Thursday, September 30, 2010

More airlines coming to Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: More air routes and airlines will be coming here beginning the first quarter of next year.

Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said at the launch of Wendy Hutton’s book entitled “Kota Kinabalu and Surrounding Areas” yesterday that the flights shall include a direct flight to Perth, Australia.

He added that Sabah is becoming a known destination and that up to July this year, the State has received a total net arrivals of 1.28 million which is an increase of about 5.3 per cent compared to last year’s figures.

About 96 per cent of the arrivals came into Sabah by air, 40 per cent of whom are repeat visitors.

Masidi also said that Sabah welcomed 26 chartered flights early this year as well as the cruise ship, Queen Victoria.

Overall, the chartered flights and the cruise ship had brought in more than 4,000 tourists, he said.

He then urged all Sabahans to become ambassadors of tourism for the State.

“Everyone has a role to play in promoting Sabah. As people of Sabah, we need to give tourists a good reflection of what Sabah is,” he said.

He also said that Kota Kinabalu continues to be one of the safest destinations for tourists in the country.

“I believe we are safer than Kuala Lumpur. Of course, every city has its problem one way or another but Kota Kinabalu is a safe and clean destination,” he said.

Continue reading at: More airlines coming to Sabah
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Putatan, a cultural centre in the making

Betitik is the Bajaus’ way of making ceremonial music. Their instruments are brass gongs and barrel drums made from the skin of goats and buffaloes.

From them comes a trance-like music that is a cross between a dull drum thump and a ringing clash of cymbals quite similar to that of a xylophone. It is traditional music to celebrate marriages. But Betitik has become an annual musical festival, one that will take centre stage in Sabah’s Putatan district as a tourism event.

Deputy chief minister Yahya Hussin has claimed Betitik, in its third year, for Putatan. He says that it is its home and not Kota Belud, the heartland of the famed Bajau horsemen. Yahya promises a grander Betitik next year when the celebration will move closer to a tourist hotel and shopping mall.

The Bajaus (about 400,000) are Sabah’s second biggest indigenous people after the Kadazandusuns (560,000) in a 3.2m multi-ethnic population that includes other indigenous people, Malays, ethnic Chinese and Indians.

The festival is marked by a battle of the bands. Fifteen six-member bands took part in a three-day contest that led to the final on September 25.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Putatan, a cultural centre in the making
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Sibu's Orient Pandaw attracting more high-end tourists

THE RV Orient Pandaw, the only cruise ship operating out of Sibu on the Rajang River has been successful in bringing in high-end tourists to Sarawak.

Pandaw Cruises Management Pte Ltd chief executive officer Yim Choong Hing said 90% of the passengers were from the niche markets in Europe, United States, Australia and New Zealand.

“Since we commenced operation in July last year, our ship had ferried an estimated 1,300 foreign passengers. They easily spent few hundred US dollars a day in Sarawak,” Yim told StarMetro.

He brushed off critics who said Pandaw Cruises did not contribute anything to the local economy.

“We imported nothing. Everything the crew and passengers consumed on board are purchased locally in Sibu or Kuching. At the same time, the local shipyards and the hardware shops are also benefiting from our regular maintenance work,” he added.

Yim said apart from companies selling fuel, local transport companies also benefited from Pandaw Cruises when they used their facilities such as coaches, vans and boats several times in a month to ferry tourists.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sibu's Orient Pandaw attracting more high-end tourists
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Sarawak Bird Race 2010 - Time for bird-watching

THE Bird Race returns for the third time with more activities and plenty of fun this year.

Dubbed the Sarawak Bird Race 2010, the event themed “From the Sea to the Mountain” will be held on a bigger scale this year.

Jointly organised by Borneo Highlands Resort (BHR) and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), it is aimed at promoting love and appreciation for nature including bird preservation among the community.

BHR in a press statement issued yesterday said a bird race was a “fun race” where teams of two compete against each other in searching, identifying, and recording as many species of birds within a stipulated time.

It will be divided into three categories, one Long Race which covers areas in Buntal, Kubah National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife and Borneo Highlands Resort, and two Short Race which are confined to areas around Borneo Highlands Resort.

Entry fees are RM100 per team of two for the Long Race, and RM60 per team of two for the Short Race.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Bird Race 2010 - Time for bird-watching
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Operators refute claims diving causes coral damage near Miri and Similajau

DIVING operators in Miri are not amused over a statement that “human factors” have contributed to coral-bleaching near Miri and Similajau.

“What human factors are they talking about?” asked James Wan, owner of Planet Borneo, a popular travel agent in Miri, which organises diving activities.

James was reacting to a report by a group of eco-minded divers who reported their findings to the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) after monitoring the area voluntarily for the last two years.

According to the group, coral reefs near Miri and Similajau are suffering significant coral-bleaching due to environmental and human factors.

James told StarMetro that diving was a niche market product and that divers were required to have a permit before they could pursue this underwater hobby.

“At its peak we have about 300 divers coming to Miri in a year. Otherwise, on average we have only 200 divers a year.

“If it’s true that Miri is a popular mass diving sites I will be laughing all the way to the bank by now,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Operators refute claims diving causes coral damage near Miri and Similajau
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free up Sabah tourism trade to beat foreign competition

Sabah’s tourism has been resilient despite a global recession. About 2.3m tourists come to the east Malaysian state every year to see the orang utans in the jungle, climb its tallest Mount Kinabalu, dive at Sipadan and snorkel in the coral-rich sea that surrounds its many exotic islands. Income from tourism at about 4 billion ringgit ($1.3 billion) is the state’s second biggest after palm oil. But the travel industry and Masidi Manjun, minister of tourism, culture and environment, have warned that Sabah might lose out to competition from Thailand, Vietnam and Australia. Lack of guides proficient in foreign languages and poor guiding may drive tourists away, they say.

At the annual dinner of the Sabah Association of Travel and Tour Agents (Satta) on September 15, Masidi spoke of the need to open the Sabah travel trade to foreign competition just like banking, insurance and other industries.

“The only way for us to become competitive is to make sure the tourism industry is liberalised,” he told representatives of 60 local travel and tour companies. Masidi was responding to complaints from local tour guides that South Korean tour agents were bringing their own guides to conduct tours in Sabah.

Tour companies say tourists are becoming more demanding as countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Australia are aggressively competing with Sabah in nature tours by offering them better services and expertise to satisfy their needs. Tourists from South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are particularly fussy, they say.

Foreigners make up slightly more than half a million of visitors to Sabah. Discounting Indonesians and Filipinos who are mostly job seekers, most Asian tourists are from China and Hong Kong. They make up about 90,000. Next are the South Koreans at 80,000. Other Asian tourists come from Singapore, Japan and Brunei. About 65,000 Europeans visit Sabah; 6,000 of them are Germans and 4,000 are French. Germans and French form the biggest number of European visitors while 32,000 visitors come from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Chan Kok Kong, 58, Satta’s assistant chairman, says a common complaint from tourists is poor guiding. The lack of tour guides who can speak foreign languages has added to the problem. “Most South Koreans speak only their own language,” he says. There is only a handful of guides who speak Japanese, French and German.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Free up Sabah tourism trade to beat foreign competition
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Sarawak Tourism Board to launch RM1mil promo blitz

THE coming months will be a busy time for the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) with several campaigns on its to-do list.

Final preparations are being carried out for a RM1mil campaign that will launch in Singapore next month, while road shows to Korea and Japan are also scheduled.

The Singapore campaign will include advertisements in newspapers, radio and television.

STB CEO Datuk Rashid Khan told reporters in Kuching yesterday that the campaign’s content would focus on niche tourism.

“We want to showcase our products, but more importantly, we want tourists to know in advance how long they should stay in Sarawak to experience their choice of product,” he said.

The campaign, which will last for six months, will be launched by Tourism and Heritage Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan in Singapore.

Rashid described the campaign as “integrated and tactical”.

He said it was important for the Singaporean public to know what they could expect in Sarawak, adding travel agents themselves did not have the funds to do so.

“It is noted that in the past, the board targeted its marketing efforts at the travel trade - people like agents and other operators - now, we are advertising directly to the public.”

Continue reading at: Sarawak Tourism Board to launch RM1mil promo blitz
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Sabah traditional music has potential to go global

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has urged traditional music players to step up their performance and bring it to the international audience.

He pointed out that many countries made efforts to improve and preserve their traditional music to ensure it was not lost in the future.

Masidi said traditional music was currently enjoyed by villagers, but it has the potential to be globalised and taken to the orchestral level.

“We have 32 races in Sabah, and although not every race is into music, we should document and improve on those who play traditional music and promote it to the international audience,” he said when officiating at the first Sabah traditional music exhibition, workshop and concert held at the School of Art Studies at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) here yesterday.

Masidi added that traditional music could be performed in a number of ways, orchestra among them.

He further stressed the need to make adjustments to a music piece to ensure it satisfies the taste of the audience.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah traditional music has potential to go global
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Monday, September 27, 2010

13 Denmark youngsters seek adventure in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu: A group of 13 youngsters from Denmark will spend time to savour the experience of living in Sabah beginning this month.

The Danes would be here courtesy of a programme organised by Adventure Heart, a Danish organisation, with local-based company Dynamic Tours Travel and Incentive SB.

A statement here said the programme contains a carefully composed sequence of experiences involving tour, language, adventure activities, education on all fronts and volunteering.

These elements are selected to give the participants an experience of a lifetime, a greater understanding of the world they live in and create an optimal environment and challenges for their personal self-development.

The programme, which fully employs the services of the locals, also contributes to the local economy.

The groups involved in these programmes in Borneo have grown from one individual visitor representing the organisers of Adventure Heart to over 36 persons in four groups in 2009.

The last programme was held from Feb 26 February to Apr 26, considered a success, receiving rave reviews from the participants, some of which have been posted on the Adventure Heart website.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 13 Denmark youngsters seek adventure in Sabah
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Best of Bario in Miri city

The taste of the Bario Highlands is available on the lowlands now – but just in the city of Miri.

The Summit Cafe

Centrepoint Commercial Phase 1

Miri City Centre

Sarawak

Open: 7am to 3pm

Days off Sunday and Christmas

IF one has a penchant for authentic Sarawak highland dishes, and just happen to be in Miri, then head for The Summit Cafe at Centrepoint Phase 1 Commercial Centre.

Owner and cook Sally Bungan Bat, a Kenyah from Long Banga, Ulu Baram, operates the cafe, the only place in Miri, if not in Malaysia, that serves authentic Kelabit dishes outside of the tribal heartlands.

Locals and tourists alike flock to her shop to sample the dishes and many are coming back for more.

If one is familiar with the multi-cultural setting of Sarawak, one will perhaps wonder why a Kenyah is operating a restaurant that offers Kelabit dishes.

Well, Sally is married to Senior Police Officer Wagner Lisa Libat, 50, a Kelabit from Bario – and that explains it all! Perhaps serving Kelabit fare at the cafe is her way of proving her undying love to her husband.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Best of Bario in Miri city
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Peace and tranquillity at Damai Puri Resort, Sarawak

True to its name, Damai Puri Resort in Sarawak is where tranquillity reigns. Jitter bugs, chill out.

The brochure promised tranquillity in Borneo. And they were not kidding.

I’m not one to lie back and relax during a trip. What, laze around the pool or the beach? Have a snooze-in or watch TV? Are you kidding me? I’m going to get my money’s worth and spend every minute doing touristy things, buying touristy stuff and eating touristy food. Most, if not all, of the time.

But I heartily embraced the peace and tranquility that Damai Puri Resort & Spa promised over the three-day Merdeka weekend last month. I really looked forward to it because 1) it’s 45 minutes away from my favourite city in Malaysia, Kuching, 2) it’s located along Damai Beach with its famed backdrop of Gunung Santubong.

The pretty private stretch of beach fronting the hotel is just the right size. Not too small that you feel crowded out and not too big that it gives you that oh-my-gosh-I-ain’t-gonna-walk-it feeling even before you set out. It’s a bit rocky on both sides but that gives the beach a certain charm.

What greets you on arrival is the hotel’s majestic entrance, followed by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall a little away from the reception area which looks out to the sand and sea and mountains beyond. It’s breath-taking, and I mean that literally!

I spent a lot of time just sitting on the comfy sofas soaking in the awesome views; also on the deck chairs, in front of the delightful Infinity Pool reading a book, sipping a cocktail, pretending to soak in the sun (a very hot one) and glancing up ever so often to absorb the view.

I was promised a glorious sunset but the point where the sun dipped into the ocean was blocked off by trees and the walls of another development. Bother. Still, the horizon was a glorious burst of colour fit for a painting.

From the resort, you can make out Satang Island, also popularly known as Turtle Island because it’s a nesting site for the green turtles that come ashore to lay eggs between April and October. The island also boasts a beautiful white sandy beach. And the sea around it is rich in corals and perfect for snorkelling. If you are so inclined, the hotel can arrange for a trip out and perhaps even a picnic.

Back to the resort. On the opposite side of the grounds, there is a pool meant for the kiddies. Next to it is the recreation centre, where you can get set up for canoeing. General manager Peter Ng said that pretty soon they would be offering scuba-diving at nearby “secret” locations where the wrecks of British and Japanese World War II ships have recently been found.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Peace and tranquillity at Damai Puri Resort, Sarawak
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World Tourism Conference in KK Oct 4 to 6

Kota Kinabalu: The World Tourism Conference (WTC) will be held at the Magellan Grand Ballroom in Sutera Harbour Resort from Oct 4 to 6.

Organised by the Tourism Ministry and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for the first time here, the event would see over 300 delegates attending, including reputed world leaders in tourism, high-level policy makers, specialists and experts from both the public and private sectors.

The WTC aims to unravel the secrets of leading destinations and organisations which can be implemented by other countries and corporations to generate income and accelerate growth.

It will also highlight innovative product development and marketing strategies that will enable the public and private sectors to capitalise on the tourism industry.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is scheduled to open the event. Other guests of honour include Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, Tourism Minister Dato' Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen, Secretary-General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai and Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Continue reading at: World Tourism Conference in KK Oct 4 to 6
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Sarawak tourism boom

SARAWAK expects more holiday makers and business travellers to visit the state between now and the end of the year.

Tourism and Heritage Assistant Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip said the state was cautiously optimistic that tourist arrivals this year would surpass last year’s 3.2 million to 3.5 million.

He said the ministry had targeted a 6% increase from last year’s tourist arrivals to the state this year.

“Although it was a bit slow in the early part of the year due to many uncertainties, we are still confident of achieving our initial target by end of the year.

“Given that the economy of several countries, including those around us, are starting to recover, we expect more travellers to come to Sarawak in the coming three months,” he told reporters after the launch of the 6th World Eco-Fiber and Textile (WEFT) Forum at the Sarawak Tourism Complex in Kuching yesterday.

Earlier, Talib urged local designers to convince foreign visitors to buy and wear clothes manufactured in Sarawak.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism boom
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Friday, September 24, 2010

New species of orchid found at Mount Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu: A new species of orchid was discovered recently on Mount Kinabalu and the Crocker Range.

This species, Dendrobium datinconnieae, has been named in honour of Datin Connie Wong Mui Yun, a Director of Kota Kinabalu-based Natural History Publications, which has been responsible for many authoritative books on the biodiversity of Sabah and the Malesian region.

It also publishes the bi-annual Malesian Orchid Journal.

This unusually outstanding species of Dendrobium was also described in the most recent issue of Malesian Orchid Journal by botanist Jeffrey Wood, Curator of the Orchid Herbarium at the world-renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London.

The stems of this beautiful epiphytic species attain 35cm in length, the short inflorescences bearing three to five large yellow flowers usually borne on the older, pendulous leafless growths.

A much rarer, orange-flowered form is only found in the Sayap area of Kinabalu Park.

Nearly 1,000 species of native orchid have been recorded in Sabah - which is about two-thirds of the entire orchid flora of Borneo. More than 800 species are found on Mount Kinabalu alone, 90 of which are endemic to the mountain.

The richness of Sabah's orchid flora is reflected in the continual emergence of new species, and taxonomists in renowned botanical institutions in Europe have been systematically describing them over the past two decades.

Continue reading at: New species of orchid found at Mount Kinabalu
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Research finds orang utans able to survive in sustainably logged forests

SANDAKAN: Researchers in Indonesia and Malaysia have found that some forests which are sustainably logged can still serve as habitats for orang utans.

The studies done in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan and in Sabah were recently published in the PLoS One journal.

Lead author Dr Erik Meijaard of People & Nature Consulting International said this was important news for orang utan conservation as the iconic species was highly endangered with extinction in the wild.

“Their native habitats in Indonesia and Malaysia have reduced in size and are fragmented, and hunting for this ape continues in many parts of their habitats.

“With 75 per cent of all remaining orang utans occurring outside protected areas, the species will somehow have to be managed in a multitude of different areas like timber concessions, plantations and forest corridors that allow orang utans to migrate through these areas,” Meijaard said in a statement, here, yesterday.

Meijaard, however, warned against over-simplifying the message from the two studies, as well-protected forests are still the best option for general biodiversity conservation.

Continue reading at: Research finds orang utans able to survive in sustainably logged forests
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Atkinson Clock Tower is protected as cultural heritage

KOTA KINABALU: The Atkinson Clock Tower has been protected ever since 1997 under the Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Enactment 1997.

It was one of the first heritage buildings to be protected by the newly enacted law soon after being passed by the Sabah Legislative Assembly in June 1997. The adjoining Padang Merdeka is similarly listed as a cultural heritage site.

Therefore, any plans to develop the land containing the old building of the Housing & Town Development Board (LPPB) which is located in between these two heritage sites are subject to the heritage conservation law in force.

The relevant law is Clause 9 (1) (C) of the Enactment that forbids any “building or wall abutting upon the cultural heritage”. Further, Clause 9 (2) (a), (b) and (d) respectively forbid destruction of any tree standing in the area, encroachment, digging or disturbing the landscaping and physical features of the area.

Offenders under the enactment are liable to a fine of up to RM50,000 or imprisonment of five years or both.

Issuing the terse reminder was former Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Yong Teck Lee in a statement issued here yesterday, while commenting on the proposed joint venture project between the Sabah Housing & Town Development Authority (SHTDA), or better known as LPPB, with a private developer to construct a 16-storey commercial building in the vicinity.

“I am sure the Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment and other government officials are aware of this law. Neither the Central Planning Board nor the Ministry of Local Government & Housing have authority over a heritage site.

“Instead, authority is vested in the Sabah Cultural Heritage Council under the minister responsible for culture,” said Yong who is also President for Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).

He was also glad to note that the heritage conservation law has successfully protected other notable sites in Kota Kinabalu City such as the Likas Lagoon, Kota Kinabalu Community Centre, City War Memorial and the Chong Tain Vun City Park.

“The status of cultural heritage sites cannot be revoked even by the Head of State unless with the approval of the Sabah Legislative Assembly,” he added.

On Monday, State Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun disclosed that the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has rejected the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) from the developer and the latter had been informed about it on September 13.

Continue reading at: Atkinson Clock Tower is protected as cultural heritage
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Female Sumatran Rhinoceros translocated to Tabin Wildlife Reserve

TABIN (Lahad Datu): The only female Sumatran Rhinoceros kept in captivity at the Lokawi Wildlife Park was safely translocated to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, near here yesterday.

Gelegub, the 28-year-old rhino, is now part of the Borneo Rhino Conservation Programme also known as the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary Programme in Tabin. The aim of the programme is to ward off the extinction of the species which now numbers at less than 50 in the wild.

The rhino underwent a 12-hour journey from the Lokawi Wildlife Park to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, leaving the park at 6.30pm on Tuesday and arriving at about 6am yesterday. She was accompanied by a convoy headed by the Park’s Veterinarian, Dr Roza Sipangkui, staff of the Sabah Wildlife Department’s (SWD) Wildlife Rescue Unit and its veterinarians. They were also assisted by police.

Gelegub has been placed at the Lokawi Wildlife Park for the last three years prior to the move.

Sabah Wildlife Department Director, Dr Laurentius Ambu said that the decision to move Gelegub was made after consulting with rhino experts in the country as well as from abroad.

“The threat of extinction on the rhino is imminent, with less than 50 left in the wild presently and mainly in fragmented forest,” he said.

He said that SWD are working together with the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Liebniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research and Liepzig Zoo with the effort to rescue the rhinos at these fragmented forest and bring them to the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) where they can meet and mate naturally.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Female Sumatran Rhinoceros translocated to Tabin Wildlife Reserve
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Tang Dynasty Bay Hotel, Sepanggar is now open for business

SEPANGGAR: Tourism development in this area received a boost as the Tang Dynasty Group of Hotel opened its newly completed Tang Dynasty Bay Hotel for business yesterday.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Bolkiah Ismail who performed the soft launching of the 102 rooms hotel said the new facility will compliment the demand for hotel rooms in the city and support its surrounding business establishment.

It is strategically located 40 minutes drive away from Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) and nearby the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park as well as various reputable corporations, private and public institutes of higher learning.

The hotel is also within easy reach to an array of shopping precinct and eating outlets.

“The tourism industry is expected to be one of the most important industries in the 21st century,” said Group Chief Executive Officer of San Hin Group, Dato’ Dr How Kok Choong.

“We hope this new hotel will contribute to the development of the tourism in Sabah, and specially to help promote tourism in Malaysia,” he said.

Altogether, he said there are eight hotels chain under the group with three in Kota Kinabalu, one each in Tuaran, Sandakan, Kota Belud and Semporna offering a total of 1,107 rooms and it had contributed to 12 percent of the hotel rooms in Sabah.

The low budget fare offered by MAS and AirAsia had provided a conducive business environment for the hotel industry as during a peak hour the KKIA can cater up to 3,200 passengers, he said adding that Sabah is targeting the arrival of 2.26 million visitors by 2011.

Continue reading at: Tang Dynasty Bay Hotel, Sepanggar is now open for business
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sarawak getting more expensive

TOURISTS visiting Sarawak have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for accommodation and other tourist-related services, a writer with a Munich-based travel magazine claimed.

Petra Wagner, 40, said she had been travelling to various destinations within the Asian region, including other states in Malaysia over the last one year.

She also spent two months visiting places of interests in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah before coming to Kuching.

“Based on my experience, I found that hotel room rates, transportation fares as well as tourist guide service charges in Sarawak are relatively more expensive compared to Sabah and other states,” she said when met at the launch of the Ninth Sarawak Inter-Cultural Mooncake Festival at Carpenter Street recently.

Wagner, who writes for the Brigitte travel magazine in Germany, was among thousands of people from all walks of life, locals and tourists alike, who thronged the street to witness the festival.

She said as far as cost was concerned, the only consolation was that the price of food was cheaper than elsewhere.

While here, apart from visiting tourist destinations within the city, she is also planning to visit the Bako National Park and Semenggok Wildlife Centre to have a closer look at the Orang Utans.

Next week she plans to travel to Mulu in Miri.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak getting more expensive
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sarawak Inter-Cultural Mooncake Festival attracts thousands

COLOURFUL lanterns, delectable local delicacies, martial arts and cultural shows dominated one of Kuching city’s oldest streets, Carpenter Street, during the Ninth Sarawak Inter-Cultural Mooncake Festival.

Thousands of people from all walks of life thronged the street in true spirit of celebration and sharing as one nation.

More than 100 stalls offered all kinds of food and drinks, products and services as well as hair cuts by professional stylists at just RM1 per person; while community-based organisations performed traditional music and cultural shows from the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Dayak communities to entertain the passing crowd.

This year, the organising committee headed by Datuk Lily Yong and Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, introduced a new item to the festival — a cultural show by a troupe from Xinjiang, China.

The dancers will perform for five nights during the festival, which ends tomorrow, to showcase cultural dances from the north-western region of China.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak Inter-Cultural Mooncake Festival attracts thousands
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sarawak reefs under stress due to environmental and human factors

KUCHING: The coral reefs near Miri and Similajau are suffering significant coral-bleaching due to environmental and human factors.

This was discovered by a group of eco-minded divers who have been monitoring the area voluntarily for the last two years and reported their findings to Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).

SFC protected areas and biodiversity conservation general manager Wilfred Landong said various measures were recommended to tackle the bleaching but they could not be achieved overnight.

He believed that public awareness was crucial in any conservation effort along with enforcement and rehabilitation.

“Other than global warming, many factors contribute to coral-bleaching. It could be caused by destruction of habitats and pollution, which needs a long-term strategy to minimise the impact. Our conservation strategy is to get the public to assist us, thereby creating more awareness,” he said.

He said that several national parks in Sara­wak, namely Tanjung Datu, Talang-Satang, Similajau and Miri-Sibuti were gazetted for the purpose of marine conservation.

Continue reading at: Sarawak reefs under stress due to environmental and human factors
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome To 'Homestay Without Package' In Sabah

KOTA KINABALU -- Nowdays the 'homestay' programme is getting popular in Malaysia's local tourism industry including that in Sabah which is also known as 'Land Below The Wind'.

Among the districts in Sabah that offers this programme is Kota Marudu where some 1,000 people from 12 ethnic groups are taking part in the homestay programme that began in 2008.

Sabah National Unity and Integration Department (JPNIN) officer Jessica Basat said the homestay programme in Kota Marudu can be seen as a positive move to enhance relations between the guests and hosts.

The guests who are Malaysians from the peninsula can also exchange cultures and traditions with their Sabah hosts.

"This programme is on demand by the local community and it is unique as the programme is devoid of any packages as the activities are decided by the hosts and visitors.

"We encourage the villagers to be involved in the homestay programme as Kota Marudu has the potential to be developed as a key tourist destination," she said.

HOMESTAY WITHOUT PACKAGE

The 'without package' homestay programme refers to activities that have no limits and the hosts as well as guests take part in drawing up the activities during the stay. These activities are suited to the guests needs and requests.

What is important is the understanding and experience on the culture and socio-economy of the local community which is made up from people of various ethnic groups. This helps to preserve unity among the population.

Via the integration visits organised by JPNIN, the homestay programme can act as the platform to enhance relations between the people of Sabah and those from nationwide.

The homestay programme also creates positive impact by improving the economy of the rural community in Sabah.

HOLIDAY PACKAGE IN SABAH

Meanwhile, Sabah is well known for its rich natural treasures right from the state's mountains and down to its valleys. As well as the expanse of land between its lush forests to its off-shore attractions.

Its life forms include insects as small as ants right until mammals as big as the Orang Utan and pygmy elephants.

Apart from the homestay packages in Kota Marudu, visitors can also go to Kudat, located some 190 km from Kota Kinabalu.

They can visit Tanjung Simpang Mengayau in Kudat which is known as the Tip of Borneo, the tip of land at the most extreme north in Sabah's map. It is located some 200 km from Kota Kinabalu and 30 minutes drive from Kota Marudu.

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau is formed by a 'chain' of hills that headed towards Laut Sulu. It offers breathtaking scenes during dawn and dusk.

In the language of the Rungus in Kudat, Tanjung Simpang Mengayau is called 'Tanjung Sampang Mangazo'. 'Tanjung' means cape, 'Sampang' means junction and 'Mangazo' means war.

Continue reading at: Welcome To 'Homestay Without Package' In Sabah
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Musical tribute to nation for Malaysia Day gathering in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: All eyes will be on the Padang Merdeka here tomorrow evening for the Malaysia Day celebrations.

The Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and virtually the whole Federal Cabinet as well as the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak will be attending the symbolism-filled celebrations to commemorate Malaysia’s 47th birthday.

There will be a 47-minute musical with a cast of 470 who will be performing in front of 12,000 people.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the musical would have three stages that would eventually merge as one to symbolise Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula coming together as one federation.

“The musical will also tell the story of how Malaysia was formed,” he said yesterday.

The events at Padang Merdeka will start at about 4pm with entertainment provided by Malaysian artistes like Stacy and Felix.

The main programme would however get underway by 7.30pm. A special gold-coated commemorative book will also make its maiden appearance.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Musical tribute to nation for Malaysia Day gathering in Sabah
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Malaysia Airlines To Start Three Weekly Flights From Perth To Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia Airlines will introduce three weekly non-stop flights from Perth to Kota Kinabalu from January 15 next year, complementing the 10 non-stop flights from Perth to Kuala Lumpur.

Flights will depart Perth at 12.40am on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and arrive in Kota Kinabalu at 6.15am.

From Kota Kinabalu, flights will depart at 6pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrive in Perth at 11.35pm.

Sydney-based Malaysia Airlines regional vice president, Australia and New Zealand, Ignatius Ong, said Sabah was a treasure trove of beautiful islands, lush tropical rainforests, exuberant cultures and exotic wildlife.

"With just over five hours flight time from Perth to Kota Kinabalu, we believe that this new non-stop service will perform well," Ong said in a statement.

"Furthermore, the setting up of Kota Kinabalu as our eastern hub will enable better flight schedules, connectivity and save travel time as customers would not need to stop over at Kuala Lumpur," he said.

The eastern hub will be developed over three stages from November 15 to June 3, with Malaysia Airlines adding new international destinations and frequencies to complement the currently served foreign cities from Kota Kinabalu.

By June 2011, Kota Kinabalu will have the following international flights: daily flights to Taipei and Hong Kong, four weekly to Kaohsiung and Seoul, three weekly to Haneda and twice weekly services to Osaka.

Continue reading at: Malaysia Airlines To Start Three Weekly Flights From Perth To Kota Kinabalu
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China is third largest Malaysian tourist market

Strong cooperation and friendship between Malaysia and China has paid dividends in the form of continued growth in trade and tourism.

This has led China to overtake Thailand into becoming the third largest tourist market for Malaysia, after Singapore and Indonesia.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said, last year alone, a million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia, an increase by 7.4 per cent as compared to the previous year.

“Malaysia attracted 23.6 million tourists to Malaysia last year, and we are now placed ninth in the world tourism branding.

“The China market is important to us for its quantity and quality…We are targeting 1.2 million Chinese tourists this year.

Tourism Malaysia has changed its strategy accordingly, to attract high- yield Chinese tourists who will stay for five days or more, and those who visit frequently,” she said, adding that as China had become more prosperous, Chinese tourists were now eyeing quality and luxury vacations overseas.

She was speaking to the media after officiating Malaysia Pavillion Day Celebration at the Shanghai EXPO Centre here Sunday.

Dr Ng was representing Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak at the event.

She said the ministry was in the midst of introducing focus pakaging and doing away with general sight-seeing tour packages which include Singapore and Thailand.

Continue reading at: China is third largest Malaysian tourist market
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Of turtles and orang utan in Borneo

As long as the buying does not stop, the illegal trade will not. That may sound clich├ęd but it is very true as respect for wildlife in Malaysia is still very low.

SOME time ago, I was in Ku­­ching, where I met up with a botanist friend who spends a lot of time doing field trips in jungles around the globe. We shared some work-related stories, and one of his, which involved orang utan, really stood out.

In a remote village in a jungle in Borneo, he came across a young orang utan which was being kept in a cage in the kitchen, reared like a chicken, waiting to be dinner for the villagers.

On another occasion, he saw a sea turtle lying on its back in a kitchen. He thought it was dead, till it gave a half-hearted flap of its flippers and he realised, with a shock, it was still alive.

He then asked the villager whether the turtle was meant for consumption soon. The answer he was given was that it would be kept alive for weeks on its back with splashes of water till the villagers wanted to eat some turtle meat.

Most of us with a modicum of an education are aware that turtles and orang utan are endangered species.

Most of us wouldn’t even consider eating them, and even those of us who may have had turtle eggs in the past, have now probably reconsidered our stand on this.

There are those who haven’t yet bought into the idea of staying away from endangered species as food or for its perceived medicinal/aphrodisiacal properties.

These are the ones who are not particularly well educated and are therefore not exposed to other mindsets which abhor practices like stuffing one’s face with endangered animals. Although having said that, I have met people in Kuala Lumpur who confess to having eaten turtle eggs.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Of turtles and orang utan in Borneo
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Marginal increase in visitors to Sibu

THE number of tourists to Sibu for the first eight months of this year saw a slight increase compared with the corresponding period last year.

A total of 1,126 tourists were recorded compared with 1,106 last year. For the whole of last year, there were 1,672 tourists.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Sibu branch executive Rudy Anoi said these visitors had visited his office before going to other places in the region and the number could be more because not all of them could have gone to his office.

“These visitors were mainly backpackers who came on their own to explore places such as Kapit and Belaga. Usually after getting vital tourist information from us, they would stay overnight in Sibu before making their way to their destination by express boats,” he said.

STB has ready information for tourists on express boat schedule, the do’s and don’ts while visitors are in the Upper Rajang, where to stay and where to eat.

The board also gives advice to visitors on the requirements to obtain a visitor pass to Belaga from the Kapit Resident’s Office. Visitors from peninsula Malaysia were the most at 583 people, followed by UK and Ireland at 63, and Australia, 58.

Continue reading at: Marginal increase in visitors to Sibu
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Air travel booms in Sabah

KKIA is getting busier as travellers snap up cheap tours

Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is Malaysia’s second busiest after Kuala Lumpur's. It serves almost 5m passengers a year compared with Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s 30m. And it’s getting busier: national carrier Malaysia Airlines will make its eastern operational hub there in November which will see more flights from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Thousands of cheap air tickets were snapped up at a recent travel fair in Kota Kinabalu that has signalled a travel boom buoyed by a stronger ringgit against the American dollar and other currencies.

Last month’s travel fair of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) saw millions of ringgit changed hands in two days as travellers bought air tickets and tours at discounts of between 15% and half of their usual prices. Exhibitors at the fair increased from 35 last year to 50 this year.

“It’s amazing,” said Chang Fu-Nan, 53, director of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. “In just half a day, we sold 100 tours to Taiwan.” It was his first experience at the fair and his bureau aimed to sell 500 tours in two days. The four- or eight-day tours cost between 1,500 and 4,000 ringgit ($482 and $1,286) each. Chang’s bureau sold more than one million ringgit worth of tours.

This, travel industry sources say, testifies to how rich Sabahans are. The Malaysian economy booms while the rich world is struggling to recover from a recession. Prime minister Najib Razak expects his country’s economy to grow by 6% and is thinking of allowing offshore trading of the ringgit after it was banned 12 years ago at the height of the Asian financial crisis.

Bank Negara, central bank, has recently allowed ringgit settlement of offshore trade in goods and services as the ringgit has been strengthening on the back of two quarters of strong economic growth and higher interest rates.

About 35,000 Sabahans out of 170,000 Malaysians visited Taiwan last year. About a fifth of the 145,000 Malaysians who travelled to Taiwan during the first half of this year were Sabahans, according to Chang.

MAS has announced that it will put six Boeing 737s, two of the them new, in Kota Kinabalu to launch weekly flights to Haneda in Tokyo on November 15. There will be twice weekly flights to Osaka from January 15 and two more flights to Seoul. The new planes, Boeing 737-800, each carries 160 passengers including 16 in business class. Each of the four Boeing 737-400 seats 144, with 16 in business class.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Air travel booms in Sabah
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Belaga, Sarawak braces for tourism boom

BELAGA: People living in Belaga, among the most remote districts in Malaysia, are looking forward to the completion of the Bakun hydroelectric project to generate a new economic activity – tourism.

Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang said the project, which was expected to be completed in December, would change the landscape in the district.

“There will be a lot of new islands created (once the water level at the Bakun Dam is raised), providing new potential for the people here to promote them to anglers and eco-tourists.

“More people will be involved in the tourism industry,” he said.

He said although there were already tourism activities in Belaga, these had yet to achieve the economies of scale that could yield better profits for the locals.

The 205m-high Bakun hydroelectric dam, which creates a reservoir of water measuring 695 sq km, is the second tallest concrete rock-filled dam in the world. It will have the capacity to generate 2,400MW of power.

The entire Bakun catchment area, situated at the Balui River, about 37km upstream of Belaga town, measures about 14,759 sq km, which is equivalent in size to 12% of Sarawak.

Several longhouses, particularly within the Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme, have started promoting homestay programmes in recent years.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Belaga, Sarawak braces for tourism boom
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Borneo beckons

The roof of a multi-storey parking lot is not the first place you’d expect to find some of the best food in town, but like much in Kuching, on the island of Borneo, Top Spot comes as a pleasant surprise.

It’s loud, lively, colourful and, in the balmy night air that always seems to bless this place, an exceptional venue for people watching.

Top Spot is a sort of co-operative of seafood vendors who share the open-air space — there’s a ceiling but no walls — competing vigorously for each customer. It’s a respectful hustle. Once the customer has chosen, the “losers” move on to the next target. Some customers have their favourite spot. Others, typically newbies, are swayed by the hawkers, but if there are major differences in the food quality or quantity, after three meals it wasn’t obvious to me. The food was perfectly cooked and inexpensive — spend more than $5 or $6 (not including a Tiger beer) and you’re probably overeating.

Each vendor displays an exotic array of fish and shellfish. The diner buys by weight and waits while it’s cooked. There is no ownership over the chairs and tables, most of which are large, round and occupied by extended local families.

Food is one of Sarawak’s major selling points and eating is one of its favourite pastimes, but beyond the belly there is a whole exotic world for visitors to explore. It’s fair to say that Sarawak is not on the Canadian tourist radar, but for those with a flair for the exotic, it should be. It’s a long, expensive journey, but once you’ve made that leap, a wonderful world of nature, history and culture awaits.

Kuching, the state capital, is the largest state in Malaysia and sits on the island of Borneo. Within a short distance of the city centre, there are crocodiles, orangutans, proboscis monkeys and easy access to the rainforest. It’s hot, invariably humid and if you go at the wrong time of year, it rains furiously. But weather patterns have become unpredictable. The rainy season isn’t what it used to be.

Kuching means “cat” in Malay, which is why the city appears to have a cat fetish. It has massive cat statues in and around its city centre and even has its own cat museum. This kitty kitsch has successfully branded the city, but it is neither representative of Kuching — an orangutan or monkey might be more appropriate — nor, say linguistic experts, is it an accurate interpretation of the city’s name.

More likely, they say, it derives from the Mandarin kochin, which means “harbour,” or it is named after the lychee-type fruit mata kuching (cat’s eye). Either way, the cats are there to stay.

Kuching is blessed with a rich colonial past that was sporadically nasty while it was being written, but has left a legacy that the city’s smart tourism marketers use to its fullest. During the early 19th century, Sarawak was a Malay principality ruled by the Sultan of Brunei and, notwithstanding some headhunting in the interior (plastic skulls are plentiful in souvenir shops), it was generally peaceful. That changed when the sultan appointed an unpopular governor and a guerrilla war ensued that continued until 1839, when a wealthy young Englishman named James Brooke arrived with his own private army and quashed the rebellion. The grateful sultan made Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak and, in the British tradition, Brooke and his descendants put an indelible stamp on Sarawak and its capital. After the Second World War and a period of Japanese occupation, Sarawak worked its way toward independence and joined Malaya in 1963 to form the new nation of Malaysia.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo beckons
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Friday, September 10, 2010

RM9 mln Tg Aru Water Village almost ready

KOTA KINABALU: The RM9 million tourism project of the Phase IA of the Tanjung Aru Water Village near here is expected to be opened to the public soon once final touch up to the project is completed.

Mayor Datuk Iliyas bin Ibrahim said the actual date of the completion would be announced and the project, the first of its kind in the state, is expected to benefit the residents there.

Expressing his satisfaction with the work performance of the contractor of the project, he added that the water village is set to be another tourism attraction for the City.

Hence, the mayor appealed to the residents in the area and the public in general, to appreciate the facilities provided to them and cooperate by refraining from littering and help keep out vandalism.

He said the sustainability of the project depended very much on the residents’ cooperation in maintaining and sustaining its purpose.

Iliyas also expressed his gratitude to the federal and state governments for the tourism project which he said would not only benefit the residents in the water village and provide them with modern public facilities, but added another attraction to the city.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: RM9 mln Tg Aru Water Village almost ready
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Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2010



E-BORNEO.COM would like to wish all our Muslim visitors, clients and partners a joyous Eid Mubarak, or how we wish in Malaysia:

'SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI' and 'MAAF ZAHIR BATIN'.

May you all have a wonderful, prosperous and safe celebration with your family, relatives and friends.

The Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration is a public holiday throughout Malaysia, and as such, please kindly be informed that our office will be closed tomorrow, Friday, 10 September 2010, and will re-open next Monday, 13 September 2010.

For travel and related requests, do note that all your e-mails enquiries may be replied during this holiday period (depending on priority and/or importance) but earliest confirmation can only be processed next Monday (working hours +0800 GMT MYT).

Any inconvenience caused is very much regretted.

SALAM AIDILFITRI

Best wishes,

The E-BORNEO.COM Team

E-BORNEO.COM TOURS & TRAVEL SDN BHD (862652-M ; KPL/LN 6169)

Lot No. 7, 2nd Floor, Block C
Lintas Jaya Uptownship
88200 Penampang
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Malaysia

Tel: +6-088-722606
Fax: +6-088-727606
Email: travel@e-borneo.com
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Thursday, September 09, 2010

British explorers map out 'never-ending' cave network underneath Borneo jungle

These incredible images show British scientists on an expedition to map a 'never-ending' cave network in a project that dates back more than 30 years.

The twisting network of caverns underneath Gunung Mulu National Park, in Sarawak, Borneo, contains the largest cave chamber in the world, the largest cave by volume and what is believed to be the largest cave passage.

Scientists carry out bi-annual visits into several caves and have so far mapped out an incredible 186 miles of the underground network.

Using lasers and other equipment they measured the dimensions of different sections of the numerous caverns stretching throughout the UNESCO World Heritage site and feed them into a computer to build up the map.

Working with Borneo's National Parks authority, the team of Brits also began mapping the area above the caves to help tourists trekking between the cave mouths know where they are.

Sarawak Chamber is the world's largest, the Clearwater Cave system is the largest by volume and Deer Cave is believed to be the biggest passage.

More than 30 years ago the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) led the first expedition to the cave system, which current team member Andy Eavis, 62, was part of.

Other members of the team - all British - included leader Tim Allen, 49, Dr Gina Moseley, 26, web designer Hugh St Lawrence, professor Pete Smart and cavers Matt Kirby and Robbie Shone.

The expedition saw the team camping for periods below surface during a three-week trip in May.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: British explorers map out 'never-ending' cave network underneath Borneo jungle
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The 'Best Airport' On Borneo Island

Bandar Seri Begawan - The transformation of Brunei International Airport, which is aiming to be the best airport on Borneo island, is set to begin and will be completed in two to three years after the tender process, the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) announced yesterday.

Dato Paduka Timothy Ong, acting chairman of the board, said BEDB will create an airport which will meet all of Brunei's requirement for the next 10 years with the assistance of Changi Airports International (CAI).

CAI has been appointed to assist in drawing up the tender specifications and undertake project management with the consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunel Darussalam, the BEDB said in a statement.

"Our projection is that we will aim to go to tender within three months and from the time of award, (project completion) will be between 24 and 36 months as it also depends on which contractor," Dato Ong said.

The board, which advertised internationally, received expressions of interest from 69 contractors and consortia.

Dato Ong said: "We don't want something that is 'okay'. We want something with a wow factor, so we are not just going for a pass, we're going for distinction. The project will be based on current and projected traffic. We recognise that Brunei doesn't have the traffic of, say, Kuala Lumpur."

Their aim is to create from the existing airport one with high standards, he added.

The acting chairman also stressed that they do not want to build a white elephant.

"We envision between three and seven aerobridges, but the minimum is three," he said.

Dato Ong added that this is a challenging project because the airport will continue to be used while work is being done.

"It is easier in fact to build a new airport, but we don't have the luxury of doing that.

People going in and out of airports can get very upset or agitated if there are delays. So we have to undertake this work smoothly... In order to ensure this is done well, we are engaging one of the world's leading consultants, CAI, to work with us," he added.

Continue reading at: The 'Best Airport' On Borneo Island
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Sarawak Bird Race to record the most birds

DESPITE what the name suggests, a bird race to be held in and around Kuching in October will not see birds racing to the finish line.

Those in the race, however, will be people with good eyes, ears, binoculars, a guidebook on birds, a torchlight, pen and notebook to record the birds they sight.

Jointly organised by Borneo Highlands Resort and Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), the Sarawak Bird Race returns for the third time with more activities and plenty of fun in store.

Deputy State Secretary Datuk Ose Murang, the event’s patron, said this year’s race would be held on a bigger scale and carry the tagline From the Sea to the Mountain.

He said the three-day event from Oct 8 would have teams of two trying to outdo each other in searching, identifying and recording the most number of bird species within a set time frame and location.

There will be a long race and a short race. The long race will be flagged off at Buntal beach on Oct 8 and will cover Kubah National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and Borneo Highlands Resort. The short race will be held only around Borneo Highlands Resort on Oct 10.

“The race is actually a fun event in which the participants, especially nature lovers, will seek bird species ranging from common and exotic to extremely rare at the four places.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak Bird Race to record the most birds
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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Sabah Coral Triangle must be preserved

Kudat: Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, Datuk Bolkiah Ismail, said the priceless heritage in the Coral Triangle off the State's waters must be preserved and protected.

He said this was important to ensure diversity in the marine life and eco-system of this rich habitat.

"There are two areas in Sabah waters with a high concentration of corals, in Semporna and the proposed Tun Mustapha Parks, which cover the waters and coastal areas of Kudat-Banggi, Kota Marudu and Pitas," he said.

He said this during a breaking of fast and appreciation ceremony with the WWF Malaysia and communities from Kudat-Banggi, Kota Marudu and Pitas, here.

"This is why the State Government proposed to gazette the 1.02-hectare Tun Mustapha Parks as a marine park, which would be managed by the community, government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), under the administration of the Sabah Parks.

"Although it is still under the gazetting process, we are starting to see efforts by the community, with the backing of government bodies and NGOs, in preserving the marine environment in their villages," Bolkiah said.

Continue reading at: Sabah Coral Triangle must be preserved
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Imperial Palace Hotel – a new landmark in Miri

MIRI: Bumi Uniplus Sdn Bhd yesterday announced the soft opening of Miri’s latest landmark – Imperial Palace Hotel – located strategically in the bustling Pelita Commercial Centre on Sept 9.

Reflected by its choice of light colour granite and glass panel, the latest and anticipated landmark is another addition to Miri Resort City which will be opened for business with its soft opening this Thursday.

Imperial Palace general manager Su Sii Jiong revealed the property is conceptually transformed into 307 contemporary units of hotel rooms consisting of 155 units of standard rooms, 149 units of superior rooms and 3 units of deluxe rooms.

“The contemporary hotel is also designed to cater for the need of various people such as families, handicapped people, business entrepreneurs, banquet events, meetings, conventions and workshops,” he said.

Apart from the rooms, other facilities and amenities provided by the hotel are X-Force Fitness Centre, open air Jacuzzi pool, surau, VIP room, 4 multi-functional conference rooms and a restaurant.

“The hotel basement car park provides over 100 parking spaces for hotel guests and patrons, served by hotel lifts,” Su said during the press conference at the soft launching yesterday.

The 4-star service hotel offers a 3-star rate pricing with its opening promotion from RM138 nett inclusive of breakfast for standard rooms and RM161 nett for superior room and RM184 nett for deluxe room.

The promotion kicks off from Sept 9 to end of December this year.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Imperial Palace Hotel – a new landmark in Miri
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Musical showcase for Malaysia Day celebration in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A 47-minute musical will showcase this year’s Malaysia Day celebration which is being observed as a national public holiday for the first time.

It will be conducted on three separate stages which would merge as one to symbolise the merger of Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula for the formation of Malaysia.

“This is in recognition of the three distinct regions. It is also to tell the story of how Malaysia was formed,” said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun after chairing the final meeting on preparations for the celebration.

The event, estimated to cost RM1.5mil, will involve a cast of 470 for the musical at Padang Merdeka here on Sept 16.

The highlight of the evening would be the signing of a special gold-coated commemorative book.

The first signatories would be Sabah Yang diPertua Negri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman and Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud.

Continue reading at: Musical showcase for Malaysia Day celebration in Sabah
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Over 5,000 visit Sibu museum since Aug 1

SIBU: Most visitors to the Sibu Cultural Heritage Museum (SCHM) in Central Road are impressed with the layout and the rich display of informative exhibits there.

Michael SL Wong, a 45-year-old engineer who was back from Singapore for holiday recently, said the visit not only transported him down memory lane but also enlightened him about the history of Sarawak in general and Sibu in particular.

“Honestly, I must admit that I am not aware of the history of Sarawak, or Sibu for that matter. The enterprising and meaningful visit had indeed enriched my knowledge about the history of Sarawak,” he added.

Wong said one section that impressed him was the corner that introduced Sarawak’s multi-racial population, the cultures and the various festivals.

“This is not something that can be found easily in any other parts of the world. Sibu Municipal Council must be commended for their efforts to turn the previous SMC administrative building into a museum centre,” he added.

Entering the museum, visitors are greeted by the three busts of the purported founders of Sibu, namely Wong Nai Siong, Teng Kung Suk and Teo Chong Loh, and a brief explanation and history about the trio and their contributions as the founders of Sibu.

The round building makes it convenient for the visitors to appreciate the exhibits without having the trouble to visit the same corner twice.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Over 5,000 visit Sibu museum since Aug 1
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Danum Valley to be nominated as World Heritage site

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is mulling the possibility of nominating Danum Valley in the east coast of Sabah as a World Heritage Site. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this reflected the state government’s commitment to preserve Danum Valley – regarded as the Lost World of Borneo – given its almost undisturbed tropical rainforest and abundance of biodiversity.

“My ministry is still looking into it,” he told reporters after launching Malaysia’s biggest Batik Fan, organised by the Sabah Art Gallery, in conjunction with Hari Malaysia celebrations, at Wisma Budaya, here yesterday.

The batik fan measuring 20 feet high and 30 feet wide, was produced by local artist Benedict Chong and two of his friends.

On progress of the state government’s decision to nominate Maliau Basin in the south central part of Sabah as a World Heritage Site, Masidi said a technical committee had been formed to finalise details of that proposal to be forwarded to the Unesco World Heritage Centre for consideration.

The Maliau Basin, known as Sabah’s Lost World, was declared a Sabah Foundation conservation area in 1981.

In 1997, the state cabinet agreed to gazette the 588sq km site as a Protection Forest Reserve (Class 1).

Sabah currently has a World Heritage Site, namely the Kinabalu Park, where the 4,092-metre Mount Kinabalu is located.

Earlier, Masidi, in his speech, thanked Benedict for his determination to create the Malaysia’s biggest Batik Fan.

He said Benedict had also produced the longest batik tie in the world measuring 50 feet and bearing the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, back in 1987. The batik necktie was displayed in the State Museum.

Continue reading at: Danum Valley to be nominated as World Heritage site
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Monday, September 06, 2010

Capturing Borneo’s elusive feline species

Oxford University researcher, Andrew Hearn, has been religiously visiting villages in rural Sabah, speaking to the locals and trudging through rough terrains placing camera traps and collecting data on five of Borneo’s cat species. He has been doing this for nearly four years and remains very passionate about his quest.

There are five species of cats in Borneo, he says. And almost nothing is known about all of them.

Andrew, who is currently based at the Danau Girang Field Centre in Kinabatangan, a facility co-managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University said that the Borneo cat species comprise of the Leopard Cat, the Bornean Bay Cat, the Flat Headed Cat, the Sunda Clouded Leopard Cat and the Marbled Cat.

The Leopard Cat, he said, is quite common and can be found throughout Southeast Asia right up to Russia.

“So, we are not really worried about this species because it is widely dispersed and it actually does well in oil palm plantations,” he said.

The other four species of cats, on the other hand, have restricted distribution.

The Bornean Bay Cat is only found in the island of Borneo and was first photographed between 2001 and 2002.

“This is incredible in today’s day and age, and we know almost nothing about this animal…we have very small information that they were sighted here in the 1900s but apart from that, we know nothing. No one has ever studied it, so this is a species that we are particularly interested in looking at,” he said.

Then there is the flat headed cat. Again, this species has never been studied and there is a lack of information concerning them. Its distribution, said Andrew, is restricted and that the species can be found in Borneo, Sumatra and parts of Peninsula Malaysia and possibly on the very southern area of Thailand.

“From the looks of it, this cat is restricted to the lowlands which had been traditionally the area where villages are sited and where the people are more prone to cutting the forests down. So this is a big problem for this species because there is now almost zero habitat for them,” he said.

Continue reading at: Capturing Borneo’s elusive feline species
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Miri-Mulu National Park road proposed

A ROAD linking Miri to the Mulu National Park is necessary to develop the area’s tourism potential, said Miri Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Datuk Sim Hock Guan.

“It is high time for the state to construct a road from Miri to Mulu to enable easier movement of tourists,” he said during his organisation’s 85th anniversary celebration in Miri.

In view of Mulu’s position as a World Heritage Site, a tourist control centre could be set up at the park’s entrance to regulate the number of people entering each day, he said.

“In this way, there will be a good flow of tourists into Mulu in a controlled manner. Tourism will benefit and the park will be continuously protected. Right now, Mulu’s tourism potential cannot be fully tapped because of the absence of a road,’’ he said.

Sim said the absence of direct international air links to Miri, to a great extent, had resulted in the city being unable to promote itself as a premier tourist destination.

He said that another issue which needed resolving was that of Baram River.

Continue reading at: Miri-Mulu National Park road proposed
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Info on Sarawak Homestay available online

KUCHING: Information about Sarawak Homestay in Sarawak is now available with ‘a click of the button’.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Dato Dr James Dawos Mamit said everybody can now easily get access to whatever information needed on the sector.

All they need to do is to browse through the website www.go2homestay.com.

Dawos said that his ministry has initiated the Homestay e-marketing campaign since November 2009.

Sarawak Homestay campaign which was launched by the minister yesterday was the sixth on its list after Pahang, Selangor, Johor, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan.

Present at the launching held at Abas Homestay in Kampung Panglima Seman Lama, Petra Jaya were Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri, chairman of Homestay Association Mahmud Sabli, parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Mohd Daud Mohd Ariff, director of Ministry of Tourism of Malaysia, Sarawak Esther Douglas Udam and director of Tourism Malaysia Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali.

He said this campaign is to increase the awareness of the public on Homestay products and to further promote Malaysia Homestay packages throughout the country by using new media which include short messaging services (SMS), multimedia messaging services (MMS), online portal, radio advertisements and prints.

He added that the campaign will feature homestay activities in Sarawak and through cooperation with tour operators, several tour packages will be offered to three segments of the market namely the Adventure Segment, the Family Tourist and the Student Tour Group.

He hoped that by carrying out the campaign, the state would expect to see more tourists experiencing ‘homestay’ environment as part of their adventure in Sarawak.

According to Dawos, since the launch of the www.go2homestay.com website in December 2009, the number of visitors has doubled.

He cited that after the first campaign which started with Pahang Homestay, the state recorded an increase in the number of visitors by 450 per cent and in the Johor campaign there was 819 per cent increase in visitors’ arrival for the same period last year.

Dawos also revealed that his ministry had introduced video call on handphone to the Homestay Operator on April 18 so that they can get connected by just pressing *3307.

He added that the video call can assist them in promoting and providing more information as to what they have to offer at their homestay and this will give visitors the idea as to what they are going to experience.

He said that the Sarawak Homestay is based on the concept of our state.

Continue reading at: Info on Sarawak Homestay available online
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Sunday, September 05, 2010

New operator, better deals at Atmosphere Restaurant, Kota Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: While everyone in the city is looking for great dining spots that serve good food at affordable prices, Atmosphere Revolving Restaurant and Bar has come out with a better deal.

The new management of the only restaurant of its kind in Sabah, at the 18th floor of Yayasan Sabah building in Likas, has changed its menu to attract more local and international food lovers.

With years of experience in hotel line and food industry, its two directors, Fritz J. Klug and Ganeson Suppiah took over Atmosphere Revolving Restaurant and Bar two weeks ago to give customers a better deal.

“We are not renovating the restaurant, but only changing the menu with lower prices and bigger portion for our customers,” Klug said.

“We receive a lot of feedback from our customers in our other restaurants, Windmill Seafood and More and Tasty Restaurant who admitted that they were scared to come to Atmosphere Revolving Restaurant and Bar previously because they were afraid of the prices which might be expensive for them,” said Klug in an interview with The Borneo Post yesterday.

He said the starting price from RM12 will give the opportunity to more customers to enjoy the great ambience and view that the restaurant offers, especially the 360-degree panorama.

With 18 local staff, Klug is optimistic that the restaurant will attract more customers after trying out the food and paying less compared to the higher prices of other exclusive restaurants.

He believes that the advantage of being on the building will also make their customers talk about their food and new price adjustment, hoping that more food lovers will come.

Atmosphere Revolving Restaurant and Bar is targeting the local population to patronize it because it has ample parking space that might attract many food lovers instead of eating elsewhere.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: New operator, better deals at Atmosphere Restaurant, Kota Kinabalu
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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Sarikei - food bowl of Sarawak


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


By NYL in Sarikei, Malaysia

In the beginning of the 19th century, Sarikei was a sleepy trading settlement located in the lower Rejang area, named after the betel leaf (sirih). The only significant community was the Segalang (Melanau) and Chinese. Other large groups comprised Malays and Ibans.

Sarikei received its status as a division in 1973 but the existence of the town goes way back even further than its first entry in the history text in 1845 with the arrival of the First Rajah, James Brooke. In fact, the town was razed in 1856, rebuilt later and has served as a hotspot for insurgency by pirates and locals in its colourful history. It has also been acknowledged that the creation of the Sarikei division was mainly to check the threats from communist rebels who were active there during the height of the Confrontation.

Today Sarikei is an emerging town of the central region and poised to benefit from the numerous developments planned for the region. It is also the 'food bowl' of Sarawak, estimated to supply about 60 per cent of the vegetables produced in the region and is the main supplier of fruits, especially pineapples and oranges.

Sarikei shares many of the characteristics of Sibu in terms of location and food choices, both being served by the Rajang River and populated mainly by the Chinese in the town area where the main business activities occur.

As the main gateway to Sibu via road from Kuching, Sarikei can confidently look forward to greater developments, especially as a rest and recreational stop over point. Its vast hinterland is an attraction for nature lovers as they can make short excursions to coastal villages and also interesting places near the town.

A typical day in Sarikei begins early down at the waterfront and adjacent market. Along the wharf, plank-ways lead to several points where cargo boats dock, while the narrow streets are packed with shops selling everything you may need for a river journey.

A four-metre giant pineapple replica stands proudly on the waterfront right in the middle of town. Sarikei is also known as the pineapple capital of Sarawak, producing the sweetest fruits, (17 per cent sugar content) with low acidity and very few thorns on its leaves.

Opposite the town's Terminal 1 Jetty lies the social heart of Sarikei, the Rejang Market and Hawker Centre, a visual feast for visitors with more than 200 hawkers selling a wide array of wet and dry goods. Main highlights are locals selling exotic fruits, jungle produce and handicrafts.

A vibrant Ramadhan Bazaar sets up every afternoon around 1pm and operates until 7pm during the fasting month. Local delicacies on sale include various types of cakes, the ever famous ikan terubok grilled with spices and chicken cooked in bamboo known as ayam pansuh.

Sarikei Merdeka Park is one of the latest additions to the local government's effort to turn Sarikei into a more aesthetic town. Built in 2004, it consists of a central courtyard framed by two gazebos and Zen balls. The park was built on what used to be the Pasar Tamu of the town.

The Lake Garden built in 1995 has become a favourite rest and recreational area. Pleasant and relaxing to the eyes, the garden's vast stretch of water and surrounding landscape naturally makes it the choice for those seeking tranquillity and calmness.

Another favourite place is Taman Rimba Sebangkoi (Sebangkoi Forest Park), just 25kilometres from the town and served by the Sebangkoi Country Resort which provides convenient hospitality facilities for visitors.

A well-known venue is the Rentap Memorial at Bukit Sibau, which is a day's journey away to Ulu Wuak, the nearest town. This small building serves as a reminder of the great Iban warrior who fought against the first White Rajah of Sarawak during the early history of the state's march towards independence.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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