Saturday, May 31, 2008

Royal Brunei Airlines summer schedule starts on June 1 with more offerings

By Narissa Noor

With the summer holidays just around the corner, Royal Brunei Airlines' new summer schedule will begin on June 1, 2008, offering passengers improved timings and frequencies to popular destinations.

According to RBA, this schedule will strengthen the overall network by introducing flights that improve accessibility to Brunei Darussalam from regional and international destinations.

However, due to the rise in oil prices, the capacity on certain routes has been adjusted.

Flights to Kuching will operate three times weekly and to Jakarta six times weekly. Flights to Perth remain daily, but will be now using the Airbus A320 instead.

Meanwhile, the June 1, 2008 deadline set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for airlines to switch to e-tickets (ET) has been comfortably met by RBA.

RBA now offers ET, an electronic document that has replaced conventional paper tickets, across its entire network.

In addition to meeting the IATA deadline for ET on their flights, RBA has also now achieved 96 per cent ET with its interline partner airlines.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kaamatan cultural performance

KOTA KINABALU: Locals and tourists alike will be treated to a spectacular and mesmerising Kaamatan Cultural Diversity Rendezvous, showcasing the various sub ethnic tribes of Sabah through food, song, dance and music at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association’s cultural village, near here,

Event organising chairman Bennedict Topin said the rendezvous would offer visitors the chance to witness and enjoy the Kadazandusuns’ cultural diversity with each of the houses holding a mini festival of its own.

He said the cultural diversity rendezvous would be one of many activities held in conjunction with the Harvest Festival or Pesta Kaamatan, which would culminate during the grand finale today and tomorrow.

“The event promises to be a truly eye opening insight into Sabah’s ethnic culture, all in one place,” he said here Monday.

Continue reading at: Kaamatan cultural performance

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Living with the Melanau of Sarawak

FOR the Melanau community of Mukah, Sarawak, raw fish is not served with soya sauce and wasabi. Instead, it is sliced paper thin, and marinated with a whole lot of condiments like salt, shallots, chili and lime juice. One can eat it on its own but it’s best eaten with hot rice.

Umai, or “Melanau sushi”, is the staple food and pride of the Melanau community worldwide and they often boast that their version is tastier than that served by the Japanese.

The Melanau comprises folks of seafaring background. Till today, Mukah in Sarawak’s 10th division, is famous for fresh seafood and all things made of sago –– from biscuits to dessert, as well as sago worms which are eaten raw, stirfried with garlic and soya sauce or simply fried on its own.

The town may be small but it’s bustling with activities, especially the market area in the mornings when the boats come in with their catch.

Walking around Mukah is very safe because no one disturbs you and at night, it is relaxing to sit around in the open-air coffee shops sipping drinks, eating umai and watching the Melanau community go by.

What else does Mukah have to offer visitors?

Plenty, say the folks there. For a start, the Kala Dana beach is the venue for the annual Pesta Kaul Mukah. The Melanau fishing community celebrates this festival to mark the beginning of the fishing season after the monsoon ends. It is usually held in April.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Living with the Melanau of Sarawak

Joint Kaamatan Gawai Fest June 28

PENAMPANG: The Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Sabah and the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Sarawak will organise the second joint Kaamatan Gawai Festival celebrations on June 28 in Miri.

Publicity committee chairman Pius Jaua said the joint celebration would be hosted by DCCI at Imperial Hotel in Miri.

“The first-ever joint celebrations was held last year in Kota Kinabalu hosted by KCCI,” he told a press conference at the KCCI office in Donggongon yesterday. Also present was KCCI secretary Sylvia Olas.

Jaua said an attractive programme had been lined up for the event, which is expected to graced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

DCCI president Tan Sri Leo Moggie and KCCI president Frederick Lojingki would also be in attendance, including several government and local dignitaries from Sarawak and Sabah.

Continue reading at: Joint Kaamatan Gawai Fest June 28

Four new hotels for Labuan

LABUAN: This duty-free island is to see the construction of four new hotels to ease the shortage of hotel rooms, Labuan Corporation’s deputy chief executive officer (development) Jusoh Saleh said yesterday.

Two three-star grade hotels were being constructed, one of which would cost some RM26 million, he said.

Two more hotel development projects in the pipeline are the Labuan Times Square with 192 rooms and Lazenda Central with 200 rooms.

Jusoh said their construction would boost tourism on the island as well as its economy.

Labuan Corporation, through the Labuan Tourism Action Council, would continue with efforts to turn the island into a premier tourist destination, he said.

Continue reading at: Four new hotels for Labuan

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kadazandusun cultural diversity on show tomorrow

Kota Kinabalu: An elaborate Kaamatan Cultural Diversity Rendezvous, showcasing the various sub-ethnic tribes of Sabah through food, song, dance and music, will be held at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) cultural village on Thursday (May 29).

It is an opportunity for visitors to witness and enjoy the Kadazandusun cultural diversity with each of the houses holding a mini-festival of its own.

The rendezvous which will begin at the Rungus longhouse to be officiated at by Deputy Chief Minister and Huguan Siou or paramount leader of the Kadazandusuns Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

The Rungus longhouse would hold a coconut festival featuring coconut products while the Tobilung house features the maize festival, where visitors can sample various many dishes made using maize as well as traditional fire-making.

The Papar Tongunggak festival would feature cultural artefacts while Tambunan would showcase the layoh (ginger) and poring (bamboo) festival.

"Other places of interest include the Lotud Monginomulok (rice leavening) ceremony, the guol (yam) and koningau (cinnamon) festival at the Lobu house, the rumbio (sago palm) festival at the Dusun Tatana house.

Continue reading at: Kadazandusun cultural diversity on show tomorrow

Gawai celebration is Dayak symbol of identity

LABUAN: Dayak community should remember that Gawai celebration is to remind them of their identity as well as their culture, said a Sarawak Assemblyman, Mong Anak Dagang.

He said it should become a symbol of unity and aspiration and this would be recognition to the Dayak race.

“The Gawai Dayak celebration is not just a merry making occasion but most importantly a time for them to look back at their progress in all fields,” he said.

Speaking at a Gawai celebration here, Mong said that the community should use the occasion as a platform to foster good relations and remain united.

He reminded the community to also organize economic and educational forum activities as well as finding ways in preserving their culture for posterity during the Gawai holidays.

Continue reading at: Gawai celebration is Dayak symbol of identity

Monday, May 26, 2008

Turtle adoption at Pulau Talang-Talang, Sarawak

IT WAS just after 10pm on Pulau Talang-Talang Besar. A heavy downpour had dwindled into a light drizzle when a small, dark shape was seen making its way up the beach.

Word quickly spread around the island – a turtle was coming in to nest.

Lights were switched off and noise reduced to a minimum so that the creature would not be frightened away.

Pulau Talang-Talang Besar is one of Sarawak’s turtle islands located within the Talang-Satang National Park off the coast of Sematan near Kuching.

For a group of media personnel invited by Sarawak Forestry Corporation for an overnight stay on the island in conjunction with the launch of its turtle adoption programme, it was the chance of a lifetime to get up close with one of nature’s rarest creatures and watch turtle conservation efforts being carried out.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Turtle adoption at Pulau Talang-Talang, Sarawak

World Harvest Festival 2008 Queen

KUCHING: The highly anticipated Miss Fair & Lovely World Harvest Festival 2008 pageant came to a close Saturday evening with Pearlycia Brooke from Kuching winning the title.

Pearlycia, 25, of mixed Bidayuh and Kenyah parentage, also won two other subsidiary titles - Miss Best Traditional Costume 2008 and Miss SMS Voters 2008.

Standing at 5’2” and weighing 45kg, she seemed to have the whole package. She is currently pursuing Masters in Environmental Biotechnology at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and aspires to be a researcher or scientist.

“I did not expect to win because of my height,” she said later to the media.

The moment the results were announced, Pearlycia was seen fighting back her tears as hard as she could so as not to ruin her mascara.

This was her second involvement with the pageant. She did not make it into the finals in 2006.

With the cash prizes totalling RM4000, Pearlycia plans to buy things for the orphanage in Kuching, and to donate to the Children’s Cancer Society.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: World Harvest Festival 2008 Queen

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pesta Meow 2008 at the Sarawak's Cat Museum

KUCHING: Eighty cats of various breed are taking part in the Pesta Meow 2008 being held at the Cat Museum, Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara, in Petra Jaya here.

Among the breeds on show are American Shorthairs, European Burmese, Persian Siamese, Bengal, British shorthairs and Himalayasan and other local breeds.

The two-day event was officially launched byTuan Haji Abang Atei Bin Medaan, the Mayor of Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara (DBKU) yesterday.

Various activities and competitions were being organised in conjunction with this year’s Pesta Meow 2008.

Among the activities and competitons organised were cats in action video competition, cats candid shot with caption competition, cats colouring and drawing competition, cats stories telling competition, cat hunt, cat make-up competition, cat mimicking competition.

Today, there will be cat kites competition, cat dressing competitions, cat cage decoration competition and cat cartoon film for the public.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Pesta Meow 2008 at the Sarawak's Cat Museum

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kaul Festival - Hanging on to brave tradition

Melanau traditional dances were among the highlights of the Kaul Festival

Tibau is a traditional game for 'courageous' participants

Melanau dancers captivate the crowds

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Mohammad Abdullah and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.

By Mohammad Abdullah

The Kaul Festival or Festival by the Sea held in Mukah, Sarawak has always been a crowd-puller.

We had a chance to witness the age-old traditions of the Melanau community during a road trip to Mukah, 500 kilometres from Miri, Sarawak. Eighteen members of the Darussalam Motorcycle Association (PEMODA) travelled to Mukah to join in the annual Kaul Festival during a weekend of festivities that also attracted members of other communities from all over Sarawak.

"This is the first time for most of us in witnessing the festival. We are awed by the hospitality of the locals and government officials. We did not expect such hospitality. In fact, this was just a trip to witness the Kaul Festival in all its splendour. However it turned out to be an official event for us as we were invited to all the official events during the festival, including escorting the Sarawak Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud," said PEMODA member, Yusof bin Hj Emrin.

Originally the Kaul Festival was a pagan thanksgiving held independently by the Melanau villages to appease the spirits of the sea. It was traditionally held at the river-mouth in March after the northwest monsoon had passed. The Melanaus are mainly a fishing community.

With the majority of the Melanau people now Christians and Muslims, the pagan reasons behind the Kaul are evolving into an ethnic celebration unique to the Melanau culture.

Among the rituals is the launching of miniature wooden boats containing offerings for the sea spirits. The river-mouth is closed and boats are not allowed to go out to the sea for several days.

The festival's highlight is the tibau, a high-spirited but dangerous traditional game in which young men compete to see how many can swing from the end of a single 10-metre rope.

The tibau is a daunting test of courage and skill. The players are normally young, unmarried men who are out to impress the women and to garner status among their peers.

According to the Penghulu or village elder, in the past, the tibaus were huge with the smaller ones even reaching five storeys high. Now however, the tibaus are much smaller, and are meant only for cultural games, in which visitors and tourists can participate.

About 50 booths were set up along the beach to sell traditional Melanau food, clothes as well as handicraft, most of which were made of sago plants and rattan.

The Melanaus as well as other ethnic communities of Sarawak also showcased their traditional dances. Dressed in colourful costumes, the troupes mesmerised the audience with their traditional dance routines.

It was definitely an honour to witness the festival of the Melanau community whose traditions and cultural identity remain strong in today's modern world.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Royal Brunei Airlines raises fuel charges on selected routes

By Narissa Noor

Royal Brunei Airlines is increasing its fuel surcharge on selected routes for tickets issued on and after June 1, 2008.

Released yesterday, the increase applies to tickets issued in Brunei for travel to and from Bandar Seri Begawan.

For Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta, Surabaya, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City, fuel and insurance surcharge each way has increased to B$60.

Increases in other sectors include Hong Kong at B$75, Perth and Brisbane at B$95, Dubai and Jeddah at B$110 and Auckland at B$130, and London at B$160, each way.

According to Royal Brunei Airlines, in line with standard industry practice, it will continue to monitor the price of jet fuel and will adjust the application of fuel surcharges appropriately.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, May 23, 2008

World Harvest Festival at Sarawak Cultural Village starts tomorrow

KUCHING: The two-day World Harvest Festival (WHF) in conjunction with the Gawai Celebration organised by Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) will be held this weekend.

The festival will showcase traditional music, ethnic costumes, workshops on traditional food and crafts and also a play based on a Bidayuh legend.

This cultural extravaganza, supported by the Ministry of Urban Development and Sarawak Tourism Board is formerly known as the Gawai Tourism Night.

According to the World Harvest Festival (WHF) 2008 Festival Director, Zaini Zainuddin, among the highlights of the events were cultural performances and interactive workshops from international cultural groups from Sanggar Tari Bengkawan, Indonesia and BahBola, Pahang.

The Sanggar Tari Benkawan group, which has 17 members, will be showcasing the arts and culture of the various ethnic communities from Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Continue reading at: World Harvest Festival at Sarawak Cultural Village starts tomorrow

Kuching to host Dayak music awards in September

KUCHING: Sarawak’s top and up-and-coming Dayak recording artistes will be honoured at the first-ever Dayak Music Awards 2008 here on Sept 27.

The “Most Successful Dayak” male and female singers will each receive RM5,000 and an “Oscar.”

Other awards are for the Best Dayak Male and Female singers, Most Promising Dayak New Male and Female singers, Best Dayak Song Composer, Best Produced Album of the Year, Best Dayak Patriotic Song, Best Dayak Song and Best Lyrics.

Organising chairman Datuk Celestine Ujang said 29 awards in eight categories would be presented during the biggest gathering of Dayak artistes and musicians at the Crowne Plaza Riverside Hotel.

Continue reading at: Kuching to host Dayak music awards in September

Miri City Landscape Day today

Fun and exciting activities organised for event which is part of Miri May Fest programme

MIRI: The Miri City Landscape Day, organised by the City Council at Bulatan Park here, begins from today until May 25.

It promises its patrons various fun and exciting programmes.

The event, which is part of the Miri May Fest programme, carries the theme, ‘Colourful Miri City’.

Among its activities are a mini garden competition and exhibition, flowers arrangement competition, unique flowers competition, sales and promotions, bonsai exhibition as well as activities related to landscaping.

Continue reading at: Miri City Landscape Day today

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cultural Diversity Rendezvous Day May 29 in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A Cultural Diversity Rendezvous Day will be held on May 29 with the aim to increase the educational aspect of way of life in Sabah.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the programme would be the first to be held in conjunction with the Kaamatan Festival Celebration.

“It will comprise various activities within the cultural village or houses such as the Rungus House or Murut House, and there will be activities related to the cultures,” he said.

Pairin, who is the organising chairman of the Tadau Kaamatan 2008, added that this celebration was for everybody to participate and enhance their creativity and skills, and to develop their talents, education and appreciation for life museum activities.

He encouraged the locals and foreign tourists to visit the event.

Meanwhile, Pairin said that the Kaamatan Festival Celebration this year had received over RM1 million sponsorship from government and private agencies.

“So far we have reached over RM1 million sponsorship and hopefully more tourism-related industry players will participate in this event to attract more local people and tourists to come to this year’s celebration,” he said.

Continue reading at: Cultural Diversity Rendezvous Day May 29 in Sabah

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival enters new decade

AFTER its rousing 10th anniversary celebration last year, Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) is entering a new decade with the promise of a value-added experience.

The festival, which won the Pacific Asia Travel Association Gold Award in 2006, will be held from July 11 to 13 at Sarawak Cultural Village, a 45-minute drive from Kuching, with the picturesque Mount Santubong as its backdrop.

With 15 groups performing this year, festival goers can expect genres of world music ranging from Celtic fusion, Socca and folk to Baul fusion and traditional.

The performers are coming from all corners the world including Britain, Gambia, Guinea, the Philippines, Japan, Palestine, Greece, Portugal, Congo, Columbia, Brazil, the United States, India and Angola, Italy and Portugal.

The foreign bands were selected from more than 450 applications submitted to the RMWF organising committee.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival enters new decade

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Charity programme included in Kaamatan Festival

KOTA KINABALU: A new programme – Kaamatan Charity – has been included in this year’s Kaamatan Festival to emphasise the salient part of the Kadazandusun cultural values.

Legend has it that ‘kinoingan’ made charity and sharing of harvest (ponoluadan om pomohogian tomot) as part of the padi farming culture of the Kadazandusuns.

In the age of modern mass media-mediated culture and globalising economics, it is wisdom for the Kadazandusuns to continue to value the essence of the heritage of charity and sharing culture.

Organising chairperson Datuk Dr Beth Baikan said among the events to be held is a blood donation drive at the Murut Lansaran House, KDCA Cultural Village today.

Continue reading at: Charity programme included in Kaamatan Festival

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rendezvous with nature at Danum Valley

WALKING around the sprawling compound of the Danum Valley Field Centre in Sabah’s Danum Valley was a rewarding first morning for Malaysian Nature Society, Perak gang of four. The endemic Dusky Munias were everywhere, feeding on grass seeds at road edges.

Perched high on treetops were parties of Green Imperial Pigeons and on subsequent days, we caught sight of a White-fronted Falconet and a Bat Hawk. The Buffy Fish Owl and Brown Wood Owl called every night.

In Danum Valley, a total of 328 bird species have been recorded, including 42 Bornean endemics. We were delighted to finally see one of these rare endemics, the queer looking Borneon Bristlehead. Despite the rainy weather, we saw a total of 60 species of birds during our six-day stay, a decent haul indeed.

The valley in eastern Sabah is not only a haven for birdwatchers, it is also noted for having one of the most complex eco-systems in the world.

It is located within 438sq km of lush virgin tropical rainforest which hides many of nature’s wonders not often seen by the human eye.

Into The Forest Trails

To see the rarer pitas, trogons and other animals, one has to venture into the forest trails. The first set of trails we tackled were the Grid Trails, which are set at right angles of each other.

In anticipation of an enjoyable trek, we jauntily crossed the swaying suspension bridge over the swollen Segama River to begin our adventure. Mistake! Since we were there in March, still within the wet season, we were soon mired in muddy tracks infested with tiger leeches. After two hours of slipping and sliding and picking off leeches, which are either on our arms or legs, some of us chose to turn back.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Rendezvous with nature at Danum Valley

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rumba’s Fiesta Room party deals at Le Meridien

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu’s hot and happening Rumba Latin Grill & Bar continues to offer prime party packages with new sets designed specifically for social events and parties at Rumba’s Fiesta Room.

Found on the upper floor of Rumba, the Fiesta Room can cater from 20 to 40 people for private parties. It was most recently introduced to the press at a recent appreciation party, where the room was intimately lit with an array of colourful candles to set the mood.

The Fiesta Room lets guests to chill out and party in private, affording anything from close conversation to spurts of post-dinner dancing.

“Since there is more demand of having a private area for parties and special occasions, Rumba is now offering new packages for that limitless all night long party,” said Telcadora James, Marketing Ccommunications Executive of Le Meridien.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Rumba’s Fiesta Room party deals at Le Meridien

Sabah Museum visitors double to 426,882

Kota Kinabalu: More people are visiting the museum and other related facilities throughout the State - thanks to various programmes organised by the Sabah Museum Department.

Sabah Museum Director Datuk Joseph Pounis Guntavid said last year a total of 426,882 visitors visited the museum, compared to 257,825 in 2006.

He was speaking at the launching of Crafts Exotica 2008-cum-World Museum Day 2008 by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun at the museum's Kampung Warisan site.

"We are registering more people visiting the Crafts Exotica programme since it started in 2003," he said. He said only 5,954 people attended the event in 2003 but it increased to 11,895 last year.

Crafts Exotica was mooted to revive as well as ensure continuity of Sabah's crafts heritage that is facing extinction.

Continue reading at: Sabah Museum visitors double to 426,882

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sarawak, Kalimantan joint effort to boost tourism

KUCHING: The Sarawak Kalimantan Barat Tourism Council (SKTC) will be launched this year with the aim of enhancing the tourism sector between the Malaysian state and the neighbouring Indonesian province.

The council was mooted during the Third BIMP-EAGA Travel Exchange, which was opened by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud here in September last year.

SKTC will have 14 members, half from Sarawak and the other half from West Kalimantan.

The Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) will be a joint-chairman of the council.

Among the members from Sarawak are the Urban Development and Tourism Ministry, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Sarawak Branch.

STF president Wee Hong Seng told thesundaypost yesterday that the establishment of the council would strengthen bilateral ties and the time was ripe for that due to the introduction of direct flights from here to Jakarta and Bali.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak, Kalimantan joint effort to boost tourism

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kudat Riviera secures more awards for Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Exquisite Borneo Villas Sdn Bhd (EBV), part of the Touchdown World Travel Group, and its exclusive Kudat Riviera super-luxury-tourism villa: resort in Kudat have secured two prestigious awards for Sabah last month at the Cityscape Asian Property Award Show, highlighting once again the growing potential and popularity of Sabah in the eyes of the world.

These recent accolades, commending the Kudat Riviera by Exquisite Borneo Villas for two categories, one for Best Developer - Waterfront Development (Future) and the second for Best Developer – Corporate Social Responsibility, join the growing list of accolades being garnered by the Kudat Riviera, and setting the path of success for this prestigious tourism development at the northern tip of Sabah.

Other awards achieved in 2007 included two awards from the prestigious CNBC/Daily Mail International Property Awards in categories for Best Architecture and Best Development, and also the Top of the Region – Finest Development in the Asia Pacific Region from Asia Pacific Tropical Homes Magazine.

EBV has introduced and pioneered the super-luxury villa market to Sabah’s tourism industry with its Kudat Riviera villa resort.

It is set to open its doors at the end this year. The Kudat Riviera will position Sabah alongside its neighbours Bali and Thailand, which avidly market luxury villas to the high-end tourism market as a cornerstone of their tourism plans.

Continue reading at: Kudat Riviera secures more awards for Sabah

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cultural shows mark Kaamatan fest in Sabah

BEAUFORT: The symbolic harvesting of seven padi stalks marked the launch of Sabah’s month-long cultural extravaganza.

Chief Minister Datik Musa Aman performed the ritual and struck the gong seven times at the Beaufort community centre on May 1 to kick off the Kaamatan or Harvest Festival celebrations in Sabah’s 23 districts throughout May.

The celebrations went up several notches three days later when Yang Di Pertua Negri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah launched the colourful Sabah Fest.

The launch of the Kaamatan festivities at Dewan Pak Musa in the south-western town of Beaufort was followed by the magavau ceremony or appeasement of rice spirits performed by Kadazandusun priestesses from nearby Kampung Tikuli.

Among the state leaders who witnessed the Kaamatan's launch was Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Kadazandusun Huguan Siou or paramount chief.

Continue reading at: Lower fuel surcharge boosts AirAsia's sales

Lower fuel surcharge boosts AirAsia's sales

Kuala Lumpur: Local budget airline AirAsia saw an improvement in sales after reducing its fuel surcharge, chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes said Thursday.

He added that the carrier also does not plan to increase its fuel surcharge any time soon even though crude oil prices rose to US$125 a barrel Thursday.

"We have to compete (with regards to fuel surcharge) and in fact, the sales volume has gone up. So the drop in fuel surcharge was compensated by an increase in sales," he said.

"We have no intention of raising our fuel surcharge," he told reporters here after launching AirAsia X's service to Perth, Western Australia.

According to a company official, AirAsia's fuel surcharge is 40 percent cheaper than that of a full-fledged airline.

Continue reading at: Lower fuel surcharge boosts AirAsia's sales

Thursday, May 15, 2008

'Everyday low fares' by MAS on Asean, selected routes

SUBANG JAYA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Wednesday launched its "Everyday Low Fares" campaign to its Asean destinations, except Rangoon, Myanmar and selected routes between Malaysia and China.

Its executive director/chief financial officer, Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin, said MAS may also extend the offer to more international destinations when and if the opportunities arose.

"It is possible," he told reporters when asked if the offer would be extended to international destinations of which the first would be Kota Kinabalu-Hong Kong/Guangzhou.

He said currently the load factor for KL-China and Europe routes was satisfactory and did not warrant MAS to offer the deal in the sectors.

Azmil said the campaign was expected to contribute positively to MAS revenue and profit.

Continue reading at: 'Everyday low fares' by MAS on Asean, selected routes

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sabah expects 20 per cent growth in tourist arrivals

KOTA KINABALU: The growth in tourist arrivals per annum in Sabah is projected to be above 20 per cent in the next five years, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman.

“Our (Sabah) projection for 2010 is 3.4 million tourist arrivals, with tourism receipts exceeding RM6.5 billion and, in fact, Sabah Tourism Board’s (STB) target is to achieve one per cent of the US$2,000 billion world tourism receipts by 2020,” he said at the opening of the three-day First Commonwealth Sport Tourism Conference here yesterday.

Musa, who was represented by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun, said last year, Sabah received 2.48 million visitors, representing a five-fold increase over the 1998’s figure of about 400,000.

He said significantly the number of international tourists approached the one million mark and some 40 per cent of tourist arrivals were repeat visitors, with average length of stay of eight nights and nine days.

Sabah’s reaped over RM4.7 billion in tourism receipts, surpassing the RM3.2 billion estimated for 2007 and accounting for 14.8 per cent of the State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), said the Chief Minister.

According to Musa, in view of the impressive growth in tourism and the fact that Sabah had great potential to be a world class tourist destination given its abundant natural attractions, the government was targeting to make tourism the state’s main economic driver.

“Our focus is on sustainable tourism development, with high yield longer-staying tourists, and we have already taken pro-active steps to boost our tourism capabilities such as implementing our comprehensive long-term plans for hotel accommodation and for training and upgrading of skills of tourism personnel,” he said. He said the state government was already in discussion with renowned signature resorts to anchor new tourism products such as spa and wellness tourism in Kundasang and marine tourism on the islands.

Continue reading at: Sabah expects 20 per cent growth in tourist arrivals

Miri Jazz Fest ends on high note

By George Francis

MIRI - The 3rd Miri International Jazz Festival, held on May 9 and May 10, ended on a high note with bigger and better acts.

It attracted 6,000 visitors compared to 4,000 last year. Many came from Brunei, Sabah, Singapore, Peninsula Malaysia and expatriates living in the region and European tourists.

Two nights of marvellous shows held at the Pavilion of Parkcity Everly Hotel saw renowned jazz performers from the international circuit of Australia, Philippines, Japan, Cuba, Britain, Canada, Algeria, a jazz street band "T'Inventielke" from Holland, and near to home the Borneo Jazz Quartet from Sarawak.

Havana Sax from Cuba, one of the performers from last year's line up made a come back at this year's festival, after the crowd voted the band as their favourite. The band was formed in the 1980s as a classical saxophone quartet before a percussionist was added to incorporate Cuban rhythm to its beat.

Asia's Charmaine Clamor, is the first Phillipine jazz songtress to have her debut album titled Searching for the Soul (2005) played over American radios. She has successfully combined American jazz with blues, soul and traditional Filipino folk music genre she calls jazzipino which was incorporated into her second album 'Flippin Out' released last year.

Another big-name performer is Amar Sindy, an accomplished guitarist who plays a mix of Chicago blues and folk beat traceable to Tuaregs root from the Sahara Desert.

Mood Indigo, a band from Britain, featured a wide repertoire, including blues and swing. The band has under its belt a hit album called "God Bless the Child'.

Japan's contribution is a six-peiece band called Oma Sound, led by a 74-year-old accomplished bassist, Isao Suzuki, who has been in the music business since 1956.

From down under, Daimond Dave and the Doodaddies, a four-piece group introduced a good selection of Chicago-style jazz numbers with band leader Daimond Dave Billing playing the harmonica, combining the expressive acoustic approach and the driving amplified style.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sports Tourism has great potential as revenue earner for Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sport Tourism can play a vital role in the growth of the tourism industry in Sabah. For example, the golf tourism, which is popular with the North Asian market, particularly Korean and Japanese, has shown great potential as a revenue earner for Sabah, said Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman.

Musa, who was represented by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, at the official opening of the 1st Commonwealth Sport Tourism Conference yesterday, said that the steady increase in revenue from golf tourism indicates that Sabah is one of the popular destinations among foreign golfers.

The event was launched by the Head of State, Tun Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Ahmadshah Abdullah and was witnessed also by Tourism Minister, Dato Sri Azalina Dato Othman Said.

Last year, more than 46,000 golf rounds or 20 percent of the total golf rounds in Sabah was played by international golfers. Sabah also hosted the 2008 Asian Tour Qualifying School with over 500 professional golfers from 25 countries participating.

One of Sabah’s most successful sport tourism events is the Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon, dubbed the ‘World’s Toughest Mountain Race’ and currently into its 22nd year, he said. “In 1999, the Climbathon received a major boost when Malaysia won its bid to host the World Mountain Running Trophy at the scenic Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site,” he said.

Continue reading at: Sports Tourism has great potential as revenue earner for Sabah

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Full force of the Bajau

PAINTING the town red is an understatement in Semporna in Sabah especially when the Regatta Lepa Festival makes its annual round.

The colours go beyond the small town to the turquoise-coloured sea where Semporna folks, mostly Bajaus, moor their lepa (traditional boats) at the waterfront of Tun Sankaran Marine Park.

The lepa are heavily decorated with colourful sambulayang (sails or flag) in contrasting combinations of red and other bright colours.

Traditionally in red, white and black, the sambulayang is raised on special occasions and events like weddings and national day celebrations or to welcome State leaders.

For three days, from April 18-20, the small bay between the Waterfront and the floating Dragon Inn Resort was turned into a vibrant dockyard for a total of 138 lepa.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Full force of the Bajau

Kuching's ‘Meow Festival’ revived

KUCHING: The ‘Meow Festival’ is making a comeback. In a press conference yesterday, Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) Mayor, Abang Haji Mohamad Atei Medaan announced that the festival will place from May 24 to 25.

The festival is aimed at promoting the Cat Museum as a tourist destination while creating an awareness of the branding of the city of Kuching. Members of the public would also gain a better understanding on how to care for their pet cats.

An handful of competitions with titles such as ‘Cats Candid Shot with Caption Competition’, ‘Cats in Action Video Competition’, ‘Cat Make-up Competition’, ‘Cat Story Telling Competition’, ‘Cat Voice & Action Imitation Competition’, ‘Cat Poster Colouring Competition’ and the ‘Cat Poster Drawing Competition’ will be held on the first day of the festival on May 24. On the second day, May 25, the ‘Cat Fancy Dress Competition’, ‘Cat Cage Decoration Competition’ and the ‘Cat Kite Competition’ will take place.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Kuching's ‘Meow Festival’ revived

SCORE’s tourism potential to be exploited

THE TOURISM Ministry will capitalise on tourism potential in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), said Urban Development and Tourism Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh in his winding-up speech yesterday.

He explained that SCORE between Tanjong Manis and Similajau and the interior of the central region offers a wide range of tourism products.

He said the extensive physical infrastructure that comes with the development of SCORE provided a good platform for creation of tourism businesses like hotels, resorts and river cruises.

He added that a detailed study would be carried out to uncover the full tourism potential of the corridor.

“In keeping up with the pace of the Internet, my ministry is embarking on a project to develop a comprehensive e-tourism portal to address the needs of the tourism industry,” said Wong.

The portal will include a database of information on the whole range of tourism products and players; interface system to enable global access and reach; and an e-commerce engine that enables online transactions.

On the same note, he said that the Sarawak Tourism Board would also be revamped to make it user friendly and interactive.

Continue reading at: SCORE’s tourism potential to be exploited

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sheraton Hotel coming to Sandakan

SANDAKAN: Four-star Sheraton Hotel will be built at the Sandakan Harbour Square.

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor yesterday performed the earth-breaking ceremony for the joint venture project between the Sandakan Municipal Council (SMC) and Ireka Chang Sdn Bhd (ICSD).

Hajiji, who represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, said the 255-room hotel under Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels, would be the centre of tourist attraction and business opportunities.

Continue reading at: Sheraton Hotel coming to Sandakan

AirAsia goes head-to-head with MAS by slashing fuel surcharge

KUALA LUMPUR: Travellers are in for a treat as budget airline AirAsia is going all out to compete with Malaysia Airline's Everyday Low Fare promotion by launching its own Sub-Zero campaign today.

The low-cost carrier will not only offer passengers more than one million tickets at zero fare, it is also offering RM5 off on fuel surcharge for domestic routes.

The domestic offer is for the travelling period between June 10 this year and April 30 next year.

The booking period is for the next four days.

AirAsia charges fuel surcharge of RM16 for domestic flights that do not cross the South China Sea and RM43 for flights between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.

Continue reading at: AirAsia goes head-to-head with MAS by slashing fuel surcharge

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sarawak Tourism Federation getting tourist feedback via ‘We Care’ questionnaire

KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) has created a new avenue for tourists to give their feedback about their holiday in Sarawak - be it good or bad - through its ‘We Care’ questionnaire.What’s more, the feedback will be channeled to the tourism authorities in the state, and tourists can expect action to be taken to improve on the shortcomings that they have encountered.

Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said at the launching of the questionnaire and STF’s online feedback system – Voicepoint - on Friday, that the federation had taken a bold step towards the betterment of the industry.

“This (questionnaire) is another way of finding out how people look at us. For me, the letters in the word, ‘care’, stands for ‘caring, approachable, very responsible, effective’,” he said.

He said that even now, the ministry had received feedback from tourists either in the form of letters or emails but they were not systematic.

With the questionnaire, he said STF would be able to conduct an analysis and forward recommendations to the ministry.

He reminded the tourism industry players that all of them, from the airline companies to the operators of food stalls, played a vital role in upholding the image of the state.

“The tourism industry is a highly competitive one and the word of mouth can spread like wildfire. One single unhappy tourist can affect our image even over simple things like dirty bed sheet in a hotel.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Tourism Federation getting tourist feedback via ‘We Care’ questionnaire

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Three new Kuching River Cruises packages

KUCHING: Harbour Cruises Sdn Bhd, which owns the only river cruise in Kuching, is offering new packages for tourists.

The three packages offered are the Daily Welcome Cruise, which departs at 3.15pm, Daily Sunset Cruise at 5.30pm and Morning River Tour at 9am.

The Sunset Cruise includes cultural performance while the Morning River Tour a morning poco-poco workout, cultural performances and activities, treasure hunt complete with morning tea break and buffet lunch on board.

“Safety is our number one concern where all passengers are given a briefing before departing from the harbour,” said new CEO Dorothy Ling.

Ling said the cruise was not only meant for tourists but locals as well.

Harbour Cruises also caters to cruising and non-cruising functions such as annual dinner or corporate function, theme cruise party, birthday party, wedding reception, product launch and meetings.

Continue reading at: Three new Kuching River Cruises packages

Kota Kinabalu to facilitate approval of budget hotels

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Kinabalu City Hall (KKCH) will approve applications to operate budget hotels offering ‘bed and breakfast’ services provided they are in compliance with the bylaws, mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim said yesterday.

He said KKCH supported the setting up of more budget hotels in the city with the increasing number of tourist arrivals and demand for such accommodation.

“City Hall will do its best to facilitate and not frustrate any application for such business, and lauds the initiative by the Sabah Backpackers Association (SBA) to bring together operators of small budget hotels,” he said after receiving a courtesy call today from SBA members led by acting protem president Susan Soong.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu to facilitate approval of budget hotels

Friday, May 09, 2008

One-stop tourism info centre at Kota Kinabalu International Airport

KOTA KINABALU: A one-stop tourism information centre will be set up at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport’s (KKIA) Terminal One in September, Deputy State Director of Tourism Malaysia Mohd Akbal Setia said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after launching the Sutera Harbour Information Centre here, he said the one-stop centre will provide information on tourism sights and sites, accommodation and transportation.

“The information centre will be manned by knowledgeable personnel assigned to disseminate the required particulars to our tourists. This will ensure that tourists have a better idea of what to expect, what to do and where to go when they touch down here,” he said, adding that this will help the tourism industry tremendously.

Continue reading at: One-stop tourism info centre at Kota Kinabalu International Airport

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Saving sea turtles at Pulau Talang Besar, Sarawak

Sarawak Forestry Corporation recently launched its “Sea Turtle Adoption Programme” to impart knowledge and awareness on the importance of sea turtle conservation. It is also a way for nature lovers to experience island stay on the pristine Pulau Talang Besar.

The four-days-three-nights programme costs RM1000 per pax. It may seem like a hefty sum, but when the details have been disclosed, you will see that it is money well spent, and you will gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are actually contributing to a valuable conservation project.

One can think of this programme as a tool to be a better, more mature and civil human being. Come on, think of all the cigarette butts you’ve thrown out your car window, of all the times you’ve burned rubbish in the open and of all the plastics you’ve dumped into water bodies ... you can change for the better. Everyone can.

A one way boat ride from the Sematan jetty to the island will consume 50 Litres of patrol. A round trip will cost approximately RM400.

The programme also automatically entitles the participant to adopt a turtle. Adopters will also have the privilege of naming their turtles, such as Urban Development and Tourism Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh did. He named his turtle Frontier. Adoption of a turtle is RM200 each.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Saving sea turtles at Pulau Talang Besar, Sarawak

RM44 million for new tourism products in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry has requested for an additional allocation of RM24,806,400 and RM19,840,000 from the State and Federal Government to allow it to develop new tourism products as well as upgrade those that are already available.

Its Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said that most of the tourism products will be established at Sabah Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, as well as to implement programmes of departments and agencies under his ministry during the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

“I hope this application will be considered for approval,” he said in his winding up speech at the State Assembly sitting yesterday. He also said that under the 9MP, his ministry has been allocated RM44,992,800 by the State Government and another RM93,810,130 from the Federal Government to implement upgrading works on tourism amenities programmes and projects for the period 2006-2010. He cited that four of the 9MP projects have already been completed.

Continue reading at: RM44 million for new tourism products in Sabah

More airlines coming to Sarawak

THE Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism is working closely with various tourism stakeholders including federal government agencies to bring in more foreign airlines, including Tiger Airways, to Sarawak.

Assistant Minister of Tourism Hamden Ahmad said the success of the effort would depend on various factors such as market and tourist profile, product viability and destination competitiveness.

“Other perspectives from a broad spectrum of enterprises of both domestic and international tourism are also taken into consideration before any foreign airline can be invited to fly into Sarawak,” he said.

Continue reading at: More airlines coming to Sarawak

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tallest tree and other Merotai attractions

Kota Kinabalu: Merotai has the potential to become the next tourism destination given the many untapped tourism products in the constituency.

Its Assemblyman, Pang Yuk Ming said it is his aim to turn this dream into reality to also bring income for the people in the locality.

"It is my aim to see Merotai in particular and Tawau in general be developed as a main tourism attraction (in Sabah)," he said.

Among the products he said, were the tallest tropical tree in world at 88.34 metres, waterfalls, hot spring, unique fauna such as pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys.

He is in the middle of setting up a Wildlife Conservation Centre in Merotai that would become a sanctuary for pygmy elephants whose habitats are being eroded due to timber felling and oil palm planting.

Based on a WWF study in 2003, Pang said the number of pygmy elephants in the wilds is only about 1,000. He said the unique culture of the people in Merotai could also be promoted as a tourism attraction and hoped the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry and Federal agencies would assist him in the endeavour.

Continue reading at: Tallest tree and other Merotai attractions

Tourism project to develop Limbang

LIMBANG: Limbang Division has set its sight on high impact projects involving tourism, agriculture and animal husbandry to bring about economic growth in the northern region of Sarawak.

It could become a food hub through buffalo rearing and rice production besides being a tourist hub by year 2015.

Limbang Resident cum divisional development committee chairman Maria Hasman revealed that the geographical location of Limbang bordering Brunei, Indonesia, Sabah, Labuan and Miri division in the south gave it an edge for such a development.

He said among plans proposed were tapping into the full tourism potential of Gunung Buda in Ulu Limbang, next to the world natural heritage site of Mulu in Ulu Baram with the Headhunters Trail a tourism link.

Other high impact projects are the new Lawas Airport, Nauran Park in Limbang, Limbang township, road from Lawas linking Long Sukang, Long Semadoh and Ba Kelalan.

Continue reading at: Tourism project to develop Limbang

Monday, May 05, 2008

MAS: One million ‘zero fare’ to all domestic routes

KUCHING: Malaysian Airlines (MAS) is offering one million ‘zero fare’ seats to all domestic destinations.

The booking period for MAS ‘zero fares’ is from today to May 19 and travel period is between June 10 and Dec 14.

The product is called ‘Everyday Low Fares’ for passengers to enjoy five-star services as well as low fares.

Continue reading at: MAS: One million ‘zero fare’ to all domestic routes

Preview show for jazz festival will be held in Miri on May 7

A special preview show for Miri International Jazz Festival will be held in Miri on May 7. Starting at 8pm, the preview show will be held at the Cherrie Berrie and Alfresco and featuring the Mood Indigo from UK. Entrance is free and the preview show will also include quiz and lucky draw offering various attractive prizes. Both the quiz and lucky draw are organised by Celcom, the presenter of MIJF 2008.

During their half-hour preview show, Mood Indigo will be presenting their swing and blues jazz beat. One of the many bands to watch for at the May 9 and 10 jazz festival, the five members of Mood Indigo are expected to woo the festival goers with their energetic tunes, said to be effective in capturing the vibe of those out for a good time at the festival.

Other performers that will provide the entertainment at the third edition of MIJF are Habana Sax from Cuba that had captured the heart of last year’s festival goers to vote for them to make a come-back this year and Charmaine Clamor from Philippines.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Preview show for jazz festival will be held in Miri on May 7

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sabah Fest 2008 - Super display of diversity

IGAL Tabawan dancers from Semporna gracing the launch of the Sabah Fest 2008 at the Magellan Sutera Saturday night.

The yearly showcase of Sabah's cultural splendour kicked off with a super display of the State's ethnic diversity that inspires utter pride and joy in anyone who sees it.

Themed "Harmony in Diversity", this year's fest highlights Sabah's traditional tolerance in diversity through an anchor presentation of a mock mixed Bajau and Murut wedding ceremony where the respective marriage customs and traditions were followed.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah Fest 2008 - Super display of diversity

Discounts on airfares for Sarawak and Sabah routes

KUCHING: MASwings is now offering discount airfares that will enable travellers to save between 35% and 80% on several routes within and between Sarawak and Sabah.

The Weekend Specials fare applies only to online bookings via the MASwings website.

The one-way RM39 fare per ticket is for seven routes: Kota Kinabalu-Sibu, Kota Kinabalu-Lahad Datu and vice versa, Bintulu-Sibu and vice versa, and Miri-Labuan and vice versa.

Continue reading at: Discounts on airfares for Sarawak and Sabah routes

Saturday, May 03, 2008

d' Banyan Residency @ Sutera - Revolutionary living with classy touch

Aerial view of the resort

One of the villas

A villa on offer

d' Banyan Residency @ Sutera, located in the heart of Sutera Harbour Resort is set to become the benchmark for prestigious luxury living with a touch of class in Kota Kinabalu City. "We are revolutionising the very concept of plush contemporary living balanced by the tranquility of Sabah's natural evergreen splendour," enthused General Manager of WCT Land Berhad, Stewart Tew.

"With a virtually 360 panorama of the golf scenery viewable from every balcony, d' Banyan luxury designer homes is in a distinct class of its own," Tew Added.

Some may wonder where the name originates from and it would seem that d' Banyan Residency draws it namesake from the humble banyan tree. "We have adopted the Banyan story as it tells a tale of centuries old where people from all walks of life congregated under the banyan tree to share news and views. This is the type of community we hope to inspire - tight knit and integrated with a strong sense of belonging," Tew explained.

This concept of integration has been translated into reality at d' Banyan Residency @ Sutera. Strategically located 5 mins from KK City and 10 mins from the KK International Airport, d' Banyan Residency resides in a restful cove within Sutera. The 122 units of 3 Storey Detached Villa, 2 Storey Semi-Detached Villa and as well as the 2 Storey Superlink Villa homes are a testimony of architectural perfection finished appeal to the stringent requirements of the upper class market.

Price between Ringgit Malaysia 1.4 million to 3 million and above with a build up area of 4,350 s.f to 6,700 s.f, the three contemporary designs of sheer luxury exude charm, privacy and exclusivity. d' Banyan is indeed a celebration of life and style and one can definitely expect a 5 star lifestyle befitting the 5 star location.

d' Banyan Residency is unique in the sense that it caters for all the needs and desires of the truly affluent. From private swimming pools in designed units and solar water heating system to split air-conditioner as well as food waste disposal are provided, no stone has been left unturned in the concerted effort to maximise comfort and pleasure. With such luxuriant surroundings, you can also be assured that security issues are never comprised as every precautionary measure has been employed.

The Residency is armed with double security check points, perimeter fencing equipped with CCTV surveillance system linked directly to the guard house, all of which cultivates ultimate peace of mind.

The official launch is expected to only take place in July 2008 yet current sales have already proven to be good. Under the detailed touch of WCT's subsidiary Camellia Tropicana Sdn. Bhd's management team, construction of d' Banyan Residency is well underway. In fact, it is ahead of schedule with piling works completing soon while other units have even completed foundation works.

d' Banyan is expected to be completed by end of 2009.

Buyers wishing to get an initial feel of the stunning ambience can pay a visit to the Semi-Detached and Superlink show houses expected to be ready for viewing with full interior design come July this year.

Those who are financially savvy will note that the prime time to buy is now, as trends denote that the market price will increase upon completion of the show houses and because of the increase of building materials prices.

Currently, the Sale and Purchase Agreement legal fees are borne by the developer so it would be financially astute to purchase now and enjoy this benefit.

Tew added that d' Banyan Residency is looking into luring foreign property investors into making d' Banyan their home. WCT will market d' Banyan comprehensively overseas, while highlighting the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme as a viable retirement option in this country.

WCT has made purchasing these villas easier by providing full customer services. Locals and foreigners alike can enjoy assistance in documentation processes and mortgage financing prospects in association with various local banks.

d' Banyan Residency @ Sutera is a jewel of an investment. It would be deemed highly perceptive to set aside this diamond of a property as part of your personal investment portfolio with full intention to bank on the future.

d' Banyan Residency: Revolutionising the way we live and breathe.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Direct KK-Bali flight - Sabah State accolades for AirAsia

KOTA KINABALU: Airasia gets the much deserved commendation for its move to strengthen Sabah’s regional connectivity as part of its Asean integration plan by expanding the low cost airline’s international route to Bali and Jakarta.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman congratulated Airasia on its dual international route launch from the city and believed he shared the sentiments of many Sabahans that the launch to two destinations in Indonesia would further boost tourism industry in the state and also to both countries. “Today (May 2) is another memorable day for the people of Sabah as we welcome the first flight from Kota Kinabalu to Bali as well as to celebrate Airasia’s flight from the city to Jakarta which commenced services on March 30,” he said at the launching ceremony at Pacific Sutera Harbour yesterday.

In the last six years, he said, Airasia was seen to grow from a two-plane operation to an award-winning airline with 67 aircraft operating 100 routes with 56 destinations, and was recognised as Asia’s leading low fare airline.

Musa said the aviation sector played a critical role in boosting the state’s efforts to see better growth in tourism. Sabah is strategically located in a three-hour flight radius which could bring in a potential 77.1 million travellers.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Direct KK-Bali flight - Sabah State accolades for AirAsia

AirAsia X to go international from Kota Kinabalu International Airport

KOTA KINABALU: Budget carrier AirAsia X may operate international flights out of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) in two years’ time, its managing director Datuk Tony Fernandes said.

He said Sabah’s geographic central location between Japan, China and Australia made KKIA an obvious choice as another hub for AirAsia X.

However, there were various conditions which had to be fulfilled before the budget carrier could use the airport and they include having more direct air links between the state capital and regional destinations, said Fernandes, who is also AirAsia group chief executive officer.

For a start, AirAsia will re-establish its Kota Kinabalu-Bangkok flights and is keen on getting its air services between Kota Kinabalu and Singapore going.

Continue reading at: AirAsia X to go international from KKIA

Royal Brunei Airlines and Thai Airways go into code sharing

By Azlan Othman

Royal Brunei Airlines and Thai Airways International Public Company will begin code share flights from May 2008 onwards.

Under the agreement, THAI will code share on RBA's daily services between Bandar Seri Begawan and Bangkok. RBA flights BI515 and BI516 will be marketed by THAI as TG4602 and TG4603 respectively.

RBA Chief Executive Officer Ray Sayer said that this code share agreement with THAI will enable RBA to welcome travellers from a wider target market. "RBA is pleased to partner with THAI to further grow the regional travel and tourism market," Mr Sayer commented.

"The code share agreement between THAI and RBA signifies the beginning of network cooperation between the two carriers, whereby THAI will be able to continue services to Bandar Seri Begawan on flights operated by RBA.

Therefore, the code share agreement between the two carriers will enable passengers in Thailand, Brunei, and connecting passengers from abroad to continue to take advantage of travel and tourism opportunities in both countries, said THAI's Executive Vice President for Commercial, Mr Pandit Chanapai.

Meanwhile effective June 1, 2008, Royal Brunei Airlines will introduce its enhanced summer schedule that incorporates standard timings and increases in flight frequencies to popular destinations.

The summer schedule will strengthen the overall network by introducing changes that improve accessibility to Brunei Darussalam from regional and international destinations.

Chief Executive Officer Ray Sayer said, "The airline is committed to meeting the needs of target passengers in various markets while also better serving Brunei's travel needs".

With the introduction of the summer schedule, RBA's passengers based in Brunei and Miri will be able to take advantage of daily services to Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Kota Kinabalu, Hong Kong, Perth, Brisbane, Auckland, Dubai and London; with flights to Singapore operating twice daily and flights to Kota Kinabalu operating 17 times weekly.

Flights from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching will operate five times weekly and services to Surabaya will increase to six times weekly. The daily flights to Auckland will incorporate a newly introduced three times weekly direct service from Bandar Seri Begawan, while still maintaining its four times weekly service via Brisbane.

For more information, passengers may call RBA reservations offices at 2212222 or 3333737.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, May 02, 2008

Festive mood in Sabah

BEAUFORT: Sabah’s month-long Pesta Kaamatan or Harvest Festival kicked off with symbolic harvesting of padi amid chantings by Kadazandusun priestesses performing the magavau or the appeasement to the rice spirits ceremony.

Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman led the traditional ceremony at the Pak Musa community hall here.

Also present was Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is the Kadazandusun Huguan Siou or paramount leader.

Musa later beat the gong seven times to officially launch the Kaamatan festivities that will be held at various districts before ending with the two-day state level celebrations at the Hongkod Koisaan in Penampang on May 30 and 31.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Festive mood in Sabah

Art, craft to spice up Rainforest World Music Festival

KUCHING: Two fringe events - the visual folk art forum and craft festival - will add vigour to the already famed Rainforest World Music Festival from July 11 to 13 at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong.

A renowned traditional artist from the United States, Stephen Bennet, will be part of the forum. He will be one of the many presenting a paper.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie yesterday said a number of traditional artists from Malaysia and around the world would also be joining the forum which would be held from July 9 to 12.

The craft festival, which will be held from July 9 to 14, will give opportunities for local craftsmen to meet their foreign counterparts.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Art, craft to spice up Rainforest World Music Festival

Optimism on Brunei tourism

By Zasika Musdi

The increase in number of visits from tourists as a very positive indicator of the country's significant development was the main focus of a speech yesterday from Dato Paduka Hj Hamdillah Hj Abd Wahab, Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, at the launching of the Second Consumer Fair 2008.

He said that the ministry welcomes the increasing number of cruise ships and passengers making calls at Muara Port, as well as that of chartered flights and tourists coming in via Brunei International Airport, and conferences, forums, trade fairs and expos by various agencies.

He stated that these activities act as important platforms that can facilitate and contribute to the economic diversification agenda. According to statistics, the number of cruises coming in has increased from four in 2006 to 20 in 2008, while that of passengers has grown from 1,004 in 2006 to 17,000 in 2008.

The number of major conference events has also increased from four in 2006 to at least nine in 2008, while that of delegates has risen from 2,800 in 2006 to 5,500 in 2008.

Meanwhile, the number of charter flights has increased from four in 2006 to 97 in 2008 and passenger arrivals have risen from 2,082 in 2006 to an estimated 16,000 in 2008.

Just over the last four months, Brunei Darussalam has also received more than 4,000 Koreans - a higher figure than that recorded for the whole of last year. "These numbers speak huge volumes and I cannot help but feel very optimistic," he said.

However, he added that such significant developments must be managed effectively if the country is to benefit from growth trends on a sustainable basis.

The Sultanate's main attractions and places of interests, such as the Royal Regalia and museums among others, would be more heavily utilised and thus may be under pressure to withstand the expected number of visitors.

"My message to all responsible asset owners of buses, canopy walks, bridges and walkways, and to our tourism stakeholders and front liners - please pay extra attention to the integrity of our assets, increase inspection of our assets and maintain the HSE standards of our services.

"I also ask tour guides, bus drivers and all front-liners to be more vigilant in taking care of the safety of our visitors and guides.

"With the number of tourists and visitors arriving in the country, we are targeting a seven per cent growth in 2008. I am expecting a double-digit growth, not dissimilar from last year's 12.9 per cent.

"Business activity should be brisker as the demand for local handicrafts, souvenirs and restaurants could increase. I expect hotel occupancy would be better in 2008 compared to 2006 and 2007, while consumer spending should also improve as a consequence."

According to JPKE, personal consumption expenditure accounted for 22.5 per cent of the GDP in 2005, slightly higher than government consumption expenditure of 18.4 per cent of the GDP, which is still one third of the benchmark. The Deputy Minister said there is still plenty of room for growth.

Additionally, he finds the fair's special local products section especially encouraging. "I do believe that this will contribute to the government's efforts in developing local Micro SMEs, and encourage them to produce local products.

"This is in line with the objective of KNK and our drive to create entrepreneurship, as well as to produce more local products in districts and villages, and among Micro SMEs and business associations," he added.

The increasing demand for capacity building of human resources and business organisations was also another issue raised by Dato Paduka Hj Hamdillah.

An increasing number of expos and trade fairs in the country, organised by local companies, would mean a rising capacity and ability of local companies in events management.

"This is a positive development, which, I believe, could one day make Brunei not only as an expo-hub in this sub-region, but also a major conference destination of choice."

He concluded by encouraging local entrepreneurs to dig deeper into their reservoirs of knowledge to find more innovative ways of turning opportunities into bankable business undertakings.

"While the government continues to provide the environment for creating and facilitating business and investment opportunities, it is only enterprising businessmen and women that can translate them into profitable and competitive enterprises," he said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Caving into pain at Mulu

IF you are planning a visit to Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak’s largest national park, don’t try to go through all its famous show caves in one day.

Instead, do what foreign tourists do – take your time, do a section of the caves at a time and spend more time loafing at the National Park headquarters. Otherwise, you’ll end up with stiff and sore muscles and walk like a broken robot. Just like us.

It was a short stay at the National Park HQ and we only had one day to experience all the attractions within its compound.

Our itinerary listed visits to the Penan Settlement at Batu Bungan, Wind and Clearwater Caves, the Canopy Skywalk, Lang and Deer Caves and bat observation.

At the end of the day, our legs ached badly from the amount of walking that we had not anticipated earlier.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Caving into pain at Mulu