Friday, November 30, 2007

Miss Tourism beauty contestants find Kuching fascinating


KUCHING: Thirty-one aspiring beauties for Miss Tourism Pageant 2007 converged at Telang Usan Hotel here yesterday afternoon for a lunch reception before departing for a sightseeing trip to Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV).

The contestants, who will be in Kuching until tomorrow, hail from various countries all over the world, including Australia, USA, China, Singapore, South Korea, Venezuela and India.

Representing Malaysia is Penelope Ling from Sibu who told reporters that she felt honoured to represent the country.

“Though this is the first time I’m participating in a beauty pageant, I will definitely give my best during the finals,” said the 18-year-old lass who recently graduated from Sibu Catholic High School.

“Since the pageant started, I have made a lot of new friends and it has definitely been an exciting experience,” she added.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Miss Tourism beauty contestants find Kuching fascinating

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5-star Grand Dorsett hotel confident on Labuan


Labuan: The new owners of the five-star Sheraton here - now called Grand Dorsett - are convinced of the island's potential in tourism.

The hotel is owned by the Hong Kong-based, Far East Consortium International Ltd (Fecil) and the Dorsett group recently owns and manages four hotels in Malaysia. Sheraton Labuan is the first five-star hotel under its portfolio.

Speaking at the launching of the Grand Dorsett, Fecil Malaysia representative, Eddie Tang said: "The owner Tan Sri David Chew who visited Labuan was convinced of a bright future in the region."

He said while the company would be investing some RM20 million beginning next year to upgrade various facilities and increase the number of food and beverage outlets "there are plans to further expand subject to approval from the local authority.

Presently the hotel has 178 guest rooms. Tang said that with the new investment made and with the rebranding exercise he was confident that the "property would be positioned as the preferred hotel for both the business and leisure travellers, and this would improve the room yield."

Continue reading at: 5-star Grand Dorsett hotel confident on Labuan

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Sarikei's Pesta Nanas (Pineapple Festival) 2007 a big success


SARIKEI: The Pesta Nanas, widely known as the pineapple festival, is a celebration organised to promote the town of Sarikei as an agricultural growth and distribution centre of Sarawak.

First introduced in 2004, the annual event had entered its fourth year of celebration. From 2004 to 2006, the event was held at the Sarikei Civic Centre; this year it was at the Wholesale Collection Centre of Rejang Port Authority, Jalan Wharf.

Visitors continued to increase year after year and they came not only from Sarikei district but from other districts of Sarawak as well. The event also enabled members of various communities in the state to come to gather and mingle. This also helped to further strengthen unity among the people besides enhancing racial harmony and integration.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarikei's Pesta Nanas (Pineapple Festival) 2007 a big success

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Sabah F2000 World Cup Powerboat Championship - treat for KK folks


Kota Kinabalu: Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim has urged the public to come out in full force for the Sabah F2000 World Cup Powerboat Championship race this weekend.

He said people should take advantage of such an auspicious international event to be staged at the popular Waterfront here, apart from sampling what the city has to offer.

"My message to the public is spend the weekend in the city because this Saturday and Sunday we will have a keramaian (gathering) here, from morning to night," he said after touring event site, Thursday.

"Maybe those from neighbouring districts like Penampang and Papar (among others) could spend the night here, considering that it is the school holidays, so it is the best time to bring the family," he noted.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah F2000 World Cup Powerboat Championship - treat for KK folks

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Borneo Spa at Nexus Resort Karambunai


Step into a world of relaxation and indulgence at the Borneo Spa at the Nexus Resort Karambunai. As you step into the luxurious spa, you are greeted by the sounds of the rainforest and a calming ambience. The Relaxation Lounge, as it is aptly named, is where your pampering begins.

After donning your robe in the changing room, guests make their way to the Relaxation Lounge where they will be met by their personal therapist. Your treatment will take place in a private room. One of the more popular treatments is the Aromatherapy Massage – a relaxing massage that relieves knots and pains in the body using a specially blended oil. Guests can choose from a range of oils – Borneo Spice, Borneo Passion, Borneo Laut or Borneo Relax.

The massage begins with the therapist gently kneading your back, working her way from shoulders to hips. Be sure to communicate with your therapist on the desired pressure. Your massage should be comfortable at all times. The therapist then moves to the arms and then the legs, applying pressure to the palms and soles to relieve any soreness.

The final stage of the massage involves a gentle massage of the neck and head. Much-needed after a long day of shopping or a hard day at work! The Borneo Spa also offers a variety of treatments, such as the Borneo Sun Soother, a rehydrating and soothing process for the body after a day out in the sun.


Signature treatments include the Borneo Detox, which exfoliates dead skin cells, stimulates blood circulation and eliminates toxins, and the Borneo Massage, a combination of massage techniques to improve blood circulation and digestion whilst draining toxins via the lymphatic system.

For an unforgettable session, ask for the Relax By The Sea, where you can enjoy a massage at the beachfront massage cabanas as the sounds of the sea seduces your senses.

Pedicures, manicures and facials are also available. Ask the friendly reception for more details on the packages and treatments available.

Other facilities at Borneo Spa include hot and cold pools, sauna, steam room and showers.

To make an appointment, contact Nexus Resort Karambunai at 088-411 222 ext. 6241 or fax 088-408 188.

Source: Nexus Resort Karambunai

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MASWings aims for strong base in three years


SUBANG: MASWings Sdn Bhd will fly higher in three years when a foundation is firmly established for the airline to build its passenger load factor to 80%.

According to managing director Dr Amin Khan, the airline will only become profitable when load factor hits 80%.

The Malaysia Airline (MAS) subsidiary started operating the rural air service in Sabah and Sarawak last month and achieved load factor of 59%.

Continue reading at: MASWings aims for strong base in three years

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nature conservation top priority for Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: Nature conservation remains Sabah’s highest priority and the state is therefore receptive to any initiative that garner well for the environment said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

“With sustainable forest management in Sabah and the Deramakot Forest Reserve as an exemplary model, I strongly believe that we are heading towards the right direction in nature conservation,” he said.

More than half of the land mass in Sabah is still forested and these areas are extremely rich with flora and fauna, some of which are indigenous to the state.

“Because of such high biodiversity, the state is well-known as nature’s gateway to Borneo,” he said.

However, Masidi stressed that conservation efforts must be pragmatic and realistic in order to benefit all and not threaten the state’s development agenda.

Continue reading at: Nature conservation top priority for Sabah

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Resort and hotel operators in Sabah urged not to take tourist safety lightly


Kota Kinabalu: Resort and hotel operators in Sabah are urged to give security and safety prime importance to ensure they continue benefitting from the booming tourism industry in the State.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this is vital because even a minor slack in this matter may jeopardise all the effort which have been made to propel the industry even further.

The tourism industry contributed RM2.88 billion to the State last year, with a total of 2.1million domestic and international tourist arrivals and the tourism receipt is expected to increase to an estimated RM3.15 billion this year.

About 2.3 million domestic and international tourists are expected to visit Sabah this year and if not for the airport expansion works at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), the figure was expected to be much higher.

In the first nine months of this year, he said, the number of tourist arrivals in Sabah rose by 21 per cent.

Continue reading at: Resort and hotel operators in Sabah urged not to take tourist safety lightly

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Increase in tourist arrivals to Sarawak recorded


KUCHING: Sarawak received 2.5 million visitors during the first nine months (January to September) this year, representing an increase of 21.46% from 2.1 million visitors over the same period last year (2006).

“Total foreign visitors to Sarawak increased by 16.10% from 1.4 million in 2006 to 1.6 million this year. Our domestic arrivals from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah also showed a very good trend with an increase of 33.09% from 674,003 in 2006 to 897,017 visitors this year,” disclosed Minister of Urban Development and Tourism, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh in his winding-up speech in the State Legislative Assembly here yesterday.

He said the top five arrivals came from Brunei (1.0 million), Indonesia (299,028), Philippines (64,393), India (29,058) and Singapore (28,448). On the other hand, a positive increase of arrivals came from Thailand (33.89%), the United States (33.44%),Brunei (24.36%) and Philippines (10.85%); where a triple-digit figure came from India, with a major increase of 183.99% from 10,232 to 29,058 arrivals.

However, according to him, the arrivals had declined from Hong Kong (22.43%), Japan (24.75%), Taiwan (22.21%) and Indonesia (4.22%).

On hotel occupancy, Wong said Sarawak had shown slight increase of 0.9% from 60.62% in 2006 to 61.61% this year.

Continue reading at: Increase in tourist arrivals to Sarawak recorded

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Book featuring Sabah's marine life to go global


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's unique marine life is being featured in a coffee-table book on coral reefs which will be distributed around the world.

Reef -- Exploring the Underwater World, highlights several of Sabah's best known and unique marine creatures, and touches on some of the issues that plague the reefs in Southeast Asia, like turtle egg poaching and cyanide fishing.

Most of the pictures from Sabah were taken around the islands of Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai.

Turtles, barracuda, mackerel, clownfish and other marine creatures are some of the marine life from Sabah featured in the book.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Book featuring Sabah's marine life to go global

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WWF sees tourism potential for Balambangan Island, Kudat


By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - Balambangan Island located about 21km north of the Tip of Borneo in Kudat has tremendous potential to be developed for eco-tourism, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) executive director Dr Dionysius SK Sharma here.

He said a study conducted by Sabah Parks on four of the more than 20 limestone caves on the island revealed unique formations consisting of stalatites, stalagmites, flow stone, straw and many other speleotems, all contributing to the aesthetic value of the area.

Dr Dionysius said the caves constitute only one aspect of the island's significant biodiversity and that endemic species like snail species and slipper orchid, critically endangered tree species like seraya, rare species of pandan and orchids of horticultural importance are among the unique features of the island.

Apart from its bio-diversity, the island has much historical value, grounded in the establishment of an East India Company post by the British traders in the late 18th century.

Used as a trading settlement, the interests of the British traders in Sabah steadily grew from this outposts.

He also said archaeological findings from the Pleistocene era (the ice age) discovered by researchers from the Malaysian Archaeological Research Centre at USM in August 1977 have established human existence dating even further back.

The discovery included three prehistoric human bones and 36 artifacts made out of animal bones that may have been likely used as tools.

However, he said, the fate of Balambangan Island lies on the clinker and grinding plants of cement as part of the State government's aim of setting up an integrated Clinker Plant project to meet the cement demands in Sabah.

According to the KIA report, Balambangan Island has an estimated quarry reserve of 65.3 million metric tonnes, equivalent to over 52 years of clinker plant operation.

Local communities would benefit from employment opportunities.

Dr Dionysius said quarrying deposits the environment and rock blasting could lead to the destruction of coral reefs, which would be of no help to the tourism industry.

However the reefs off Balambangan Island are currently not on the priority list of diving enthusiasts.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

First sighting of orang utan twins in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: Holding on tightly to their mother, orang utan twins were spotted at least twice at the Lower Kinabatangan region in eastern Sabah, in what is believed to be the first ever documented sighting of twins in the wild.

Cardiff University wildlife geneticist Dr Benoit Goossens saw the twins clinging to their mother at the banks of the Kinabatangan river on Oct 23.

Several days later, Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Project (KOCP) field assistant Mohd Daisah Kapar, who was out on assignment to monitor primates, saw the mother and her twins at the Resang river, a tributary of the Kinabatangan.

Goossens, who has been studying wildlife in Sabah for the past few years, said the babies were probably not more than 6 months old.

"They were of the same size, so that is why I believe that they were twins. The twins looked healthy based on my observation, and their mother was busy eating fruits. They were clinging on to both sides of her chest.

Continue reading at: First sighting of orang utan twins in Sabah

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

New Brunei-UK air services agreement


By M K Anwar

Brunei Darussalam and the United Kingdom enhanced their air transport cooperation with the signing of new air services between the two countries yesterday.

The agreement which came into effect yesterday was signed by the Minister of Communications Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong representing the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam while representing the Government of The United Kingdom was Mr Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Undersecretary of State for Transport, in charge of Aviation.

Also witnessing the signing was the Brunei High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Pg Dato Paduka Hj Maidin bin Pg Hj Hashim.

The Agreement between UK and Brunei relating to Air Services was inked in London yesterday in the offices of the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport in London. The text for the new agreement was negotiated and finalised with the United Kingdom's delegation in Bandar Seri Begawan in May this year.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Communication, the new Agreement is also in conformity with the European Community law supersedes a 17 year old outdated bilateral air services agreement that was signed on November 23, 1990.

The previous ones had certain historical arrangements which is now outdated and inappropriate to current developments in European policy on air services arrangements.

Mr. Fitzpatrick commenting on the new agreement said that it will be good for passengers and the aviation industry for both countries.

"It will also further opportunities for the development of the tourist industry in Brunei," he added.

The agreement offers new opportunities for both countries to foster cooperation in air transport bringing valuable inbound tourism industry and commerce between the two countries.

The United Kingdom is considered an important gateway for European tourists coming to Brunei. The country's national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines operates flights between Brunei and UK.

According to Brunei Tourism, the latest tourism figures of holiday visitor arrivals from January to August 2007 recorded 3,459 European visitors in total.

From now on, Royal Brunei Airlines could mount daily services on routes between BSB and London without any restrictions on aircraft type and seat capacity with the end of the previous arrangement.

RBA could also enjoy the privilege to mount four services per week on routes to Manchester if decided at a later date.

The signing of this new air services agreement is continuing development of the excellent bilateral relationship between both countries. Its significance is in its role improving the flow of passengers, goods, services and investment.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Bamboo Music Festival, Tamparuli - 28 November


Head to Tamparuli in November to witness the Bamboo Music Festival – a celebration that highlights the melodies of bamboo instruments, unique to this part of the world.

The famed Kinabalu Bamboo Orchestra will be performing songs on various bamboobased instruments, including the sompoton (a bamboo aerophone), bungkau (a harp jaw) and tagunggak (a hollow bamboo idiophone).

Don’t miss other exciting events such as the rampanau (bamboo stilt-walking) race, bamboo raft-building competition and a rampanau parade.

This is a great chance to learn more about and purchase local bamboo-based handicraft and musical instruments. It’s all happening this month at the Bamboo Music Festival in Tamparuli.

See you there!

For more information, please contact Jane Thing at tel. no 013 866 5612 or Wendy Guntarik at 013 878 3238

Source: Sabah Tourism

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Save Sarawak’s flora and fauna


KUCHING: Sarawak’s rich flora and fauna must be preserved to prevent it from becoming extinct, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said.

He said that the Loagan Bunut National Park, for example, was home to a great variety of flora and fauna, including 500 plant species, almost 200 bird species and more than 70 species of fish.

He said it was important to have proper, sustainable management of Loagan Bunut to preserve the flora and fauna.

Taib was speaking at the launch of the Loagan Bunut National Park Management Plan, the state’s first integrated management plan for the conservation of peat swamp forests, at the state legislative assembly building here yesterday.

Continue reading at: Save Sarawak’s flora and fauna

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gayana Eco Resort, Gaya Island




Gayana Eco Resort is just 30 minutes boat ride away from Kota Kinabalu the State Capital of Sabah.

It is located in one of the most beautiful area where the blue sea converges with the white sand at the shore; Gaya Island.

There are some 40 rooms at the resort to choose from where guests can bask in the sun and feel the caress of night sea breeze.

A beautiful place for guests to enjoy the sea, sand and sun.

Gayana, always magnificent.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

Further Reading: Borneo Tropical Island Vacation at Gaya Island

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tourism is Sarawak's money spinner


KUCHING: Sarawak has wide and diversifed products which attract repeated visits by foreign tourists, said Chief Minister Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

As such, he urged tourism players to focus on ways to promote the State to the rest of the world.
“I see a great future for the tourism industry in Sarawak more and more towards broad, diversifed tourism products which will attract more and more people to come here.

“All we have to do is to bring enough people to serve the State both in the airlines to connect us with the rest of the world and to promote Sarawak as we are off the beaten track,” Taib told the media after launching Air Asia’s official flight from here to Macau at Kuching International Airport here yesterday.

The Chief Minister, who is also the Minister of Planning and Resource Management, added that Kuching was ready to become an international hub for Air Asia in the future.

Continue reading at: Tourism is Sarawak's money spinner

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AirAsia to fly to more foreign cities from Kuching


KUCHING: Budget carrier AirAsia plans to add more international destinations from Kuching, starting with Jakarta and Singapore, following the introduction of its Kuching-Macau flight.

AirAsia chief executive Datuk Tony Fernandes said the Kuching-Jakarta route was the first on its list of new destinations, to be followed by Kuching-Singapore.

“It looks like it’ll be (introduced) in the first quarter (of next year). These are our two priorities,” he told reporters during the launch of the Kuching-Macau flight by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at the Kuching International Airport yesterday.

Continue reading at: AirAsia to fly to more foreign cities from Kuching

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Tran-Mesilau

By Anna Vivienne

The winding road meandered through hillocks and hamlets towards the Blue Mountains, like a silvery passageway in the evening sun. The hills on each side of the road, gently sloping in some places and steep at some, were dotted by vegetable patches.

The green patches remind one of patched quilt; only they were predominantly green. All hues of green.

As the road went higher and higher into the mountains, the air became crispy and fresher. There vegetations were denser and pine trees grew lushly. The little farms were no longer visible; instead the natural environment dominated the scenery.

Then the road meandered through a golf course; interesting.

The golf course was cleverly infused into the environment that one almost believed that it had always existed. Perhaps the ‘little people’ tended that green … but then again there were the tracks.. so.

A couple of miles afterwards, I saw a bridge over a poster-pretty stream that flowed from higher up the mountain.

And there as I looked up is the Mount Kinabalu Ridge... I was 2000 kilometres above sea level right on the East Ridge of Mount Kinabalu, I was at Mesilau Nature Resort. Wow!

I felt euphoric for a while.

I was with a couple from the Peninsula Malaysia and they were as awed as I was. In fact they seemed more awed because it was their first time. I would not be surprised if they make a return visit. In fact I am sure they will.

Personally, I can never get enough of Mesilau. I have visited this resort a number of times, and I am still awed by the natural environment there; the broody mountain ridge, the forests, the cascading streams and the cool air, among many others.

This place is where you want to be , if possible forever.

The cool temperate climate, the serene surrounding and beautiful lodges available here make it a haven for honeymooners and those who wish to get away from the hubbub of city life. It is also a good place for naturalists because the flora and fauna available there.


For those who wish to climb Mount Kinabalu from a different route, Mesilau Trail is an alternative trail to climb.

The train starts from the Resort, to Layang-Layang on the Summit Trail. The climb takes longer than the route taken from the Timpohon Gate, at Kinabalu Parks.

Anyway, more information can be acquired from the Kinabalu parks for any climbs.

The Mesilau Nature Resort is a beautiful place to stay in and can be an ideal avenue for activities such as seminars, gatherings, meetings, motivational meetings and even just to get in “contact with your inner self.”

The Resort, managed by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges located at Wisma Sabah, has fantastic accommodations that will suit just about everybody.

The accommodations available are the Bishop’s Head Hostel which offers 96 Beds and 12 units of Crocker Range Lodge, while the Witti Range Lodge boasts four units.

There is one unit called King Edward’s Peak Lodge, two unites of Donkey’s Ear Peak Lodge, one unit called Ugly Sister’s Peak Lodge and one unit called St. John’s Peak Lodge while one unit of Low’s Peak Lodge.


These lodges have beautifully furnished rooms, with ample closets, good bathrooms and a nice living room. Each room is furnished with a room heater; so if you can’t stand the cold, switch that on and be warm.

Food is not a problem in Mesilau. Even though you cannot cook in the lodges, the restaurant there called kadamaian Restaurant will look into your every need. Just ask them. The resort manager Shazril Ahmad Shah stresses that their guests’ comfort is very important and that his staff will accord them information and assistance where necessary.

If you like playing golf, you can ask the reception for information on how to use the 18-hole golf course they have there. The people there are quite friendly and will be happy to assist you in any way.

So if you want a complete rest, except to meander within nature’s bower, Mesilau should be top on your ‘must go’ list.

Enjoy!

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mount Kinabalu an easy climb

Peak of majestic Mount Kinabalu visible at a certain hour of the day
The park's headquarters where climbers register before making their way up to the mountains

A flower in the park

Café Balsam's entrance opposite the park's headquarters

Sunset view from Pondok Timpohon

A view of the peak from a park spot

Park entrance from the main road

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to RDN and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.


By RDN

The highest mountain in South East Asia, Mount Kinabalu, despite its intimidating size, is regarded as of one of the easiest mountains in the world to climb as no special skills or equipment are needed, though the ascent is a physically tough and challenging climb.

Each year sees thousands of visitors climbing to the summit of the mountain's Low Peak and on top of that, visitors from as far as Europe visit its National Park located at the foothill of the mountain.

Kinabalu National Park is host to unique flora and fauna and at altitudes above 4,000 feet, it is a place for plants of Himalayan and Chinese genera as well as Australian, New Zealand and even American affinity.

Buttercups of Australian affinity, Rosaceous trees and shrubs and Violets, which are both of Sino-Himalayan affinity are some of the floras here, mingling with pitcher plants (Nepenthes) and bamboos of Bornean origins.

Mount Kinabalu, according to studies, is one of the richest and most diverse assemblages of plants in the world and is believed to have 1,000 orchid species, including at least five species of perhaps the most famous orchid species found on Kinabalu; the slipper orchid of the genus Papiopedillium.

The park, one of the earth's last frontiers of wilderness, is a natural paradise and also home to world's largest flower; the Rafflesia. It the covers an area of 754 sq km. Towering 4,101 metres (13,455 ft) above the mysterious tropical jungles, Mount Kinabalu is the majestic centrepiece of Kinabalu Park.

A stroll around the park puts visitors; minds at ease and at times, the weather can be so cold that slightly thicker clothing is the most appropriate attire to wear.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Friday, November 16, 2007

‘Wings of Borneo’ launched in London


KUCHING: The Wings of Borneo travel package was launched at the World Travel Mart (WTM) in London on November 12.

Aiming at attracting more tourists from United Kingdom and Europe to Borneo, the travel package was launched by Minister of Tourism, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor at the Malaysian pavilion at the travel mart. The four-day event ended yesterday.

The auspicious occasion was witnessed by Sabah Minister of Tourism and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun, Chief Executive Officer of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Gracie Geikie, Chief Executive Officer of Brunei Tourism, Sheikh Jamaludin Sheikh Mohamed and Managing Director of MASWings, Dr Amin Khan.

STB’s public relations officer here, Letitia Samuel, said the Wings of Borneo was a collaborative effort of STB, Sabah Tourism Board, Brunei Tourism and MASWings Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, and it aimed at boosting the tourism industry in Borneo.

Continue reading at: ‘Wings of Borneo’ launched in London

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Kuching poised to become tourism hub


KUCHING: Over 180 passengers were on AirAsia’s inaugural flight from Kuching to Macau yesterday. The flight took off from Kuching International Airport at 3.40 pm and was expected to arrive at Macau by 7.25pm.

The passengers were treated to a pleasant surprise on their departure, with each of them getting a goody bag containing souvenirs and tourist information on Macau from Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO).

Beginning yesterday, AirAsia introduced its new thrice weekly flight from Kuching to Macau.

The introduction of the direct flight from Kuching to Macau by AirAsia will make Kuching an important hub for tourism in East Malaysia.

Continue reading at: Kuching poised to become tourism hub

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A touch of Borneo in Kuala Lumpur city


In the wilderness of Borneo, warriors return from hunting excursions to the Baruk, or headhunter’s house in the Bidayuh language, to celebrate their victory, exchange stories of bravery and obtain information about other tribes.

In cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur, urbanites can do just that, the modern way, at Borneo Baruk Club.

Conceptualised by a Sarawakian architect, the brown building at Jalan Kia Peng is an entertainment multiplex encompassing the facilities of Borneo Bar, BreadKick bakery and Rafflesia Restaurant.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: A touch of Borneo in Kuala Lumpur city

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Do You Know: Gongs


By Anna Vivienne

A gong is one of a wide variety of metal percussion instruments. The term is Malay-Javanese in origin but widespread throughout Asia. The instrument itself appears to have origins in the bronze drums of China, cymbals of central Asia, and perhaps even in European bell-casting techniques.

Gongs are broadly of three types. Suspended gongs are more or less flat, circular disks of metal suspended vertically by means of a cord passed through holes near to the top rim. Bossed gongs have a raised centre boss and are often suspended and played horizontally. Bowl gongs are bowl-shaped, and rest on cushions. Gongs are made mainly from bronze or brass but there are many other alloys in use.

Suspended gongs are played with beaters and are of two main types: flat faced discs either with or without a turned edge, and gongs with a raised centre boss. In general, the larger the gong, the larger and softer the beater.

In Sabah, Gongs are mostly made at Sumangkap in Kudat. Most of the villagers there are knowledgeable in gong making.

They sell gongs according to demand. Usually, one set of gongs comprise of seven gongs varying sizes from 16 ins in diameter to two feet in diameter. They make different sounds and when beaten in a rhythm that are danced to by the people.

There are different sounds depicting the different ceremony where gongs are utilised. The sombre sound where only three gongs are used is usually made in funerals while the seven gongs with a skin drum thrown in are for weddings and joyous events.

Gongs especially the canang is usually used as dowry.

A man who wishes to marry must have a canang with him, pending which he will have to give money in its stead.

It is also a depiction of wealth; the more gongs a man has, the wealthier he is.

In the olden days, gongs are also used as collateral for debts.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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A major boost if Mount Kinabalu joins Geopark Network


Langkawi: Communities living in the vicinity of Mount Kinabalu are likely to enjoy socio-economic benefits if the mountain, Malaysia's tallest, joins the Global Geopark Network.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) School of Science and Technology's Associate Prof. Dr Felix Tongkul said with the Geopark concept, the surrounding communities could enjoy the benefits of tourism by participating in related economic activities such as opening stalls or curio shops.

"Currently, they are mere spectators observing the comings and goings of tourists and, except for providing manpower, they contribute nothing as the tourist agencies bringing in visitors to Mount Kinabalu Park are based in Kota Kinabalu," he said here.

He said geoparks should belong to the people, with the Government assisting them to reap the benefits from the implementation of the concept.

Continue reading at: A major boost if Mount Kinabalu joins Geopark Network

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mount Trus Madi - New tourism spot for Sabah


TAMBUNAN: The Sabah government is drawing up strategies to develop and aggressively promote Mount Trus Madi, the second highest mountain in Malaysia after Mount Kinabalu, as a new tourist destination in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan said that Mount Trus Madi, at a height of 2,900m, had potential to lure tourists.

It is located in a remote district which not only has a cool climate but is also rich in biodiversity.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Mount Trus Madi - New tourism spot for Sabah

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Starwood to manage Sarawak Four Points hotel


KUCHING: Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts Pte Ltd will manage the proposed RM100mil Four Points by Sheraton Hotel to be developed by Global Upline Sdn Bhd at Jalan Airport here.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had performed the earth-breaking ceremony for the hotel project yesterday.

The proposed 12-storey 300-room hotel, which is expected to be operational by Aug 31, is one of the three international standard hotels planned in Sarawak by construction company Global Upline.

The second 220-room hotel will be built at Jalan Tabuan here while the third hotel has been earmarked for Miri.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Starwood to manage Sarawak Four Points hotel

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

AirAsia looking into direct international flights from Kuching


KUCHING: AirAsia is looking into the possibility of flying direct from Kuching International Airport (KIA) to international destinations like Shenzhen, Jakarta, Bangkok and Brunei if the loads factor permits and provided that the demand can sustain the routes taken, Station Manager Shanmugamnathan Suppiah disclosed yesterday.

He said that AirAsia, with new planes coming in every month, has the capability to put up new routes including international routes.

However the problem will be in sustaining the routes and whether there is enough load or passengers to sustain the flights.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: AirAsia looking into direct international flights from Kuching

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Sarawak Rainforest art expo


KUCHING: Over 120 paintings submitted for the Sarawak Rainforest Painting Competition 2007 are on display and for auction at a two-week exhibition which started yesterday.

Organised by Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Galleria, a local art gallery, the competition was open to students in two age groups, 12-15 and 16-18, between March and September this year.

The top three paintings in each category will have a starting price of RM50 and the rest RM30 in the auction, with subsequent bids priced at a minimum raise of RM10.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak Rainforest art expo

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Eco-Friendly Borneo Highlands Eyeing International Market


KUCHING -- Built on a former timber logging area, the Borneo Highlands Resort is a unique eco-friendly luxury residential development in Southeast Asia that is set to penetrate the international market starting next year.

Standing at 1,000 metres above sea level atop the Penrissen mountain ranges and literally a stone's throw away from the southwest Kalimantan border, about 25 percent of the total area of 5,177.5 acres has been developed so far by promoting the "Back to Nature, Back to Basics" lifestyle.

The resort's chief operating officer, Loh Leh Ching, said its developer, Borneo Heights Sdn Bhd, would initially target the real estate to the regional market, including Singapore, Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, especially as a second or holiday home.

The resort, which has spent RM120 million on upgrading the facilities and infrastructure since its inception in 1995, is a joint venture between Country Heights Holdings Bhd, which holds a 70 percent stake and the Sarawak Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) with the remaining 30 percent.

"At present, 149 of the maximum projected 500 bungalow lots are already developed, including one lot purchased by a lawyer from the United Kingdom and another by a Singaporean businessman, while we have also received enquiries from Japan and Taiwan," Loh told Bernama during a recent tour of the resort, about an hour's journey by road from here.

Continue reading at: Eco-Friendly Borneo Highlands Eyeing International Market

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Remembrance Day in Labuan Borneo


The World War II battlefields of Borneo are fast becoming the next place of pilgrimage for Australians trying to connect with the their ANZAC heritage.

While ANZAC Cove and the Kokoda Track are best known, and Long Tan now draws dozens of veterans each August and the Commonwealth War Cemetery on the island of Labuan is a unique place.

Almost 8,000 Australians and half as many Britons visit memorials in Malaysia each year. Those sites include locations along the terrible Sandakan Death March that killed almost 2,000 Commonwealth servicemen. The last major battles fought by Australians, within weeks of the war's end, were the liberation of Borneo by the 9th Division: Tarakan, Balikpapan and Labuan itself.

Continue reading at: Remembrance Day in Labuan, Borneo

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lots to do and see in Miri, Sarawak


The birthplace of Sarawak’s petroleum industry and the second largest city in the state, Miri boasts of scenic sights and interesting local products and food.

Miri Tamu market

Native products can be easily purchased at the Miri Tamu or a market where the locals come and sell their products. From foodstuff to handicraft, there is something for everyone.

Shopping

Shopping is a breeze with the numerous shopping malls such as Bintang Plaza, Boulevard Shopping Mall, Imperial Shopping Mall, E-Mart, Miri Plaza, Miri Square and Wisma Pelita Mall, to name a few in this small bustling city.

Beach fun

Watching the romantic sunset from the Miri beach is a favourite pastime and a must for tourist as it offers beautiful photography opportunity. The beach is also a popular spot for locals on weekends.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Lots to do and see in Miri, Sarawak

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kuching Cat Museum - Crazy for cats


If you adore everything feline, a visit to the Kuching Cat Museum is a must.

The first thing you notice when you step off the plane is that the people in Kuching, Sarawak are crazy about cats.

Huge, colourful cat statues dominate the town. The fishing cats dominate the centre square, the beckoning cat stands at the crossroads and the smiling cat stands guard at roundabouts.

Part of the local fascination stems from the fact that kuching means cat in Malay. Lively discussions centre on whether this refers to the wild cats that dominated the area in times past, or the proliferation of a local fruit tree whose lychee-like fruit is nicknamed mata kuching or cat’s eyes.

Still others suggest that the name refers to the coiling shape of the river that winds through the city.

Whatever the reason, Kuching announced it was a Cat City on August 1, 1988 and threw itself into celebrating the cat. To kick it off, the Sarawak Museum took over a cat display from the National Museum, Kuala Lumpur. As it proved popular and the collection grew, the exhibition was given its own space in Kuching’s North City Hall in 1993.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Kuching Cat Museum - Crazy for cats

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Friday, November 09, 2007

It’s RM10 flat fee for rural air passengers in Sarawak


MIRI: Rural folks in Sarawak will now pay a flat RM10 ticketing agent fee, instead of RM40, when they fly with Malaysia Airlines subsidiary MASWings to the interior destinations in the state.

Malaysian Association for Travel and Tour Agents (Matta) has agreed to reduce the ticketing fee after the rural folks protested against the newly introduced charges which was highlighted in The Star last week.

In rural Sarawak, MAS and MASWings do not have branches in interior areas and are represented by tour and ticketing agents. The ticketing agents impose the fee as part of their services when selling the tickets.

These tour agents introduced the RM40 fee after MASWings took back the services from AirAsia to serve the rural destinations.

Continue reading at: It’s RM10 flat fee for rural air passengers in Sarawak

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MAS to buy 10 ATR aircraft for Sabah and Sarawak routes


PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ATR in Toulouse, France, for the purchase of 10 ATR 72 500s and an option for five more worth a total of US$285mil.

The purchase was in response to the Government’s request that MASWings, a subsidiary of MAS set up to service the air routes of Sabah and Sarawak, expand its services to the two states.

MAS executive director and chief financial officer Tengku Azmil Zahruddin and ATR chief executive officer Stephane Mayer signed the MoU.

MASWings is expected to take delivery of the first five aircraft in 2009 and the next batch in 2010. ATR is a joint venture between EADS and Alenia Aeronautica. The ATR 72 500 is a turboprop six-blade propeller aircraft.

Continue reading at: MAS to buy 10 ATR aircraft for Sabah and Sarawak routes

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nature Tour in Sabah - Getting down with Nature


Nature lovers have everything they want in Sabah. They can walk in the mists in Kinabalu Parks, with the cool mountain air blowing on their face. They just have to look up and they will be able to gaze at the morning sun as it unveils the craggy top of Mount Kinabalu; they can wake up to the roar of the waves at any islands they want or the distant call of monkeys.

They can add Maliau Basin, ‘The Lost World” to their string of affairs. People are welcome there but access is strictly controlled and earlier written permission must be sought from the Sabah Foundation or Yayasan Sabah. Maliau Basin is located in the south central part of Sabah, about 200 kilometres form Tawau. It is a circular shape which accounts for it being named ‘Basin.’

The highest point is Mount Lotung. Maliau is a single water catchment, drained by a set of tributaries and out into our longest river, Kinabatangan-Maliau Basin has beautiful waterfalls and home to many kind of animals, endangered and otherwise.

They include the Sumatran Rhino and Proboscis monkey. I believe the abundance of flora and fauna there that will fascinate nature lovers for a while.

Then there is the Danum Valley. This place is actually Sabah’s largest protected area of lowland dipterocarp forest, also managed by Yayasan Sabah.

Nature lovers will just adore this area, especially if they stay at the Danum Valley Field Centre. It is fascinating and slightly awe-inspiring to be staying in the world leading tropical rainforest research and environmental education establishments in Southeast Asia. I like the ambience at night, the call of insects and nocturnal animals are just fascinating.

Where wildlife is concerned, there are Orang Utans, Asian Elephants, mousedeers and even Sumatran Rhinos dwelling in this area. If you are lucky enough you will glimpse one or more of these animals. There is also a waterfall there, located about an hour and half walk from the field centre.

A lodge called the Borneo Rainforest Lodge is available, with 31 chalets to pick from. If you need a guide, talk to them staff there. Still in Lahad Datu area; the Tabin Wildlife Reserve is also a good and interesting place to go.

This reserve allows wild animals to roam freely and live their life in peace, except for the Oil Palm Plantations. There is also a mud volcano there that is an endless source of fascination for both animals and men, generically speaking. If you want to go there; stay with the Tabin Wildlife Resort. They have perfectly nice chalets that overlook the river there.

The jungle trek is stimulating for if you stop and look around you, you can well imagine how this land of ours actually looked like a long time ago.

So if you want to get in touch with nature, these are some of the places that you can go.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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Sibu travel exchange pulls in many foreign tourists


SIBU: The Sibu Divisional Tourism Task Force’s (TTG) participation in the just concluded BIMP-EAGA travel exchange from November 1 to 4 in Kuching was described as a successful one.

Sarawak Tourism Board executive Rudy Anoi said the TGG’s participation had fulfilled its aim by creating awareness among the delegates who had come to the fair from all member countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines and the host country Malaysia.

“We have had general questions like what, where and how to get to the tourist destinations in the Sarawak’s Central Region. These people were now more aware of what are available in this part of Sarawak.

“Many had just learned for the first time that we did have annual cultural festivals that feature the twenty-seven different ethnic groups in Sarawak.

Continue reading at: Sibu travel exchange pulls in many foreign tourists

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oxbow Lakes in Sabah

By Anna Vivienne

An oxbow lake is a type of lake which is formed when water meander from a stream or a river is to form a lake. They are called oxbow lakes due to the distinctive curved shape that results from this process.

The bulges in the border of the river made the river change its course, but when the river moved, the border didn’t.

When a river reaches a plain in its course to the sea or a lake, it meanders widely. Deposition occurs on the curved bank when the water slows down.

In contrast, both lateral erosion and undercutting occur on the concave bank where the stream’s velocity is the highest.

Continuous erosion of a concave bank and deposition on the convex bank of a meandering river cause the formation of a very pronounced meander with two concave banks getting closer.

The narrow neck of land between the two neighbouring concave banks is finally cut through by either lateral erosion of the two concave banks of the strong currents during a flood.

When this happens, a new straighter river channel is created and an abandoned meander loop, called a cutoff, is formed. When deposition finally seals off the cutoff from the river channel, an oxbow lake is formed.

To see how an oxbow lake looks like, visit the Kinabatangan River. There are 20 oxbow lakes there.

Some of the lakes, known locally as Danau is overgrown with water hyacinth.

If you are fond of bird watching these lakes are good places to be. You will be able to see darters, egrets and Kingfishers diving for fish in some of the lakes.

The Pesta Beliungan or River festival in Kinabatangan is usually held in one of the lakes, near Kg Bilit.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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Master plan to upgrade Brunei international airport


By Za'im Zaini

Brunei is planning for an expansion and refurbishment or construction of a new passenger terminal to bring the international airport on par with world-class standards.

The government yesterday took the first step towards realising the vision of an airline hub with a signing ceremony between The Department of Civil Aviation under the Ministry of Communications and Petar Perunding Sdn Bhd for consultancy services for the airport master plan study. It was held at the Ministry of Communications Building.

Present to witness the signing ceremony was the Minister of Communications Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abu Bakar Bin Haji Apong.

Signing on behalf of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications, Dato Paduka Hj Md Yusof bin Hj Md Hassan, while signing on behalf of Petar Perunding Sdn Bhd was its Chairman Hj Sapawi bin Bolhassan.

The proposed facilities will have to be integrated with the existing infrastructure to make the airport world class, yet imparting the Bruneian identity while ensuring safe, secure and expeditious arrivals and departures of passengers and aircraft and an enjoyable experience.

The passenger and cargo terminals need to be expanded so as to cater for the traffic and to develop the Brunei International Airport as the leading regional air hub in the BIMP-EAGA region. Infrastructural development strategies to develop the airport as the leading regional air hub are focused on the following areas: Airline Hub, Airport City and Cargo Village.

The master plan study will also look into aircraft parking apron, associated roads, curb sides and car parks.

The consultant team comprises M/S Petar Perunding Sdn Bhd (Principal Consultant), M/S CPG Consultants PTE LTD (Airport Division), M/S Leading Edge Aviation Planning Professionals (Air Traffic Forecast), M/S SKM Singapore Consulting PTE LTD (Airport Security) and M/S Consulus Cato Partners (Branding Consultant).

The master plan study together with the conceptual design proposal is estimated to take eight months to complete.

The principal objective of the study is to produce a workable programme of priority improvements needed for the airport and to prepare a master plan for the airport's phased development, which is technically and financially feasible.

Brunei recorded 1.3 million passengers in 2005 and the airport is facing congestion during peak hours, hence the need to expand the facility.

The Brunei International Airport has undergone several major facelifts since its opening. It was upgraded in the mid 1980s and later in 2000 to handle more than two million passengers and 50,000 tonnes of cargo every year.

"No concrete decision has been made on whether to expand the airport or build a new terminal. We need to wait for the consultancy study to be completed to consider the number of options which will be short listed to be implemented for the development of the airport," said Director of Civil Aviation Pg Hj Abdul Rahman bin PSI Pg Hj Ismail in an interview with the Borneo Bulletin.

"Today's event is for the signing ceremony of an agreement for consultancy where the consultants (Principal Consultant) have been given the responsibility to conduct a study for the airport master plan, which will give the government an idea on how to develop the Brunei International Airport," he added.

The study will not only take into consideration the number of passengers arriving, departing and transiting but will also consider other issues such as people working at the airport, providing better facilities for agencies that provide services at the airport either through the public or private sector. Such efforts would ensure more passengers using the airport in the future and thereby realising the vision of making the Brunei International Airport as a regional hub, said the director.

During the event, Rohani bte Baharin Executive Vice President (Airport) of CPG Consultants Pte Ltd gave a presentation on the master plan study.

She gave a timeframe for the submission of reports. The preliminary report will be delivered in January 2008, interim report in March 2008, final draft report in May 2008 and final report in July 2008.

The study will assess and identify new services at the airport, develop business strategies for a commercially viable operation, assess and identify feasible private partnership projects, provide a world-class facility with effective and efficient operations.

The planning period will have a two-phase development programme.

Phase 1 will be the implementation from 2008 to 2012 and operational for the next 12 years, which is from 2012 to 2024. Phase 2 implementation will be from 2022 to 2024 and will be operational from 2024 to 2036.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Arrivals to Sabah up first 9 months


Kota Kinabalu: Sabah recorded about 1.7 million tourist arrivals for the first nine months this year - a 14.1 per cent increase compared to the corresponding period last year which saw 1.5 million arrivals.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, said the good news from such increase was that the figure also includes domestic tourists.

At the same time, the number of foreign tourist arrivals also rose by 24.1 per cent for the period. "Of the overall 1.7m arrivals, about 700,000 were international ones which is very good and much better compared to last year.

"And those foreign tourists are quality ones as we have quite a number from Western Europe and Australia while the number of Taiwanese, Koreans and Hong Kong tourists have been always consistent," he said after opening the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) 40th Anniversary dinner for Sabah members, Saturday.

Continue reading at: Arrivals to Sabah up first 9 months

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Islands, seafood luring Chinese tourists to Sabah


KUNMING: Sabah’s islands and abundant seafood are drawing more tourists from mainland China with the number visiting between January and August already surpassing that for the whole of last year.

Preliminary figures show that a total of 38,891 Chinese nationals came in the first eight months of the year compared with 32,268 for the whole of last year.

“Many Chinese tourists come especially during the three major week-long breaks in China, for the Chinese New Year, May labour and October national day holidays,” Sabah Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Karim Bujang said.

Continue reading at: Islands, seafood luring Chinese tourists to Sabah

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Promoting tourism industry in BIMP-EAGA - Joint efforts needed


KUCHING: The best way to promote tourism industry in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is through joint-promotion efforts among tourism players in the region, said Chief Minister Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He pointed out that any tourism promotion should include air transport players, especially budget airlines such as Air Asia, Fire Fly (MAS) and Singapore Airlines.

He said this when officiating at the 3rd BIMP-EAGA Travel Exchange 2007 at Level 5, Permata Car Park here yesterday.

He said through joint-promotions, more tourists from countries such as the Middles East and Australia could be wooed to the region.

The Chief Minister was optimistic that such a strategy and formula would work well, as the peoples of the region shared a common culture and heritage.

“It is much easier to develop this cultural-theme in tourism, which is very much connected with eco-tourism,” he said.

Continue reading at: Promoting tourism industry in BIMP-EAGA - Joint efforts needed

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