Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sarawak plans special deal with SilkAir


KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Federation plans to work with SilkAir to introduce a special tour package for Singaporeans to visit the Land of the Hornbills.

Federation president Wee Hong Seng hoped that SilkAir, set to fly here from Singapore four times a week from March 28, could offer competitive air fares to attract more Singaporeans and other visitors to the republic island to have a holiday in Sarawak.

Wee said the federation and Malaysia Airlines had jointly offered a three-day Shiok Sarawak package for as low as S$299 for Singaporeans to visit Kuching.

The package is inclusive of return air fares and hotel accommodation.

In welcoming SilkAir’s direct Singapore-Kuching service, he said it was a good start to boost state tourism as the sole daily flight operated by the national carrier for the route was insufficient.

SilkAir chief executive Mike Barclay said: ”Our new service to Kuching is in keeping with our desire and commitment to present unique, exciting and exotic Asian destinations to our customers.''

“We believe the route offers good growth potentia ,” Barclay said in a press statement yesterday.

Kuching is SilkAir’s second Malaysian destination after Langkawi. The new service will increase the airline’s reach to 26 destinations in Asia.

The direct flights will depart Singapore Changi Airport at 6.40pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and the return flights will leave Kuching at 10.45pm on the same day.

State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said last week that SilkAir’s service would be a boost to Sarawak to tap the Singapore tourism market as arrivals of Singaporeans to Sarawak had dropped significantly after Singapore Airlines suspended its Singapore-Kuching service several years ago due to the regional financial meltdown.

Source: The Star

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Some Comments on the Discontinuation of the Direct Sydney-KK Flight


Effective end of April 2005, the twice-weekly direct flights from Sydney to Kota Kinabalu operated by Australian Airlines will be discontinued. The decision made by Australian Airlines was unclear but it was not likely to be due to lack of popularity.

Since the direct flights were introduced almost two years ago, there has been a significant increase in the number of Australians coming to Sabah either for leisure or for business.

The direct flights have also been popular among Malaysians residing in Sabah. Besides being relatively cheaper in cost, the Kota Kinabalu to Sydney flights were also a time-saver for Sabahans in particular, who normally have to fly to Kuala Lumpur in the West of Malaysia for transit flight to Australia.

The discontinuation of the Sydney-KK direct flights is truly a shame but on the other hand, given the popularity of this route in its short history, it should give Malaysia's own air carriers such as MAS and even better still the no-frill-low-fare AirAsia, a golden opportunity to consider flying direct from KK to Sydney and even Melbourne, and other cities in Australia.

Copyright © 2005 e-borneo.com

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Exciting years for Sabah tourism


Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat hopes the RM1 billion KKIA expansion project can be completed within the next two to three years.

He said the Kota Kinabalu International Airport has been the second busiest airport in the country the past several years, after Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The two other airports in the State also receiving international and domestic flights were in Sandakan and Tawau.

"We are in for some very exciting years, the next three to five or 10 years, because the Federal Government has approved the drastic expansion project for KKIA to the tune of RM1 billion," he told the Sabah Hotelier's Nite at the Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort (STAR), Thursday.

The dinner was held in conjunction with the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) national conference hosted by its Sabah Chapter.

Chong said KKIA is now serving some 456 flights per week and some 70 from this were direct international flights, excluding Kuala Lumpur.

"We have flights coming directly from Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, besides Korea, Hong Kong which is going to be daily after next month, from Manila and Cebu in Philippines, Taiwan and now, from Bangkok," he said.

"This is something which is going to be exciting for all of us. I believe the travel fraternity will continue to be like this."

Chong said the State tourism industry did extremely well last year with 1.77 million tourists arriving via the international airport here, Sandakan and Tawau.

Some 792,000 comprised international tourists and over another 963,000 were domestic tourists from the peninsula and Sarawak. He said the number may be more if the calculation was made through the hotel counts.

"The said figure was based on outright arrivals through the international airports in Sabah. If we do it through the hotel counts, it will be in many millions.," he told those attending Also present were MAH Vice-President, Ivo Raeto Nekvapil, its Sabah Chapter's Chairman, Karel Schrijvers and other officials from the tourism-related government and private sector.

Source: Daily Express

Australian Airlines to stop direct Sydney-KK flights


Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said Australian Airlines has decided to discontinue its twice-weekly direct flights from Sydney to Kota Kinabalu effective end of April but it will have minimal impact on tourism flow due to increase in flight frequencies to other destinations.

Australian Airlines has been operating the Sydney-Kota Kinabalu direct flights for almost two years now.

"Of course, they have their own reason and priority (to discontinue it) but we are losing only two out of the 70 international flights per week coming to KKIA.

"There is still plenty of good news, as via Malaysia Airlines we are boosting the Hong KK flight service from six days per week presently to daily basis, in addition to Dragon Air.

"We are also going to increase our direct flights between Shanghai-Kota Kinabalu from present twice per week to thrice-weekly. All these are going to start from April this year," he said.

The three flights per week to Guangzhou are also going to be increased to four times per week, he added, as well as the direct flight to Narita.

Chong said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had personally conveyed a strong message to the Malaysia Airlines to seriously consider taking the opportunity to fly from Sydney, Melbourne and others, to Kota Kinabalu.

"The other good news is that the last two years saw over 60 per cent of outbound Australian tourists who came to Sabah still with the Malaysia AirlinesÉMalaysia Airlines is still bringing in over 60 per cent of the traffic from Australia to Kota Kinabalu.

"So don't think the whole market is going to go down after Australian Airlines ceases operations." Besides, he said, Royal Brunei is also flying to Sydney.

"We already having been receiving tourists from Brisbane via Brunei and expect more to come with RBA's new Sydney-Brunei flight."

Chong said he have no doubt that the Malaysia Airlines would make money by flying out to Australia-Sabah. Last year's percentage of outbound Australian tourists coming to Sabah has been very impressive.

"But again, if you look at the figure of Australian traffic that came into Sabah, 15,920 Australians came to Sabah in 2003 and then increased to 34,464 Australians throughout last year.

Chong said the three traditional destinations of Japan, Korea and Taiwan, the increase in the number of tourists arrival from these countries from year 2003 to last year has been very drastic.

"If we study the statistics, the increase in visitors from these three countries in term of percentage and figures were about 80 to 100 per cent in comparison between 2003 and last year," he added.

Source: Daily Express

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sabah, Sarawak agree to compare notes on Tourism


Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah and Sarawak governments have decided to learn and share each other's experience on tourism and investment development for mutual benefit.

Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman and his counterpart, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, agreed that instead of doing things on their own like previously, both governments should complement each other, particularly in attracting investors to come to East Malaysia.

Taib said both Sabah and Sarawak needed more infrastructure in order to close the gap between East Malaysia and the peninsula, as well as to attract more investors and visitors.

"We have big mass of land and our populations are not that big. That's why our market is not that attractive to investors unlike in the peninsula. That's why we need more infrastructure," he said.

Taib believed besides having more infrastructure, implementation must also be efficient, in order to catch up and balance with the development level in the peninsular, especially under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

Following such consultations, both states would be forwarding their problems on development to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) or relevant authorities on development in the country.

"We will then be able to avoid delays. We can recover the time wasted and if possible get the value of every sen allocated for development," said Taib.

"I believe Sabah and Sarawak need more attention," he said, adding it included channelling development funds to the two states earlier and quickly.

He said Sarawak is offering to Sabah its knowledge and experience on the efficient implementation of development projects.

"In Sarawak, we have completed our monitoring system so that implementation progress of our development projects are more efficient. We want to share this experience with Sabah, if they wantÉbecause we are going to face greater challenges."

Musa and Abdul Taib were speaking to reporters after a closed-door briefing in conjunction with latter's working visit to Sabah at the Pacific Sutera Harbour Resort, here, Thursday.

Among those accompanying Abdul Taib was his Deputy, Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and Sarawak State Secretary Datuk Abdul Aziz Hussin

Apart from Musa who is also State Finance Minister, attending the meeting for the Sabah State Government was Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Infrastructure Development Minister, Datuk Raymond Tan and State Secretary Datuk K.Y Mustafa.

"We want to discuss common issues such as infrastructure development so that we can find appropriate approaches for the benefit of both states," said Taib.

Taib and Musa said both States would enhance cooperation and networking in tourism to attract more tourists to Sabah or Sarawak.

"We also want to cooperate in tourism, we want to attract more Australians to come here. People prefer to go to two destinations rather than only one due to cost of flying," he said. As both states in Borneo were unique with their own cultures, it would be a new attraction for the tourists, he said.

Musa asserted that in terms of manufacturing and tourism, a marketing networking was also discussed.

"That's what we are looking into," said Musa when asked whether Sabah and Sarawak would be holding joint-promotion in tourism, among others.

Taib added although not all the industries could be jointly promoted, uniformity of industries between Sabah and Sarawak was increasing, particularly with the tremendous progress in Sabah over the past few years.

The independent industries in both states are an advantage to attract investors," he said. Sabah, one of Malaysia's major palm oil producing states, could also share its experience in the development of the oil palm industry with Sarawak, he said.

"I don't mind they choose Sabah over Sarawak or vice versa its up to the investors but the main thing is for them to see the potential of these two evolving into one market and one co-operative arrangement where we can share expertise later," he said.

Earlier, Musa said the visit by Taib and entourage, initiated by Taib himself, was an honour for Sabah since Sarawak had been successful in placing itself as among the most developed states in the country.

"Of course, Sabah would really like to learn and share experience in the context of state development and progress in all sector. I am confident that we can get mutual benefit if we are able to ensure parallel development between the two states," he said.

At the same time, Musa said the visit also further consolidated the existing good ties between Sabah and Sarawak as well as among its people.

Musa briefed Taib on the Sabah Government's halatuju that he introduced to focus on the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors as the main economic catalysts for Sabah, among others.

He also explained to Taib about the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) programmes in Sabah that caters the crude palm oil (CPO) processing, which Sarawak could also look into.

Source: Daily Express

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sabah's Asian Tsunami Victim


Kota Kinabalu: A Tuaran-born gynaecologist is confirmed to have died in Thailand in the Dec. 26 catastrophic tsunami.

The remains of Dr Lim Fang Kan, 50, were positively identified on Saturday from dental records and were brought to Singapore, where he was a naturalised citizen, on Monday. His body was cremated in Singapore on Wednesday.

Dr Lim, the younger brother of former Chung Hwa Primary School (Likas) Principal, Lim Fang Yin, was on holiday with his two sons, nine-year-old Sheng Ren and Sheng Yuan, 11, in the southern Thai town of Khao Lak when the killer waves struck.

It was learnt that his wife and their elder child, a daughter, 12, returned to Singapore on Dec 26 while Dr Lim and two sons aged 8 and 10, were supposed to go back the following day (Dec 27).

As fate would have it, Tsunami struck on Dec 26, half a hour after the wife and daughter had left Thailand.

It was learnt that Dr Lim and Sheng Ren were swimming in the hotel's pool.

The boy was swept out to sea, where he was found clinging to a plank by a Thai fisherman a few hours later. His younger brother, Sheng Yuan, was swept up a hillside, where he was found shaken but safe.

Among those who attended Dr Lim's cremation ceremony on Wednesday were his 42-year-old Singaporean wife Pamela Chan, a psychologist, daughter Shu Hui and other family members.

Dr Lim, whose father was operating a coffee shop in Tuaran, won a Sabah State Government scholarship to study medicine at Universiti Malaysia before he went to England to do his post-graduate studies.

After graduation as a gynaecological oncologist, he worked in a government hospital in Singapore until last year when he went into private practice at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

Fellow gynaecological oncologist, Associate Professor A. Ilancheran, who had known Dr Lim since he was a trainee, said: "He was an excellent doctor and physician and did a lot of research into cancer patients, which was his main interest.

"Dr Lim's research into developing an early detection instrument for cervical cancer was almost complete at the time of his death, but had not been published," he added.

Source: Daily Express

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Gong Xi Fa Cai from e-borneo.com


Please be informed that our office will be closed for five (5) consecutive days from 9 to 13 February 2005 in conjunction of the Chinese New Year Celebration public holidays nationwide.

For travel and related requests, do note that all your e-mails enquiries may be replied during this holiday period but earliest confirmation can only be processed on Saturday, 12 February 2005 (till noon +0800 GMT MYT) and/or on Monday, 14 February 2005.

Any inconvenience caused is very much regretted.

For those who are celebrating this festival, all of us at e-borneo.com would like to wish you 'Gong Xi Fa Cai' and may you have a healthy and wealthy year of the Wood Rooster ahead.

Best wishes,

The e-borneo.com Team
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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Tsunami Fear in Sabah, Malaysia


Last night, thousands of residents in the coastal areas of Sabah were evacuated to higher grounds following reports of a tremor in certain parts of the State. This was due to a quake (measured between 6.9 to 7.2 on the Richter scale by various sources) in Southern Philippines at about 1223 GMT with an epicentre off the coast about 157 km west of the town of Isulan in Mindanao. The quake had caused fears that it might trigger a tsunami to this parts of Borneo.

Villagers in the coastal areas from the towns of Kudat to Tawau as well as in the West Coast of Sabah including Sembulan, Tanjung Aru and Tuaran, were advised to move to higher grounds as a precaution. Residents staying in outskirt towns near Kota Kinabalu city, such as Petagas, Putatan, Papar and Lok Kawi also moved out, most on their own accord. Just two days earlier on Thursday, 3 February 2005, there was a tremor measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale in the Ranau area although it was said to be weak and did not cause any serious damage to the surrounding inhabitants.

The Saturday night episode caused some uncertainties and as shade of panic among Sabahans throughout the night and early this morning. There were some traffic jams from the coastal highway from Tanjung Aru-Sembulan, and from the Papar-Lok Kawi highway even at midnight. Night dwellers around Kota Kinabalu had an early night off, and most night spots and pubs were almost abandoned before 1.00 am. The services of most of the handphone/cellphone communication were also disrupted for several hours causing more anxieties that something was amiss.

Before the Boxing Day, any similar alert may not have even raise the eyebrow of most Sabahans, but the vivid imagery of still pictures and video footages (courtesy of the media) on the devastating Asian tsunami and its aftermath has definitely changed everything in perspective. In fact, just weeks ago, a rumour that a sea quake had occurred in one of our neighbouring countries triggered a massive self-evacuation in Semporna town located in the East Cast of Sabah.

No untoward incident may have occured here, and authorities had said that no aftershocks were expected from the initial quake last night and there was no sign of any possible tsunami in this region, most Sabahans (and perhaps, most people around the world) will not want to take any risk associated with a possibility of a tsunami hitting their coast.

Life had definitely changed for better or for worse since 26 December 2005.


e-borneo.com - Borneo Travel and Trip Advisor

Copyright © 2005 e-borneo.com

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Special Tour Promotions: Two Months Left!


Check out some of the most popular and uniquely designed Sabah Borneo Malaysia tour packages that are currently on promotion until end-March 2005.

Heavy discount from 10% to 15% off normal rates.

Current published prices at the site most likely to increase from April 2005 onwards.

If you are planning to visit Borneo this year, do yourself a big favour, please grab this once-in-a-lifetime special offer.

Book now, confirm your reservation, and lock in your order at the special discounted rate.

(subject to terms and conditions)

Friday, February 04, 2005

5km radius within Sipadan to be gazetted as marine parks

Kota Kinabalu: Sipadan and other islands within a five-km radius will be gazetted as marine parks to ensure better protection of their ecosystem and marine biology resources.

The gazetting process might take about six months, State Secretary Datuk K.Y Mustafa said, after chairing a meeting of the Joint Committee on Management and Supervision of Sipadan, here, Thursday.

He said the move was proposed since the State Government was equally concerned with many allegations concerning activities jeorpardising the ecosystem and marine biology in Sipadan and its surrounding areas.

Presently, the conservation development of the ecosystem and marine biology resources in Sipadan is under Sabah Parks, while the National Security Division (NSD) is controlling the tourism activities, i.e. issuing permits to visitors into the island.

NSD's jurisdiction, under the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act, 1959, however, only covers the land and water areas surrounding Sipadan up to 500 metres from the low water line comprising an area of 5.163 sq km.

"Therefore, any activities outside the perimeter is under the jurisdiction of other authorities," he said, adding that with the gazettement of Sipadan as a marine park the management to conserve the island, known as being among the best dive sites in the world, would be more efficient.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had instructed Mustafa to call the meeting for the committee to look into allegations of encroachment, illegal fishing and fishbombing activities in Sipadan waters. In this respect, Mustafa said the committee had discussed the allegations and concluded that nothing, as alleged, had happened.

"I would like to stress here that no fishing activities allegedly controlled by the tourism players had taken place there because our security forces are still manning the post in Sipadan conducting security surveillance work," he said.

Similarly, he said it was not possible for any fishbombing or laying of fish traps in the area since the security forces were patrolling it. "Furthermore, the waters in Sipadan are too deep, up to 2,500 metres and it is a fact that fishbombing and fish traps are used only in shallow waters."

On the photographs showing an alleged fishing boat in Sipadan waters, he said the committee found that some of them were not in the Sipadan area but another area under Sabah Parks.
He said police had also investigated the fishing boat owner seen in the photograph and he told them they were merely passing by the area since they wanted to avoid strong currents and big waves in the open sea.

Mustafa said the NSD Sabah branch had also requested cooperation from the navy (Region Two), police, armed forces and Fisheries Department to guard Sipadan from any activity that undermines its ecosystem and marine biology.

State Tourism and Environment Minister-cum- Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat had earlier said that the State Government would strive to obtain World Heritage status for both Sipadan and Maliau Basin.

Courtesy of: Daily Express

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

February Hotel Updates for Tsunami-Hit Region


For the convenience of those who are travelling to this region for leisure or for other purposes, here's an Asian Tsunami Hotel Update on the status and condition of the hotels/resorts in several tsunami-affected areas.

Information include which accommodations are closed due to the catastrophe, which ones are slightly damaged, and which ones are not affected at all.

The update also provides information on which neighbouring areas that are literally untouched, such as the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Brunei Darussalam, and Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

This is a further update as at 01 February 2005.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sabah Tourism Gets Massive Publicity Free in Australia


MELBOURNE, Feb 1 (Bernama) -- Sabah tourism is getting thousands of dollars worth of publicity free, thanks to Zoos Victoria.

In a bid to attract visitors to its zoos here and in Werribee, Zoos Victoria is conducting a five-week "Musical Evenings at the Zoo" competition to promote its "Zoo Twilights" at Melbourne Zoo and "Rhythm of Africa" at Werribee Open Range Zoo from January to March.

They provide visitors live music as well as wildlife experiences during summer evenings.

The winner of the competition will receive an eight-day stay in Sabah for two adults and two children valued at more than A$10,000 (RM29,400), including economy air fares and accommodation.

The competition is hosted by the Rupert Murdoch-owned Leader Newspapers, a group of 31 suburban newspapers distributed free to homes in Melbourne and its outskirts.

They have a total readership of more than one million people.

Across the front page of each of the newspapers is a 96-point heading in colour with the words "WIN A TRIP TO BORNEO" with a picture of an orang utan. It tells the readers to turn to an inside page for a brief description of Sabah's "fantastic wildlife", the details of the competition and an entry form.

Zoos Victoria's Corporate Marketing Project Manager Bruno Muraca told Bernama that thousands of responses for the Sabah trip had been received so far and more were pouring in daily.

The winner will be announced on March 4.

Muraca said Sabah was chosen as the prize because of its "amazing wildlife" and it is a great holiday destination.

A travel industry analyst said the competition prize was a big coup for Sabah tourism.

"Almost every home in Melbourne will now be aware of Sabah and its tourist attractions and the beauty of it is that Sabah has not spent a cent for the massive publicity it is getting," he said.

Courtesy of: BERNAMA