Friday, May 21, 2010

Sabah, Sarawak To Lure 120,000 Singapore Tourists In 2010

Sabah and Sarawak which are aggressively marketing their tourism products abroad, hope to lure about 120,000 Singaporean tourists to the two Borneo states by this year.

The tourism boards of the two states joined hands Thursday with Tourism Malaysia in Singapore, led by its local director Zalizam Zakaria, in organising a seminar and travel mart for over 50 Singapore travel agents here.

About 20 travel agents and hoteliers from Sabah and Sarawak participated in the events promoting the nature and adventure attractions, which are in abundance, in the two states.

The Sabah delegation was led by the Sabah Tourism Board Assistant Marketing Manager Simon Jr Jalin and Sarawak, by the Sarawak Tourism Board Marketing Director, Benedict Jimbau.

Simon said Sabah hoped to increase its Singapore tourist arrivals to between 42,000 to 45,000 this year from the 40,000 recorded last year, by luring them to its fascinating Mount Kinabalu, forest and nature reserves as well as sea and diving spots.

Benedict said Sarawak was targeting 76,000 Singaporeans to visit the state this year, especially to its nature products such as the Mulu National Park, the Pandaw Cruise along the Rejang river and its international events, the annual Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching and Jazz Festival in Miri.

Last year, the state registered over 50,000 tourist arrivals from Singapore, making the city-state fourth, among top-five tourist generating markets for Sarawak after Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Benedict said the Sarawak Tourism Board, now operating in a more business-like manner rather than as a government agency before, has been going all out to promote the state tourism industry abroad, especially in the international travel marts.

Source : Bernama
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Dr Ng: Introduce Tourist Guide in school co-curriculum

The children in Malaysia's top holiday islands — Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Tioman — will be given formal training on how to be top-notch tourist guides.

Described as a "new direction" for the tourism ministry, its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the pilot programme will see the introduction of island tourism as co-curricular subjects in secondary schools on these islands.

"We want to transform the locals to be champions and guardians of the islands," Dr Ng said at a press conference during a tourism seminar held at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) this morning.

Dr Ng explained that locals make the best tourist guides, but they must be well-informed beforehand. "Some local guides only know how to direct you around the island, but are not knowledgeable on other detailed aspects.

"They need to know where the good diving spots are, the names of the trees and such," said Dr Ng. She related a bad experience she had with a poor tour guide during a visit to an island.

"The diving guide stepped on a coral. I scolded him, and immediately refused to continue with him as a guide for my dives. A good guide or instructor will not do that. Hence, we are proposing to introduce tourism as a co-curricular activity in schools. It is important to start educating school children from a young age," she said, adding that the subject will be introduced to children from the age of 13.

Dr Ng said she has already discussed the matter with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Education Minister, and it will be proposed in a cabinet meeting next week.

The minister expressed her optimism on the programme being given the green light, and said, "it will not be difficult."

Dr Ng said the programme, among others, will see the children trained to become good divers. Training, she said, will be provided by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified instructors.

She added: "They will also be taught foreign languages, such as Korean or French" which is equally important. "Not long ago I was at one of our islands and I saw a group of local youngsters loitering at a jetty. They were just hanging around doing nothing when they could have earned money by becoming tourist guides," said Dr Ng, adding that tourists pay a lot of money to good guides.

Dr Ng was present this morning to give her keynote address at the seminar, dubbed "Innovation and Creativity in Tourism: Transformation to High-Income Economy".

Source : MalayMail
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Vacationers dump Bangkok, fly to Singapore & Malaysia

The summer season for places like Singapore, Mal­aysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong has never been so busy. Due to political unrest in Bangkok and volcanic ash eruptions in Europe, a lot of tourist traffic is diverting to these places, thereby, generating an extra 25-30 per cent bookings for them.

Travellers who had booked their holiday packages for Thailand and European destinations are left with a few options -- either to cancel their bookings or postpone their trips. However, some of them, who want to spend their summer vacation abroad, have just transferred their booking to other nations. This has resulted in big business for destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Macao.

“June is going to be fully booked for Singapore, Malaysia. They are going to get over 25 per cent extra traffic this season,” Kapil Goswamy, managing director of New Delhi-based Trans World Travels, said.

While the Bangkok bookings are being diverted to Asian regions, European cancellations are diverted mainly to the US. “It is mainly people who have combined packages of Bangkok-Phuket, who are cancelling their travel plans. Similarly, people who had plans for Europe are choosing to go to the US now,” Richa Goyal Sikri, director, group business development, STIC Travel, said.

Singapore and Bangkok are established tourism ma­rkets in India. They account for over 50 per cent of the total international bookings of many travel companies. But this time, the share of Bangkok would get transferred to other markets.

The additional traffic, however, does not mean extra money. There has been no impact on pricing as of now with the sudden growth in demand. According to travel firms, the reason why it has not affected demand is that there was already an inventory with hoteliers and airlines.

Source :
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Shangri-La upbeat on 2010 results

SHANGRI-LA Hotels (Malaysia) Bhd's performance in the current financial year ending December 31 2010 is expected to match, if not surpass, its results for 2008.

The expectation comes in line with better economic sentiments and two fully-furbished hotels. Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur and Golden Sands Resorts Penang underwent a RM112 million and RM40 million renovation respectively last year.

In the year ended December 31 2008, Shangri-La posted a net profit of RM49.27 million on revenue of RM415.45 million.

In comparison, the hotel owner-cum-operator only churned in a net profit of RM35.35 million on revenue of RM367.37 million last year as its revenue, especially from its main performer Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur took a hit from the global financial crisis.
"Business will definitely be better with two hotels back in line... all things being equal, we hope to make as much, if not slightly better than in 2008," managing director Kuok Oon Kwong told reporters after the group's annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

She said the Iceland volcanic ash situation did cause some blips in the group's business, but overall all its hotel properties in Malaysia are expected to churn in a better gross operating profit (GOP) compared to 2009.

GOP is gross revenue (from rooms, food and beverage, laundry or business centre) minus cost of operations (wages, electricity and amenities).

Main revenue contribution in 2010 is expected to come from Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, followed by Rasa Ria Resort in Sabah and the Golden Sands Resorts Penang.

The hotel in the capital alone is expected to contribute over half to the group's total revenue this year.

Meanwhile, Kuok said there is no more hotel upgrade exercise scheduled for the year, but Rasa Ria Resort in Sabah is expected to undergo renovation at its old wing in 2011.

Kuok also said that with the positive cash flow coming in, it expects to retire its borrowings by the end of 2012.

The group's gearing increased to 23 per cent (RM168.97 million) as at December 31 2009 as a result of financing to renovate the two hotels, from 21 per cent (RM154.32 million) in 2008.

Its net gearing ratio is expected to reduce to between 13 per cent and 15 per cent by the end of this year and be completely settled by the end of 2012.

Source : BTimes
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AirAsia to proceed with Thai listing

LOW-COST carrier AirAsia Bhd will continue with plans for a dual listing in Thailand but will do so once the political environment there shows sign of recovery.

"Plans are still afoot. Crisis comes and goes," said its group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tong Fernandes.

He said sales in Thailand slowed down in the last two months due to the uncertainties in that country and expects to have a tough time with its operations there up to July.

AirAsia has yet to set a date for the listing.
"Powers of recovery in Southeast Asia are very strong. We will help Thailand to bounce back. We owe it to the people there," he told reporters on the sidelines, after the Global CEO session at the World Islamic Economic Forum in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

AirAsia has harboured plans of listing abroad since the inception of its Thailand and Indonesian associate airlines some six years ago.

The plan is to list AirAsia group in Thailand first before going forward with plans to list in Indonesia. This is line with its vision in becoming a full-fledged Asean airline.

Source : BTimes
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

$50 million makeover: Rasa Sentosa Resort to become Shangri-La

Design concept for new function room
Sketch of new lobby
Revamped guest room

Following the completion of a $50 million makeover the Rasa Sentosa Resort will be renamed Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort.

Ogie R. Manuel, Director of Sales & Marketing said the all new and improved hotel will cater to both business and leisure guests.

The resort renovations, which began in March, include a full revamp of guestrooms and facilities, including the swimming pool, the gym, the spa, the children’s club, food and beverage outlets and function rooms.

Following the renovations, the resort will reduce its room inventory from 459 to 454 rooms and revise its room types to better cater to the needs of different groups of travellers.

For example, a guest travelling with children can book a larger family room with child-friendly facilities and extra luggage space, while a couple on their honeymoon can check into a corner room featuring an open concept bathroom with panoramic sea views.

Business travellers will be able to make use of the resorts newly refurbished function rooms, which will feature a new stage, lighting, soundproof double walls and the latest equipment.

Guests can also expect more dining choices with a brand new three-in-one dining concept that features an all-day buffet outlet with live cooking stations, a Chinese noodle house and a casserole section.

The hotel will also feature a dedicated juice bar and a stand-alone bar where guests can enjoy live entertainment over cocktails.

The façade of the resort will also be improved with a lush landscape and a new porte cochère in the lobby area. A grand staircase will lead from the ground floor up to the reception area on level five.

Boasting the only beachfront address on Sentosa Island, the resort enjoys close proximity to mainland Singapore, which is conveniently linked by a causeway.

In addition to numerous island attractions and VivoCity - one of the largest shopping malls in Singapore - the resort is also minutes away from Southeast Asia's first Universal Studios.

The project is targeted for completion in early 2011, after which Rasa Sentosa Resort, Singapore will officially re-open as Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort.

Source : ETBMICE
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Technology Trends in Tourism and Travel at SOTA 2010

Technology Trends in Tourism and Travel

1.8 billion people are connected to the internet today. Social media mediums Facebook, Twitter, YouTube have overtaken porn as the Number #1 activity on the web. There are over 200 million blogs and over 31 billion searches on Google every month. What does all this mean to you?

The integration of technology into our daily lives is transforming consumers' behaviour and social practices. The travel industry has seen this impact the business. Where once, the travel agent was the mediator between the consumer and travel suppliers such as airlines and hotels, the travel consumer can now access these services directly from a single laptop or mobile device. The way the game is played has changed. There's a clarion call for tourism and travel players to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to stay in the game.

The SOTA Tourism Technology Conference 2010 is an annual event that provides a vibrant platform for all tourism players and participating travel agents get up-to-date information and knowledge on the latest trends and emerging technologies in the travel industry. With an expert panel of distinguished industry professionals from the Asia Pacific region, conference delegates can look forward to a time of gaining rich knowledge, sharing of best practices and networking.

Don't miss this opportunity to be part of this enriching event. We look forward to meeting you at the SOTA Tourism Technology Conference 2010!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stay at the latest Starpoints hotel in KL

Amid the sprawling cityscape of Kuala Lumpur, take a breather at StarPoints Hotel Kuala Lumpur from the strains of work and daily commute. Within the bustling capital of Malaysia, there is a place that fills one’s yearning for an escape, even for just a moment.

NEW HOTEL: StarPoints Hotel Kuala Lumpur boasts 137 tastefully furnished rooms with contemporary designs.

NEW HOTEL: StarPoints Hotel Kuala Lumpur boasts 137 tastefully furnished rooms with contemporary designs.

Located in the Little India, along Jalan Masjid India above the popular Haniffa Departmental Store, StarPoints Hotel Kuala Lumpur offers easy access to popular tourist destinations such as KLCC, KL Tower, Central Market, National Square and lots more.

The hotel shines with its stylish rooms and suites which are further enhanced with comfortable air-conditioning, Internet access and cable TV in each accommodation. It houses 137 tastefully furnished rooms with contemporary designs, featuring four Executive Deluxe rooms, 34 Deluxe rooms, 99 Superior rooms.

The hotel’s restaurant offers a fine selection of delights, while the corporate centre provides services for travellers’ urgent business needs.

StarPoints Hotel Kuala Lumpur is the initial Southeast Asian footprint of Star Hospitality Hotels and Resorts, the arm of ETA Star Properties, a leading property developer in the UAE.

Stay here and savour ethnicity at its best on your doorstep.

Stroll along Little India and see it yourself the vibrancy of the textile outlets, jewelry stores and wonderful bazaars while the smell of exquisite south Asian cuisine fills the air.

Check it out at

Source : BorneoPost
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MAS Incur RM15 Million Loss From Recent Ash Crisis

The recent ash crisis, due to the recent Iceland volcano eruption, has left Malaysia Airlines (MAS) short of RM15 million, in just one week.

Its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin, said the amount spanned from loss of sales to providing alternative flights for stranded customers.

"We estimated the negative impact to us at about RM15 million and it was a bit of everything.

"There was definitely loss of sales as people who wanted to fly to Europe or those from Europe who wanted to come here changed their minds. "We also had (to incur) additional cost for grounded aircraft and of course we did have extra flights to clear the backlog of passengers," he told a media briefing on the carrier's first-quarter results here today.

Tengku Azmil said MAS didn't make money out of the extra flights but incurred losses as the airline had no choice but to undertake the exercise to minimise the waiting time of those stranded.

"The ash clouds are back. The first time it happened it was about one week. This round it is difficult to tell. We did see a close of European airspace recently," he said.

He said MAS delayed a number of flights to Europe in order to ensure it landed at scheduled destinations and not somewhere else.

"We have received news that some of the airspace have reopened and we have re-timed flights while some are on schedule," Tengku Azmil said, adding the closing of airspace was only for a short period and its impact would be fairly minimal.

He also said if the airspace was closed for a extended period, like previously, its impact on the airline would accumulate.

Source : Bernama
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Bangkok Hotel Occupancy ‘Very Bad’ as Fatal Riots Deter Tourism

Bangkok hotels are less than 30 percent full, about half the usual rate for this time of year, as deadly protests deter tourists from visiting the city, according to the Thai Hotels Association.

“When they hear about burning tires, bombs and shootings, they decide not to come,” Prakit Shinamornpong, the group’s president, said yesterday by phone. “It’s very bad.”

Occupancy in hotels on the Sathorn Road, near some of the worst violence, has dropped to as low as 10 percent, Prakit said, while the 517-room Dusit Thani Hotel in central Bangkok closed yesterday on security concerns. Tourists are avoiding the capital after at least 36 people were killed in clashes between troops and anti-government protesters over the past four days.

“I won’t go into the city now,” said Lisa Ischane, an event coordinator, as she queued in Hong Kong for a flight to Bangkok. “I was planning to spend a few days there just to relax.”

Ischane will instead connect onto a flight to Koh Phangan, a resort destination in southern Thailand, rather than visiting shops and restaurants in Bangkok. “The airport should be fine,” she said.

Thailand’s deadliest political clashes in two decades threaten to undermine tourism, which accounts for about 7 percent of the economy, according to Credit Suisse Group AG. The number of foreign tourists may drop to as few as 12.7 million from 14.1 million last year, costing the country as much as 100 billion baht ($3.1 billion) in tourism revenue, the Tourism Council of Thailand said last month.

Travel Advisories

At least 43 countries have issued advisories against travel to at least parts of Thailand, according to Credit Suisse, including Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. JTB Corp., Japan’s largest travel agency, canceled tours to Bangkok until May 31, extending a block that began on April 24.

“The tourism industry just stops amid a situation like this,” Charoen Wangananont, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, said by phone yesterday. “There have been no new bookings for about two or three weeks already.”

Hong Kong travel agents have lost more than HK$30 million ($3.8 million) in sales since late March because of disruptions in Thailand, said Michael Wu, chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, which represents about 1,500 travel agents. The group will likely announce that it is canceling all trips to the Thai capital until May 31, he said.

‘We are Suffering’

“We are suffering as Bangkok is a popular travel destination among Hong Kong people,” he said. “We hope things will be settled by mid-June and the protests won’t affect our summer peak-season bookings or we will see a greater loss.”

Hotels in Kao Lak, a resort in Phang Nga province, are less than 6 percent full, Prakit said. On the island of Phuket, occupancy is below 40 percent, compared with a usual level of about 60 percent, he said.

Thai tourism-related shares have tumbled since the protests intensified on April 10. Thai Airways International Pcl, the nation’s biggest airline, has fallen 11 percent to 25 baht. Hotel operator Minor International Pcl has lost 7 percent to 9.65 baht, while Dusit has lost 1 percent. The benchmark SET Index has fallen 4.6 percent.

The baht yesterday weakened to the lowest level in seven weeks, dropping to 32.50 to the dollar. Foreign funds sold more Thai shares last week than at any time since November 2007.


All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Corp. have both closed downtown ticket offices in Bangkok because of the protests. They haven’t canceled any flights so far. Singapore Airlines Ltd. is offering full refunds for bookings on Bangkok flights before May 31.

Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s largest carrier, said services to and from the Thai capital are operating as normal and that passengers can change their tickets. Few customers have changed travel plans so far and the airline hasn’t removed any staff from Thailand, Olivia Wirth, a spokeswoman for the Sydney- based carrier, said by phone.

Thai protesters in 2008 occupied the nation’s main international airport for eight days, helping topple Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. The protests, which also included an occupation of Bangkok’s second airport, stranded as many as 400,000 travelers.

The latest demonstrations began two weeks after a court seized 46.4 billion baht from the family of ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in coup in 2006. Officials banned financial transactions of 106 companies and individuals linked to Thaksin on May 16 in a bid to cut off funds for the demonstration.

“The hotel operators don’t know what to do because this is a political issue,” Prakit said. “We just hope it will end soon.”

Source : BusinessWeek
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Tourism Ministry To Demolish The Unsafe Aches At Botanic Gardens

The Tourism Ministry is ready to demolish the two aches built near the entrance of the Penang Botanical Gardens if the technical report shows that they are unsafe.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said that according to the non-governmental organisation (NGO) report, there was a tilt on one of the two arches.

"Public safety is paramount. If it is not safe, we will demolish it and who takes the blame is secondary," she told reporters after meeting representatives of the NGOs here on Monday.

It was reported last Saturday that work on the two arches, which are part of a RM7 million project by the ministry to expand the Botanical Gardens, was temporarily stopped following news reports that one of the arches appeared to be tilting.

Dr Ng said the ministry had instructed the contractor to provide the technical report on the arches within a week.

"At the same time, we have requested the NGO group to come back to us with very firm detailed recommendations for the project so that we can consider," she said.

She said that in future, all projects must get the recommendation and consultation from the relevant NGOs to obtain approval from the ministry.

"We want to work closely with the NGOs to avoid any protest on government projects in future," she said.

Source : Bernama
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Construction Of Hotels Aims At Helping State Islamic Religious Council

The Malaysian Endowment Foundation is in building five three-star hotels on its endowment land in Terengganu, Perak, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Kelantan.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said Monday the hotels, which cost RM100 million each, were expected to be completed between next year and 2012.

He said this after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the foundation and Amanah Raya Berhad here.

The memorandum is aimed at promoting the foundation as beneficiary to potential donors, encouraging Muslims to donate to the foundation through Amanah Raya and providing solutions to Muslims who wish to donate their properties through endowment after their death.

Source : Bernama
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AirAsia giving away a million free seats

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is giving away a million free seats starting Tuesday.

The booking period for the “Free Seats” promotion begins Tuesday and ends Sunday, for a travel period between Jan 3 and May 8 next year.

Customers can choose among 130 destinations to 20 countries including India, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam and China.

AirAsia's regional commercial head Kathleen Tan said that they have received many enquiries on the airline's social platforms about this promotion.

“This is the best chance for our guests to plan and book their flights for next year and take advantage of Kuala Lumpur's status as a gateway to Asia, Australia and Europe to connect globally,” she said in a statement Monday.

To complement the free flights, Tan added that AirAsia's one-stop travel portal was also offering online hotel deals from 70,000 hotels worldwide, tour packages and free tours and transfers to selected destinations via AirAsiaGo at

For more information on free seats and other promotions, visit or .

Source :STAR
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Malaysia Domestic Tourism Fair (MDTF) a HIT!

Event producer, Siti Nurezlea Amzah, 35, wanted somewhere different to spend her holidays this year. Normally, she would opt for a Southeast Asian country as her destination, but this year, like the over 20,000 visitors who thronged the Malaysia Domestic Tourism Fair (MDTF), a local site was her choice.

"I wanted to travel locally because I always had the mindset that visiting foreign countries was great for travelling, while local sites were reserved for the weekend. That was until I visited Langkawi and Pangkor last year. I realised how nice these places were. I found a great bargain here. I will definitely come here again next year and I hope they have more to offer," she said, adding she was planning a trip to Sipadan, Sabah.

The three-day fair at the Putra World Trade Centre, which ended yesterday, saw the number of visitors doubled compared to its inaugural edition last year.

MDTF organising chairman Datuk Shamsul Falak Kadir said the increased number of visitors was due to the improving economy, more publicity for the event and creative marketing. Shamsul said the global economic downturn and the influenza A (H1N1) epidemic last year saw the industry take a bit of a fall.

"But people are travelling domestically again. A verbal survey on sales I conducted also showed it has been good. There is a lot of response to the packages offered. It can be better though. I feel a lot of people don't realise the new products the country has," he told the New Straits Times.

Seri Pacific Hotels and Resorts sales and marketing general manager Ammelia Mohd Ali shared similar sentiments. The high-end boutique resort made more than RM60,000 worth of sales in the last three days which was encouraging as she considers it to be a "new kid on the block". This was also the first time the group had participated in such a fair. "I hope there will be more promotion of the fair next year though because I feel a lot more visitors will come," she said.

Ping Anchorage managing director Alex Lee, a tour operator, said the MDTF gave newcomers a platform to be noticed. MDTF, he said, would boost the local tourism industry. "This is their second year and the results have been encouraging. If this is maintained, it will soon become a much-eagerly awaited event."

Source : NST
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Monday, May 17, 2010

RM7 Million Revenue Expected At MDTF 2010

The three-day Malaysian Domestic Tourism Fair 2010 (MDTF'10), which kicked off Friday, is expected to rake in about RM7 million in revenue from the sale of tourism products and services.

Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board Chairman Datuk Dr Victor Wee said this year's fair, the second since it was first held last year, expected to rake in more than last year's revenue of RM4 million with a 30 per cent increase in the number of booths and participants compared to last year.

This year, some 25,000 visitors were expected at the annual fair organised by the National Tourism Council of Malaysia (NTCM) at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here, he told reporters after launching MDTF'10.

This year there are about 200 booths and more than 150 exhibitors, including Tourism Malaysia, Firefly, State Tourism Boards, hotels, resorts, spas, travel agents, tour operators, product and handicraft suppliers and bridal boutiques taking part in the fair, he said.

He said the fair, with the tagline "Think Local, Plan Local and Go Local", was aimed not only at attracting local visitors but also the foreign communities living in the country.

It was also not merely about travel bargains but to holistically showcase what was available within Malaysia and "a good way to encourage Malaysians to plan their holiday and to take advantage of the wide range of tourism products and services offered, with some offering up to 30 per cent discount," he said.

Wee said: "Last year, the country attracted 23.65 million foreign arrivals and this speaks for itself that Malaysia is a well-known and popular tourism destination.

"If our country can be so attractive for the foreigners to come and visit, we Malaysians should ourselves appreciate and capitalise on the prolific destinations and attractions here that deserve to be explored and experienced," he said.

He said there would also be consumer contests and quizzes besides other product promotional activities for the visitors to the fair to participate, with prizes that included airline tickets, holiday packages, handphones and many others.

Source : Bernama
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Malaysia to lure Bangkok-bound tourists

The Tourism Ministry is working closely with local and foreign tour operators to lure Malaysian and foreign tourists looking to cancel their trips to conflict-torn Bangkok.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen said the military lockdown in the heart of Bangkok that has sparked fierce clashes with Red Shirt protestors has alarmed Bangkok-bound tourists.

She said the ministry had learnt that some foreign tourists currently in other parts of Thailand like Phuket or Southern Thailand also planned to cancel their scheduled trips to Bangkok as a result of the current situation.

Given its proximity to Thailand, she said, Malaysia could offer a good alternative to such tourists that would allow them to continue their holidays instead cutting them short.

“We will be launching the Colours of Malaysia 2010 event at Dataran Merdeka on May 22 and this will be another good attraction that we can offer such tourists,” she told reporters Sunday after closing the Mass Sports Clusters and Active Sports being held here as part of the National Youth Day Celebration 2010.

On Malaysians currently in Thailand or planning to go there, Ng said the ministry's advise was that they avoid going near the protest area.

“We have not issued any travel advisory against Malaysians visiting Thailand because the protests are not being held in the whole country, they do not even involve the whole of Bangkok. The current situation is not something that occurred suddenly but has been brewing for several weeks, so we believe Malaysians are already aware of the situation and will be wise enough to avoid troubled areas,” she said.

She said the ministry was working closely with the Foreign Ministry and had been told that there had not been any cases yet of Malaysians coming under any danger while visiting Bangkok.

Source : STAR
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Melaka Earns RM4.4 Billion From Tourism In 2009

The tourism sector was the main revenue earner for Melaka last year, contributing RM4.4 billion from 8.9 million tourists who visited the state.

State Tourism, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Seet Har Cheow said this figure was higher than that achieved in 2008 where 7.2 million tourists contributed RM4 billion to the state.

"Melaka targets 8.2 million tourists his year, which is less than last year's figure in view of the economic slowdown," he said at the "Jom Ke Melaka" tourism promotion drive Thursday organised in conjunction with the 13th Malaysia Games (Sukma) to be held here.

Also present at the function were Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaacob and Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said.

Seet said that between 1999 and 2009, 47.25 million tourists had visited Melaka with an average annual increase of almost 20 per cent.

Most of the tourists who visited Melaka were from China, Indonesia and Singapore, besides Europe.

Seet said Melaka which was chosen to host the 10-day 2010 Sukma Games from June 10 was expected to see about 500,000 visitors during this period, with 198 units of accommodation available, offering 11,215 rooms.

"These accommodation include first-class hotels, resorts, chalets, budget hotels and homestay throughout the state."

He said to further boost the tourism industry in Melaka, the state was given a facelift with the Batu Berendam Airport upgraded to become the Melaka International Airport (MIA), which was officially opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Feb 4.

Besides the Sukma Games in June, Melaka will also organise various tourism events such as the three-day Melaka International Air Carnival 2010 from June 4 at the MIA.

"So far, we have received 100 entries involving 31 small aircraft and four helicopters from Malaysia and other countries like Singapore and Indonesia," Seet said.

Source : Bernama
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Now you can pay AirAsia in any currency

AirAsia customers can now buy air tickets in their currency of choice after the low-cost carrier launched a multi-currency online sales platform.

AirAsia Group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the enhanced sales platform would take away the uncertainty of exchange rates fluctuation for guests, making the purchase of flights more convenient, straightforward and transparent.

“We don't want our guests to have surprises when they receive their credit card statements at the end of the month,” Fernandes said in a statement.

The platform will enable guests to get instant pricing in five foreign currencies - US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australian dollars and the British pound - and is the first Asian low-cost carrier to adopt the system.

The platform used by AirAsia, FXmicropay, is a cash management and merchant acquiring service offered by The Royal Bank of Scotland.

It supports over 60 currencies and AirAsia plans to accommodate other currencies in the future.

Guests with credit cards issued for the currencies may purchase flights on AirAsia from anywhere in the world at

In Kuala Lumpur, Transport Minister announced that AirAsia would start flying to Teheran, Iran, five times a week beginning July.

“This will bring more tourists from the region to Malaysia, hence further boosting the country's tourism industry,” he said after launching the Marhaba Golden Card here yesterday.

Source : STAR
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Penang Travel fair strategy

PENANG is popular with tourists from China due to its lower cost of living, better environment and great food, said state Tourism Development, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang.

He said Chinese nationals were also more keen to study in Penang in view of the comparatively high standard of English usage in the state.

Raring to go: Malay cultural dancers leaving Penang to promote the country's cultural performances in China.

“We will conduct travel fairs and road shows in Shenzhen and Xiamen to promote education and tourism in Penang,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters yesterday before leading a delegation of cultural dancers and Chingay performers to the 6th China Shenzhen International and Industry Fair.

Law also said that Chinese nationals were attracted to the Malaysia My Second Home programme in Penang as they felt more comfortable with the local cultures and beliefs.

“Based on our last visit to Guangzhou, the people there enjoyed our Malay cultural dances and colourful Malaysian costumes,” he added.

A total of RM16,000 was allocated by the state government and sponsored by Penang Chinese Town Hall chairman Datuk Seri Lim Gait Tong and Real Estate and Housing Developers Association chairman Datuk Ong Gim Huat for the trip.

The 50-strong entourage comprising members from the Penang Chingay Association, cultural dancers, artists and businessmen will be attending the one-week fair which will end on May 19.

Source : STAR
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Gulf hotel installs gold-dispensing machine

Customers use a ATM at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi to buy pure gold. — Reuters pic
It’s the ultimate hole-in-the-wall — a money machine that dispenses pure gold.

But installed beneath the gold-coated ceilings of Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace hotel, where royalty and billionaires come for cappuccinos topped with gold flakes, the machine almost seems part of the furniture.

“The reason we chose Emirates Palace is because it really fits with the surroundings here,” said German entrepreneur Thomas Geissler, creator of the “Gold to Go” brand and chief executive of Ex Oriente Lux.

The exterior of the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and offers customers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customised gold coins.

“All the gold is imported from Germany, and soon we will have a customised gold bar with a print of the Emirates Palace logo, which will be a nice souvenir for guests to take home,” said Geissler.

Through a computer system, the ATM gold machine updates the gold price every 10 minutes to match international markets.

For now, it takes notes of the local dirham currency, but the option of using credit cards will soon be introduced.

The cash-for-gold machines were first tested in Germany in 2009, but Geissler chose Abu Dhabi for the official launch of his invention because of the region’s high demand for gold.

“On the first night we had a lot of demand,” he said. “One customer even bought one item of every product we have.”

Geissler’s timing is spot-on, as investors flock to gold as a safe haven from economic turbulence.

Yesterday, gold priced in sterling and euros reached record highs, while that priced in the more usual dollar denomination was quoted at US$1,236 an ounce, with dealers expecting it to reach fresh highs over coming days.

Source : TMI
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Malaysian Domestic Tourism Fair 14 - 16 May 2010

The annual event Malaysian Domestic Tourism Fair for 2010 (MDTF' 10) is expected to provide an excellent platform and endless business opportunities for travel and tourism players, as well as creating a greater impact in the promotion of domestic tourism in Malaysia.
The Fair is organised byt the National Council of Malaysia (NTCM) and is endorsed and supported by Tourism Malaysia. In meeting to be a premier domestic tourism fair to showcase the best Malaysia has to offer all sectors of tourism such as tourist attractions, products, heritage and cultur, medical, ecotourism, lifestyle and leisure to events will be presented.
MDTF' 10 promises to be an interesting and exciting affair with more activities and sub-events which includes Tourism Photo-Challenge contest, entertainment with cultural and modern social dances presentation, local food and cuisines promotions. MDTF' 10 is expected a participation of more than 200 booths with exhibitors offering value for money travel and holiday packages, good bargain and options to many people.
Exhibitors will include Tourism Malaysia, State tourism organizations, airlines and the various tourism product operators, retailers and services providers. Tourism "speaker's session" will be organised for the public to attend nd participate in interesting talks and presentations.
Consumer contest, lucky draws and product promotions with attractive prizes are to be won. MDTF' 10 is expecting a crowd of 25,000 visitors. A special focus will be given to attract the international communities in Malaysia including the Embassies, expatriates, international workforce and students,as well as to special interest groups such as adventure and nature seekers, sea and diving, outdoor and sports enthusiasts.
The Malaysian Inbound Travel Association (MITA) trade and business sessions will be organised in conjunction with the Fair to attract foreign wholesalers, agents, corporates and media.

Source : NTCM + Facebook

Shangri -La Hotel Kuala Lumpur

The Lobby Lounge
Grand Ballroom
Horizon Club Suite

Set among lush gardens, the newly renovated Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur is an oasis in a concrete jungle.

Fondly known as 'The Shang' among the locals, the hotel is just a stone's throw away from the KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers, 20 km from the Batu Caves and 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The hotel features 662 guestrooms, including 101 luxurious suites, which offer a number of modern amenities (such as complimentary internet service, in-room fax, printer and copy machine and a pillow menu) making the hotel a 'home away from home' for business and leisure guests alike.

The Horizon Club rooms, located on the top floors of the hotel, offer an enhanced level of service and convenience for frequent travellers, including late checkout, a personal concierge and a buffet breakfast and all-day beverage service at the Horizon Club Lounge.

The Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur also offers a number of restaurant options, where the most discerning of diners can sample market fresh sashimi at Zipangu, enjoy a Cantonese feast at the Shang Palace, savour the gastronomical delights at Restaurant Lafite or work there way through the international buffets at Lemon Garden Café.

Guests can wind down at the end of a busy day at The Pub, where they can enjoy a drink, a game of darts, snooker and live music and entertainment.

The Lobby Lounge, which features an idyllic view of the scenic water gardens behind the lounges ceiling-to-floor glass windows, also offers guests the perfect setting to meet with friends of business associates.

While, the Poolside Terrace is the perfect place for guests to start their morning with a refreshing beverage and a snack or alternatively they can go there for cocktails in the evening.

The hotel's fitness centre and spa facilities are some of the finest in Kuala Lumpur.

Guests can take a dip into the beautiful pool, play a set of tennis, arrange a massage or reflexology treatment, unwind in the steam/sauna rooms and Jacuzzi, or simply relax on the sundeck.

For the more energetic of guests who want to let off a little steam, the hotel's gymnasium offers cardio training and strength equipment.

The Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur also features state-of-the-art meeting facilities for business travellers.

The impressive grand ballroom is the perfect setting for receptions, seminars and conventions as it caters up to 1,800 people, reception style and 2,000 people, theatre style.

The hotel also offer 15 other smaller function rooms for more intimate gatherings in addition to the dedicated business centre which has 2 conference rooms, 3 executive meeting rooms, 4 internet booths and 2 workstations.

Source : ETBMICE
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Firefly To Offer RM1 One-Way Fare At MDTF

Community airline, Firefly will offers its special Firefly Holiday Family packages and RM1 one-way Firefly mobile booking deals at the upcoming Malaysia Domestic Travel Fair (MDTF).

The packages, offered only on-site at the fair, will cater for big groups travelling together, be it families, friends or corporate/incentive trips and holidays groups, it said in a statement.

Its RM1 one-way fare is for all domestic destinations except for flights to Langkawi.

This promotion is only available on site and must be purchased via Firefly Mobile, which is Firefly's newly introduced application.

The MDTF will be held here from May 14-16.

"Our focus is to encourage family and or group travel via packages that are affordable for everyone to explore our country's exotic and wide variety of holidays spots," said Angelina Fernandez, Firefly's Head of Marketing and Communication.

She added one Firefly Gift Voucher worth RM50 would be rewarded to the first 100 customers on Friday, May 14 and a free 10-minutes massage from Kenko Spa for all those who purchase packages.

Firefly said the promotion will cover travel period from June 14, 2010 to March 26, 2011.

Source :Bernama

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Oman Air Plans Daily Flights To KL

Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, plans to mount daily flights between Muscat and the Malaysian capital by next year.

"At present, we fly four times a week from Muscat to Malaysia and I bet we will have daily flights here by next year," Chief Commercial Officer Barry Brown told reporters Thursday.

He said the airline also planned to have a code-sharing arrangement with Malaysia Airlines and hoped to introduce it on June 1.

Oman Air District Sales Manager Kathleen Leong said: "Oman and Malaysia recognise there are mutual benefits to have direct flights and the up-tick in the economies of both countries makes this a strategically smart move.

"Malaysians performing Haj or Umrah can make a stop at Muscat while Omanis can enjoy the shopping and leisure experiences offered here."

Oman Air Chief Executive Officer Peter Hill said hotels and restaurants in Oman recorded a high annual growth rate in the third quarter of 2009 compared to first and second quarter which indicates a positive growth for tourism sector in 2010.

Also, there were 1.4 million passengers from the Middle East in 2009, an increase of 5.8 per cent from 2008, he said.

The number of tourists visiting Malaysia from Oman this year is expected to reach 21,000, a 100 per cent increase from last year with the availability of direct flights from Oman to Malaysia.

Hill also noted that in 2008, Malaysia's imports from the sultanate amounted to US$866 million, an increase of 78 per cent compared to 2007.

Oman Air is the first airline in the world to offer both Wi-Fi and mobile telephony to all classes of passengers, in addition to live television.

The airline operates direct flights from Muscat to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, United Kingdom and Germany.

Source : Bernama
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Riverside Majestic Hotel's new lobby lounge opens for business

THE Club, Riverside Majestic Hotel's newly-refurbished lobby lounge located just off the hotel lobby and adjacent to the Riverside Shopping Complex, is now open for business from 9am to 1am.

Designed in natural timber tone with contrasting black granite, the lobby lounge offers distinctive decorations and a comfortable ambience perfect for a casual get-together with friends and business associates while enjoying the in-house live entertainment.

It offers a comprehensive menu that starts with a full range of red and white wines, house pouring brands, hot drinks and health drinks. Next to the bar is a corner of pastries and a wide selection of cakes suitable for breakfast and late-night snacks.

Cosy: Soft cove lights add to The Club's ambience.

After an extensive three-month refurbishment, the hotel unveiled its new lobby lounge with a cocktail reception for in-house guests and media friends on Tuesday evening.

In conjunction with the opening, The club's lobby lounge is offering its Happy Hour Deal from 12 noon to 9pm daily.

During this period, guests are entitled to the Buy-One-Free-One offer on all house pouring brands inclusive of beer, house wines and cocktails.

Delicacy: Sushi served at The Club.

Guests at the lounge can sign up for a free privilege card that provides a 10% discount on the total food and beverage bill at the lounge. The card also carries the same privilege when used at Riverside Majestic's sister hotel Grand Margherita's Rajang's lobby lounge.

The cardholders are also entitled to exclusive future promotions.

Renovation of the hotel's lobby and its main restaurant, Cafe Majestic, is expected to be completed in June.

Appetising: Fruits in various colours.

The lobby will have a wonderful fusion of contemporary and traditional native designs.

The walls will be decorated with local designs while the pillars will be wrapped with wooden tiles.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tropical Malaysia Beckons Qataris

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen was greeted by a scorching 38-degree Celsius weather when she landed here Monday, and promptly declared that more Qataris should consider escaping the heat by holidaying in tropical Malaysia.

Nevertheless, she conceded that awareness about Malaysia among the Qataris was still low and steps must be taken to address the situation.

"I view my presence in Doha as the beginning of the discovery of Malaysia by the people of Qatar," she told a news conference in the Qatari capital Monday night in conjunction with Tourism Malaysia's roadshow to bring in more travellers from this Gulf nation.

Malaysia welcomed about 5,000 tourist arrivals from Qatar last year compared with 7,808 in 2008.

Dr Ng said Malaysia offered a value-for-money proposition to tourists.

Elaborating on her experience with Doha's hot weather, the minister said: "Now I fully understand why people from the Gulf countries need to go somewhere less hot during the summer months."

The mercury in this Gulf state could reach over 40-degree Celsius in the summer months.

"And green Malaysia is the best place to go for a vacation," she said as she extolled the virtues of spending a holiday in the Southeast Asian nation representing a cauldron of cultures of over 27 million people. Dr Ng said that nature was the biggest strength of Malaysia, a country blessed with beaches and jungles along with 54 marine parks.

"As I flew in this morning, I could see that you have the sea and sand but you don't have trees," she noted.

The minister underlined that Malaysia was the place to go for honeymoons as well as leisure holidays and health tourism.

At the news conference, she also launched holiday packages to Malaysia offered by Doha-based tour agency Unique Choice, which was represented by its executive director, Walter Dias.

Present were Tourism Malaysia's deputy director-general for planning Azizan Noordin and Tuan Razali Tuan Omar, the agency's Dubai-based director.

Dr Ng said visitors from Qatar should feel at home in Malaysia, a modern Muslim nation where halal food was easily available along with mosques for prayers.

Malaysia had over 400 four- and five-star hotels, with Kuala Lumpur alone offering more than 64,000 rooms, she said.

Accessibility should not be a problem, she observed, as Qatar Airways and a host of other Middle Eastern airlines were flying to Malaysia.

Despite 2009 being a challenging year for global tourism industry, Malaysia managed to attract 284,980 Arab visitors with a growth of 7.8 per cent over 2008, at 264,338. The target for 2010 is 300,000.

Soon after arrival in Doha, Dr Ng toured the waterfront Museum of Islamic Art and visited other interesting locations in the city.

Tourism Malaysia is hosting the Malaysia Gala Dinner at the Four Seasons Doha hotel Tuesday night in conjunction with the roadshow.

Doha is the second and final leg of Tourism Malaysia's roadshow following the conclusion of the Arabian Travel Market 2010 in Dubai on May 7.

Dr Ng led the tourism promotion agency's roadshow in Kuwait on May 8-9.

Source : Bernama
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Friday, May 07, 2010

Emirates May Mount Extra Flights To KL During Ramadan - Minister

Emirates Airline is supportive of a request for an increase in flights to Kuala Lumpur during Ramadan as Malaysia eyes more Arab visitors during the Muslim fasting month, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

She said the possibility of Emirates using the Airbus A380 superjumbo for the flights was mentioned in her talks with Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group here, Wednesday.

"I requested Emirates to add flights to Malaysia during Ramadan...and he was very supportive," she told the Malaysian media after the meeting which took place at the ongoing Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010 here.

Dr Ng is leading the Malaysian delegation at the Middle East's premiere travel fair which ends tomorrow.

Emirates currently operates 21 weekly non-stop flights between its home base of Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.

The minister said the unique atmosphere of Ramadan in Malaysia should be enjoyed by outsiders.

"In Malaysia, the length of your fasting time is quite constant. The whole religious aspects are well-catered for in Malaysia.

"You can have your breakfast and sahur (early morning meal) at the hotels which offer buffet spreads, and perform tarawih prayers at the mosque," she said.

Dr Ng said an interesting aspect of Ramadan in Malaysia was that non-Muslims would also wait for the azan (call to prayer) before eating with their Muslim friends at the breaking fast ritual.

The minister said Tourism Malaysia would engage hospitality industry players in planning for the Ramadan tourism push.

Dr Ng also said Sheikh Ahmed made an observation that many Middle Easterners were going to countries like Thailand for medical tourism despite Malaysia having facilities for this purpose.

"I will go back and convey the message to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council," she said.

On its part, she said, Tourism Malaysia would always extend any assistance needed in promoting medical tourism in Malaysia.

Source : Bernama
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Tourist quota required for Redang island

Resort operators at Pulau Redang welcome the Terengganu government's plans to limit the number of tourists to the island to 160,000 annually.

Pulau Redang Resort Operators Association president A.B. Lee said: "It's good for operators as the island won't be overcrowded. It is a good move."

He also shared the State government's concerns of limiting the number of tourists to Pulau Redang protect the environment there — especially the coral reef — from being damaged by too many divers.

Tourists generally visit the island about seven months a year and it is closed to the public during the monsoon season.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said: "Whatever the State government wants to do, they must do their homework for the good of all."

He felt Pulau Redang can't take huge numbers of tourists any more.

"Serious assessment needs to be done to sustain tourism activities in Redang. Too many tourists jeopardise the island's beauty."

On tourist bookings, Mohd Khalid said: "Tourists will be able to better plan their trips and look forward to visiting Pulau Redang as an exclusive island retreat. The move will not affect MATTA members as tourists can opt to go to other Malaysian islands which are just as beautiful as Pulau Redang."

He also suggested the island's resort and chalet operators, ferry operators and local vendors to first meet with the State government and work out details.

Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said recently said the State government would no longer approve construction of chalet type accommodations on the island.

At present, Pulau Redang — deemed one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world — has 30 hotels and chalets, including a five-star hotel boasting of 1,059 rooms.

Only hotels rated five-star and above would be allowed to be built and hotel rooms would eventually cost no less than US$500 (RM1,600) a night — aimed at turning the island into a high-end holiday destination. Current chalets, catering for backpackers, would have to be upgraded.

When such a proposal was made a few years back, it drew criticism from divers, tourists and tour operators — who wanted the island to be open to all.

Source : MalayMail
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Hotels see more locals than foreign guests

More Malaysians stayed in local hotels compared with foreign tourists last year. The ratio, according to data collected by hoteliers, was four locals to every three foreigners.

Although the difference is is not much, Ministry of Tourism domestic marketing division director Abdul Rahman Shaari hoped there would be another 10 per cent increase in the domestic tourism sector this year.

"It's necessary to focus on domestic tourism as it is a market that can be relied on, especially when an international crisis takes place," he said adding that the ministry fully supported the Malaysian Domestic Tourism Fair (MDTF), scheduled to be held next weekend at the Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, as it highlights domestic tourism.

The ministry is by far the largest participant of the annual affair with 48 booths redesigned to fit 60 exhibitors from all over Malaysia. Visitors to the ministry's booths can expect to find bargains from hoteliers, travel agents and other tourism service providers.

Shaari said that there were many interesting places for locals to visit within the country, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

"We hope to increase traffic between the two states and West Malaysia as some people from the peninsular have yet to step foot into that side of the country."

The ministry has also lined 45 lucky draw prizes for those who buy travel packages from their exhibitors during the fair. The lucky draw is divided into three categories which will see 15 winners per draw daily in each of the categories. Prizes include hotel stays at resorts nationwide and spa packages.

For more information on MDTF, call 03-22871830 or visit

Source : NST
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Dr Ng Hits The Ground Running At Dubai Travel Fair

Arriving in Dubai after a long flight from Shanghai, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen brushed aside fatigue and hit the ground running at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010. She and her entourage landed in the emirate in the early hours of Tuesday, but appeared to be her cheerful self as she headed for the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) to open the Malaysia Pavilion, barely a few hours later.

Wearing an eye-catching red modern kebaya and selendang, the minister struck a gong to mark the occasion, toured the Melaka house-inspired two-storey structure, shook hands with Malaysian delegates and posed for the cameras with members of the Istana Budaya cultural troupe specially brought in for the travel fair. And then she got down to the business of wooing more Arab tourists to Malaysia, a melting pot of cultures of over 27 million people in the heart of Southeast Asia.

This is Malaysia's 17th year of participation at the ATM, billed as the largest travel and tourism fair in the Middle East, with more than 2,200 exhibitors from all over the world attending the 2010 edition. Many of the tourism ministers and VVIPs who graced the opening ceremony had gone home but Dr Ng is in Dubai until the end of the travel fair on Friday.

"I'm focusing on the Middle East because we're so strong here. We can't afford to lose our lead. I want to keep the momentum going so that Malaysia will always be seen as the lead player in this market," the minister explained.

Despite 2009 being a challenging year for the tourism industry, Malaysia managed to attract 284,890 visitors from this region with a growth of 7.8 per cent over 2008, at 264,338. The target for 2010 is 300,000.

Dr Ng observed that many Arab countries were also now starting to focus on the tourism industry to value add their economy. "They're not just focusing on oil and gas now. In promoting tourism, they're developing their deserts, putting money into infrastructure with an eye towards economic returns," the minister remarked.

Observers said Malaysia's neighbours in Southeast Asia as well countries in other parts of the world were also trying to drum up more travellers from the Middle East.

But Dr Ng is taking all these developments in her stride as she takes every opportunity in Dubai to drive home the point that Malaysia has a lot to offer as a tourist destination. And news that Malaysia had entered the top-10 list of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in terms of tourist arrivals for 2009 could not have come at a more opportune time.

At various sessions with the Press as well as meetings with top tour operators and airline bosses at ATM 2010, she highlighted Malaysia's tourism products.

Key segments being promoted in the Middle East market include leisure holidays such as beaches and islands, shopping, dining and eco-tourism. Special interest promotions are education tourism, medical and health tourism, honeymoon, spa and the Malaysia My Second Home programme.

Tourism Malaysia, she said, was also keen on luring Arab visitors to spend Ramadan in Malaysia where the fasting month was observed by Muslims and equally enjoyed by non-Muslim Malaysians.

In her presentations, Dr Ng pointed out that Malaysia enjoyed political stability and was a safe country to visit. Communication was a breeze in Malaysia, she said, as most Malaysians could speak English and many could even speak Arabic.

Dr Ng's friendly manner and charm were her arsenal in dealing with Middle Easterners. She broke the ice at a meeting with an Arab airline boss by telling him that she was getting better treatment here than anywhere else, contrary to her initial doubts over a woman leading a delegation to a "conservative area".

At an event Wednesday to launch holiday packages offered by Firefly Holiday, the minister decided to do away with the rostrum and chose to address the assembled members of the media nearer to them.

The intended objective of her presence in Dubai may well be to spearhead Malaysia's tourism drive, but it appears that it also serves as a study tour for Dr Ng who is visiting the city for the first time in her capacity as tourism minister. During a dinner cruise on a traditional dhow along the Dubai creek one evening, Dr Ng took in the sights of Dubai, the city skyline dominated by the glittering Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

"You see how lighting is very important in accentuating the beauty of a building," she said, referring to the well-lit exterior of buildings lining both sides of the waterway. Our local authorities should think of all this," she said, noting that Dubai had managed to blend both the traditional and the modern in moulding itself as an international tourist spot.

The minister described the cultural performance on board the ship, an Egyptian swirling dance executed by two male dancers, as "fantastic". "This is the kind of performance that tourists appreciate," she said.

Dr Ng is leading a 120-member Malaysian delegation to the ATM, representing 54 hotels, 22 travel and tour operators, five state governments and Malaysia Airlines. Her support team at the ATM includes Tourism Malaysia's deputy director-general for planning Azizan Noordin and the agency's Dubai director Tuan Razali Tuan Omar. She will also lead Malaysia's post-ATM 2010 sales mission and road show to Kuwait and Qatar from May 8 to 12 aimed at further promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination.

Source : Bernama

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Malaysia To Attract 1.2 Million Chinese Tourists

Malaysia's participation at the Shanghai World Expo is a good way to achieve the target of attracting 1.2 million visitors from China this year, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

The Shanghai World Expo could also be a platform to promote Malaysia to the world, Ng told Malaysian reporters after the opening ceremony of the Malaysian Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo here Saturday.

She said Tourism Malaysia was focusing on the China market since there were 14 million Chinese visitors who had travelled overseas last year.

Ng said the ministry was also looking for the operation of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flights to more cities in China.

"Besides the main cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen, the ministry also tries to cooperate with airlines to bring in more tourists to Malaysia from other cities like Wuhan, Chongqing and Kunming," she added.

She said her ministry also hoped to attract investors from China to invest in tourism related products like restaurants or invest in property through the "Malaysia My Second Home" programme.

On promotion strategies, Ng said her ministry had launched the Malaysia International Shoe Festival recently which had received tremendous response and the 1Malaysia Contemporary Tourism Art Festival to be held in July.

The existing promotion strategies such as Mega Sale and F1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Pix would be continued, she added.

Source : SinChew
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