Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cultural carnival in Tawau attracts thousands

By Ismail Hj Mansor

TAWAU - A total of 16 cultural associations around Tawau took part in the second annual Tawau Cultural Carnival.

The two-day carnival, which began on March 24, managed to draw thousands to witness cultural performances by ethnics groups at the town padang in Tawau.

Various exhibition stalls were set up displaying local handicrafts.

Demonstrations on traditional dances were also performed by various cultural associations such as the Chinese, Indian, Suluk, Bajau, Murut, Lundayeh, Kadazandusun, Tidung, Bolongan, Banjar, Kokos, Bugis, Timor, Toraja, Jawa and Iban.

A number of government agencies and departments also took part in the carnival.

Other highlights included a singing contest, a concert and a tug-of-war competition.

The Suluk association showcased a wedding ceremony at the main stage witnessed by the Sabah Assitant Minister of Rural Development, Datuk Haji Tawfiq Haji Abu Bakar Titingan, who also officiated the carnival.

In his opening address, Datuk Tawfiq pointed out that the main objective of holding the carnival was to give an opportunity to all cultural associations in Tawau to highlight their own culture as well as to introduce their handicrafts to the public especially to the tourists.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, March 30, 2007

Regatta events to draw more to Sarawak

KUCHING: A new tourism package that will focus on promoting various regatta events in Sarawak will be launched soon to lure more domestic and foreign tourists to the Land of Hornbills in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007 (VMY’07).

Without revealing the details, Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) president Wee Hong Seng said the launch of the new package would hopefully attract certain segments of tourists to come to Sarawak.

“We have various tourism products and the only thing to do now is for all the main players in the tourism industry to be creative in promoting the products available with the close cooperation of the Sarawak goverment,” he said.

Continue reading at: Regatta events to draw more to Sarawak

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Local tour operators advised to link with foreign operators

KUCHING: Local tour operators should establish links with foreign tour wholesalers if they want to expand their businesses, said Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

To do that, he said, they must build their creditability and capabilities to handle tours in a big way.

They must also have the abilities to organise charter flights to bring in the tourists, Taib added when opening a tourism entrepreneurs’ development seminar at Holiday Inn Hotel here on Thursday.

The event was organised by Sarawak state Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia and the newly formed Sarawak Bumiputra Tourism Entrepreneurs Association.

Taib said the Land of the Hornbills now received more than three million foreign visitors a year.

Continue reading at: Local tour operators advised to link with foreign operators

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Did you know: Cempedak fruit

By Anna Vivienne

Cempedak is a fruit tree. This tree is native of Malaysia and Indonesia as well as Brunei. The tree grows very fast and can start bearing fruit in four years. It is a tree that grows quite tall. Some old trees have four arm span trunks.

The leaves are shiny with tiny hairs underneath. The buds usually come grow out of small branches from all over the tree including the trunks. When the buds mature they become cempedak fruits. The immature ones just wither, die and drop off. In fact, one tree may bear hundreds of buds but only half of them will mature to be fruits.

When unripe, the cempedak fruit is dark green. As it matures, it will turn pale green and take an orange or yellow hue; then it will ripen. When the fruit ripen, you can tell it from the smell. The cloying sweet aroma can be smelled from afar. Walk around a cempedak orchard and you will definitely know that some fruits are ripe.

Getting to the flesh is quite easy, just slash the fruit skin and rip it open. You will find the yellow, orange or pale beige flesh snug in their respective ‘compartment’. You have to pluck them out with your fingers or forks. You can either eat them as it is or have it fried like banana fritters.

The flesh is sweet, mild, and juicy pulp surrounds the peanut-like seeds in a thick layer between the husk and an inedible core. The seeds can be eaten when boiled. Some people say that the taste of the fruit is similar to Jackfruit and Breadfruit with a hint of Durian. I think it is just cempedak.

In some Kadazandusun dialect it is called Pulutan and in Bazaar Malay it is called Cempulut, due perhaps to the latex (pulut meaning latex) that oozes from the fruit when it is cut open.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Weekly TAMU (Open Market) in Sabah

Tamus are held in almost every town/district in Sabah. Most local traders gather to buy, sell or barter their farm produce, handicrafts, traditional ware, musical instruments, etc.

Below is a list of day and time of the weekly tamu around each towns in Sabah:

SUNDAY 6am - 2pm
* Kota Belud
* Tuaran
* Putatan
* Papar
* Babagon,
* Tambunan
* Tenom
* Membakut
* Kota Marudu
* Sikuati
* Gaya Street Fair (Kota Kinabalu)

MONDAY 6am - 2pm
* Tandek

TUESDAY 6am - 2pm
* Kiulu

WEDNESDAY 6am - 2pm
* Pinggan-pinggan
* Tamparuli
* Kudat

THURSDAY 6am - 2pm
* Donggongon
* Telipok
* Tenghilan
* Pekan Nabalu
* Sipitang
* Tambunan
* Keningau

FRIDAY 6am - 2pm
* Donggongon
* Sunsuron
* Weston
* Mesapol
* Kanibangan

SATURDAY 6am - 2pm
* Kinarut
* Beaufort
* Sindumin
* Matunggong
* Pekan Pitas

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

More articles on Weekly TAMU

Best of Sarawak: Bako National Park barren forest

THE heat is sweltering in Kampung Bako, the gateway to the Bako National Park at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula in Sarawak.

But it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I’m pleased that the clear sky will let me indulge in what I consider an adventure of a lifetime.

I’d heard so much about Bako and I’d been looking forward to the trip. There was not enough time to explore all of the 2,727-hectare site so I am to concentrate on the Kerangas Forest.

“Kerangas Forest? What’s that?” I inquired when the suggestion was first made. Pictures of armies of red fire ants crawling all over came to mind as the name closely resembles kerengga, the Malay name for red ants.

To my relief, I learn that kerangas is an Iban word for “a place where paddy cannot grow” indicating its lack of soil fertility.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Best of Sarawak: Bako National Park barren forest

Monday, March 26, 2007

Anjappar in Sabah: Exquisitely satisfying South & North Indian food

KOTA KINABALU: Getting authentic Indian food in Sabah is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. So, when someone mentioned a Chettinad restaurant the other day, my taste buds went a-tingling, and signals from my stomach sent a smile to my face.

For the uninitiated, Chettinad food is one of the spiciest and most aromatic in India, and a whole range of spices – coriander, cumin, pepper, fenugreek, star anise and cinnamon – are used in distinctive blends in Chettinad cooking.

This is the distinctive Southern Indian cuisine that one can find at the newly-opened Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant located in Asia City Complex, in Asia City here. Step into the warm ambience of this elegantly designed restaurant and order away from the list of peculiarly named dishes found on the menu. Don’t let the unfamiliar names discourage you — you’re bound to go for more after you’ve tried the food.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Anjappar in Sabah: Exquisitely satisfying South & North Indian food

Sarawak to introduce new tourism package

Kuching: A new tourism package that will focus on promoting various regatta events in Sarawak will be launched soon to lure more domestic and foreign tourists to the Land of Hornbills in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007 (VMY'07).

Without revealing the details, Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) president Wee Hong Seng said that the launching of the new package would hopefully attract certain segments of tourists to come to Sarawak.

"We have various tourism products and the only thing to do now is for all the main players in the tourism industry to be creative in promoting the products available with the close cooperation of the Sarawak government," he told Bernama here Sunday.

Continue reading at: Sarawak to introduce new tourism package

Friday, March 23, 2007

Music festival attracts people world over

KUCHING: The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), which is into its 10th year, does not only promote the State as a tourist destination but also showcases the ability of the State to unite people of multi-ethnicity through the universal language of music.

This annual event attracts thousands of people from diverse background, religions, culture and ethnicity world over, to come together to share the common interest in music, and through the common language of music, it continues to bring people closer every year.

State Minister of Tourism, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, said that the RWMF had been successful every year in bringing people from all over world together, uniting them with one common language of music.

Continue reading at: Music festival attracts people world over

Tambunan’s breathtaking Mahua Waterfall

TAMBUNAN: Most foreign visitors to the Mahua Waterfall, about 26km from Tambunan town, are amazed by the beauty of the natural wonder.

They describe the waterfall in superlatives, but have also suggested that the relevant authorities provide facilities like hostels and to improve the road leading to the waterfall for the convenience of visitors.

“Nice display (sic), refreshing waterfall,” wrote Jurg Meger from Germany. “Looks great,” scribbled another tourist, Marina Schmits from Holland.

C. Marston offered, “A natural wonder! Beautiful”, while D. Matz from the United Kingdom had penned, “Very nice. It will be great when there is a hostel and more trails.”

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Tambunan’s breathtaking Mahua Waterfall

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Entries open for Sabah Dragon Boat Race

Kota Kinabalu: Entries are now open for the 22nd Sabah Dragon Boat Race scheduled for June 17 at Likas Bay.

The event is being jointly organised by the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd (SPS), in collaboration with the Sabah Cultural Chinese Association (SCCA).

Organising secretary, Zachary Mobijohn, said this year they are joining forces with the Penang Dragon Boat Committee to promote the sport of dragon boat-racing in Malaysia.

Continue reading at: Entries open for Sabah Dragon Boat Race

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

An opinion about an Angel on Mt Kinabalu

ON March 17 my friends and I climbed the highest peak in South-East Asia, Mount Kinabalu.

During my climb to the peak, I faced breathing problems due to the thin air. It made me very weak. I only managed five steps before I needed to stop and catch my breath.

To make matters worse, my guide had to leave me on my own as he needed to accompany a sick girl back. Not wanting to quit in my second attempt to reach the peak, I forced myself to move slowly. The strong wind and cold temperature (9°C) did not make it easy for me.

Continue reading at: Angel on Mt Kinabalu

Sarawak – where you can swim with whale sharks

MIRI: Scuba diving and swimming with whale sharks, anybody?

The South China Sea, off the coast of northern Sarawak, is a popular route for whale sharks migrating from the north of Japan to the Antarctic Ocean and seas off Australia. And the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) believes this phenomenon could be turned into a major tourist draw.

“Whale sharks migrate through sea-routes off Tatau and Miri. These sea-routes also happen to be located in areas where there are plenty of beautiful corals ,” STB chief executive officer Gracie Geikie.

Continue reading at: Sarawak – where you can swim with whale sharks

57,551 Bruneians visited M'sia in Jan

By Sunia Rina PHA

Brunei Darussalam was one of the top 10 tourist generating markets for Malaysia in January 2007.

Malaysia received about 1.583 million visitors in January, up by 8.9 per cent from a year earlier, the office of Tourism Malaysia said.

It said the top 10 tourist generating markets for the month were Singapore with 830,700 visitors; Indonesia with 151,636; Thailand with 123,634; China with 61,668; and Brunei with 57,551 visitors.

Visitor arrivals from Indonesia (52.1%), the Philippines (39%), Cambodia (66.7%), China (54.6%), South Korea (43.7%), India (41.3%), Canada (38.5%), Denmark (11.1%), Finland (17.7%), Norway (32.6%), Sweden(12.5%), the Netherlands (26.5%), Poland (25%),Germany (19.2%), Russia (24%) and France (32.9%) also recorded double digit growths.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kota Kinabalu may be re-designated as 'Nature Resort Maritime City'

Kota Kinabalu: There is a possibility that Kota Kinabalu will be re-designated as a 'Nature Resort Maritime City' in the future.

This follows Monday's announcement of a 'Freedom of Entry To The City' event that will be held here on April 28.

City Hall is considering the proposal floated during a briefing by Commander of Naval Region II, Rear Admiral Datuk Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin, on the conduct and concept of the first-ever event to be jointly organised here.

Mayor Iliyas Ibrahim agreed to look into the idea since the city has all significant geographical characteristics and tourism potentials to be also known as a Maritime City, apart from being endowed with abundant natural resources.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu may be re-designated as 'Nature Resort Maritime City'

Sabah casts its economic net to tourism

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is set to diversify and embark on other economic activities aside from oil palm within the next five years.

Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat told a group of delegates from the 10th Commonwealth Study Conference who were on a courtesy call at his office yesterday that the State is already diversifying into the gas and tourism industries.

“Tourism is a big industry in the world, and likewise in Sabah. We are the next busiest in terms of air traffic after Kuala Lumpur,” he said. He also said that tourism in Sabah was unlike other places due to her people.

“If you stay here for a month, you will understand this. If you go to the rural areas, you will see the genuine warmth of the people, and I have always taken pride in this,” he said.

Many foreigners who were able to stay longer with the people at these rural areas, he said, were amazed not only by the diversity of the cultures of the people residing in the State, but more importantly, got to sample the warmth of the people. “They were so well taken cared of that many of them gained weight,” he joked.

Continue reading at: Sabah casts its economic net to tourism

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sandakan, the next paragliders’ haven

SANDAKAN: Famous for its eco-tourism and home to the orang-utan, Sandakan District has now discovered yet another tourism potential i.e. to become the next “paragliders’ haven” in the region.

Disclosing this was Elopura Assemblyman Au Kam Wah, after hosting a group of four Korean paragliding enthusiasts who came here to try out the newly-established ‘paragliding ground’ at the Trig Hills, about one kilometers from the town.

The area complete with a ‘launch platform’ was established last August to better promote paragliding with the help of a local paragliding promoter, Asnawi B. Mohd Hassan.

Trig Hills is one of the two sites that have been identified as being suitable for the paragliding; the other one is at the vicinity of Bukit Sim Sim.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sandakan, the next paragliders’ haven

Sarawak - Enlivening Brooke legacy

Like Penang and Malacca, whose colonial legacy and influence are now being used to lure tourists, Sarawak too wants to showcase its historical treasures to the tourist but in its own way.

Sarawak’s early history is unique as it was ruled not by a foreign empire but by the Brooke family from 1841 to 1941.

When James Brooke arrived in 1839, Kuching then consisted of humble timber huts with nipah-thatched roofs nestled along the Sarawak River mostly along the present Main Bazaar.

During Brooke’s reign, many notable heritage buildings and landmarks emerged, among them the Bishop’s House, built in 1849, old State Mosque (1847), Government House (1857), and St Thomas Cathedral (1857).

The reign of the White Rajah effectively came to an end with the invasion of the Japanese forces on Christmas eve in 1941, yet it is arguably the Brooke legacy that provided Kuching its charm till today.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak - Enlivening Brooke legacy

Penang cuisine at Le Meridien Sabah

There’s no need to fly all the way to Penang to pick up your favourite food, because Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu has brought all the flavours of the state right to your doorstep. Well, almost.

The Circle restaurant presents the Penang food promotion for the month of March, a buffet that runs from the 17th to the 25th of this month.

Starters include selections from Kerabu Taugeh with Ikan Masin, Kerabu Udang, Pasembor, Oxtail Soup, Sotong Kankung and Ulaman Malaysia with all sorts of dressings.

A vast number of rotating mains are available to enjoy with Steamed Garlic Rice or Nasi Tomato, and includes Fish Head Curry, Daging Rendang Mamak, Pajeri Nenas, Lamb Tandoori, Prawn Cooked with Chili Paste, Sambal Tumis Petai, and Mixed Vegetables.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Penang cuisine at Le Meridien Sabah

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Second development plan for Sipadan

KOTA KINABALU: A second development plan to set up facilities on the eco-sensitive island of Sipadan has been rejected.

The proposal was submitted following an order by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that any development at the world famous diving island must not destroy the ecology of the island.

The island’s manager – the Joint Management and Supervisory Committee of Sipadan and Ligitan – turned down the proposal apparently based on technical and environmental grounds.

Continue reading at: Second development plan for Sipadan

Saturday, March 17, 2007

'Minimum development' in Sipadan

PULAU SIPADAN: Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said he wanted to see "minimum development" and restoration of a long beach front here.

"I want minimum cutting (of trees), if possible, no cutting and buildings pushed well behind the beach," he said during an official visit to the island, Friday, to identify sites for the Federal-funded 'Proposed Development of Quarters for the Army, Police, Park Rangers, Resting Facilities and Toilets' for divers.

His entourage included the Ministry's Permanent Secretary Datuk Monica Chia, top-notch Sabah Parks officers, CEOs of diving resorts and senior officers from the National Security Department in the Prime Minister's Department.

"Overall, I don't want structures along the beach," said Chong, citing erosion and loss of aesthetic values they caused.

Continue reading at: 'Minimum development' in Sipadan

Jerudong Park joy-rides hit vanishing trail

By Za'im Zaini

The popular joy rides at the much loved Jerudong Park Playground appear to have gone for a ride while the crowds continue to thin out almost overnight.

Gone are the thunderous "Pusing Lagi" and the exhilarating simulators. With the school term holidays just round the corner Jerudong Park Playground seems to be out of the list for many parents who may have had plans for their children.

More queries than answers have emerged in recent months over the fate of Jerudong Park Playground . Visitors to these once lively grounds are worried that its appeal now might be gone forever.

In December last year the Management of Jerudong Park and Country Club (JPCC) spoke of immediate plans regarding the Jerudong Park Playground and also its "long term strategy".

They reportedly mentioned that the long-term strategy includes keeping the playground as one of the landmark attractions in the country.

The rides are slowly being dismantled leaving some empty spaces. It is learnt that these rides have been in the park since it was opened in 1994. Twelve years on, the park has lost its appeal and the inherent fun-factor.

Earlier in February, one of the rides "Pusing Lagi" was dismantled and shipped off to Thailand.

The JPCC Management in December did announce the immediate plans to dispose off some of these rides and were working on plans to bring in newer attractions.

The JPCC management when contacted this week declined to comment on the matter.

Sharifah Hani 23 years-old voiced out her concern after a recent visit to the once jam packed playground that was once visited by all walks of life.

She said that 10 years-ago it was hard even to find parking space there and that everyone were enjoying the rides on offer. "It was surprising that some of the main rides are already missing and some have stopped operating", Sharifah said.

Haji Samdi Bin Abdullah 43-year-old also voiced similar concerns said that he brought his children once to the area and found that some of the rides are missing and some are not in operation.

Source: Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Thursday, March 15, 2007

UNCTAD e-Tourism Sabah Conference: Massive e-tourism potential, benefit

Kota Kinabalu: Integrating tourism and ICT through e-tourism can be a fruitful combination to reduce poverty, promote growth and assist developing countries move up the value chain and assume their rightful place in the global arena.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, who was officiating at a two-day conference, "e-Tourism for Growth - Matching Market Efficiency and Social Inclusion", said e-tourism offers a viable alternative.

"e-tourism is more than flashy websites; it allows local suppliers to structure their offers in a way that make them visible, accessible and competitive on the global marketplace. e-tourism can make it possible for niche products to reach niche markets. The potential and benefit for both backward and forward linkages are thus enormous."

He said since 2004 UNCTAD has been engaged in the "e-Tourism Initiative" designed to boost travel and tourism in developing countries.

Continue reading at: Massive e-tourism potential, benefit

UNCTAD e-Tourism Sabah Conference: 12.3mil people visit Tourism Malaysia website every month

Kota Kinabalu: An average of 12.3 million people visit the Tourism Malaysia website every month.

Tourism Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Dr Victor Wee disclosed this at the UNCTAD Conference "Asia-Pacific: e-Tourism for Growth/Matching Market Efficiency and Social Inclusion", Wednesday.

Noting that 40 per cent of information that tourists retrieve is provided through the Internet and also more than 30 per cent of all bookings are done this way, he said there is a demand for in-depth, high quality information and content.

"Recent changes in tourists' behaviour and the growing importance of ICT mean that much more effort has to be given to e-tourism. It is not enough to set up a website as a one-time exercise. We need to continuously update the site with up-to-date information for visitors to return. More so for travel agencies, retaining a loyal customer is less costly than acquiring a new one."

Continue reading at: 12.3mil people visit Tourism Malaysia website every month

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Every month is the best month to visit Borneo

If you are planning to visit Sabah, Sarawak or Brunei Darussalam in the immediate term, please take note that most of the Borneo region is currently experiencing a dry spell.

Temperature can soar up to 35 Degrees Celsius during the day and at most times, feels hotter because of the dry breeze.

And as the night temperature may get cooler than normal, a lot of people may get sore throat or cough because of the fluctuating weather. Children are most vulnerable. One prevention is to drink lots of water so that your body will not get dehydrated or take sufficient Vitamin C daily.

However, if you have a sore throat and/or dry cough, it is advisable to consult a doctor and get immediate treatment or medication. This way, you'll not only recover faster, but will also allow you to enjoy your stay in Borneo better.

In any case, the Meteorological Department in Sabah reported recently that the current dry spell is normal during the months of March and April in Sabah (and I believe in other parts of Borneo too). They added that based on past experiences and by looking at the trend of current wind pattern, the weather would likely to change by end of April or early May.

So, the forecast is that by May, the wet spell will return.

And then...,

People will start to complain about the monsoon rain.

But in reality, whether it's dry or wet, it will offer a different experience to your holidays in Borneo.

For example, climbing Mt. Kinabalu in the wet is a totally different experience than conquering it in the dry weather. The same goes to jungle trekking or white water rafting - that is, unless it's the occasional downpour, than some safety precaution must be exercised not only by your travel company but by yourself as well.

But most actually found the (mildly) wet not only challenging, but more fun and exciting.

That is perhaps the best thing about Borneo...

Every month is the best month to visit Borneo.

Copyright © 2007

Cheap one-way airfares to Sabah and Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is offering special airfares for flights between Sabah/Sarawak and the peninsula from March 7 to April 7.

The attractive one-way fare called L-Jimat fares are available on selected flights and days, MAS area manager for Sabah, Morris Ong (pictured) told a press conference at his office here yesterday.

The one-way L-Jimat fares are available for the Kuala Lumpur-Kota Kinabalu route (RM189), Kuala Lumpur-Labuan (RM189), Kuala Lumpur-Miri (RM159, Kuala Lumpur-Kuching (RM129), Kuala Lumpur-Sibu (RM149) and Kuala Lumpur-Bintulu (RM49).

And, for he return trips, passengers pay RM10 less than the normal fares.

Continue reading at: Cheap one-way airfares to Sabah and Sarawak

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

AirAsia X delays start-up

Kuala Lumpur: AirAsia X, the long-haul budget airline set up by low-cost aviation pioneer Tony Fernandes, has delayed its takeoff, possibly until next year, a report said Monday.

At its launch in January, the carrier promised budget flights to Britain beginning in July.

But The Edge Malaysia, a business and investment weekly, quoted a top company executive as saying a delay has resulted from higher leasing costs.

"We are looking at the cost structure, the right aircraft ... we want to start on the right path. It is an important element as AirAsia X is going on a low-cost model," chief executive officer Raja Mohamad Azmi said in the report.

Amzi is CEO of Fly Asian Express (FAX), which Fernandes also founded and which currently operates rural air services on Borneo island. It will run the long-haul operations.

Continue reading at: AirAsia X delays start-up

Sibu's Kingwood hotel to go 5-star

Sibu: Kingwood hotel here is to be transformed into a five-star landmark hotel, rising another six storeys and encompassing additional facilities as well as shopping and commercial lots.

The expansion will mean an additional 224 rooms of various categories plus 10 apartment suites from the present 168 rooms, according to a spokesperson of Sibu-based Kingwood Group, a leading local timber, oil palm, padi and property conglomerate.

At 18 storeys, the new building will make Kingwood the biggest and tallest hotel here.

Sarawak's Urban Development and Tourism Minister, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, will officiate at the earth-breaking ceremony for the expansion project on Wednesday.

The expansion work is scheduled to be completed in three years. The project will take up 0.445 ha of the 0.708 ha in front of the hotel, plus another 0.121 ha that extends to the Rejang River.

Continue reading at: Sibu's Kingwood hotel to go 5-star

Monday, March 12, 2007

RM23m Aquatica to be another Kota Kinabalu tourist draw soon

Kota Kinabalu: People here can expect a unique experience as well as become more aware of the marine environment when a RM23 million Aquatica KK is completed within two months at Mile Two, Tuaran Road near here.

The marine centre's Technical Director, Prof. Steve Oakley, said over 500 species of marine animals would be placed in an aquarium at Aquatica KK coupled with an ocean science discovery centre.

The discovery centre is an important component of Aquatica KK since it envisages the whole idea of the marine centre's establishment, which is to promote conservation of marine life through education and awareness.

Educational modules such as puzzles, interactive displays and touch pools are among the set up at the centre in Tuaran Road that is being developed under phase one of Aquatica KK.

Continue reading at: RM23m Aquatica to be another Kota Kinabalu tourist draw soon

Top UK travel agent names Nexus 'Best Hotel'

Kota Kinabalu: The Nexus Resort Karambunai has been named Best Hotel - Far East and Australia 2006 by Virgin Holidays, one of the top travel agents in the United Kingdom.

The award was presented by Virgin Holidays Contracts Manager, Nicola Goldsmith to Nexus Resort Karambunai Peter F Sprenger recently.

"In accepting the award, the management of Nexus Resort Karambunai is honoured to recognise our employees, without whose tremendous efforts and commitment towards the resort's exacting standards of service, this achievement could not have been realised," said Sprenger.

Continue reading at: Top UK travel agent names Nexus 'Best Hotel'

Brunei-Menumbok ferry service soon

By Za'im Zaini and Sonia K

Barring a few technical problems that need to be ironed out, Brunei will soon have facilities in place to ferry vehicles to Menumbok in Sabah and Labuan.

Minister of Communications, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abu Bakar, while replying to Council member Awang Haji Bakar's query on the issue at yesterday's Legislative Council meeting, said under the BIMP-EAGA plan Brunei has a ferry terminal in Serasa that will try to connect with Menumbok, Sabah and Labuan.

"The infrastructure is complete but there are still some technical problems including docking vehicles onto ferries on our side. The Menumbok side is ready. Once our side is completed and an operator found to handle, Bruneians will be able go to Menumbok and that will reduce the congestion in Kuala Lurah," the minister said.

After five days of deliberations in the Legislative Council, the Speaker of the Legislative Council, Pg Indera Mahkota Pg Anak (Dr) Kemaluddin announced that the Legislative Council meeting was adjourned to a date to be notified later.

The minister replying to another query by Dato Paduka Awang Haji Puasa on the impact of AirAsia on Brunei's national carrier, said the budget airlines is allowed to fly to Brunei under the bilateral agreement between Brunei and Malaysia because AirAsia is recognised as a designated airline by the Malaysian government and thus is given 1,435 seats per week. Malaysian Airlines, however, uses only about 500 seats and so the rest of the seats are used by AirAsia.

The minister also agreed that passenger numbers have gone down in RBA since AirAsia started flying to Brunei but after a detailed study it was found that the decrease was not significant.

"In terms of profit, AirAsia has an advantage of bringing more than 4,000 passengers every month and RBA shares 46 per cent of the profit for handling charges at the airport and rent. RBA's profit from July last year to January this year from this share of profit was $315, 290 and the overall income for Brunei was $688,827.97," he said.

Meanwhile, the National Budget has been approved by a unanimous vote after the end of deliberations among Council members on the supply of Bill 2007/ 2008 named the Supply Enactment 2007/2008, which is an act to supply money from the consolidated fund for the financial year 2007/2008.

The $4.6 billion budget will be enforced on April 1, 2007.

The morning session kicked off with issues raised on e-Government projects. Council member Dato Paduka Awang Haji Idris asked on the progress of the e-Government that was being studied and what was the outcome of the study. He also raised the issue of digital divide in the country.

Awang Dato Paduka Awang Haji Puasa on the other hand raised the issue of the percentage of Bumiputera involved in e-Government projects and enquired about the training of government personnel to support e-Government projects and when could the public conduct dealings with the government online.

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abu Bakar, in his reply, said the digital divide in Brunei is not serious.

With regards to the study on e-Government, it began last year in May and ended in August. The study showed the need for integration and standardisation for ministries implementing the e-Government, the minister said.

"It is the aspiration of the government to see locals or local companies get involved in e-Government projects, especially in spin-off projects. Expenditure for these projects can create capacity building. What is desired here is that local companies should develop themselves not only locally but also internationally," the minister added.

The minister cited the example of the Land Transport Department providing online services that could be in operation by the middle of this year.

The minister, also in his deliberations, mentioned the issue of tenders, where in 2006, 177 tenders were received and of that 46 tender projects are currently being implemented, 56 have been finished, 11 have been awarded, 15 are waiting for approval and 12 awaiting evaluation.

Towards the end of the morning session, YAM Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Dr Haji Mohd Yusof raised the issue of allocation for development, which is $900 million.

The Minister of Finance II, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Rahman, said the expenditure for development is provided to accommodate capital expenditure, such as on infrastructure for the people, to develop agriculture, fisheries, enterprises and infrastructure on schools, roads, civil aviation and ports including capacity building of human resources, which has an allocation of $20.7 million.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sabah has lots to offer Brunei visitors

By Amin Hosni

In conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007, the Sabah Tourism Board aims to target a total tourist arrival of 2.7 million with hopes of attracting more visitors from Brunei.

The Sabah Tourism Board said in 2006, the total number of tourist arrival in Sabah was 2,091,658. People from Brunei Darussalam, being the top visitors to Sabah, amounted to 67,464 in 2006. There was an increase of 15.2% from previous year in 2005 with total tourist arrival of 58,544.

During the opening of the first Sabah Consumer Travel Fair yesterday at The Mall, Gadong, Sabah Tourism Deputy Chairman, Datuk Sari Sahut, said Sabah has lots to offer visitors from Brunei.

A video presentation of tourism products was shown to the public including invited guests from the public, private sectors and embassies as well as expatriates.

Booths introducing hotels, souvenirs and tourism products are also set up to get a better view of Sabah.

The public also has the chance to participate in quizzes and lucky draws that come with fantastic prizes.

The objective of the consumer travel fair is to help boost tourist arrivals in Sabah. Sabah Tourism Board wishes to position Sabah as the preferred destination for business and leisure.

Due to high tourist arrivals from Brunei in the past few years, Sabah Tourism Board would like to show its appreciation and gratitude by coming to Brunei to update the people with the newest and upcoming products available in Sabah and to provide the best tour deals that are specially tailored to Bruneian consumers.

Besides this, Sabah Tourism Board also looks forward to having a vast network of tourism players with consumers in order to foster stronger cooperation in the future.

The fair is expected to attract Bruneians of all ages to witness the exposition of what Sabah has to offer. The consumer travel fair will end today.

Source: Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Sabah hosts e-tourism conference

BANGKOK: Sabah will host a two-day Asia Pacific conference beginning Monday to explore the use of information communication technology (ICT) tools to promote tourism.

The conference, organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), also serves as a platform to exchange experiences and best practices, as well as to advocate e-tourism in Asia-Pacific.

Unctad Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, Unescap executive secretary Kim Hak-Su, tourism and information ministers, government officials and tourism experts will attend the “Asia-Pacific E-Tourism for Growth: Matching market efficiency and social inclusion” conference in Kota Kinabalu.

Unctad said in a statement today that Supachai would present Unctad e-tourism partnerships at the conference, the first Asia-Pacific gathering on the topic.

Continue reading at: Sabah hosts e-tourism conference

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sarawak to create a win-win tourism biz

By Magdalene Rogers

KUCHING - Sarawak is hoping to create a win-win situation to develop business in the tourism industry with other tourism players in the South-Asia countries.

Urban Development and Tourism Minister and 2nd Minister of Finance Amar Wong Soon Koh said at the South-Asia's Top Travel Agent Award dinner here on Thursday night that the state has a vast land area offering 30 rich tourism destinations that can be promoted in the region.

With that in mind, he urged the 62 supporting travel agents from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives to practise concept, competence, and connection in achieving a "win-win connectivity" that is also aided "with the strong economy" in the state and in the region.

"We can work together to put Kuching, Sarawak in the map of world tourism," he said.

Wong added that the local tourism industry acknowledged it is their fault for not promoting Sarawak to the traditional market earlier as its focus then was more to the overseas market.

In this respect, he said the travel agents can help to promote and to market Sarawak which is a land vastly populated with 27 ethnic groups and its culture, nature and adventure products.

Source: Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, March 09, 2007

Travel to Sarawak made easy with Visa On Arrival (VOA)

By George Francis

MIRI - Expatriates from within the continent of Asia working in Brunei or tourists from the Sultanate can now enter Sarawak by using visa on arrival (VOA) at the Sungai Tujoh border checkpoint, 36 km from here.

"Those from India, Pakistan and Nepal can easily come to Miri and get VOA on the spot with a fee of RM100 only. They don't have to go to the Malaysian High Commission in Brunei for the visa anymore," said Sarawak Director of Immigration Datuk Robert Lian, who launched the facility yesterday.

He said VOA is ideal for tourists who want to stay in Sarawak for a couple of weeks without the hassle of applying for visa at any of the Malaysian High Commissions, especially for those who have been long-employed in Brunei and who want to unwind during the weekends in Miri.

Sungai Tujoh, which is an international entry point apart from the Kuching International Airport, only have the VOA system installed in Sarawak.

A VOA holder is not permitted to engage in any employment or professional occupation in Malaysia. Duration of stay is not exceeding 30 days and extension will not be granted. On the Frequent Traveller Card (FTC) system pilot project which has since stopped, Robert said it would be on the agenda for the next meeting between the Malaysians and Bruneian counterparts to be held on March 15 in Penang.

FTC was introduced in June 2005 for Malaysians and Bruneians who regularly travel between the two countries via the Sungai Tujoh Border checkpoints. Malaysian used their MyKad while Bruneians used their smart identity cards, and they must carry their international passports as the travel document.

The users are frequent travellers of at least five times a month, such as lorry drivers, taxi drivers, newspaper deliverymen or traders and they must be registered and subjected to security screenings.

Robert said almost 300 people from each country are registered under FTC, adding the concept is ideal for regular travellers to save up pages of their passports from Immigration stamps. Some 40,000 Malaysians are now working in Brunei, he said, who must renew their passports.

He said Sungai Tujoh Border checkpoints are one of the busiest in the country with between 2,000 and 3,000 commuters passing through everyday.

In January during this Visit Malaysia Year 2007, the checkpoint registered 72,853 Malaysian commuters, including those working in Brunei or going to Sarawak's towns of Limbang and Lawas or to Sabah state, while the foreigners both Bruneians and expartriates in the Sultanate accounted to 90,026.

Last month, a total of 187,990 people went through the Sungai Tujoh checkpoints.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tanjung Aru's new-look water village for tourism

Kota Kinabalu: Upgrading of the Tanjung Aru water village in one of the city's prime tourism zones will see improvement to infrastructure as well as inclusion of tourism components. The work totalling RM48 million began two months ago.

City Hall Director of Engineering Department, Ir. Lee Tet Fon, said the project has been divided into three phases.

The first phase (Phase 1A) would include upgrading the access road, the catwalk, the basic infrastructures and the tourism features in the proposed development estimated to cost about RM10 million.

On completion, he said there would be a proper sewage system connected to individual lots and a proper disposal system in place to collect domestic waste.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Tanjung Aru's new-look water village for tourism

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

All-year-round Malaysia's largest ice skating rink in Kota Kinabalu soon

Kota Kinabalu: AC Property Development Sdn Bhd will introduce all-year-round ice skating at its Kompleks Asia City, here, soon.

The developer of the Asia City Urban Development Project will be opening a 378 square metre (4,116 square feet) Smart Ice Skating Rink - Malaysia's largest and East Malaysia's first - on the fourth floor of the newly-opened shopping complex.

The total area of this skating arena, to be installed by a Swiss-based rink manufacturer, Smart Ice Sdn Bhd, using its Smart Ice Arena technology, would be 13,000 square feet. Work is expected to be completed by the end of April this year in time for the complex's official opening on May 5.

Announcing this during a press conference held at the AC Property Development Sdn Bhd's office at Asia City here Tuesday, its Chairman/Managing Director Dr Ting Ing Chiew said they were spending close to RM1.5 million on this project.

"The Smart Ice Skating Rink would be in line with the concept of Kompleks Asia City that prioritises good family entertainment, and this is a form of family entertainment where parents can either enjoy with their children, or watch them from the side of the arena, or while they are doing their shopping," he said.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: All-year-round Malaysia's largest ice skating rink in Kota Kinabalu soon

Genting and AirAsia to develop affordable packages for Sabah and Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: Premier entertainment destination Genting Highlands Resort is focusing on the untapped markets of Sabah and Sarawak.

Resorts World Bhd is teaming up with low cost carrier AirAsia to develop packages especially for the two east Malaysian states.

“These packages will be really attractive and many people will find them affordable,” said Resorts World assistant vice-president (marketing) Beverly Goldman following a briefing with travel agents yesterday.

The Genting-AirAsia packages would likely include return airfare, transfers between KLIA and the resort, accommodation as well as tickets to the resort’s daily shows.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Genting and AirAsia to develop affordable packages for Sabah and Sarawak

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sabah woos Arabs

SABAH has tremendous tourism potential with its abundant natural attractions and diverse cultures to attract visitors from the Arab states.

“I believe Sabah has all the right ingredients for Arabs tourists that wish to take their families on vacations,” said Sami Al-Bader, the Managing Director of TAQAT Holding.

“I foresee more Arabs going to Sabah,” he told Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman at a meeting with Sami and senior officers of Takaful International Bahrain office on Saturday.

Musa is in Manama for a two-day working visit to Bahrain. Malaysian officials led by Malaysian Ambassador to Bahrain, Naimun Ashakli Mohammad, received him.

Continue reading at: Sabah woo Arabs

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ginger massages in Sarawak

The spa or wellness culture has today grown into an industry that is well embraced by many around the world.

In Malaysia, there are numerous spas or wellness centres offering a diverse range of traditional methods from various cultures worldwide. Balinese and Thai massages as well as India’s Ayurveda techniques and the Japanese Shiatsu are very popular. All are well promoted within their countries of origin and abroad.

In view of the fact that every culture or ethnic society has its own traditional wellness techniques, one wonders: "What about Sarawak?"

Being a multi-cultural state, there’s sure to be some traditional remedies and massages which have been applied by the natives to keep the body healthy.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Ginger massages in Sarawak

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Get to know: Kuala Penyu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

KUALA PENYU: About 50 years ago, Kuala Penyu town was made up only of a row of shops built with palm trees and nipah leaves and surrounded by muddy mangrove forest.

The present Kuala Penyu district, covering a 45,326 square km and 80km of beaches, has an entire infrastructure on par or probably better than some other districts in Sabah.

“Previously, Kuala Penyu only had a health clinic and the nearest hospital was in Beaufort, about 40km away. Now, it has its own RM76 million hospital,” said District Officer Hasbi Abdul Ghaffar.

The 76-bed hospital, built on a 13ha site, was opened in March last year and presently had 180 employees including two doctors, he said. Kuala Penyu district is located within the Beaufort parliamentary constituency.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Kuala Penyu a growing town

Home of Alfred Wallace of Wallace Bay fame in Tawau?

Tawau: An abandoned colonial house at a secluded area close to the beach in Wallace Bay generated much interest from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) researchers during a scientific expedition on Sebatik Island near here from Feb. 21-26

The reason: The house is called the Wallace House and is situated at Wallace Bay, which may have to do with the supposed father of bio-geography and naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), said UMS Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin.

Further research, however, is needed to determine whether Wallace ever stayed in the house during his exploration to this part of the region circa 1854, which eventually led to his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

According to Prof. Mohd Noh, the Englishman discovered a dividing line extending northward between Borneo and Sulawesi separating two zoo-geographic regions, the Asian and Australasian, and the line was named as the Wallace Line.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Home of Alfred Wallace of Wallace Bay fame in Tawau?

KLM, MAS expand codeshare - 6 KL-KK flights

By Magdalene Rogers

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) are further intensifying their codeshare cooperation. From March 1, KLM passengers on flights between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur will be able to book under KLM flight numbers, connecting domestic services operated by MAS between Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Penang, Langkawi, and Kota Kinabalu.

A joint press release issued by KLM and MAS, said this new arrangement effective next month will cover six flights each between KLIA-Penang and KLIA-Kota Kinabalu as well as five flights between KLIA-Langkawi.

The two airlines have worked together successfully since 1998 through a strong commercial cooperation for flights between the two convenient hubs at Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur. In addition, KLM passengers are also able to codeshare on MAS flights to and from Australia and New Zealand.

In turn, Malaysia Airlines codeshares with KLM on European flights to and from Schiphol.

"We are very satisfied that we can continuously intensify and extend our successful cooperation with MAS," said KLM's senior vice president Alliances, Hans de Roos. "Time and again we find new opportunities to let our customers and companies benefit from the KLM/MAS alliance," he added.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend