But the value of the UNESCO heritage listing is something we intend to push by promoting inner city living and enjoying our culture, while using the restoration of dilapidated buildings as a hobby and investment to the MM2H participants," Kee added.

She said apart from promoting the restoration and conservation of heritage houses in Malaysia, Tourism Malaysia has also been using these selling points for the MM2H scheme:
* the absence of a waiting list for medical treatment and procedures, unlike that in developing countries
* low-cost living with high living standards,
* extended family programmes for participants by offering vacation sites in Malaysia, and
* the safety factor.
"We are also telling potential participants that they can use Malaysia as a hub for doing business with China, India and the Middle East," she added.

Source : BusinessTimes
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Malaysian Dance Outrage Ends Up As a Mis-Step

It was a burning issue of national pride that stirred up the righteous anger of a nation slighted.

Well, not quite. A firestorm of Internet outrage over the supposed theft of the Balinese pendet dance for a Malaysian tourism ad turned out to be just hot air on Monday, when the Discovery TV network owned up and said that the dancers had appeared in one of its own TV promotions, and it was all a mistake anyway.

But not before Indonesia’s government, unaware of Discovery’s action, had already made an official protest to Malaysia.

The story started late last week, as rumors about the ad and reactions shot to the top of the social microblogging Web site Twitter’s hot topics list.

“Pendet is ours! Noordin M. Top is yours!” said one popular Twitter message, referring to the Malaysia-born terrorist suspect wanted in connection with the July 17 bombings in Jakarta.

Over the weekend, news stories had reported, erroneously, that the image of a traditional Balinese pendet dancer was used in an official Malaysia Tourism ad.

They were a touchpaper to reignite smouldering and long-standing antagonism between the two countries over the heritage of traditional songs and dances, and further stoked the furor on Twitter and Facebook.

The problem was, it was all wrong — and perhaps a lesson in the myth-making power of the Internet — as an apology statement by Discovery made clear: “Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific regrets that the image of a Balinese dancer, sourced from an independent third party, was used in the promotion of the series ‘Enigmatic Malaysia.’ The promotional clip has been removed from all feeds.

“The Balinese dancer was not featured in any way in the program. Discovery has the deepest respect for the traditions, cultures and practices of all races and nations, and it is not our intention to cause any misunderstanding or distress to any party.”

Widyarka Ryananta, a senior diplomat at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, confirmed that the Malaysian government had never made an ad featuring pendet. “It was all a misunderstanding. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” he told the Jakarta Globe.

By the time Discovery’s apology had been issued, Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik had already sent a letter to his Malaysian counterpart, demanding the ad campaign be removed. “It happened two years ago with Reog Ponorogo. We don’t want it to happen again to us,” he said.

He said a bilateral pact signed in 2007 stated that if both countries wanted to publicize a culture in a “grey area,” they had to consult with each other first. But pendet was a different story: “People around the world would recognize in a glance that pendet is a Balinese dance. There’s nothing grey about it.”

After the error had been explained, Jero called on Indonesians to quickly register all forms of Indonesian cultural heritage to prevent such misunderstandings from reoccurring.

“We have so much cultural heritage,” he said. “We may accidentally neglect some of them.”

Source : Jakara Globe
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A good nap beats great sex, say travellers

Global sleep study shows that more than half of the Asian respondents felt that a great night's sleep trumped great sex.

A good nap beats great sex, say travellers

KUALA LUMPUR - A good night's sleep is much better than great sex.

This was among the results of a global sleep study of more than 12,500 frequent travellers conducted by Westin Hotels.

The study was a follow-up to a sleep study the hotel chain conducted a decade ago.

The results showed that more than half of the Asian respondents (52 per cent) felt that a great night's sleep trumped great sex.

A great leap compared with just 31 per cent who chose sleep over sex 10 years ago

But preferring a sleeping pill to a chocolate?

That is exactly what the survey found with 53 per cent saying they'd rather have a sleeping pill on their hotel pillow than the ubiquitous chocolate, while 56 per cent took a relaxant, sleep or stress medication when travelling overnight.

One in every two respondents felt a good night's sleep was very important with more than half (58 per cent) believing that today's technology and constant connectivity impairs sleep.

They also believe that the Blackberry makes dreadful sleep companions and 60 per cent said PDAs prevented them from getting a shut eye.

The biggest worry that was keeping them up at night were things like bills or mortgage payments (21 per cent), problems with their spouse or partner (20 per cent) and work related stress (18 per cent).

For male travellers in Asia, the main sleep prevention culprit was problems with their spouse or partner (20 per cent) while for females it was bills and mortgage (28 per cent).

In Canada and China, the biggest worry was problems with the spouse.

More than half of those surveyed (55 per cent) found that a great hotel bed provides a better sleep experience than their beds at home and 50 per cent agreed that sleeping in a hotel bed while on a business trip was a "luxury". This represents a change from 10 years ago, when 82 per cent of travellers found something to complain about hotel beds.

The survey also found that the most important service people expect from a hotel is a good night's sleep (23 per cent), followed by a good restaurant and shower (16 per cent each).

A bad night's sleep has serious repercussions with more than half surveyed saying that a bad night's sleep hurt their business performance.

Most people surveyed said they had got into fights with their boss or co-workers because of a bad night's sleep (30 per cent), more than one in four screwed up a presentation (26 per cent), while 22 per cent argued with their spouse or partner or forgot important events.

Males were most likely to get into a fight with their boss or co-workers (31 per cent), while females were most likely to screw up a presentation (30 per cent).

Twelve countries were surveyed. They were Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

The month-long survey, which ended on July 15, featured 33 questions.

Source : Relax
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Monday, August 24, 2009

One Malaysia Holiday Campaign Enchants Indian Travellers

The "One Malaysia Endless Experience" package jointly promoted by Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which offers an affordable package to woo more tourists, is becoming a hit in the Indian market.

"The response was overwhelming. We received 1,500 bookings from passengers since we launched the campaign last Monday in Delhi. We have offered 8,000 seats and by the end of the campaign next month it could exceed 75 per cent," Azahar Hamid, MAS regional manager for South Asia, told reporters.

Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, who arrived in Delhi last Sunday to energise bilateral tourism between India and Malaysia, launched the "One Malaysia" marketing campaign to draw more tourists to Malaysia.

The package, which includes a four-day/three-night stay, costs only Rs17,000 (RM1,260), and is about 30 per cent cheaper than the normal packages.

Regardless of the Influenza A(H1N1) disease threatening the travel industry and the global economic slowdown, the ministry expects 600,000 Indians to visit Malaysia this year, up from last year's 500,000.

Azahar said MAS also planned to increase flights to Chennai, a major gateway to Malaysia, following an increase in the number of travellers visiting Malaysia after a slight contraction in the previous months.

"There has been a good growth in Chennai; there has been a good turnaround. We have plans to operate three morning flights, on top of the current seven daily flights to Chennai and they are scheduled to begin in April 2010," he added.

Source : Bernama
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Make Ramadan Bazaars Tourist Attraction

Through aggressive promotion, Ramadan bazaars might just become another tourist product for local and foreign tourists, Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib said Saturday.

With the right move, Malaysia could attract more tourists from Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa to experience Ramadan festivities here, he said at the launch of a Ramadan bazaar here.

His speech was read out by the ministry's deputy secretary-general, Datuk Ab Ghaffar A. Tambi.

Meanwhile, the ministry, with the cooperation of Petronas and Maggi, today prepared and distributed 100 cauldrons of 'Kampung Baru bubur lambuk' to the public.

Meanwhile, City Hall director-general Datuk Salleh Yusup said they had approved 6,700 Ramadan bazaar sites at 11 parliamentary constituencies in the Federal Territory.

He said City Hall charged traders a monthly fee of between RM14.25 to RM130 while those selling at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Masjid India were charged between RM170 to RM785 per lot.

Source : Bernama
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New Low Cost Carrier, Silverfly To Fly Ipoh-Medan Route

Another new low cost carrier, Silverfly Sdn Bhd with the cooperation of Riau Airlines is expected to make its maiden flight serving the Ipoh-Medan-Ipoh route beginning this September 9.

Datuk Bandar of Ipoh, Datuk Roshidi Hashim in announcing this, said that the air service was a proactive move taken by the state government to bring about benefits and facilities to the people in the state.

"The Silverfly air services will certainly bring a lot of benefits for the people as it involves three flights weekly, namely Monday, Friday and Sunday," he told reporters after officiating the MATTA Perak Travel Fair 2009 here Friday.

He earlier witnessed the signing of a joint flight service agreement between Silverfly and Riau Airlines.

Roshidi said the the flights will also activate the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport here and promote tourism activities between the two countries.

Meanwhile the Regional Manager of Silverfly Sdn Bhd, Eddy Azuan Sidik, said that the flights will cost RM369 for a two-way trip and RM259 for one way travel.

The airline will be using the Fokker-50 which has a 48-passenger capacity, while the flight from Ipoh to Medan has been scheduled at 12.30 pm.

Source : Bernama
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Malaysia Targets One Million Indian Tourists

Senior Malaysia tourism officials are now in India to woo more tourists from the burgeoning affluent middle class population.

It will, nevertheless, be a tough task as regional players are vying for the same pie to rake in foreign exchange for their cash-hungry economies.

A high-level delegation, led by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen, is convincing dozens of Indian travel agents that Malaysia is a competitive tropical holiday destination in Southeast Asia, unparallel to any of its neighbours.

More Indians, made rich by the decades-long economic success are travelling abroad for leisure, something that was only exclusive to the nova rich in the past.

Annually, eight to 10 million Indians travel, a dismal figure if compared with the country's billion over population.

The number is growing annually, especially with nearly 20 million people adding yearly to the already existing 300-million strong middle-class society.

"India is an exciting market for us. We only had 29,000 tourists from India in 1999 but the figure shot up to 500,000 last year.

"We want a million Indian tourists to visit Malaysia in the next two to three years, " Dr Ng said.

Cash-rich Indians are also big spenders, having splurged a whopping RM1.5 billion last year in Malaysia.

Malaysia raked in over RM40 billion in tourist dollar from nearly 22 million visitors, placing the tourism sector as the second largest foreign exchange earner, after manufacturing.

Over the last decade, persistent marketing strategies backed by tourist-friendly policies had helped Malaysia unlock the tough Indian market.

India is a favourite hunting ground for tourist-dependent countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, especially when the sluggish global economy clipped their foreign earnings.

"India is the fifth largest market for Malaysia. We need to re-look at this market (India) and at our advertising strategies because each city in India is different and unique.

"Malaysia Airlines and Tourism Malaysia need to collaborate to promote Malaysia among Indians. We cannot rest on our laurels," she added.

Dr Ng and her delegation are currently on a road show to Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai to sell Malaysia as an attractive tropical holiday haven in the region.

She said Malaysia was ready to offer tourists from India customised wedding packages, special holiday bonanza for women, diving and golfing activities to mega sales for shopperholics.

But Indian travel entrepreneurs are demanding more from the Malaysian delegation.

They want visa on arrival, which the Malaysian government cancelled last year due to overstaying problems, and increased flight frequency.

In her sessions with the media, she tried to cajole the hard-hitting Indian journalists to sell the famous tag line " Malaysia Truly Asia " which placed Malaysia on the international tourist map.

"We are cost competitive, tourists are safe in Malaysia, India and Malaysia have many commonalities.

"Come to Malaysia and see what we have", she told Indian reporters.

But it will be a tough challenge for the new minister, with emerging regional players like Indo-China also clambering for a slice of the Indian outbound tourist market.

With the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic on the rise, tourist arrivals in Malaysia could be in the cold.

Source : Bernama
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Maya Hotel Suffered Low Occupancy due to H1N1

Selangor Dredging Bhd, a company involved in property development, leasing and hotel operations, has three mixed development projects in the pipeline to be launched in its financial year ending March 31, 2010, with a total gross development value of between RM400 million and RM500 million.

Managing Director Teh Lip Kim said the projects, a 110 unit condominum near Newton Circus in Singapore and a condominium in SS 2, Petaling Jaya, and residential houses and apartments in Taman Melawati, Hulu Klang, both in phase two, would be launched early next year.

"The development near Newton Circus will be our second project in Singapore and our share of the GDV is about RM225 million.

"It is in the final stage of being launched probably end 2009 or in the first quarter of next year", she said, adding that the company was optimistic of its second project in the republic as the pick up rate had recovered.

Meanwhile, Selangor Dredging's maiden project in Singapore, a 22 unit apartment block in Mount Sophia was already 40 per cent sold.

She said 70 per cent of the 185 apartments to be built in SS2 was sold out, a tremendous endorsement for the company given the current market environment.

"We will conduct our projects prudently and be sensitive to the prevailing market scenario. At present, we are already seeing some improvement in the demand for properties.

"We have RM235 million in proceeds yet to accrue from the sale of remaining units in all these projects.

On another development, Teh said the company was in the midst of discussions with the authorities on resuming work on its luxurious housing project, dubbed "Damansara 21", which was halted following the tragic Bukit Antarabangsa landslide in December 2008.

"We still have a stop work order. The guideline for hillslope development is out and we have complied with it. We are still working very closely with the authorities as safety is our prime concern here.

"We have spent RM80 million on earth works so far. As the project is not launched, we are not adversely affected with the stop work," he elaborated.

The company also operates Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur which suffered low occupancy since the outbreak of the H1N1 pandemic.

Group Chairman Eddy Chieng Ing said, " We get European, Australian, American and multinational clients, but many have cancelled bookings and stopped travelling since the pandemic.

"In the first quarter we registered a loss of RM280,000," he said.

Selangor Dredging recorded a net profit of RM17.2 million for the financial year ended March 31, 2009, down sharply from RM97.1 million chalked up in the same period in 2008.

Property development contributed 70 per cent of the group's revenue.

Source : Bernama
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Penang said to have inflated tourist arrivals

Gerakan has accused the state of allegedly blowing up the tourist arrivals figure for Penang last year.

Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow gave his own calculations why the 6.3 million figure was doubtful after including the number of hotel rooms, their occupancy rate and the flight capacity of airlines flying into Penang.

He said if the figures were true, it meant about 20,000 tourists visited Penang daily.

Teng, who was the previous Tourism Development Committee chairman , said there were 14,000 hotel rooms and even if two people shared a room for two days, the figures adds up to 10,000 rooms.

“So we are left with 4,000 more rooms the next day. Where are the other 20,000 tourists going to stay the next day?” he said.

Source : STAR
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Hotel occupancy hit by downturn, A(H1N1)

However, players say second half showing signs of improvement

PETALING JAYA: The global economic recession and threat of Influenza A(H1N1) have affected the country’s hotel occupancy, according to the Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners (MAHO).

It found most hotels reported about 20% decline in business in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year despite higher tourist arrivals during the duration, as reported by Tourism Malaysia on its website.

The higher tourist arrivals could partly be attributed to the temporary shut down of the Bangkok airport due to protests in April, which diverted the traffic to Malaysia, making the country a stopover point before travellers proceeded to their final destination.

Meanwhile, arrivals from certain countries have shown a significant decline (see chart).

“Britain and many countries discouraged their residents from going for holiday overseas and promoted more domestic travel due to the global economic crisis. With A(H1N1), many more people, especially the Japanese who are very health concious, will refrain from travelling overseas,” MAHO told StarBiz.

Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur area director of sales and marketing Albert Stienissen said the hotel saw about 10% drop in occupancy for Middle Eastern tourists in July and August from the year before but more arrivals from Gulf Cooperation Council markets like Bahrain, Iran, Oman, Qatar and Jordan.

There were also fewer travellers from Japan, Taiwan and China in the first half year but the numbers had recovered since July, he told StarBiz.

Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur general manager Lyndon Discombe said the hotel experienced a drop in occupancy from the Japan and Taiwan markets while the China segment showed growth.

It had been able to secure more business from alternative markets like India, Singapore and Hong Kong. In contrast to the tourist arrivals trend, Saudi Arabia showed a healthy increase in room occupancy last month versus July 2008, he said.

“Earlier in the recession, we experienced a significant drop in corporate and meeting operations. Corporations have reduced, and in some instances, cancelled travel and meetings, while some changed from external venues to conducting meetings and training in-house,” Discombe added.

Hilton Kuala Lumpur general manager William Costley said the A(H1N1) outbreak led the Japanese government to caution citizens to avoid outbound travel as much as possible and that had significantly affected all countries with regards to the Japanese market.

Outbound tourism, nonetheless, has affected all countries, and not only those in Asia. For example, Britain has also seen a large increase in domestic travel. The hotel’s strategy is to target other key Asian destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

“Our hotel has never really depended on the Middle East market in the summer months. We only receive overflow bookings when the hotels in the Golden Triangle are all fully booked,” he said.

The impact of the global recession “appears drastic” as 2007 and 2008 were record years for the hotel industry, Costley said. “If we compare our performance against 2006, the business is still performing very well and Malaysia has been less affected compared with some neighbouring countries,” he added.

Hotel Nikko Kuala Lumpur director of communications Katie Hoo said while people tended to adopt “a wait and see” attitude, it did not mean they had cancelled all travelling plans. “If there’s a need to travel due to work, people will still travel,” she said.

On the upside, the trend seems to be changing in the second half year with the occupancy level for July and August showing improvement.

Hoo said the hotel recorded improvement both in terms of room occupancy and number of meetings in July while August looked set to be a busy month.

“Having said that, we expect September to slow down a fair bit due to the Ramadan period,” she added. Hilton KL, meanwhile, has July and August as the best months of the year.

“We achieved almost 85% occupancy for July and expect occupancy to average 90% until the start of Ramadan, when business generally declines,” said Costley, adding that bookings for September to December looked similar to last year’s, when business started to decline from September.

Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur saw July and August’s average occupancy rate rise 3% year-on-year, with notable improvement among the domestic and regional sectors.

Growth was likely to continue for the rest of the year thanks to airlines’ low-fare promotions and the hotel’s tactical offers over several channels, said Stienissen.

Discombe of Prince Hotel said while July and August were still not at the same levels as the corresponding period last year, it had started to see more individual and group leisure travel, as well as improvement in corporate guests and meetings.

Source : STAR
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Temple trustees see red over revealing pictures

They deny that the photographs, which depict a Caucasian woman behaving inappropriately, were shot inside their temple.

Temple trustees see red over revealing pictures

[top photo: (Left) A Shin Min Daily News article in April reports about the photographs that were allegedly taken in the temple.]

GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia: The circulation of an e-mail containing a dozen revealing photographs of a young Caucasian woman supposedly praying at the Kek Lok Si Temple has left the temple trustees steaming.

They denied that the pictures were shot inside their temple and claimed that some mischievous people were trying to tarnish the name of one of Penang’s tourist icons.

Temple trustee Datuk Steven Ooi said they were aware of the claims but ruled out that the pictures were shot inside the temple.

"Someone is out to smear the good name of the temple, which is one of the state's popular tourist attractions," he said when contacted.

Ooi said a comparison of the pictures with the temple's internal and external features, including the Buddha statues, showed that they could not have been taken at the Kek Lok Si Temple.

"It is almost impossible for the woman to pull off such a stunt inside the temple because it is busy with visitors, nuns and monks most of the time."

The 12 e-mail pictures show the young woman clad in a blouse and short skirt, exposing her panties and breasts while performing prayers.

Ooi said the temple would not make a police report because they do not want to be dragged into a controversy

Link to Kwong Wah eNewspaper with more pics

Source : AsiaOne
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tourism still thriving in Malaysia

Industry players upbeat on promising figures up to July

Domestic tourism players are upbeat about the prospects of their industry for the remainder of this year on promising industry figures up to July and as the sector enters peak season period.

The optimisim is despite critical challenges facing the sector, such as the worsening Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic amid a global economic downturn.

According to the Tourism Ministry, tourist arrivals from January to May this year totalled 9.4 million, an increase of 2.6% compared with the corresponding period in 2008.

And despite the rising number of H1N1 cases lately, Malaysia recorded slightly over two million tourist arrivals for July, an increase of 3.9% from the same month in 2008.

Tan Sin Chong ... ‘Although further uncertainty has been added, I am optimistic'.

There were 13.35 million tourist arrivals from January to July 2009, a rise of 3.6% from a year earlier.

The Association of Tourism Attractions’ (ATA) Penang chapter chairman, Eddy Low, said the tourism sector would remain strong going forward, although he ackowledged that H1N1 remained a real threat to the industry.

“Domestic and short haul markets will rule the day,” he said, adding that “outbound and ground services are still attractive. Airfares are dirt cheap.”

He said connectivity was shaping up well on a regional basis as well as in the country itself.

Reliance Pacific Bhd managing director Tan Sin Chong was also optimistic about the outlook of the domestic tourism industry.

Visitor arrivals to Malaysia for the first and second quarters saw growth, he noted.

“There has been a 2.2% growth in the first quarter of 2009 compared with (the same quarter of) 2008. The second quarter registered an even stronger growth of 4.7%,” he said, adding that indications of stronger tourist arrivals projected a brighter outlook from September, which is traditionally peak travel season.

Given these promising signs and evidence of some recovery in the global economy, the outlook for the domestic tourism sector for the remainder of the year had definitely improved despite the growing threat of H1N1, he said.

“Although further uncertainty (H1N1) has been added, I am still optimistic,” he said, noting that the upgrade of the pandemic to Phase 6 by the World Health Organisation was related to geographical spread and not severity.

“Compared with SARS in 2003, the impact is less severe. Given the resilience of tourism, I expect tourism to bounce back much stronger within the next three months,” Tan said.

Another positive indicator for the industry is the lower prices of travel and hotel accommodation.

“Overall prices have reduced by 20% to 40%. This should act as a stimulus for people to travel,” Tan said.

RAM Holding Bhd chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said declining concerns about job losses and improving consumer sentiment were encouraging more travel.

“But the level is still below the pre-crisis trend,” he noted.

Cheap fares and competitively priced holiday packages had cushioned the fall in revenue and aided the gradual recovery of the local and international tourism segments, Yeah said.

But he warned that the threat posed by the H1N1 pandemic was real.

“In the coming months, the local and international industry faces an imminent threat in the form of the insidious H1N1 pandemic as rising fatalities may curb the appetite to travel,” he said.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents vice-president Khadijah Rahman agreed that H1N1 posed a real threat to the tourism sector.

“The general consensus is that people are worried for their safety and perhaps, wise enough not to take the chance of contracting the flu. Some have even gone to the extent of cancelling their reservations,” she said.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in a report in March, had projected that the Malaysian travel and tourism industry would generate RM135.2bil in economic activity this year but total demand was expected to decline by 4.4%.

WTTC is a forum for business leaders in the travel and tourism industry.

Source : STAR
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Analysts: Proposed RM44bil Malacca Bridge will be tough to see through

The proposed RM44bil bridge connecting Indonesia and Malaysia has received lukewarm response from the analyst fraternity.

“It will be tough to see a project of this magnitude through,” Jeremy Goh, construction analyst at OSK Research, said.

At RM44bil, the proposed 48.69km bridge, poised to be one of the longest in the world, will cost much more than the Government’s current “pump-priming highlight project” – the Klang Valley light rail transit extension/upgrade, which together with new lines is worth RM30bil to RM35bil.

“I doubt the rate of returns can cover the huge cost,” Goh said, questioning also the urgency to link human traffic between the two countries.

According to reports yesterday, private firm Straits of Malacca Partners Sdn Bhd (SOMP) had proposed to build the bridge connecting both countries.

The project idea was mooted during former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s reign in 1995 but was shelved because of the Asian financial crisis in 1997/98.

Proposals to both governments are said to have been submitted, with SOMP saying that it hopes to secure approvals “by the end of this year or early 2010.”

China’s Exim Bank had said it planned to support the project and, according to its policy, could provide funding of up to 85%.

CIMB analyst Sharizan Rosely said “it will take some time” for feasibility studies on the proposed mega project to be completed.

“If it does go through, it will be a bonus for the construction sector,” he said, noting that “if you wanted to build the longest bridge in the world, you needed extremely professional contractors and consultants.”

Another analyst who tracks the regional construction sector believes that the project “will have difficulties kicking off.”

“It’s too complex. Here you have a bridge which will cross the Straits of Malacca, one of the busiest maritime shipping lanes in the world, at the narrowest point; the construction may pose navigational safety issues.

“And the project involves two governments, making it more complicated,” he said.

“If you want to build an infrastructure of this stature, you need to question the real need for it – this is a huge project which needs a lot of deliberation.”

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was quoted yesterday as saying that the proposed bridge was a “viable and profitable” project and expected to boost the economies of both countries.

“Malacca has a population of 800,000 and has 40,000 vehicles, including buses and lorries, entering the state daily.

“In Sumatra, where the bridge is linked through Dumai, there are 70 million people and 10% are rich. They have money and come to Malacca for health tourism. They are also eager to come to Malaysia for their holidays,” he was quoted as saying.

Based on a viability study on the proposed Straits of Malacca crossing to Dumai by SOMP, it was found that traffic per day would stand at 15,000 vehicles.

Toll charges, meanwhile, were expected to be either US$75 (RM266) or US$85 (RM301) per vehicle based on the current fare of RM100 per person (one way) charged by ferry operators.

Source : STAR
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Less International Arrivals In Asia Pacific

International inbound arrivals in Asia Pacific this year todate decreased to 124,550,780 from 130,962,043 in the same period of last year.

The number of international visitor arrivals in Southeast Asia for the first quarter this year contracted by 18.9 percent compared with a growth of 7.8 percent in the same quarter of last year.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) President Gregory A.Duffell cited political instability, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, disease and security issues among the reasons for the drop in inbound arrivals.

Fear of contracting the highly infectious virus Pandemic A(H1N1), brought about thousands of travel package cancellations from May to July this year, he said during the launch of the Standard Online Tourism Architecture (SOTA) international conference here Wednesday.

SOTA is a consolidated tourism e-business platform aimed at uniting government agencies, various sectors of the travel industry and consumers.

It is a travel eco-system to leverage on the power of networking, via collaboration with Google,, Nuff Nang, and other social networking websites.

The online platform includes components for travel packages, hotel and flight bookings, and other travel-related technology integral to the entire supply chain of the tourism industry.

The platform was created by Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd (CAT) which is also the developer of, the official e-tourism portal for the Ministry of Tourism.

CAT has been an e-business catalyst for the Malaysian tourism industry since its establishment nine years ago.

Source : Bernama
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The Indonesia / Malaysia Bridge over strait good for trade and tourism

The proposed Straits of Malacca Bridge between Malacca and Riau in Sumatra will open up economic opportunities between Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Malacca has a population of 800,000 and has 40,000 vehicles including buses and lorries entering the state daily. We also received 7.2 million tourists last year,” said Chief Mi­nister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

“In Sumatra, where the bridge is linked through Dumai, there are 70 million people and 10% are rich. They have money and come to Malacca for health tourism.

“They are eager to come to Malaysia and Thailand for their holidays,” he said in his speech after attending a seminar organised by the project’s developer, Straits of Malacca Partners Sdn Bhd.

“I believe it will boost tourism. And the Indonesian economy is growing,” he added.

Asked about the likely starting date, Mohd Ali said the developer was still waiting for an official answer from both governments.

Straits of Malacca Partners chair­man Tan Sri Ibrahim Zain told reporters that a formal request had been sent to the Federal Go­vernment a month ago.

“The groundwork for the project started three years ago,” he said.

He said studies showed that the project’s two main design schemes – bridge plan and a bridge-tunnel plan – were technically feasible.

He said the cost was now estimated at US$12.5bil (RM44bil). He said that the Export-Import Bank of China was willing to fund 85% of the total cost.

Source : STAR
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