Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bringing the world's cultures to Sabah


Kota Kinabalu: Learning about other cultures while at the same time exposing the rest of the world to ours is essential for a rising resort city like Kota Kinabalu, Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim said Wednesday.

This is exactly the idea behind the 8th City Anniversary Cultural Extravaganza set for 3, 4 and 5 February at Dewan Canslor, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Except for the Ukranians, the Brazilian, Irish, Kenyan, Polish, Scottish and Spanish dance troupes have arrived to join a diversity of indigenous folk groups and celebrities for three grand cultural stage shows on the aforesaid dates.

Continue reading at: Bringing the world's cultures to Sabah

Labels:

Sipadan corals recover


Kota Kinabalu: The recovery process of the damaged coral reef at Pulau Sipadan following the 2006 barge incident is now almost complete, according to Sabah Parks.

Its Deputy Director Dr Jamili Nais said their concern is now on the fate of coral reefs in the proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park site in Kudat.

"The proposal to gazette the Tun Mustapha Marine Park in Kudat is worrying us because most of the coral reef areas there are devastated. However, it is hard to say what percentage because they are very localised," he told Daily Express at the Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP) Symposium at Magellan Sutera Hotel, Thursday.

These damages were more due to the human impact, including rampant fish bombings in the area, he said.

"The human impact on coral reefs is more worrying because its negative outcome is more obvious and much faster than natural impacts like global warming.

Continue reading at: Sipadan corals recover

MAS to hold annual travel fair from 22-24 Feb


KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airlines will be holding its annual travel fair, the Malaysia Airlines Travel Fair (MATF) from 22 to 24 February 2008.

During the promotional period, customers can avail of a wide array of airfare deals and discounted Golden Holiday packages for domestic and international travel, the national carrier said in a statement yesterday.

“Around six million seats, for both domestic and international travel, will be up for grabs at this year’s MATF,” the statement said. “Up to 70 per cent discount off current market fares will be made available during this promotional period for travel through the seven months up to the end of September 2008, except for certain blackout periods.”

Continue reading at: MAS to hold annual travel fair from 22-24 Feb

Labels:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sabah: Land where exotic orchids thrive


WOW! This is the most common reaction heard as visitors make their way through the Borneo Orchid Society of Sabah’s (BOSS) annual exhibition.

The event usually held in May is a showcase of the state’s diverse native orchid species, with their myriad of shapes, colours and sizes.

There are about 1,500 species of orchids in Borneo and two-thirds are from Sabah. And of 1,000 native Sabah species, 86% are in Kinabalu Park.

Despite this diversity, Sabah ironically remains a net importer of cut orchid flowers with florists and hotels displaying blooms that were likely to have originated from the peninsula.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sabah: Land where exotic orchids thrive

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Boost for Eco-Tourism in Sabah


Blame it on Jacques Costeau. On a visit to Pulau Sipadan, the renowned French oceanographer famously observed: “I have seen other places like Sipadan – but 45 years ago – but now, no more, now we have found again an untouched piece of art.”

That was in the early 1980s. Word has spread around the diving community, and now Sipadan, with its unsurpassed variety of marine life, is recognised as one of the top diving destinations in the world. The only oceanic island in Malaysia, Sipadan rises some 600m from the seabed, at the heart of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. The list of attractions is quite staggering – greenback and hawksbill turtles, barracuda and big-eye trevally, manta rays, hammerhead and whale sharks, etc.

Other notable dive destinations include Mabul Island, with luxury chalets on stilts and shallow reefs; the three islands of Pulau Tiga National Park surrounded by a crystal-clear sea; Turtle Islands Park; Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a group of five beautiful islands with good facilities, beaches and snorkelling just a 10-minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu.

Continue reading at: A Boost for Eco-Tourism in Sabah

Labels: , ,

Tawau - Gateway from the South


By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

Tawau is situated on the southeast coast of Sabah. It takes about 10 hours from Kota Kinabalu City by road.

It used to be the gateway for illegal immigrants from Indonesia via Nunukan, Pulau Nyamuk and Sebatik.

To enter and exit Tawau town, every vehicle with passengers has to show their documents and identification before they are allowed to pass due to security surveillances.

Illegal immigrants from Indonesia used to enter Sabah illegally to obtain citizenships from the National Registration Department.

But quick actions taken by the Federal Government of Malaysia and Sabah in handling the repatriations of those illegal immigrants in 2002 in Sabah turned the image of Tawau to a less populated district.

During the era of the British North Borneo (Chartered) Company in the 1960s, Tawau was thickly covered by virgin tropical rainforest with many wild animals.

Today, the virgin tropical forest no longer exists in Tawau. Only the tallest tropical rainforest tree is seen from afar raising curiosity. A scientist from the United States of America had come to make the measurement.

Similar thing happened in other districts namely Kudat, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna, which underwent virgin tropical rainforest extinction.

In the 1930s, Tawau prospered rapidly due largely to its agricultural potential. The inhabitant population rose to 1,800 in 1931.

The Kuhara Rubber and Manila Hemp Estates and the Kubota Coconut Estates were the two largest plantations of the time.

Sandakan was the permanent seat of the government and centre of commerce. Tawau was a small but prosperous town.

In the 1960s, the huge lands of the virgin tropical rainforest were logged to make way for coconut trees for its copra.

Due to the unprofitable commodity, the lands were later planted with cocoa.

However, today the lands are planted with palm oil.

A town area was developed on the unfertile lands by the Chinese immigrants in 1898.

The ethnic Bulungan and Tawai who first lived in Tawau were poorer. The huge lands did not belong to them anymore.

The environment in the sub-urban area of Tawau is very unhygienic. The drainage system is in need of serious attention from the relevant government agencies.

Rubbish is thrown indiscriminately along the main roads of Tawau to Kampong Tanjong Batu Darat. One no longer sees crystal-clear water from the small streams and rivers in Tawau District.

The highest hill near Kampong Tanjong Batu Darat is half bald. Trees were cut half way leaving the residents to wonder aloud that, "These were the works of the contractors and politicians that destroyed the nature given by God." The project was ordered to be abandoned because residents complaint about the dusts blown downhill.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Labels:

Sabah Tourism on right track


KOTA KINABALU: Businessman Mohd Redzuan Sufian was amazed with the frequency of flights cruising the sky while he was having his dinner at the Waterfront, the popular hangout for both locals and visitors alike here.

The thunderous sound of airplanes taking off from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, located about 10km from the city centre, is too great to go unnoticed.

“How many are there (planes)? It has only been about 10 or 15 minutes….a few I think,” the Shah Alam-based contractor asked his Sabahan friend Sharif Baba.

“A lot of them stop here. It’s one of the busiest airports, you know. And these flights must be carrying most of the people here (Waterfront),” said Sharif, referring to the visitors at the dining centre.

Sabah is becoming more popular among tourists, registering about 2.478 million tourist arrivals last year.

Continue reading at: Sabah Tourism on right track

Labels:

More hotels needed in Sabah to meet tourist boom


PENAMPANG: Many new hotels are being built to provide some 4,000 rooms for holiday makers.

And with the launch of the Sabah Development Corridor, the state would see more hotels constructed.

Currently the state still needs some 6,000 rooms to meet the increasing number of visitors making Sabah their holiday destination.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said:” Considering that we are receiving a big number of tourists, accommodations will be an inevitable problem. If we look at the bright side, it is not a bad thing after all as it simply indicates the progress of our tourism industry.”

As of end of 2007, there were 294 hotels in Sabah compared to 279 in 2004 and “I am pleased to tell you that there are many more new hotels coming up in the near future”.

Continue reading at: More hotels needed in Sabah to meet tourist boom

Labels: ,

Friday, January 25, 2008

The 12 Months of Sabah


No doubt about it: Sabah is great all year around! Here are 12 fantastic reasons to pack your bags and head to the Land below the Wind any time of the year:

January

Start the year slow and steady by exploring Kota Kinabalu city. As the excitement of ushering the New Year dies down, this is a great time to see what Kota Kinabalu has to offer. For a quick walk down memory lane, sign up for the KK Heritage Walk and visit some of the city’s historical landmarks. When the sun goes down, stroll along the Waterfront, the city’s one-stop dining and entertainment spot. From North Indian cuisine to everyone’s favourite happy hour joint, you’ll find it all at the Waterfront.

February

It’s time to paint the town red – literally! February is a significant month for the Chinese community as they welcome the Chinese New Year. 2008 marks the Year of the Rat and festivities are marked with several street festivals (check out the Gaya Street Angpow Festival on 16 February 2008) and pulsating lion and dragon dance performances! February also marks the 8th City Day anniversary for Kota Kinabalu.

March

Take advantage of the sunny skies and calm waters in March by heading out to sea! Seasoned anglers claim that March is one of the best times to try your hand at deep sea fishing thanks to the good weather forecast. The waters surrounding the island of Mengalum are a favoured spot, while others head north to Kudat. Good weather also promises a great outing to the nearby islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.


April

April is a great time for visit the east coast district of Tawau. The Sea Bajau community of Semporna celebrate the Regatta Lepa (which takes place on 19 & 20 April 2008), which honours the traditional use of their wooden sailing boat, known as the ‘lepa’. The colourful sails of the lepa line along the coast, making it an unforgettable spectacle. And while you’re in Semporna, why not make your way to the nearby islands of Sipadan, Mabul, Mataking and Kapalai for an amazing scuba diving experience?

May

It’s a cultural extravaganza in the month of May! Throughout the month, the Kadazandusun community celebrate the harvest festival, which culminates on 30 and 31 May. The Grand Finale of the Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) is held in Penampang district on these two days, which are also public holidays for the State. For a kaleidoscope of culture and traditions, don’t miss the Sabah Fest which takes place on 3 and 4 May.


June

The dragons come alive each June as Sabah plays host to some of the top Dragon Boat teams from around the world. The annual Sabah Dragon Boat Race is an exciting event that will take place on 15 June 2008. Teams from as far away as Japan and Australia have participated in this event over the years. Come and cheer for your favourite team!

July

With so much to see and do in July, you’ll wish there were more than 31 days! The month kicks off with the Sago Fest in Kuala Penyu on 4–6 July A great opportunity to taste your first sago worm, yum! The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park celebrates its Open Day on 6 July, with free admission for all. Kids will love the elephant ride, and the lovable Orang Utan will charm you. Want to do your part for the environment? Visit the town of Semporna and the island of Mabul from 12–14 July and participate in their annual clean-up efforts to raise awareness on the importance of conserving the marine environment.

August

Are you tough enough? On 23–24 August, the world’s top mountain runners race each other to the top of Mount Kinabalu and back during the TM 22nd Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon, some clocking less than 3 hours. Take the opportunity to explore Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site, Kinabalu Park. August also marks Malaysia’s 51st anniversary. Don’t miss the Merdeka Day Parade on 31 August!


September

Our Muslim friends observe fasting during the month of Ramadhan as they prepare for Hari Raya Aidilfitri. This is a great chance to sample delicious local foods during ‘buka puasa’ (breaking of fast) come sun down. Visit any of the ‘ramadhan bazaars’ nearest to you and enjoy a variety of kuih muih (cakes), nasi campur (mixed rice) and desserts galore.

October

Selamat Hari Raya! October also brings you a variety of events, including the not-to-be-missed Kota Belud Tamu Besar (25–26 October), the Gong Festival of Matunggong, Kudat (24 October) and the 4X4 Borneo Safari (26 October – 2 November) which takes adventure enthusiasts into the heart of Sabah to tackle challenging terrain.


November

In November, we invite you to venture to the east of Sabah, namely Sandakan. A wildlife paradise, this is the best place to see Sabah’s ‘wild’ residents in their natural habitat. The riverbanks of Kinabatangan are teeming with wildlife, from leaping Proboscis Monkeys to the elusive Borneo Pygmy Elephant. Also a boat ride away from Sandakan are the Selingan Turtle Islands, a sanctuary for sea turtles who lay eggs here on a daily basis. This conservation effort aims to protect the seat turtles while educating visitors on sea turtle protection.

December

‘Tis the season to be jolly and adventurous! The Kiulu 4M Challenge takes place on 7 December. This is a unique traditional extreme sports event, which incorporates four Kadazandusun activities — running, rafting, paddle-swimming with a bamboo pole and bamboo stilt walking. Sounds interesting? Come and check it out for yourself in the picturesque district of Kiulu.


Of course, who could forget the Christmas season? Join the festivities during the ‘open house’, a time for friends and family to visit each other in the spirit of goodwill. Wishing you a tropical Christmas in Sabah Malaysian Borneo!

Courtesy of: Sabah Malaysia Borneo - Sabah Tourism Monthly Tourism Magazine

Labels:

A Home Away From Home in Sabah


The Sabah Development Corridor intends to implement several programmes over the course of 18 years leading to the year 2025, with one of its primary objectives being the establishment of the state as a leading economic region in Asia that stands as one of the most liveable places in the world.

It’s a known fact that one of Sabah’s strongest economic points is its bustling tourism industry, but it has become apparent that increasingly greater numbers of foreign nationals come to the country expecting to stay on vacation, only to discover that it is also an ideal place to call home.

Sabah recorded arrivals of 2.09 million visitors with receipts of over RM2.8 billion in 2006, with strong growth as evidenced by positive trends in visitor arrivals, with a compounded annual growth rate of 17.2% compared to the national average growth of 7.2% over the last five years.

These statistics do not take into account the number of foreigners who have decided to stay in Sabah, or wealthy private investors who commissioned the construction of luxurious holiday homes.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: A Home Away From Home in Sabah

Labels: ,

Licensed to scuba dive at Sipadan island


They took the plunge and came out soaking with enriching and unforgettable experiences.

Ten Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) students recently got ‘promoted’ from the swimming pool to the sea, plunging into the mysterious underwater world off Pulau Sipadan in Sabah to get their open water and advanced open water diver licences.

Being one of the top 10 diving havens in the world, Pulau Sipadan was the best place for the students to celebrate their achievements and appreciate the beauty of the world under the sea.

The young divers got to see through their goggles colourful marine life like the sea turtle, frogfish, stonefish, coral reefs and peculiar vertical-swimming fishes called Harlequin Ghosts in their first sea-diving adventure in the South China Sea.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Licensed to scuba dive at Sipadan island

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Do You Know: Pygmy Elephant



We have heard so much about the Borneo Elephant sightings in Tabin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kinabatangan area; but most of us have not been fortunate enough to see them or even visited the areas mentioned.

Be that as it may, the Borneo Pygmy Elephant or Elephas maximus borneensis is a subspecies of the Asian Elephant and found in East Sabah and extreme north Kalimantan.

The have been conflicting stories and theories about the origin of Borneo elephants.

Some people believed that they have always inhabited North Borneo and indeed tales of elephants sightings have been related by our grandparents. The other theory is that they were imported into the State for some reason.

However, scientific reports in 2003, has discovered that this elephant could have been in this land for 300,000 years!

It seemed that the elephant got separated from the main herd when land bridges which linked Borneo to other Sunda Islands and the mainland disappeared during the Ice age some 18,000 ago.

During the isolation, the Borneo Elephant evolved into a smaller version of its former self and acquired longer tales and straight tusks. It is also quite docile, leading people to believe that it descended from a domesticated elephant.

There are also pygmy elephant in India.

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

Labels: ,

Encouraging signature resorts in Sabah


Kota Kinabalu: Initiatives to develop the State's tourism industry in the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) will see the creation of new tourism products anchored by signature resorts, among others.

With the completion of the new Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) this year and the impending Asean open skies policy in 2009, there is need to intensify the development of new tourism products to cater to the increasing number of tourist arrivals.

Also, over the last few decades, there has been an up-market trend in tourism.

The SDC strategy, therefore, is to attract renowned signature resorts such as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La and Bvlgari, to anchor new tourism products such as spa and wellness tourism in Kundasang and marine tourism in the islands.

Continue reading at: Encouraging signature resorts in Sabah

Labels: ,

RBA and SIA end code share agreement


By Zasika Musdi

Royal Brunei Airlines and Singapore Airlines have mutually agreed to end their code share agreement on flights between Brunei and Singapore.

The code share agreement between the airlines was announced July 18, 2003 and the first code share flight took off September 14, 2003. The last code share flight will be on Thursday, January 31, 2008.

To serve the travelling public better, Royal Brunei Airlines now operates two flights daily to Singapore but when the agreement was originally signed, RBA did not have this many flights.

With departure times from Brunei at 8am and 6pm, the schedule caters for the needs of holidaymakers and day-trippers to and from Singapore.

When asked whether RBA will experience an increase in competition, a representative from the national carrier said there is competition between RBA and Singapore Airlines even with the code share agreement in place, as each airline independently determines its own fares for its flights between Brunei and Singapore.

Budget airline Tiger Airways, meanwhile, will soon be entering into the fray providing services to Singapore.

A Tiger Airways spokesperson when enquired on when the airline will start its services to Brunei told the Borneo Bulletin that the airline is working on finalising operational details as well its network schedule, which is subject to change with respect to air traffic agreement developments within Asean.

RBA in its press statement said that all passengers who made earlier bookings intended for travel after the termination date of the code share agreement will be re-accommodated onto flight BI421 or BI423 from Brunei, or, if flying from Singapore, flight BI422 or BI424.

For further enquiries on how this may affect bookings, passengers are advised to contact the local RBA office.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Labels:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More tourists in Sabah last year


KOTA KINABALU: The verdict is out: Sabah is getting more popular among tourists as their numbers burst the projected figure for last year.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the number of tourist arrivals last year shot to 2,478,443. “It has overshot our targeted figure of 2.3 million,” said the delighted Masidi.

The figure showed an increase of 7.8 per cent more than the projected figure. It is 18.5 per cent more than the arrivals in 2006 which saw a record number of 2,091,658 arrivals then.

Masidi said that international arrivals accounted for 987,660, a 31.5 % jump over the 2006 figure of 750,923.

At the same time, there were 1,490,783 domestic arrivals last year, an increase of 11.2 % over the 2006 figure of 1,340,735.

Continue reading at: More tourists in Sabah last year

Labels:

Eco-tourism spells prosperity for Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: Eco-tourism has changed the life of a small community that once depended on river fishing and small-scale agriculture to put food on the table.

Today, the Orang Sungai of Kampung Sukau are not only earning tourist dollars, they are also picking up English and learning management and people skills. They have come to appreciate nature and are contributing to the conservation of endangered animals such as the orang utans, proboscis monkeys and Borneo pygmy elephants that live in the nearby Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Their community-based outfit, Red Ape Encounters and Adventures Sdn Bhd (RAE), was set up in 2001 in a joint effort between the Sabah Wildlife Department and Hutan, a non-governmental organisation based in the village.

Nearly 750 visitors have come to the village in the last five years, enabling villagers to earn some RM665,000.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Eco-tourism spells prosperity for Sabah

Labels:

Night of glory and fun for Crowne Plaza Kuching staff


KUCHING: Crowne Plaza Riverside Kuching (CPRK) strives to be the best hotel in the State by providing quality services.

“We believe good services and quality are vital to become the best in this industry,” said Chairman of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip at the Crowne Plaza Riverside Kuching Crystal (15th) Anniversary Staff Celebration on Monday.

Crowne Plaza Riverside Kuching is one of the SEDC hotels and resorts in Sarawak.

Themed ‘Toast to the New Generation,’ the Crystal Anniversary Staff Celebration was attended by 272 hotel staff and invited guests who included Talib’s wife Datin Dr Zaleha Abdullah, CPRK General Manager Shaun Langdon and his wife Trilby Langdon.

The event also served as an opportunity for the hotel to recognise staff who had contributed significantly to it through quality service, dedication, determination and hard work.

Continue reading at: Night of glory and fun for Crowne Plaza Kuching staff

Labels:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Walking through the portals of time in Sarawak


THE driver manoeuvred through the winding driveway and finally came to a halt under a huge tree. I stepped out and was immediately welcomed by the crisp, cool morning air.

Impatient to start my exploration, I hastily jotted down the driver’s phone number, promising to call him for my ride back to the hotel.

He nodded, waved farewell and soon disappeared around the corner, leaving me to unearth Sarawak’s interesting past at my leisure.

Sarawak Islamic Museum

My first stop was the Sarawak Islamic Museum. Admission was free and I quickly went in through a huge ornate doorway, hoping to enrich my mind with the historical heritage and special culture of the Muslim community in Sarawak.

The seven galleries, housing exhibits ranging from Islamic history to a Holy Quran collection, were spacious and didn’t feel like a typical museum at all. Perhaps the fact that the building was constructed to serve as the James Brooke Malay College, had something to do with it. Some 80 years ago, it was converted into the Madrasah Melayu Sarawak before it became the Sarawak Islamic Museum in 1992.

Continue reading at: Walking through the portals of time in Sarawak

Labels:

More attention being focused on three endangered mammals native to Borneo


KOTA KINABALU: WWF Malaysia is focusing more attention on the endangered Borneo pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinoceros and orang utan, all which make their home on Borneo.

The newly-established Borneo Species Programme (BSP) will work with the Sabah Wildlife Department and other conservation groups to gain a better understanding of the needs of the three mammals and come up with fresh conservation ideas to arrest the decline in their numbers.

The three animals were previously studied under the WWF Malaysia Sabah Orang Utan, Rhinoceros and Elephants Landscape project.

Continue reading at: More attention being focused on three endangered mammals native to Borneo

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tourism to help change Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: With its rich natural beauty and mystique, Sabah has great potential to be a world-class tourist destination.

From being home to South-East Asia’s highest peak Mount Kinabalu to the diving haven of Sipadan, Sabah has many untapped natural attractions and with next week’s launch of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), tourism looks set to be the leading economic driver.

To the local industry players, tourism is the most sustainable economic sector compared with manufacturing or agriculture.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, who strongly believes that tourism will always remain a product that will bring in foreign exchange and provide steady income, said: “If you look at it, we have seen factories fold up and investors leave for cheaper labour markets like Vietnam or China, agriculture has its limits in terms of land available and locals hardly benefit from jobs in these sectors, unlike in tourism where the industry is driven by locals, basically in every aspect of the sector.

“This is where tourism will be sustainable and will bring direct and indirect benefits to the people in urban or rural areas,” Masidi said in an interview ahead of the launch of the SDC on Jan 29.

Continue reading at: Tourism to help change Sabah

Labels:

Kinabalu Harbour Front - World-class Waterfront


KOTA KINABALU: Like the Sydney Harbour in Australia, the Kinabalu Harbour Front is poised to become the new landscape for Kota Kinabalu city.

The waterfront areas and surrounding hinterland are being developed into a world-class waterfront city, according to the Sabah Development Corridor’s (SDC) socio-economic blueprint.

Made available to the media recently, the blueprint however, said no reclamation of land would be allowed to ensure environmental sustainability.

The Kinabalu Harbour Front – spanning from Tanjung Aru to One Borneo – will be anchored by a few key projects, including Jesselton Waterfront and Kinabalu Integrated Convention Centre (KICC).

Continue reading at: Kinabalu Harbour Front - World-class Waterfront

Labels:

Airasia unveils first airbus to Sabah helping it to boost tourism industry


KOTA KINABALU: Airasia Berhad has introduced its first airbus to its Sabah sector helping to boost the tourism industry and bringing the state closer to its target of 2.6 million tourists this year.

Making its maiden flight from the Kota Kinabalu Terminal 2 to Kuala Lumpur at 7.25am, the low-cost carrier’s first A320 Airbus returned at 12.50pm yesterday.

Present to welcome the passengers were Sabah Tourism Board chairman Tengku Datuk Adlin Zainal and Airasia staff.

The A320 Airbus has a capacity of 180 passengers, bigger storage compartment and outfitted with AirAsia’s signature leather seats in comparison to the Boeing 737-300which can accommodate only 148 passengers.

Continue reading at: Airasia unveils first airbus to Sabah helping it to boost tourism industry

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Exploring the Niah Caves

The West Mouth of the Great Cave

Stalactites and stalagmites inside Trader's Cave

Looking at the remains of the 'death ships'

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


By NYL

Niah National Park, 110 kilometres from Miri, Sarawak, is one of the oldest parks in Malaysia. It is home to the popular Niah Cave or Gua Niah. The park has 31 square kilometres of lowland forest and limestone outcrops, the highest of which is Mount Subis, rising to nearly 400 metres.

Within the Great Caves of Niah National Park was found the oldest human remains in South East Asia, dating back some 40,000 years ago. Inside these caves, archeologists and other explorers have discovered artefacts such as pottery, stone tools and ornaments, including a set of red-hematite wall painting depicting hunting and fishing. These stick-like figures were believed to have been drawn 1,000 years ago by an unknown artist. The mysteries remain the pulling factor for all tourists and visitors to the place.

On a fine sunny morning in December, I went on my first trip to Niah with a group of teachers and students. Leading us was Sani Mahali, an experienced guide, who works part-time at the park. We had planned this trip several months in advance and now, finally, we were embarking on our great new adventure to the cave.

Filled with anticipation and excitement, we quickly crossed Niah River by boat and made our way to a wooden walkway. Getting to the cave was tricky. The plank walkway was slippery due to overnight rain, that slowed us down. We were rewarded with the sight of a macaque monkey, a squirrel and some birds and butterflies.

After trampling for more than an hour through the dense rainforest, we reached Trader's Cave. In the dim interior are roofless huts where bird nest collectors inhabit during the collecting season. Here, they would congregate and sell their harvests to merchants. Under the slope of the cave roof are stalactites and striking green algae, stalagmites and ferns growing upwards from the floor.

A few minutes later, we see the West Mouth of the Great Cave, where a human skull called 'Deep Skull', that yielded a radiocarbon date of around 40,000 years old, was discovered.

Over 60m high and 250m wide, West Mouth is one of the world's most spectacular cave entrances leading to an even larger chamber within. Here, the smell of bat droppings (guano) intensifies as the path leads around extraordinary rock formations. The sound of our voices, dripping water and high-pitched screams of swiftlets and bats were magnified considerably.

As we went further inside the guano-covered walkway, we switched on our torches, and put on our hats and raincoats to avoid getting guano on our hair.

After a 30-minute exploration of the Great Cave, where we climbed stairs and clambered over some rocks, an exit that led us briefly into the light before we entered another cave: Painted Cave. Despite light streaming from an opening at the far end of the cave, we found it hard to distinguish the wall paintings that give this cave its name. Given that the cave is now fenced off to prevent vandalism, it was even more difficult for us to see the paintings. From afar, we spotted one or two drawings that looked like animals.

Inside the Painted Cave, we found some pieces of wood, believed to be remains of the boat-shaped coffins or 'death ships' used by early Sarawak communities. Although the burial site at the painted cave is far more recent than those at the Great Cave, it offers a clear insight into the development of the traditional religions of Borneo.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Labels: , ,

A taste of Sarawak


SIX students and staff members from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the United States completed an inaugural winter intersession programme conducted by Curtin University of Technology Sarawak, entitled People and cultures of Borneo, recently.

After three weeks of the Borneo experience, the students and staff shared their experiences before leaving for the United States.

The programme co-ordinator and Pre-University Studies School director, Bibi Aminah, said the students visited different longhouses in Sarawak and the Bakun Dam.

”In Kuching, they visited the Sarawak Textile Museum, Sara Craft in Santubong and the Cultural Village,” Bibi added.

Continue reading at: A taste of Sarawak

Labels:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

MASwings To Offer Increased Frequencies


KUALA LUMPUR -- MASwings, the Malaysia Airlines subsidiary, will offer increased frequencies and improved connectivity when the seventh Fokker F50 aircraft joins its fleet on Jan, 21 2008.

Together with the latest Fokker F50 and five Twin Otter in its fleet, MASwings will offer a total of 85 additional weekly flights within East Malaysia, living up to its tagline of "Connecting the World to Sabah and Sarawak".

The increased fleet strength will allow MASwings to mount an additional 42 weekly frequencies within Sarawak, 11 services a week within Sabah and another 32 weekly flights between the two states, the carrier said in a statement Saturday.

Continue reading at: MASwings To Offer Increased Frequencies

Labels:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Chinese tourist bonanza for Sabah


Kota Kinabalu: Almost 5,000 Chinese tourists will be spending Chinese New Year (CNY) in Sabah this year.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah will be hosting these tourists who will be arriving from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan on chartered flights.

"There will be 22 extra chartered flights plus five additional scheduled flights for these tourists visiting Sabah for the CNY celebration.

"Upgrading of aircraft from the Airbus A321 to A330 would also be done to cater to the volume. From Taiwan, we estimate 1,000 passengers specifically coming to the State in six flights," he said.

Continue reading at: Chinese tourist bonanza for Sabah

Labels:

Extra funds for Kota Kinabalu International Airport renovation


KOTA KINABALU: The construction and renovation works to redevelop the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will get an additional allocation from the federal government.

The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun said the initial budget had been fixed at RM720 million, but due to some changes, the overall cost increased to RM1.4 billion.

“The federal government had given the state government the right to make some modifications to the proposed design of the airport,” he said, “and this involves additional works and financing. However, both parties had agreed upon this.”

Masidi said that given the current rate at which construction work is progressing on what will be the second largest and second busiest airport in the country (after Kuala Lumpur International Airport, or KLIA), he hoped that it would be completed sooner than originally planned.

Continue reading at: Extra funds for Kota Kinabalu International Airport renovation

Labels:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More entertainment outlets in Sabah to boost tourism industry


By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah needs more entertainment outlets that cater to the niche market.

Sabah is a very popular tourist destination with increasing number of visitors each year and the quality of tourists is also getting better thus the need for more outlets that provide good and clean entertainment.

He said a company that invests RM3.8 million into an entertainment outlet is clearly targeting the niche market.

With the steady growth of tourist arrivals from well-to-do Asian nations such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and not forgetting Brunei, these outlets will cater for their entertainment needs.

"The tourism industry would not only like to see increases in the number of visitors but also looking at improving the number of arrivals of quality tourists," he said at the opening of KK Box, a family entertainment outlet here.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Labels:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kinabalu Pine Resort - Kundasang's peaceful getaway

The Swiss-style cabin of Kinabalu Pine Resort

Children's playground

Dining in an open-air deck at The Pines

Roads leading to the blocks of chalet or cabins

Reception area where friendly staff are ready to serve customers

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


By RDN

Kundasang, Sabah is a small countryside town situated in the foothill of Mount Kinabalu and is a must visit for those who opt for a peaceful and laid-back holiday from the city or their hectic schedules.

Accommodation at Kundasang is not a problem. The area offers a number of hotels that is reasonably priced, providing comfort and various services.

During my first visit to this cool and beautiful countryside, I drove around making a few stops at several hotels to choose an accommodation for my night stay, and Kinabalu Pine Resort was my choice.

This multi-award winning resort was awarded 2005/06 Malaysian Tourism Awards in Hotel Services (two star) and is privately run. It caters to budget conscious travellers, providing wide-open porches facing Mount Kinabalu.

Here, pine trees are seen everywhere and the scenery is similar to the resorts in the Alpine countries. On top of that, a specially-dedicated gazebo has also been setup for viewing of the mountain.

Mainly consisting of Swiss-style white-painted-timber buildings and cabins, perched on top of a hill, its surroundings are not only well-landscaped with pine trees, but also local plants, in particularly its signature fern trees that is synonymous to this highland area.

As I take a stroll along a path around the resort, accompanied by the cool breeze and the wonderous sounds of nature made by melodious birds chirping, I can't help being enchanted by the surrounding view everywhere I go. My eyes would eventually set on the amazing view of Mount Kinabalu.

However, this will not be possible after 10am as according to resort staff, the view usually disappear under the thick clouds during those hours.

The Pines, the resort's restaurant, caters both local and western cuisine. In the evenings steamboats are served and guests can opt for dining in the restaurant or choose a table on the open-air deck surrounded by pine trees.

As for me, I opted to dine in the open air, enjoying my steamboat and relaxing to the windy cool breeze and the sounds of nature.

Right after dinner, I decided to pop in the Karaoke Lounge, joining other guests and making new friends.

As I called it a night, I thought of my journey down to Kundasang and the one-hour drive through winding roads, cool whiffs of untainted mountain and being welcomed by the friendly staff, I said to myself it's worth a travel.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Labels: , ,

Miri International Jazz Festival on May 9, 10


MIRI: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) promises another exciting edition of the Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) 2008 after the success of its first two editions in year 2006 and 2007.

Its Chief Executive Officer, Gracie Geikie said the forthcoming festival would see inclusion of new things to spice up the already exciting festival.

The MIJF 2008 will be held for two nights from May 9 at Parkcity Everly Hotel.

“This year, there will be a strolling street jazz band featuring the Dutch Traditional Jazz; more than 10 members of the band will dress up in traditional costumes and interact with the audience as they perform,” she stated at a press conference at ParkCity Everly Hotel Miri on Friday.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Miri International Jazz Festival on May 9, 10

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sabah State Museum - Unveiling the pride of Sabah

Sabah's unique State Museum buildings are styled after Murut and Rungus longhouses

Visitors taking a closer look at a Bisaya House in the Heritage Village

Picturesque view of some of the traditional houses in the Heritage Village

Visitors touring the ethno botanical garden

One of the steam engines in the museum ground

A Lepa boat is used as an abode by a local community in the Semporna District.

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

By NYL

Sited on 43 acres of lush green jungle, Sabah State Museum on the Old Palace Hill (Bukit Istana Lama) in Kota Kinabalu, is a unique museum which houses in one place the museum proper, an ethno botanical garden, a zoological garden as well as a heritage village.

The museum can be reached by taking the state museum bus from opposite the General Post Office in Kota Kinabalu or by taxi. A twenty-minute walk along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, past the Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Sabah State Mosque will also bring you to the museum.

I decided to take a taxi to the museum during my recent visit to Kota Kinabalu in December.

"You must see the Bryde's whale in the museum," said Ahmad, my taxi driver, as he drove up the hill.

"The last time I came here, the museum only showed some of the bones. But I think the full exhibition should be ready by now," he added.

Sure enough, when I reached the museum I saw the skeleton of the Bryde's whale displayed in the museum foyer.

The giant 68-feet-Bryde's whale had beached on a shallow reef at Gaya Bay opposite Kota Kinabalu on December 15, 2006 and returned to die at the same spot two days later despite being successfully re-floated.

Besides the main attraction in the central exhibition hall, the museum has six major galleries: Islamic Civilisation, Archaeology and History, Natural History, Art, Ceramic and Brassware and Traditional Costumes.

An annex building is the Science and Education Centre which houses the Geology Gallery, an exhibition on petroleum industry, copper mining in Sabah and a current exhibition on broadcasting technology.

Next to the Science Centre are the Multivision Theatre and the Sabah Art Gallery, which is operated by the Sabah Cultural Board.

The museum buildings are styled after Murut and Rungus longhouses and set in exotic grounds that are home to several splendid steam engines.

Fronting the museum is an ethno botanical garden whose range of tropical plants is best experienced on one of the free-guided tours. The garden consists of plants from which are derived sources of food as well as ritual and building materials used by the local communities.

Situated within the gardens is the Kampung Warisan or Heritage Village which displays replicas of traditional houses representing Sabah's major tribes, as well as a Lepa boat. This boat is used as an abode by a local community in the Semporna District.

The houses were built by the various ethnic groups themselves to ensure quality and authenticity of each of the houses. They reflect the skills of the local people in the past in utilising existing building materials from their environment. These houses are also furnished with artefacts to create a true atmosphere.

The traditional houses display the beauty of traditional architecture which incorporates various cultural aspects of the ethnic groups of Sabah that can be appreciated by all generations as well as visitors to the state. The village and the gardens are integrated to reflect the inter-relationship between man and his environment.

Huts, which are used for daily activities, such as feasts or ceremonies, were also built in the village. On certain occasions, traditional music is played to enliven the village atmosphere.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gomantong Caves



Gomantong Hill is the largest limestone outcrop in the Lower Kinabatangan area, and contains at least nine caves. For centuries, the Gomantong Caves have been renowned for the valuable edible birds’ nests made by two of the four species of swiftlets that roost in the caves. During the harvesting months, visitors may be able to witness the birds’ nest collectors in action. This is an age-old tradition and the trade history of birds’ nest spans several hundreds of years.

Gomantong consists of two cave complexes, Simud Hitam and Simud Putih. Simud Hitam is the main cave, a five-minute walk from the Registration Centre. Along the way to the cave, enjoy the beautiful green surroundings and, if you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a macaque or two.

A boardwalk inside the cave makes exploration an easy task. Be sure to have a torchlight ready. Once inside, be amazed at the 90-metre high cave roofs, which is where the swiftlets’ nests are often found. Exploring Simud Putih is for more the more adventurous, requiring rock climbing skills. The ‘white saliva’ birds’ nests found here are more valuable as they are more difficult to collect.

The birds’ nests harvesters are individuals who have nerves of steel and skills honed through years of experience. Dangling precariously from the narrow network of ladders is not a task for the faint hearted! It is not surprising that there are only a few experienced individuals who are very much in demand by people and communities that hold the Government’s harvesting licenses. Edible birds’ nests are protected under the Birds Nest Ordinance and the Forest Enactment. Heavy fines and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors.

Generally, two collections are made. The first takes place early in the breeding season before the swiftlets lay their eggs. The birds then make another nest in which they finally lay their eggs. After the young have fledged, the second collection is made. Care must be taken to assure that the nests are collected only after the young swiftlets have abandoned these nests.

Besides observing the exciting display of skill and courage by the birds’ nest harvesters, another activity for keen naturalists would be to watch the spectacular display of over 2 million or so resident bats as they spiral out for their evening feed.

This usually occurs between 5:15pm and 6:15pm but rain may delay or ‘cancel’ this spectacular event. As the bats leave, the swiftlets are usually beginning to make their way back to the caves after a day’s foraging. The changing of ‘shifts’ between the bats and birds makes quite a fascinating scene! Look out for the Bat Hawks that linger not far from the scene, as they prey specifically on the bats as they leave their roost.

How to get there

Take a 45-minute flight or enjoy a leisurely 6-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. From Sandakan town, make arrangements for a journey to the Kinabatangan region, which is approximately 2 hours by road.

For more information, please contact Sabah Tourism Board at 088-212121 or Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn. Bhd. at 088-232121.

Courtesy of: Sabah Malaysia Borneo - Sabah Tourism Monthly Tourism Magazine

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Up close with the orang utan


A FEW weeks ago, I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the orang utan sanctuary in Sepilok, Sabah. When my family and I arrived at Sandakan Airport, we were picked up by a friend and driven to the Sepilok Jungle Resort. We arrived late at night, and were directed to our accommodation block. The resort is set amidst lush tropical rainforest. We felt as if we were living in the forest.

As we were starving, my uncle took us to a restaurant called Banana Café. He ordered food for us, and we started talking about the rainforest and the orang utan sanctuary. We were so absorbed in the conversation that we did not realise it when our food arrived. To our surprise, the food was very good, not something you would expect while living in the jungle.

After dinner, my uncle explained that there was a bridge leading to our air-conditioned rooms, and all we had to do was to follow the path. We managed to find our way back to our rooms and fell into a deep slumber.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Up close with the orang utan

Labels: ,

Visa for Health Tourists to Malaysia extended to six months


PUTRAJAYA: The visa for health tourists to Malaysia has been extended from 30 days to six months effective immediately.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in announcing this yesterday said the cabinet committee on tourism agreed with the Home Ministry’s suggestion that health tourists be given a longer stay and multiple entries in their visas.

“This is to meet our aim to promote health tourism in the country,” he said after chairing the committee’s meeting here.

He said tourists applying for the health visa must have certain documents like letters from the hospitals treating them.

Continue reading at: Visa for Health Tourists to Malaysia extended to six months

Labels:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Uncovering Danum’s treasures


TREES here are so tall,” notes a journalist during a media trip to Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) recently. She was probably mesmerised by the many majestic tualang trees that rise at least 40m above the ground.

Even as we were admiring the last tract of virgin lowland forest in Sabah, logging continues in Malua Forest Reserve, just next to this 43,800ha conservation plot.

DVCA is part of the one million hectare forest concession allocated by the state government to Yayasan Sabah to finance the state social development by utilising its timber resources.

Fortunately, thanks to the foresight of scientists on the importance of pristine lowland forests to science, a part of the valley was set aside by Yayasan Sabah for conservation. In 1995, it was elevated to Class One protected forest.

Danum has long served the research interests of foreign scientists who make up more than 90% of the research community in the world-renowned tropical forest research station.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Uncovering Danum’s treasures

Labels: ,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Royal Brunei Airlines reintroduces two-piece hand baggage allowance


Beginning today (January 7), the UK Department for Transport will lift the one-piece hand baggage allowance restriction at London's Heathrow. As a result, Royal Brunei Airlines will re-introduce its two-piece hand baggage allowance for Business Class passengers departing from Heathrow, RBA said in a press release.

All cabin baggage must be of a size that fits either under the seat in front of you or in the aircraft's overhead lockers. The maximum allowed size of a passenger's carry-on luggage is 22 inches x 15 inches x 8 inches, equal to 55cm x 38cm x 20cm.

One piece of carry-on baggage should weigh no more than seven kilogrammes and the combined weight of carry-on luggage for Business Class passengers should not exceed 12kg.

Rules governing the carriage of liquids, aerosols and gels remain unchanged.

In addition, all passengers may also bring personal items, such as a small handbag, purse, small briefcase, laptop or baby-change bag, the press release added.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Labels:

Saturday, January 05, 2008

World’s highest ‘iron road’ on Sabah’s Mt Kinabalu


I’m plastered to a near-vertical rock face at 3,800m high and looking down into a seemingly bottomless pit. My Jello-like feet teeter on footholds the size of digestive cookies.

Then, whoosh comes the lashing wind. I hug the rock so tight, I could almost kiss it. The butterflies are waging a Cold War in my stomach.

Then somebody yells: “Check out the view!” I draw a deep breath, turn my head around and take in the awesome sight of a brilliant blue sky flecked with cotton-candy clouds and a rich, verdant valley dotted by matchbox-sized buildings.

It’s hard not to feel like you’re on top of the world!

I’m on Asia’s first and the world’s highest via ferrata or “iron road” on top of Mt Kinabalu, Sabah.

Launched in mid-December 2007, the Mountain Torq Via Ferrata is a mountain “trail” made up of iron rungs, palettes (footholds), cables and rails wrapped around the north face of Mt Kinabalu.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: World’s highest ‘iron road’ on Sabah’s Mt Kinabalu

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort: January Happenings




Peppino's Brand (New A La Carte Menu)

Indulge in Chef Denis Vecchiato's latest creations with new dishes of appetizers, main courses and desserts to enhance your dining experience.

This new menu is available starting January 2008.

Peppino opens daily from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Dress code applies).

"808 Band" at Blue Note - Daily (except Mondays)

Catch '808 Band' in action at Blue Note with their superb rendition of music and songs from ballads, Rhythm & Blues, Pop, Rock and top 40's.

Performing from Tuesday to Friday from 9 p.m. onwards and 9:30 p.m. onwards on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays.

Laba Festival (Rice Porridge Festival)

In conjunction with the Laba Festival, savour the porridge hot pot promotion at Shang Palace.

Available during lunch and dinner and priced at RM98++ for two persons.

Source: Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Sabah



A 30 to 40 minutes drive via the old Penampang-Papar road to the southwestern part from the Kota Kinabalu will bring you to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. Situated about 25km from the city centre, this park has recently been officially open for the visitors this year.

The park is managed and operated by Sabah Wildlife Department under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment. While most of the visitors viewed it as a zoo, it is actually a small wildlife rehabilitation centre. The 280 acres of land hosted nearly 100 species of plants, birds and wild animals. The botanical garden which is located near the end of the zoo is managed by Sabah Forestry Department.

Attractions

The park has a few interesting sections, namely the aviary, botanical garden, and majority of the parks contains mammals sections. There is also a children’s zoo and amphitheater inside the park. To cover up a visit of the whole park, you may need to spend nearly 2 to 3 hours.

Umbrellas are available for rent at the entrance and there are plenty of shelters for you to stop and continue watching. There are also a few boards containing useful information.

Visitor will be able to witness rare animals like the endangered pygmy elephants, gibbons, clouded leopard, civet cats, tarsiers and Orang utans. As at the moment of writing, there is only one Sumatran Rhino. The Sumatran Rhino is a highly endangered species in the world and is not very often easily spotted.

Parents will find the park useful as it will be able to provide ample information thus spreading the importance and awareness of our own wildlife. A guide can be hired to bring you along, and he/she will be able to learn more as guides will be able to give more information and explanation about wildlife and plants along the way.

Outside the entrance, there are a few souvenir shops that offer a range of local products. Among them, you can also purchase merchandise such as postcards, fine prints of wildlife, handicrafts and key chains as mementos of your visit. While at the park, visitors are highly warned as well as encouraged not feeding or provoking the animals.

Bring home nothing but pictures.

Other Information

*Information only correct at moment of writing.

For those of you visiting Sabah on a very short time, you may opt to visit the park which is open daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 am. Yes, for your extra information it does open on public holidays!

The Entrance fees are free for school children below 17, senior citizens above the age of 60 and People with special needs. Foreigners are charged a fee of RM20 for adults and RM10 for child. Locals with genuine citizenship are charged a fee of RM10 for adults and RM5 for children below 18 years of age.

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

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Brunei domestic tourism campaign ends on a high note


Brunei Tourism's year-long Kenali Negara Kitani campaign, which has helped to raise awareness about Brunei's tourist attractions and vacation activities within the country, has concluded its first year of promotional activities on a positive note.

Brunei Tourism displayed its visually striking doughnut-shaped, red-coloured Kenali Negara Kitani (KNK) booth as one of the exhibitors participating in the Brunei International Trade and Consumer Expo (BITC) held at the Mall in Gadong for five consecutive days from the November 28 to December 2, 2007.

Brunei Tourism officers, along with nine private sector KNK Partners, which consisted of Abdul Razak Hotel Properties, Holiday Lodge, Orchid Garden Hotel, Sheraton Utama Hotel, The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Freme Travel Services, MonaFlora Fauna Tours and Century Travel were present at the KNK booth to promote tourism within the country. Hotels and travel agents capitalised on the school holiday season by selling tours and room packages at specially discounted rates. Tours for the Brunei Night Safari were sold for as low as $10 per person and Temburong tours from $88.

The Kenali Negara Kitani campaign aims at getting local residents of Brunei to experience the tourism products which are readily available for purchase from local hotels and tour operators. Prior to the KNK Campaign, many local residents knew little about Brunei's hidden gems and unexpected treasures which make Brunei a popular destination among tourists. Now a year on, as a result of publicity generated through the help of the local media, roadshows targeting at government departments and educational institutions, and through participation in various consumer exhibitions such as Abacus Travel Fair, Kg Sungai Matan Carnival, Menjejak Kampong Tutong, excitement about places of interest in Brunei, discovering one's own country and better understanding the tourism industry has vastly increased across the local and expatriate population of Brunei.

During the BITC Expo, the KNK Campaign received an overwhelming response from the public. Over $12,000 worth of domestic tourism packages and products were sold during the five-day event. Some of the tour packages were bought and immediately used the very weekend following the Expo! Most of the consumers that came to the KNK Booth commented on how amazing the promotions on offer were and admittedly said that they had never been to some of the tourism attractions that are available in Brunei. The success of the BITC Expo was followed with other successful KNK initiatives that saw sales of packages over $7,000.00.

Brunei Tourism would like to encourage more tourism providers with interesting products to become KNK partners and help encourage domestic tourism. Through Brunei Tourism's active efforts in promoting domestic tourism through the three-year long KNK Campaign, it is hoped that locals will be able to enjoy the tourism products and packages on offer and become great ambassadors for the destination in a bid to attract more tourists to the country.

Brunei Tourism is the Tourism Development Department in Brunei's Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, in charge of the international promotion and marketing of Brunei as a tourism destination of choice, acting as secretariat and executor of Brunei Tourism Board's mandate. Interested parties may contact Jeffrey Sunnylai at telephone number 238 28 22.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Labels: