Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sabah hopes to earn RM10bil from tourism by 2010

SABAH hopes to attract four million tourists and earn RM10bil in tourism receipts by 2010, said Sabah Tourism Board chairman Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin.

Given its strategic position in the Borneo archipelago, the state believes it can position itself as the “gateway to Borneo.” That is why it is on an aggressive drive to promote its various tourist destinations and pristine beaches.

Zainal said Mount Kinabalu was a natural best seller and what was needed was a bigger push to promote it further.

“We have the sun, sea, sand, forest and mountains to offer and all these are just within one hour of several countries in this region,” he said in his presentation.

Every year, the state spends about RM20mil to promote tourism activities.

Tourist arrivals have been on the rise and last year, it totalled 1.7 million, with tourism receipts amounting to RM2.2bil.

Hotel occupancy is also on the rise, averaging 75% last year. The state has 156 hotels with 10,000 rooms, of which 5,000 are in Kota Kinabalu.

However, he said, Sabah would face shortage of hotel rooms after 2008 if new ones were not developed.

“For the next three years, we would have enough rooms but beyond that, we may face shortages,” he said.

He added that although a lot of hotel projects were being planned, construction work was only expected to take off next year.

Source: The Star

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Eating Out in Sandakan, Sabah

Whether its Chinese, Malay, Indian or Western, there are an enormous variety of cuisines in Sandakan. All around town are traditional coffeeshops offering local favourites in unpretentious surroundings. Noodles and chicken rice tend to dominate the menus.

But as far as food is concern, if you didn't savour the seafood, you haven't been to Sandakan. Sandakan has some of the freshest seafood in Sabah. And the prices are relatively cheaper than in Kota Kinabalu, the State's capital. One of the most popular seafood restaurants is Ocean King, about 10 minutes from the town central. It is located besides the ocean/sea, hence, the name for the restaurant.

Another great place with great view is a restaurant called Sandakan Garden Restaurant, up on a hilltop along Signal Hill road nearby town. Its specialty is steamboat 'do-it-yourself' cuisine. If you prefer barbeque, they also have an area for that. Great for a fun eating-out gathering with family and/or friends.

Both restaurants are excellent for dining out at night and a must for seafood lovers.

Click here to check out various Sandakan tour packages.

Copyright © 2005

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Kota Kinabalu City, Sabah, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, fondly known as KK is the home of beautiful landscapes and holiday resorts. Discover a night out in KK city with great food, music and fun. The air is breezy and light for a perfect evening rendezous. The city is about 15-20 minutes from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) and has several shopping complexes where shoppers can do their shopping such as at Centerpoint, Wisma Merdeka and KK Plaza. There are also several entertainment spots in te city and the more popular choices are Shenanigan at the Hyatt International Hotel and several outlets at the Waterfront premises opposite Promenade Hotel. KK is also the host for various international festivals and events such as indigenous Kaamatan festival, Eco-Challenge 2000 and the Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon.

Click here for Day Tour information.

Click here for Night Tour information.

Kota Kinabalu City

Copyright © 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005

AirAsia To Start Flights To Manila Next Month

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 (Bernama) -- Leading low-fare no- frills airline, AirAsia, is starting daily flight services to Manila in the Philippines from next month.

The new service will begin simultaneously from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah from April 5.

AirAsia, in a statement Monday, said the flights would be to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (formerly Clark Angeles Airport) in Manila.

The airport is located 80 kilometres north of Manila and AirAsia said shuttle buses would be available to connect Clark and Manila.

AirAsia's group chief executive officer, Tony Fernandes, said the new service would provide more connections for the people of Philippines to visit Malaysia, and enhance the hub status of Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.

"By connecting Clark to Malaysia, and linking it to our network of flights serving Thailand, Indonesia and Macau, AirAsia is indirectly bringing the people of Asean (Association of South East Asian Nation) closer and thus one step nearer to achieve a borderless Asean policy," he added.

The fares for the new destinations will start from RM129.99 for a one-way flight from Kuala Lumpur to Clark and RM119.99 for Kota Kinabalu to Clark. Seats will be available for sale from March 19 onwards, AirAsia said.

Seats can also be purchased via online at or call AirAsia Nationwide Call Centre at 1-30088-9933 (within Malaysia) or 6-03-7884-9000 (outside Malaysia) for phone bookings.

Source: Bernama

Sarawak Hopes To Attract More Singaporean Through SilkAir

SIBU, March 21 (Bernama) -- Sarawak is projecting at least a 34 per cent increase in tourist arrivals from Singapore this year through SilkAir.

Its Tourism Minister, Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh, said that based on last year's statistics, some 41,000 strictly Singaporeans visited the state.

"This year, we are looking at a figure of about 60,000 or more as the inaugural SilkAir package will be launched in Singapore on March 28," he told a news conference, here Monday.

Wong said that at present there was only one flight weekly by MAS on the Singapore-Kuching sector but with SilkAir, there would be four flights.

He said that besides Singaporeans who love extreme activities like caving, mountain climbing and jungle trekking, the state also hoped to attract some of the eight million foreign tourists who visited the republic yearly.

The Sarawak Tourism Board would work closely with its Singapore counterpart to promote the state, he said.

Elaborating on the operations of SilkAir, he said its $S199 package would include a two-night accommodation at a three-star hotel and airport transfers for its Singapore-Kuching-Singapore route.

On another matter, Wong said that the "Discover Sarawak Holiday" packages would be relaunched in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

He said that this was aimed at attracting more people from other states in the country and visiting foreign tourists there to come to Sarawak.

Wong said that for a minimum of RM435, they could fly to Kuching with accommodation, airport transfers, breakfast and a city tour provided before returning home.

He said that the packages would include tours to other main towns like Sibu and Miri.

He said that last year, some 14,000 people visited the state under such packages.

Source: Bernama

Friday, March 18, 2005

KK-Zambo direct flight from April 7

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah takes another step towards strengthening its BIMP-EAGA relations with the start of a twice-weekly direct flight to Zamboanga from the State capital effective April 7.

A direct flight from Sandakan to Zamboanga has been existent for some time and the addition of another from Kota Kinabalu is expected to generate more business, tourism and investments.

Despite seeing many similar ventures come and go, the Filipino-owned South Phoenix Airways, which is providing the flight, is adamant that its service would prevail.

Its commercial director, Glenn K. Lamela, said with the large presence of Filipinos here and the opening of an agency in Brunei, there should be no problem for the service to prosper in the region.

"We have a very large Filipino population here (and) we have noted an increased movement down to Brunei already. With our presence here and in Sandakan, we are in the position to serve the needs of the Philippines," he said.

He estimated there were about half a million Filipinos in Brunei and Sabah and maintained the numbers could just be enough to sustain the service.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Karim Hj Bujang, said the service was a step towards enhancing and strengthening bilateral relations and that his Ministry would try to do everything it could to sustain it.

"I remember we spent quite a fair bit to launch the Australian Airlines (direct service). But again, by the end of the day, business is decided on free market forces," he told reporters at Beverly Hotel, here, Thursday.

Mary Ann Montemayor, Chairman of the BIMP-EAGA and Tourism Council of Philippines sees the service as a launchpad for fortifying regional relations.

"The initiative of bringing direct air services between Zamboanga and Kota Kinabalu is very much encouraging in light of our overall effort to invigorate the revitalisation of BIMP-EAGA.

"On this note we are very happy that South Phoenix Airways has embarked on this flight as this will really pave the way for more trade and business interactions within the growth area," she said.

Glenn said the service on Thursdays and Sundays will use the 60-seater YS 11-500 aircraft.

All arrivals and departures will operate from Terminal Two, Tg Aru.

Source: Daily Express

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Niah Caves in Sarawak were inhabited

KUCHING: An on-going study on the Niah Caves in northern Sarawak has confirmed that modern humans had certainly been living there 43,000 years ago or probably earlier, said University of Cambridge Professor Graeme Parker.

Prof Parker, who is the Niah Cave Project 2000 director, said this confirmation was important, because there has been much debate on when modern humans lived in the caves.

Excavations at the Niah Caves, first carried out by Tom and Barbara Harrison between 1957 and 1965, have found human skulls and a burial ground.

Project 2000, which is undertaken by the Sarawak Museum, involves some 60 researchers, including PhD students from 15 universities in Britain, the United States, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia.

“The objectives of the project is to understand the stratigraphies, reconstruct the Harrisons’ work and understand the settlements in the caves,” said Prof Parker during a talk on the project at Dewan Tun Abdul Razak yesterday.

Also present was Sarawak Museum director Sanib Said.

Prof Parker said the studies were primarily to address three primary research questions – when did modern humans first colonise Borneo in South-East Asia, were early foragers able to exploit rainforests, and when, how and why did farming begin? The project, divided into three phases, is expected to be completed in 2008.

Phase One (2000-2003) involved field work. Phase Two (2003-2005) is on studies of Harrison archive while the planned activities in Phase Three are studies on the neolithic mortuary practice and regional foraging behaviour.

Some 200 bodies have been found in the neolithic cemetery in the west mouth of the cave.

Prof Parker said during the recent excavations, there were clear evidence that the large amount of animal bones found were cut or broken by human camping or living in the caves.

Source: The Star

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sarawak Cultural Village, Sarawak, Malaysia

Located about 35km from the city and built on a 17-acre site, next to a scenic man-made lake, the village boasts seven ethnic houses representative of the Malay, the Chinese, the Penan and the longhouses of the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu and the Melanau. Browse around the village and observe the inhabitants of the various houses displaying their skills in making traditional handicrafts such as beading, wood-carving, bamboo-carving, pua-weaving, etc. You can also view traditional methods of making sago, crushing sugar cane and how the Penans make blowpipes and other hunting instruments. Click here for tour information.

Click here for tour information.

Sarawak Cultural Village

Copyright © 2005

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Documenting Sabah's Giant bees for special series

Kota Kinabalu: Famed British naturalist Sir David Attenbourough is in town to do natural history shoots on the social behaviour and ecological relationships of predators like the Hawk moth and Giant bees.

The author and pioneer documentary maker who has been to the State several times, said his "heart is in Sabah," mainly because a lot of Sabah's nature still holds while those of neighbouring countries had essentially depleted.

Sir Attenbourough, 78, was guest of honour at a Sabah Tourism Board dinner Sunday.
The seven-member BBC crew accompanying him had been filming a special focus on Sabah's Giant bees known as Adis dosata.

All the location shoots were done at Tenom's Lagud Sebrang Agriculture Park and Kemabong where hives of Giant bees are taking advantage of the flowering season to nest on some remaining Mengaris trees known to be the third tallest in the world.

The story on the Giant bees is part of a series of BBC documentaries called "Life of the Undergrowth" which would be aired in the UK in October.

Sir Attenbourough started making films on wildlife in the days when nature conservation was a "non-issue" and visited Sabah no less than four times since the 1960s for that purpose. His previous in the 1990s was about the secret world of plants.

To do the latest documentary, he was hoisted 90ft where he came face to face with the deadly bees numbering up to 80,000 bees per hive.

Cameraman Gavin Thurston said he literally had to do "Tai Chi" i.e. moving extremely slowly to avoid agitating the bees in any way. On hand to advise the BBC crew on the temperament of these bees was University of Frankfurt's Professor Nico, a German world authority on Giant bees .

BBC Director Stephen Dunleavy described Attenbourough as a perfect presenter. "He always got his words right," Dunleavy said.

Eric Thien acted as their local coordinator while Scubazoo's Simon Enderby alerted the programme's producers about the Giant bees.

Sabah Tourism Chairman, Tengku Datuk Dr Adlin presented Attenbourough a book entitled "Discovering Sabah."

Source: Daily Express