By Aziz Idris in Labuan
Once again Tourism Malaysia has organised a Mega Familiarisation Programme dubbed 'Mega Fam' for 24 participants from seven countries for the Labuan International Sea Challenge (LISC) 2009.
Brunei delegates comprised journalists from Borneo Bulletin, Media Permata and United Daily.
The participants, comprising travel agents, journalist and TV crewmembers from Brunei, Canada, China, Italy, Singapore, South Africa and the Philippines, attended a tourism seminar at the Borneo Room of the Grand Dorsett Labuan Hotel (former Sheraton Labuan Hotel) in Labuan on May 2.
The programme at the tourism seminar included a business presentation by the State Director of Marine Park, Mr Albert Apollo Chan, and presentations by Mr Morris Ong, Local Area Manager of Malaysia Airlines, and Mr Willie Teo, Manager Destination Borneo.
According to Mr Albert, three islands have been introduced as 'Recreational Zones' for visitors or tourists, namely, Pulau Kuraman that is by far the most developed islet in the Marine Park followed by the densely forested island of Pulau Rusukan Besar, ideal for a picnic, swimming and snorkelling and Pulau Rusukan Kecil, a football pitch sized island perfect for camping.
Plans are underway to upgrade the facilities on these islands, according to the State Director of the Marine Park.
Mr Morris Ong covered a presentation on Malaysian Airlines services and products, especially on its newly introduced concept "Malaysian Hospitality", where visitors are treated as guests.
"Malaysian hospitality is a rooted culture among Malaysian ... our philosophy is to treat all of our passengers as our guests at home and we expect all of our staff to have the personality to be pleasantly natural, spontaneous, determined and willing."
According to Mr Morris Ong, Malaysian Airlines serves 14 million passengers with 110,000 flights across the world which include South Africa, China, Europe and America.
Mr Willie Teo gave a presentation on the island's rich history and cultural past which includes the pre-historical era of Labuan, the Brunei Sultanate, British colonial days, World War II, Independence, declaration of Labuan as a federal territory up to the establishment of Labuan Corporation.
After the seminar, participants were feted at a dinner hosted by Mr Wan Zawawi Mohammed, Director of communications and Publicity, Tourism Malaysia.
In his speech during the dinner he said, "Labuan has something for everyone, regardless of your (visitors) interest, be it shopping, dinning, culture or nature.
"And with the convenient and affordable transportation options, as well as the proximity of many of these tourist attractions, it is very easy to get around Malaysia to experience all the different things," he added.
Certificates of participation were given to the participants for taking part in the Mega Fam programme, during the dinner.
The participants also had the chance to attend the annual LISC 2009 and witnessed the official closing ceremony of the Malaysia Water Festival 2009 and the celebration of Labuan's Silver Jubliee at the Labuan International Sea Sports Complex.
The Mega Fam programme was organised with the support of local and foreign airlines, Malaysian hotels and state governments. Its main objective is to offer the participants a personal experience of what Malaysia has to offer to tourist.
The exposure was also to heighten their awareness about tourist destinations, products and services in Malaysia in order to develop tour packages and generate publicity for the country as a preferred leisure and MICE destination.
Since the beginning of this year, the Mega Fam programme has been focusing on promoting niche tourism products such as Homestay, Malaysia My Second Home Programme and Health Tourism which are in line with the Ministry of Tourism's aspiration to promote theses areas.
The publicity and exposure gained, especially through the participantion of foreign media in this programme, have been very high.
A total of 33,890 participants were hosted last year, generating a publicity value of over RM100 million (USD 27.7 million). A total of 26 programmes were organised last year in conjunction with major festivals and tourism events.
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend