Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sandakan Harbour Square wins Asia Pacific award

Kota Kinabalu: The Sandakan Harbour Square has picked up the much-coveted Asia Pacific Property Awards 2009, in association with CNBC Arabiya, for the Commercial Redevelopment/Renovation category.

Developed by ICSD Ventures Sdn Bhd, a unit of London-listed Aseana Properties Ltd, and project managed by Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd, the Sandakan Harbour Square is a seafront urban renewal project spanning over 12 acres, located within the Central Business District in Sandakan.

Launched in early 2003, the Sandakan Harbour Square has an estimated Gross Development Value of US Dollar 141 million (RM500 million).

"We are indeed honoured the Sandakan Harbour Square project has received this prestigious recognition from the CNBC-Asia Pacific Property Awards 2009," said president cum CEO of Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd, Lai Voo Hon.

"Being at the heart of the Sandakan Central Business District, the Sandakan Harbour Square will certainly craft its mark in the revitalisation of Sandakan town, bringing sustained growth and prosperity both economically and socially."

He said aside from providing international standard retail and hospitality and lifestyle facilities, the Square also represents the revival of Sandakan as a new hub for commerce and tourism in Sabah.

Continue reading at: Sandakan Harbour Square wins Asia Pacific award

Sarawak potential in air tours

MIRI: The Sarawak government has called on aviation companies operating in the state to venture into aerial tourism.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu anak Numpang said there were groups of rich tourists who could afford to rent helicopters for swift aerial tourism.

“There are rich business people who come to Sarawak often for business. They want to see Sarawak, but don’t have much time to travel extensively by land. They will certainly love to fly in a helicopter and take a whirlwind tour.

“They have the money and all they need is the service. Aviation companies should come up with packages for these very rich businessmen-tourists,’’ he said recently.

Jabu was here to launch two helicopters purchased by Layang-Layang Aerospace, an aviation company contracted by the Health Ministry to handle the flying doctor service.

The company purchased the two twin-engine BO-105 Bolkow designed and manufactured in Germany.

During a briefing, Jabu was told that the company spent RM5mil on each helicopter, including RM2mil to fit each of them with the equipment to treat patients at remote settlements and fly them to urban centres in emergency cases.

Continue reading at: Sarawak potential in air tours

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Visit Sibu Year 2009 well received

SIBU:The recent launching of Visit Sibu Year 2009 (VSY09) by Second Minister of Finance Dato’ Sri Wong Soon Koh, at the Sibu Gateway created interest among the people in Mukah, recently.

“We received a lot of queries from those who walked into our booth during the recent Kaul Festival in Mukah. Most of them told us that they were not aware of the many interesting events lined-up and places to visit during the Visit Sibu Year,” Rudy Anoi of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) told Eastern Times here, yesterday.

“I guess since this is the first time Sibu has launched this kind of programme, members of the public are curious and even expressed surprise that there were many things to see and placeS to visit in Sibu,” he said.

(STB), a marketing and promoter of tourist products in the state, set up a booth in Mukah from April 24 to 26 in conjunction with this year’s Mukah Kaul Festival.

The site of the Mukah Kaul Festival was at Taman Kala Dana and one of the highlights of the three-day event was promoting VSY09, Rudy said.

“The orange-coloured Visit Sibu Year Calendar of Events stood out among other brochures that were on display. This made it easier for the visitors to pick and went through them. Many were impressed with the events listed in the Calendar,” he added.

Continue reading at: Visit Sibu Year 2009 well received

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

RM200m federal grant for Mukah airport

MUKAH: Mukah will get a new airport as part of a long-term plan to develop its infrastrucure.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the Federal Government had approved the project and given a RM200mil grant to initiate the airport.

He was speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony for a new state administrative centre here that will house the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) headquarters.

Taib said the airport, which would accommodate Boeing 737 aircraft, would be built by Juara Cahaya Sdn Bhd, a bumiputra building and civil engineering contractor.

Continue reading at: RM200m federal grant for Mukah airport

Ba’Kelalan to host Apple Fiesta

MIRI: Ba’Kelalan will be busy again for hosting its annual “Ba’Kelalan: The Heart of Borneo Escapade 2009 (HOB)” from May 10 to 13.

Also known as Apple Fiesta, the event, organised by Borneo Jungle Safari (BJS) Sdn Bhd, has entered its third year. It will be held immediately after the Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) 2009 on May 8 and 9.

According to BJS Managing Director, Mutang Tagal, some 50 guests comprising several local and international media as well as tourists will be joining the unique annual event which has the full support from Tourism Malaysia, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and MasWings.

Speaking at the press conference at BJS office yesterday, Mutang pointed out that the event and the programme itself had been supported by Sarawak Tourism Action Council (STAC) for three years in a row.

“Thanks to Tourism Malaysia, STB, MasWings and STAC for their full support in the great promotion of Apple Fiesta in Ba’Kelalan.

Such support has helped us a lot and Ba’Kelalan has now become popular in the eco-tourism industry via the Apple Fiesta,” he remarked.

Continue reading at: Ba’Kelalan to host Apple Fiesta

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sabah gets set for three big events

KOTA KINABALU: Visitors will be spoilt for choice as three major events kick off this week showcasing the best of the state's culture and Labuan's marine natural wonders.

The launch of the month- long Pesta Kaamatan, or Harvest Festival, will be held in Papar on Friday while the Sabah Fest cultural extravaganza will begin the next day.

Tomorrow will see the launching of the Labuan International Sea Challenge, which ends on Sunday.

Each represents a distinct attraction aimed at keeping local traditions alive and can boost the lucrative tourism industry which both the state and Labuan are banking on to pull it through the global economic slowdown.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah gets set for three big events

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ANZAC Day: 100 relatives of POWs in Sandakan

SANDAKAN: Over 100 relatives of Australian Prisoners of War (POWs) who died during the infamous Death Marches of World War Two attended the ANZAC Day service at the Sandakan Memorial Park here on Saturday.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman at the memorial service which was also attended by Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Penny Williams, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang and Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Other notable guests included Sandakan Municipal Council president James Wong and Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Dr. Tengku Zainal Adlin.

In his speech delivered by Datuk Tan, the Chief Minister said Malaysians felt humbled that they and their friends in Australia and New Zealand were living in war free zones.

“The Sandakan Memorial Park and the ANZAC Day service represent our commitment in preserving the memory of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice on our soil. It is also a sign of a strong bond and friendship between Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand,” Musa said.

Continue reading at: ANZAC Day: 100 relatives of POWs in Sandakan

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Sipadan three spots away from qualifying

Kota Kinabalu: Pulau Sipadan moved up to 14th place from 17th spot in the search for seven new wonders of nature being carried out via Internet voting.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, said Sipadan is now only three spots away from qualifying for the final rounds of voting.

"(But) I am confident that we will be able to achieve our goal to be among the 10 best islands in the world," he said in a text read by Assistant Minister Bolkiah Ismail at the launching of "Vote for Sipadan" campaign at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), here, Thursday.

To qualify, he said Sipadan must be among the 11 finalists under the island category in the online competition.

So, to achieve the goal, he said the Ministry is targeting students from public and private institutes of higher learning especially those with e-mail accounts.

At the same time, he said they are also approaching officers in both the State and Federal governments.

He said they have requested that the State and Federal governments inform their agencies and departments to brief their staff on the voting procedure for Sipadan.

Bolkiah said he has been entrusted to exploit the market in the peninsula and to target students and Federal employees.

Next week, he said he will be meeting with Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen to discuss the launching of the campaign in the peninsula in a big way.

Continue reading at: Sipadan three spots away from qualifying

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brunei Hotel offers variety of authentic cuisines in May

By Lyna Mohamad

Throughtout the month of May, local food lovers can savour their taste buds to the best Indian, Chinese and Malay culinary as Brunei Hotel will be dishing out a month-long authentic cuisine at its Mawar Coffee House restaurant at less than $10 per menu inclusive of free soft drinks.

In a food tasting session prior to the food promo that saw the attendance of its General Manager Mdm Cynthia Bong, the hotel's F&B Manager Kee Taufek said the promo serves as yet another appreciation gesture to their customers who have been patronising the hotel's restaurant over the years.

At a nett price of $6.50, diners have the choice of a variety of authentic and mouth-watering cuisines namely Uttar Pradesh Spicy Chicken, Cashew Kung Po Chicken, Black Pepper Buttermilk Chicken, Sauteed Fish Fillet, Clay Pot Lamb Curry, Shanghai Chicken, Milk Sweet Corn Chicken and Chicken Patties with Avocado.

Diners can also opt to change their preference to chicken, fish, lamb or beef with the choice of cooking they prefer in the promo that will run from May 1 until May 31, 2009.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Kuching eyes UNESCO World Heritage status

KUCHING: If things go as plan, Kuching city could well be the next heritage site in the country, following in the footsteps of Melaka and Penang which have been awarded the prestigious world heritage status by UNESCO. According to Minister of Urban Development and Tourism, Datuk Michael Manyin Jawong, Kuching city meets all the criteria set by the world governing body, UNESCO.

“However we are still at the preliminary stage and it will take some time for it to materialise.

In the case of Melaka and Penang it took them eight years to get the recognition from UNESCO.

“So to start with I have instructed the President of the Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), Wee Hong Seng, to visit both Melaka and Penang to learn from their experiences on how to attain the prestigious status as world heritage sites,” Manyin said at a Heritage talk held at Sarawak Tourism Complex here Tuesday night.

He added that for the plan to materialise the people, especially those directly involved, must be pro-active and willing to work extra hard to get the prestigious status.

“It would really be a privilege if one day Kuching city is to be gazetted as a world heritage site as it would put Kuching city in the world tourism map.

“There will be strings of benefit from it. Among others it will enhance the value of Kuching city to attract tourists to come.

It will become a top destination for business ventures as well,” he said. Manyin said among the criteria set up by UNESCO to obtain the prestigious status are: unique universal value, unique culture of its ethnic groups, including food, places of interest and arts, and it must also have a rich historical background.

Continue reading at: Kuching eyes UNESCO World Heritage status

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Marine eco-tourism in Brunei

By Edwin Eng & Azim Ghani

Eco-Tourism can help the Brunei economy by generating revenue and jobs if it is sustainably developed, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hamdillah bin Haji Abd Wahab yesterday when he opened a seminar on "Marine Biodiversity of Brunei Darussalam: Potentials and Opportunities for Marine Eco-Tourism Development" at the Caesar Hall, Orchid Garden.

The seminar, organised by the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, aims to disseminate information regarding marine biodiversity of Brunei Darussalam as a result of the rapid survey on the coral reefs areas, exploring opportunities for the marine eco-tourism development and to promote awareness on the need to protect the coral reefs and habitat of Brunei waters.

In a welcoming speech delivered by the Director of Fisheries, Hajah Hasnah Ibrahim, she said that "with the Declaration of the Brunei Fisheries Limits in 1982, which came into effect on the 1st January 1983, our fisheries resources management's jurisdiction is up to a 200 mile-limit."

"The department has planned in the long-term for the provisions of physical facilities and infrastructure. It is hoped that the seminar can start to create awareness about our marine biodiversity and spur enthusiasms to harness the potential for marine eco-tourism development," she added.

Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hamdillah bin Haji Abd Wahab who is also Chairman of the Brunei Tourism Board, said, "The Ecotourism sector if developed sustainably can help the economy by generating revenue and jobs. Tourist regions in many countries now rely on ecotourism as the primary source of revenue. In the area of opportunities and potentials for marine eco-tourism development, the Marine Ecotourism sector today is a large chunk of the global tourism market, which considered the largest industry today, worth at 20 billions Euros worldwide and employing more than 10 per cent of the global work force. It is thus important to accept the fact that this tourism traffic is increasing in the near future and increasingly, national governments such as Costa Rica and Australia are supporting the ecotourism trade for its benefit to both their country and their visitors."

He added, "I would like to urge both the Fisheries Department to also begin programmes to create awareness among the public, especially relevant stakeholders, regarding the harmful effects of certain fishing practices, with Issues like coral reefs bombing, cyanide fishing and ghost fishing. These practices can be considered as 'serious crimes' in our waters although currently it seems that Brunei Darussalam is not much affected by these practices. This is a good beginning since from now on, we are promoting marine eco-tourism and we should be concerned about conservation for our marine biodiversity."

Five working papers presented by five speakers comprise of a well-known coral reef fish expert from Conservation International, an expert from Scubazoo, a prominent company in underwater photography, two experts from Indonesia and an expert from Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd.

The Fisheries Department in anticipation, received feedback from seminar participants in supporting the development of marine eco-tourism sector in this country and at the same time increase awareness on the importance of conserving and managing marine biodiversity in Brunei waters.

The seminar has drawn over 100 participants locally and from abroad.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

A Cruising Holiday aboard Raja Laut – Borneo

Raja Laut sets her sights southwards to the magnificence of Indonesia and Borneo, the third largest island in the world.

Malaysian Borneo is blessed by Mother Nature, with imposing mountain ranges, lush rainforests, swollen rivers, a smattering of idyllic islands, and a smorgasbord of natural charm and friendly locals! People who have experienced this region can never talk too highly of Malaysian Borneo - 'One of our favourite places in the world!'

This area offers up a highly rewarding cruising experience for those who know where to go and the crew of Raja Laut certainly are experts. Borneo is Raja Laut’s birthplace and her spiritual home. The schooner was built on these shores, and with it the dream of exploring Borneo, Bali and beyond was also born.

Borneo is the birthplace of many an inspiring, impossibly romantic, yet sometimes very real adventure… which is a conclusion the writer Joseph Conrad must have come to having traced the paths to Borneo many times both as a sailor and novelist. Conrad did more than any other to make Borneo legend - indeed the journey from the Andaman Sea to Borneo, and then Bali is thought of as 'Conrad’s Passage'.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: A Cruising Holiday aboard Raja Laut – Borneo

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Five respondents win tickets to Miri jazz fest

MIRI: Five visitors to last year’s Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) must thank themselves for diligently filling in the festival survey form as this has won them tickets to this year’s concert here on May 8 and 9.

The five were picked from the 1,500 visitors who participated in the survey conducted by Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), the organiser, to get feedback on improving the event.

The survey also asked the participants to vote for the bands which they preferred to return to MIJF the following year.

The five are Anne Lawai and Fiona Anne Kab, both from Miri, Alex Ooi (Kuala Lumpur), and Steven Aju and Trevor Nunes (both from Brunei).

Meanwhile, with the festival just two weeks away and entering its fourth year, STB is working at full capacity to ensure its success.

STB is targeting a crowd of 8,000 and eight international bands have been invited to perform at the festival at the Pavilion of Parkcity Everly Hotel here.

Continue reading at: Five respondents win tickets to Miri jazz fest

Community-based tourism calls for systematic approach

SANDAKAN: Community-based tourism, said to be an effective poverty reduction and wealth distribution tool, requires systematic and sustainable approaches instead of ad hoc methods, said Tourism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng.

He said the long-term viability of community-based tourism projects, which required careful planning, commitment and perseverance, was a prime concern.

“Appropriate policy interventions and physical infrastructure should be in place to ensure community-based tourism is developed in a sustainable manner.

“Community capacity building should also be initiated and a collective vision of what the community aspires to be and how it will progress and supports itself are some of the issues that need to be resolved,” he said when opening the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Conference on Community-based Tourism here.

The four-day conference is being attended by 65 delegates, 12 of them from Indonesia, Peru, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Dr Ong said community-based tourism was gradually becoming a mainstream development tool and was extensively being used in the planning and development of Malaysia’s new economic corridors such as the East Coast Economic Region (ECER), Iskandar Malaysia and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

Continue reading at: Community-based tourism calls for systematic approach

Monday, April 20, 2009

10,000 brochures to remind tourists about Visit Sibu Year

SIBU: Datuk Tiong Thai King, chairman of Sibu Municipal Council said they would distribute 10,000 brochures through Sarawak Tourism Board, hotels and tour agents to remind tourists about Visit Sibu Year 2009.

He said that 18 events slotted for this year were contained in the brochure, and called on the local community to come together to play a role.

“We may not have beautiful beaches and scenic mountains, but we have an extremely rich ethnic history, cultures, traditions and a cohesive community spirit to make the event an unforgettable one for tourists.”

He said the mighty Rejang River, the longest in the country, had vast potential in cultural and eco-tourism yet to be tapped.

“We are truly excited with the launch of Pandaw Cruise on July 1. This will make our dream to have a cruise on Rejang River come true.”

He said when Pandaw Cruise was launched earlier this year, it initially raised sceptical views, but booking was now so overwhelming.

Continue reading at: 10,000 brochures to remind tourists about Visit Sibu Year

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Semporna's Lepa Lepa a beacon for or heritage

SEMPORNA: The Lepa Lepa Regatta is a significant event as it is in line with the government’s objectives, especially in the implementation of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) which also emphasises the importance of preserving Sabah’s culture and heritage.

Speaking at the launch of the 16th edition of the Regatta here last night, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said the event was not only a platform to showcase the culture of the Semporna Bajau community but also a catalyst to strengthen unity and harmony among the people of diverse backgrounds.

“This event has proven to be successful to strengthen the spirit of camaraderie and unity among the people in the state,” he said.

Musa also said Sabah not only was blessed with an abundance of marine life and flora and fauna, and unique nature but it also has diverse culture and tradition.

“The more than 31 ethnic groups in the state live in peace and harmony,” he said.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Semporna's Lepa Lepa a beacon for or heritage

Sabah tour agents to explore China market

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) plan to explore the China markets especially some of its popular tourist destinations like Guangxi, Guilin, Hunan, Changsha, Chengdu and Szechuan.

"We are currently planning an inspection tour of these places in three months time in order to establish a good rapport with our counterparts over there," he said new President Winston Liaw.

Touching on Sabah's tourism development, Winston noted that since the introduction of direct flights in 2000, Sabah had established its name in Guangzhou, Shanghai and other parts of China but not so much in places like Guangxi, Hunan and Szechuan.

He said in the current downturn, it would be a bonus if the State could have 20 per cent increase in tourist arrivals compared to last year.

Continue reading at: Sabah tour agents to explore China market

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kota Kinabalu’s OK for diving

For a spot of diving in a place within reach of civilisation, Kota Kinabalu’s Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is just swell.

Mention scuba diving in Sabah, and people are likely to think of Mabul or Sipadan.

These islands are about nothing but beaches and diving. While this may be great for many, those of us who need something a little more may find them wanting.

This is where Kota Kinabalu, the capital, comes into the picture. Or Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, to be exact.

The park is probably one of the best-kept diving secrets in the country, and it is a mere 20 minutes by speedboat from the town’s marina. TAR Park consists of five islands, Gaya (the biggest), Sapi, Manukan, Sulug and Mamutik.

At least 10 reputable diving sites are said to be located here, so this, for me, became a trip to verify if the convenience of the park’s location is backed up by quality.

Reefs in recovery

Armed with a Panasonic Lumix in a Nautilus underwater housing, I was ready to gather evidence.

I started off at Gaya Island, where the visibility was about average and the coral quality below average. The glaring damage from dynamite blasting was evident, a scene repeated in varying degrees of severity at other sites.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Kota Kinabalu’s OK for diving

Sabah Tea Garden - Care for a spot of tea?

Offering close-to-nature activities, lush greens, coupled with amazing views of Mt Kinabalu, Sabah Tea Garden is a great place to get close to nature and have a relaxing holiday — all in one place.

Nestled in the lush tropical wilderness of Mt Kinabalu on 2,509ha and at 692m above sea level, Sabah Tea Garden’s cool and refreshing atmosphere renders it perfect for anyone who wants to get away for the weekend or a holiday.

Here are some six must-dos while there:

The tea experience

We reached Sabah Tea Garden after flying into Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines and were ushered to the Tea House where we were treated to cups of chilled tea — a perfect respite from the hot weather.

My Sabah Tea with ginger was a blend of black tea with slices of ginger. It was refreshing.

To make the whole tea experience even more authentic, we tried the Tea Pancakes. These are made using tea leaf extract, flour and eggs. We had ours served with honey and it was delicious — a great way to start our “totally tea” experience.

Stay at the Sabah Tea Longhouse

Visitors who opt to stay at The Sabah Tea Longhouse can enjoy an authentic “tribal” experience. Built about 1m-1.5m above ground, this longhouse has 10 rooms and took 10 men to complete in a month. Each room sleeps two to three adults.

If staying in a longhouse is not your cup of tea, Sabah Tea Garden also offers chalets with three rooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sabah Tea Garden - Care for a spot of tea?

More Reading: Sabah Tea Garden, Nalapak, Ranau

Sabah to host joint Kaamatan-Gawai bash

Penampang: Sabah will host a joint Kaamatan-Gawai celebration on June 12, this year.

The third edition of the celebration will be hosted by the Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) after it was organised in Miri, Sarawak by its counterpart, the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), last year.

According to the publicity chairman of the organising committee, Pius Jaua, various programmes have been lined up for the annual event, including showcasing the Kadazandusun and Dayak cultures.

"This includes the parading of the Kaamatan Unduk Ngadau and the Kumang Gawai," he said at a Press conference here, Friday.

Among the main objectives of the celebration are to further enhance the friendship, goodwill and networking that have been established among members of the two Chambers, he said.

Continue reading at: Sabah to host joint Kaamatan-Gawai bash

Two more air links approved from Sabah to Singapore

Kota Kinabalu: Two more air routes to Singapore from Sabah have been approved by the Federal Government, in addition to the existing Kota Kinabalu-Singapore route. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the talks to negotiate the landing rights for the new air routes to Singapore, from Tawau and Sandakan, were held in Singapore on April 14.

Speaking to reporters after holding a three-hour dialogue with the Sabah Chinese community and business leaders at SM Kian Kok here, Friday, Ong who is also the MCA President said the service "should be okay by June".

He said similar to the Kota Kinabalu-Singapore service, AirAsia would be servicing the new routes.

However, Ong said it would be better for AirAsia to announce on the frequency of flights and other details because "I am not duty bound to give them free promotion".

"What is important is there are now three major towns in Sabah connected by air to Singapore," he said, adding the Ministry was fully confident that the establishment of the air routes would act as a catalyst to the economic development in Sandakan and Tawau.

"Of course, it will definitely boost the tourism sector. We want to attract tourists (not necessarily from Singapore but) who are on transit in Singapore to come to Sabah and Sarawak," he said, adding he had also made the announcement during the dialogue.

On the Cabotage Policy, Ong said the business community leaders from Sabah had been raising the matter and he assured that his Ministry "is quite ready to table the Cabinet paper on its proposal for the Federal Cabinet consideration".

Continue reading at: Two more air links approved from Sabah to Singapore

Friday, April 17, 2009

‘Commando trail’ could be next Sarawak tourism product

KUCHING: A particular jungle trail from Bario Highland to Upper Rajang through Long Akah and Belaga could be the next tourism product from Sarawak.

This is because according to Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), this was where three parties of British and Australian commandos led by the late Tom Harrison were air-dropped to liberate Sarawak at the end of the Second World War in 1945.

STF heritage development committee chairman Lim Kian Hock said the trail to be known as ‘Liberation Trail’ would rekindle the spirit of the struggle for peace and nation building as a tribute to the veterans of war.

“STF feels it is opportune to seek the cooperation and collaboration of the Urban Development and Tourism Ministry, its tourism and heritage partners, and Bario community to open up this Liberation Trail.

“This will let our young generation and our young Australian friends experience this unique heritage, jungle survival skills and the promotion of cultural exchange,” he said yesterday.

Apart from that, STF also hoped that the Batu Lintang Memorial Square and Museum, which had been proposed since 2002, would be realised soon.

This is because the site, a former prisoner-of-war (POW) camp during the Japanese occupation in 1942 to 1945, continues to receive visitors mainly from Australia due to strong sentimental connection with that country.

Continue reading at: ‘Commando trail’ could be next Sarawak tourism product

US official: Sabah a model for conservation

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah which is rich in wildlife, plants and marine diversity, can serve as a model for other states in Malaysia and countries in the region for its conservation projects, a US government official said.

Impressed with what she has seen during three visits, Kuala Lumpur-based US State Department environment, science, technology and health officer Alice Chu noted that Sabah was carrying out conservation projects with non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders to preserve its biodiversity.

"The US government is trying to partner with the local state governments of Sabah and Sarawak and their partners such as NGOs to preserve biodiversity in a sustainable manner.

"Malaysia is a leader in this and Sabah is a great model for other states in the country and other nations in the region to follow.

"The local government and NGOs know what the pressing issues are," said Chu, who will soon leave Malaysia to take up another posting, after spending half a day at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here yesterday.

Continue reading at: US official: Sabah a model for conservation

Move to promote cruises on Sarawak’s Baram River

MIRI: Batang Baram, Sarawak’s second-longest river, may be the next waterway for the promotion of river-cruise expeditions for tourists in Sarawak.

This will become a reality only if the Rajang River cruise makes a successful debut in July.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said the board had received queries from a number of interested parties to begin the Batang Baram River cruise.

The parties felt, with the second cruise, tourists could explore the Baram hinterland and the colourful culture of the orang ulus, she added.

Speaking to reporters here recently, Geike said that interest on the second river began after a move by Myanmar-based Irrawaddy Fotilla Company to start the Rajang River Cruise on July 1.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Move to promote cruises on Sarawak’s Baram River

Cebu Pacific plans flights to Brunei

MANILA - Cebu Pacific has filed a petition before the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to mount flights to Australia and Brunei following the conclusion of air service agreements with the two countries, BusinessWorld reported.

"We're very interested to operate flights to Brunei and Australia. We've been asking for entitlements so that we can offer low fares for these markets," Candice A Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing, said.

Budget-airline Cebu Pacific sought 540 seat entitlements for a thrice-weekly Manila to Sydney flight, 300 seat entitlements for a twice-weekly Manila to Melbourne flight, and 360 seat entitlements for a twice-weekly Manila to Brisbane flight.

Cebu Pacific has also applied for a petition for "designation as official Philippine carrier to Brunei" since there would be daily flights to Brunei's Bandar Seri Begawan airport.

Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines, Inc (PAL), meanwhile, said that it has no plans now to increase flights to Australia.

"We are on status quo for our flights to Australia," Jonathan P Gesmundo of PAL's Corporate Communications office said.

Last October, Lucio C Tan-led PAL hiked its flights to Melbourne and Sydney to daily from five times a week.

Gesmundo said PAL has yet to consider whether to mount flights to Brunei.

Businessman Alfredo M Yao said his budget airline Zest Airways, Inc would also apply for entitlements to Australia.

"Yes, we have plans to mount flights to Australia as we are really aiming to carve niche markets in our flights. We also see some demand from there," Yao said.

As for mounting flights to Brunei, Yao said the company board is still studying it.

The country's air panel finished air service negotiations with their counterparts from Australia last March. The two-day talks increased seat entitlements to 6,000 seats from 2,500, for flights between Manila and Clark to Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Flights between other regional airports in Australia and airports in the Philippines have no capacity or frequency restrictions.

The country also sealed new air service agreements with Brunei last April, with flight entitlements for both countries increased to two carriers from the previous one, and to seven flights a week from five.

Local carriers so far have no flights to Brunei. PAL, though, has code-sharing agreement with Royal Brunei Airlines, which flies five times a week between Manila and Brunei.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort - Revel in longhouse luxury

TUCKED away on the shores of Batang Ai Lake in Sarawak is a luxury resort where guests can get close to nature without sacrificing their comfort.

The Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, as the name suggests, is built on the concept of traditional Iban longhouses.

It has 98 rooms, including eight double-storey suites, in 11 longhouse-style blocks, each with a covered common area resembling the verandah found in longhouses.

The rooms come with air-conditioning, television, refrigerator and tea- and coffee-making facilities.

Billed as Hilton’s only jungle resort, it is set amidst 20ha of rainforest on a peninsula jutting into the lake.

Guests can go jungle trekking on several trails around the resort, visit a longhouse upriver or picnic by a waterfall. Fishing excursions and trips to Batang Ai National Park, a two-hour boat ride away, can also be arranged.

Guest relations and activities manager Christopher Kiding said the resort offered guided treks on four trails.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort - Revel in longhouse luxury

Can old Kuching be developed as a world heritage site?

KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), in collaboration with the Sarawak Heritage Society, is organising a heritage talk next Tuesday at the Performing Arts Theatre, Block J of the Old Kuching Courthouse Complex.

The talk is to introduce the concept of World Heritage, its importance and relevance to the government and its people.

Two prominent speakers Laurence Loh from Penang and Lye Pi Chin from Malacca will be sharing their experiences and endeavours for the joint World Heritage Listing.

A professional architect of 35 years and graduate of the Architectural Association of London, Loh is a member of the International Council of Monuments and Sites.

He is a consultant to ICCROM, Unesco, World Bank, Penang State government, Hong Kong Antiquities and Monuments Board, Hong Kong Urban Renewal Authority, Penang Heritage Trust and Singapore Tourism Board.

As a testimony to his experience in historic conservation locally and internationally and his status as a leading regional architect, Loh was the International Assessor in Macau’s successful bid for listing as a World Heritage Site.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Can old Kuching be developed as a world heritage site?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rescued baby orangutan in Sarawak finds a new home

KUCHING: A baby orang utan which had been rescued from captivity was handed over to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre here Wednesday.

The six-month-old male animal was rescued by retired soldier Kanang Langkau and his friend Tay Choon Yong, both from Sri Aman.

Tay said he was driving through Lingga bazaar near Sri Aman, about 200km from here, last Friday when he came across a boy playing with the baby orang utan by the roadside.

“I don’t know how the boy got hold of the orang utan but I suspect that it was being kept as a pet,” he said.

He persuaded the boy to give him the baby orang utan by telling him that it could not be kept as a pet and that it probably would not survive in captivity.

Tay then called Kanang to inform him about the baby orang utan and Kanang proposed sending it to Semenggoh where it would be taken care of.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Rescued baby orangutan in Sarawak finds a new home

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cruising expeditions along Baram River

MIRI: Baram River, the second longest in Sarawak, has been eyed by the tourism industry for cruising expeditions.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Gracie Geikie yesterday disclosed the interest shown by interested parties to operate along the Baram River.

Interest for a second river cruise began following a move by Irrawaddy Fotilla, a Myanmar-based company, to start the Rajang River Cruise on July 1.

Geikie said on a Baram cruise, tourists would be able to explore the hinterland and the colourful culture of the Orang Ulu.

She said since the Rajang River Cruise was promoted, it has been receiving tremendous response, particularly from European and American tourists to join in the nine-day, eight-night cruise that covers a number of tourist attractions along our longest river.

The entire trip costs about RM10,000 per tourist and the river cruise operation is also expected to open up unique job opportunities in the tourism industry.

Continue reading at: Cruising expeditions along Baram River

Sarawak in Astro’s Travel and Living Network spotlight

MIRI: Astro’s Travel and Living Network will be featuring tourism documentaries on northern Sarawak soon, a move that is expected to draw more tourists to the region.

The network will be giving prominent coverage to Miri, Unesco World Heritage Site Mulu National Park, the highlands of Bario and Ba’kelalan and other destinations in the area in conjunction with the Miri International Jazz Festival 2009 on May 9-10.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said Astro had helped to facilitate the arrangements for the coverage.

“Travel and Living will highlight the jazz festival and air documentaries on the various places of interests that northern Sarawak has to offer, even after the festival is over.

Continue reading at: Sarawak in Astro’s Travel and Living Network spotlight

Monday, April 13, 2009

Golf putt-in RM38 million to Sabah’s tourism industry

KOTA KINABALU: Golf clubs in Sabah have been encouraged to help the state government promote golfing as a tourism product.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said golf was now one of the significant contributors to Sabah’s booming tourism industry.

“I urge golf clubs to utilise their resources to attract golf enthusiasts from around the world to come to Sabah as we have world-class golf courses.

“We have the most beautiful yet challenging golf courses to offer to golf tourists,” he said at the prize-giving ceremony of the 21st Sabah Golf and Country Club (SGCC) Amateur Open here yesterday, which was also attended by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin.

According to Masidi, golf tourism last year contributed about RM38 million in revenue to the state’s tourism industry.

He was confident the revenue would increase this year, despite the global economic downturn.

Meanwhile, Sabah’s current top junior amateur Nicholas Fung showed his prowess on his home turf, the SGCC course, to emerge as the overall champion of the event.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Golf putt-in RM38 million to Sabah’s tourism industry

Sarawak Rainforest music festival to unravel another rousing show

WITH a record number of more than 22,000 revellers attending last year’s Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is working hard to ensure this year’s festival continues to have the same magical attraction.

STB has already enlisted bands from the US, Portugal, Tanzania, New Zealand, Poland, France and South Korea to perform at the 12th edition of the festival which will be staged at the picturesque Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) in Kuching, Sarawak, from July 10 to 12.

There will also be performances by Malaysian bands, including from Sarawak, and these bands will add musical variety to the festival.

The bands that will perform are Zawose Family Africa from Tanzania, Noreummachi (South Korea), Moana & The Tribe (New Zealand), Red Chamber (Canada/China), Jouhiorkesteri (Finland), Muzsikas (Hungary), Inti Illimani (Chile), Jeff & The Vida (US), Dazkarieh (Portugal), Oudaden (Morocco), Poum Tchak (France), Asika (Malaysia), Sekaa Jaya Jenggala (Indonesia), The Nicholas Orchestra (Poland), Lan-E Tuyang (Sarawak, Malaysia), Kinabalu Merdu Sound (Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia) and AkashA (Malaysia).

This new and exciting edition of RWMF promises festival goers an interesting mix of world music beats from the bands which will showcase some unique instruments.

Revellers can enrich their festival experience by participating in jam sessions at workshops every afternoon at the various ethnic houses in SCV, or by visiting the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar (RWCB), which will be held simultaneously with the festival.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak Rainforest music festival to unravel another rousing show

Brunei restaurant shortlisted for The Miele Guide

By P Marilyn

The Miele Guide - Asia's first truly independent and authoritative restaurant guide - has opened its website for members of the public to cast their votes in support of their favourite restaurants, including those in Brunei.

A total of 400 restaurants, including Asia's Top 20, will eventually appear in The Miele Guide 2009/2010, scheduled to be launched in October 2009, according to a press release.

Created in 2008, The Miele Guide was formed to better recognise and celebrate Asia's best chefs and restaurants.

In total, 18 Asian countries will be evaluated - Brunei, Cambodia, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia and Nepal.

Brunei, though small compared to other Asian countries, is not left behind when it comes to good food.

One restaurant in Brunei has been shortlisted for the 2009/2010 edition of The Miele Guide. If nominated, I-Lotus Restaurant (established in 2004) will be featured as one of the recommended restaurants in The Miele Guide.

Speaking to the Bulletin, Manager Sarina Amin credited the restaurant's reputation to the hard work and perseverance of the restaurant's chefs, who are passionate about their cooking.

I-Lotus will strive continuously to improve its services where necessary to be recognised as one of the best eatery in Brunei, she added.

The Miele Guide is published by Ate Media and sponsored by Miele, a German manufacturer of premium and innovative cooking appliances for the home.

In addition to ranking Asia's top 20 restaurants, the top five restaurants in each country represented in the guide this year will also be listed.

The guide will also feature an overview of each featured country's dining scene written by shortlist panelists who are top restaurant critics and food writers in their own right in their respective home countries.

The 2009/2010 edition will feature 400 restaurants across Asia, 80 more than the previous 320.

Meanwhile, the shortlist of restaurants was nominated by 85 of Asia's most respected food journalists. Each journalist was asked to select what he/she believed were the 20 best restaurants in his/her own country.

I-Lotus restaurant was one that stood out and is now in the running to be included in this year's edition of The Miele Guide.

The restaurants that will be included in The Miele Guide will be selected based upon the opinions of the region's most respected restaurant critics and food writers, popular public vote and the votes of The Miele Guide's Special Jury, comprising an invited panel of respected food lovers, journalists and F&B professionals, as well as anonymous tastings conducted by The Miele Guide's contributing editors and editorial team.

Members of the public will have until May 24 to cast their votes at and vote for restaurants that are already shortlisted or nominate restaurants that are not yet on the list.

To maximise voter access this year, participation is open to any food lovers who register at The Miele Guide website. An email verification system has been put in place to safeguard against voter abuse.

The website will be available in five languages - English, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Traditional Chinese and Korean.

When voting for a restaurant, participants are asked to consider the quality of the food served, the restaurant's ambiance and the level of service offered.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Getting up close with Proboscis monkeys

A proboscis monkey in the mangrove forest - PHOTOS: BEN NG

Students on the Proboscis Monkey River Safari Trip, hosted by Mona Flora and Fauna Tours

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Ben Ng and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Aziz Idris

Forty-four students, including seven instructors from the Hospitality and Tourism Department at Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College, joined an educational "Proboscis Monkey River Safari Trip" yesterday, hosted by Mona Flora and Fauna Tours.

The students are currently undertaking National Diploma in Travel and Tourism Services at the college.

On hand to guide the students during the trip was Awang Daud Abdullah, also known as "Jungle Dave".

According to Jungle Dave, proboscis monkeys can only be found in the mangrove forests along Damuan River on Borneo Island.

"There are about 5,000 proboscis monkeys on the whole of Borneo, and the number is increasing each year," he said. "This shows a positive impact of the conservation efforts to protect endangered species."

Meanwhile, head of delegation Pengiran Mohd Sufri Pengiran Ali, who is also Head of the Hospitality and Tourism Department at Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College, told the Bulletin that the main objective of the outing was to introduce the students to Brunei's eco-tourism industry.

"What we're teaching them in college are mostly theories," he said. "So, this trip is practical for them, especially first-year students who will be conducting their industrial attachment this July."

He also noted that the students "can learn a lot from Jungle Dave, especially on matters relating to the environmental impact of tourism in Brunei".

As a lecturer teaching sustainable tourism, Pengiran Mohd Sufri said the topic on environment "is greatly emphasised".

Meanwhile, student Dayang Nurul Hidayat bte Haji Yunos told the Bulletin, "Before I joined the course, I thought proboscis monkeys existed somewhere in Europe... I didn't know such exotic animal existed in Brunei."

On the trip, she said, "I've learned the importance of protecting our environment and its wildlife, and I will relate the experience in my upcoming assignments."

Another student, Dayang Norainayani bte Kamis, added, "I hope there will be more trips of this kind in the near future as it raises awareness of our environment, especially our unique mangrove forest."

Meanwhile, yesterday's tour ended with a visit to Kampong Tamoi Tengah where Haji Chuchu prepared lunch for the students.

Haji Chuchu said he welcomed foreign tourists to have meals at his residence as part of an experience of Brunei's heritage Kampong Ayer.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Book Review: Uncovering the real Sarawak

This book explores the true multiculturalism of The Land of the Hornbills and allows the establishment of a link between social change and ethnic identity.

THE book edited by Prof Zawawi Ibrahim is a very ambitious one. In the chapters of the book, Sarawak is studied as being in the margins of the Malaysian nation-state where social identities, like ethnic identity, are not fixed. They are not homogenous and do not necessarily bring about social harmony, as is conventionally believed.

By contrast, the articles of the book interpret these identities as fluid and therefore they should be studied as such, and not as the more “compartmentalised’’ character of Peninsula Malaysia’s ethnic plurality.

Essentially, in the wider sense, the book is about “multiculturalism’’, but not in the sense of political rhetoric.

The collection brings together 15 articles by leading social scientists on Sarawakian society and culture. These set out to contest common knowledge on Sarawak and the grand narratives of social development and change. By engaging in theoretical as well as concrete research, Sarawak is studied through the works of anthropologists and scholars from other disciplines (political science, law and social work) based in the United States, Britain, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Book Review: Uncovering the real Sarawak

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: 16th Regatta Lepa Semporna

Date : 18 - 19 April 2009

Semporna comes to life with the Bajau seafarers' colourful Regatta Lepa where a competition of the most beautiful traditional sailboats is held. Witness telematches such as the boat tug-of-war, kayak racing and boat racing. The town of Semporna is also home to fresh seafood and the gateway to the world's best dive sites.

Further Information

Organiser : District Office of Semporna
Contact Person : Abd. Mohamed Ibnu Hj. Abdul Kadir Baba (D.O) / Winceslaus G. Autine (Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn. Bhd)
Telephone : +6089 781518 / 088 232121
Fax : +6089 781472 / 088 265540
Email Contact :
Event Website :

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Students roped in to vote for Sipadan

KOTA KINABALU: University and school students are being roped in to boost a bid for Sabah’s international diving haven of Pulau Sipadan to be listed as one of the new seven wonders of nature.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum said the students would be encouraged like other Malaysians to go online at or to vote for the island.

”We are getting the students to vote online as they are familiar with using the internet,” he said

He said Sipadan had qualified to be one of the 261 national and multinational nominees emerging from 222 participating countries in the nomination stage.

Continue reading at: Students roped in to vote for Sipadan

New info centre on Sarawak rainforest

BINTULU: The newly-opened Sarawak Rainforest and Sustain­able Forest Management Discovery Centre in Bukit Kana, Tatau near here provides an insight into the state’s rich flora and fauna.

Visitors can learn more about the rainforest, an important source of food to the native inhabitants, through the exhibits and related information.

The centre, which was launched by Sarawak Forestry director Datuk Len Talif Salleh on Thursday, was set up in conjunction with the certification of the Anap-Muput sustainable forest management unit.

The Anap-Muput unit is the first in Sarawak certified under the 2002 Malaysian Criteria and Indicator for Sustainable Forest Management.

More than 1,200 Ibans from 15 longhouses live around the certified forest.

Continue reading at: New info centre on Sarawak rainforest

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sabah Fest to highlight mystical practices

KOTA KINABALU: Mystical Sabah will be the theme for the month-long Sabah Fest cultural extravaganza from May 1.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said it would showcase the rituals of Sabah’s indigenous folk, particularly the Dusun-Lotud people of Tuaran.

There would be a show highlighting some of Sabah’s ethnic groups through traditional songs and dances combined with a display of rarely seen rituals and scenes of their daily lives.

A special segment on the tamu culture of Sabah would also be showcased at the annual fest, Masidi said.

He said that in the olden days, a sacrificial offering was made before the start of a tamu to ward off unwanted incidents such as cheating.

Continue reading at: Sabah Fest to highlight mystical practices

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Conquering Mount Kinabalu - Noble quest accomplished

NO mountain is insurmountable for a group of climbers who scaled Mount Kinabalu recently with a noble aim in their hearts — to raise funds for children with congenital heart disease.

Busted knees, sprained ankles, altitude sickness, bloated stomachs and diarrhoea were the resultant discomfort that this group of 10 Penang Adventist Hospital (PAH) employees and 12 volunteers, including this writer, had to endure, but anyone of us would say that the effort was well worth it.

For emergency room supervisor V. Yanaseikaran, the surreal glow illuminating the peak was an awesome sight that fueled his enthusiasm and gave him an adrenaline rush before the ascend.

Having undergone a heart bypass surgery 10 years ago, the 53-year-old felt that conquering the mountain was a feat that he had always wanted to achieve and he was elated when he finally made his way to the top.

“The last 200m to Low’s Peak was excruciating. I was constantly short of breath and for every 10 steps that I took, I had to stop for a while to gasp for air.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Conquering Mount Kinabalu - Noble quest accomplished

Kaizan promises high-energy jazz at Miri festival

JOHN Kaizan Neptune has gained international recognition as an innovator on the shakuhachi, a Japanese flute.

He will perform with a group of multi-national musicians who are both gifted and talented and together known as John Kaizan Neptune featuring Steps in Times.

They will be among the international bands that will strut their stuff at the Miri International Jazz Festival on May 8-9.

Of the five members of Steps in Time, two are from Malaysia, another two from India and one from Japan.

While Kaizan plays the shakuhachi, the members of Steps in Times will play on instruments like Indian traditional drums, violin and guitars.

The two Malaysian musicians are percussionist Lewis Pragasam and bassist Andy Peterson, both equally well known in the region’s music scene.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Kaizan promises high-energy jazz at Miri festival

RM500,000 a year to power Mulu airstrip

MIRI: Malaysia Airports Bhd (MAB) spends half-a-million ringgit a year on diesel to run Mulu Airstrip.

MAB bought the commodity at RM6.80 per litre instead of RM1.70 from the pump, airport manager Kamaruzzaman Razali disclosed at a meeting with Miri City Council mayor Lawrence Lai who made a courtesy call on him at his office here yesterday.

Kamaruzzaman said the power generator was not solely used for the airstrip but also for the Department of Civil Aviation to operate the control tower and terminal.

He said MAB would like to buy the commodity at normal or reduced prizes in order to lower the operation cost of the airport, which was the gateway for tourists to the renowned Mulu National Park, and also the local community.

Aware of the importance of Mulu as the jewel in the state’s tourism industry, MAB recently beefed up the airstrip’s security, and fire and rescue system.

Kamaruzzaman also said that they would work closely with the police in light of reports that illegal immigrants were making use of rural airstrips as their entry point into this division.

“We have been made to understand that some illegal immigrants use rural airstrips such as in Marudi and Lawas to come here. We are working with the police like checking their passport when they arrive at the airport.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: RM500,000 a year to power Mulu airstrip

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Glimpse into Murut people's culture

TENOM: Sabah's Murut community showed off their culture at the Kalimaran Festival here over the weekend.

Among the activities organised were a beauty pageant, exhibitions by private and government organisations, traditional sports, food tasting and song and dance performances.

Bright red loin-clothed men wearing vests made from tree bark, women in black costumes with sparkling beads, joined by community and state leaders wearing tall woven hats, added colour to the two-day event at the Murut Cultural Centre.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok closed the festival on Sunday while a day earlier, state Culture, Environment and Tourism Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the opening ceremony.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Glimpse into Murut people's culture

Mexico to build cooperation with Brunei in eco-tourism

By James Kon

Mexico, the 9th largest trading power in the world is looking to build cooperation with Brunei Darussalam in the fields of eco-tourism and food products.

The visiting Ambassador of Mexico, Mr Juan Jose Gomez, was in the Sultanate for a day to promote the importance of Mexican economy and to increase Mexico's participation in business, investment and trade with the government of Brunei Darussalam, prominent local businessmen and Chambers of Commerce.

The Consulado De Mexico (Adinin Group of Companies) in Brunei Darussalam hosted a lunch presentation on Trade and Investment Opportunities in Mexico by Mr Juan Jose Gomez at the Portview Restaurant yesterday. Also present was Mr Salomon Sacal, Senior Trade Commissioner of ProMexico.

In an interview with the Ambassador of Mexico, he said, "My visit is to try to strengthen the ties between Mexico and Brunei Darussalam, which by the way is already very positive and strong. We have long standing friendship between both governments and we believe these ties can be strengthened and grown further."

He highlighted, "Politically, our dialogue is very positive and on the economic side, we can do some interesting things. I had a few meetings with a number of officials and some of the issues that came up are tourism and cooperation between both countries in various sectors especially eco-tourism.

"Mexico is the eighth largest tourism destination in the world, so we not only strengthen the exchange of tourists in both countries but we can also exchange cooperation and help to develop this sector where Brunei is trying hard to develop its eco-tourism industry. We also discussed other issues like Halal products and food production.

"Mexico is a very large country with a population of 110 million people. It's the 13th largest economy in the world and one of the most important locations for FDI. It offers lots of opportunity for Brunei and vice versa," he added.

In addition to the food industry and eco-tourism, he cited other potential areas of cooperation is the oil and gas industry.

Mr Juan Jose Gomez said, "We are going to make an important presentation on Mexico today to the local business community especially the opportunities in Mexico. Currently, Mexico is prioritising in building infrastructures and has invested more than US$300 billion in developing ports, airport, power supply and highways. This is one area where investors can have lots of business opportunities and we want to see what kind of opportunities we can build with the local investors.

"In addition, we are also looking for FDI in Brunei in areas of tourism and food industry where we can explore further."

He added, "I think Mexico can also help Brunei in its diversification drive. We have vast experience in that area because Mexico was an oil producing country many decades ago and had the same dilemma. We were able to diversify successfully and now our revenue is less than 15 per cent and 70 per cent of GDP comes from services. Our international trade has reached up to US$500 billion, bigger than all North America combined."

Also present at the luncheon were prominent businessmen and figures in local business associations.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Inobong Visitors and Research Centre, Penampang

From Lost Borneo blog:

Most visitors to Sabah has probably never heard of this substation of the Crocker Range Park, since there is no mention of it in any guide books. Even if they have, they would be hard-pressed to get here without their own transportation. The road to the substation is steep and taxis might not be willing to make the trip. However, if you are looking for a cool and quiet place to escape to that is not too far away from Kota Kinabalu, then it might be time to brush up on your social skills and befriend a local with a car.

Located in Kampung Inobong in Penampang district, the Inobong Visitors and Research Centre was officially opened on 16/1/2003. The construction of the substation was sponsored by JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The Inobong VRC is located 600m above sea level and the air here is cool and fresh. From this height, there are all-round views of Kota Kinabalu and the islands surrounding it. The sunsets viewed from here are said to be beautiful.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Inobong Visitors and Research Centre, Penampang

Monday, April 06, 2009

Native charm and Iban hospitality in Batang Ai

Visitor’s to Sarawak’s Batang Ai Lake almost never refuse the opportunity to join excursions to Iban longhouses in the area.

The morning sun was intensely hot, perhaps a result of the heavy downpour the previous night. The mirror-like surface of Batang Ai Lake, an artificial lake created by Sarawak’s only hydroelectric dam, didn’t help either.

To make it worse, it was a 20-minute journey to reach Mengkak Longhouse at the mouth of Sungai Engkari from Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, the only resort in the vast reservoir area.

At the longhouses, there was no respite. The longhouses on a hill overlooking the deep lake were built on stilts about one metre from the ground, so they didn’t enjoy being shaded from the harsh tropical sun by trees.

Even from afar, we could tell from the reflective shine of the zinc-roofed houses that it was going to be a long hot day at the Iban homes.

One longhouse had a veranda facing the lake. Except for the bamboo floor, it looked like a typical wooden kampung house, except that it was much longer at almost 200m. There were doors opening to the veranda, but the only entrance was through side doors up a short flight of stairs.

Just as our Press group was about to climb the stairs to the longhouse, guide Bob Zakaria from Tropical Horbill Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd, surprised us by jumping queue to obstruct us at the doorway. He only moved aside to let us in after he murmured something to the longhouse residents in Iban language.

As we walked past him, he explained: “It’s an Iban custom to ask for permission to enter the house. We mustn’t go in unless we get the green light.”

Communal Living

Inside, the longhouse was surprisingly cool and inviting, a stark contrast to the hot day outside. This could be due to the combined effects of the wooden floor, tree-bark wall and rattan mat ceiling that kept the heat out.

The longhouse was divided into two obvious sections – the ruai or the communal living area and individual living quarters. Though all the residents shared the ruai, there was not a hint of chaos. Instead, there was harmony and peace.

Quite used to having strangers (foreigners included) visit, the folks who were just resting, smiled and nodded, quietly giving us their friendly approval to “invade” their private abode.

Bob led us to the middle of the house and signalled to us to sit down when the house chief, Burau Anak Buba, mumbled something to him.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Native charm and Iban hospitality in Batang Ai

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pesta Kalimaran: Best means of keeping heritage alive

Tenom: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said holding various ethnic cultural festivals is important in ensuring continuity of the State's cultural heritage which can, otherwise, be easily forgotten due to globalisation.

He said these ethnic festivals not only make the ethnics concerned more known and popular but attract more tourists.

Last year, Sabah continued to record an increase in tourist arrivals to 2.3 million, compared to 1.25 million in 2003.

The country is also estimated to receive over 24 million tourists by next year and the expected income to be generated will be about RM59 billion.

In terms of employment, this is expected to provide 520,700 jobs.

Musa, who is also State Finance Minister, was speaking at the Kalimaran Festival 2009 themed "Kalimaran Towards Progressive Community" held at the Murut Cultural Centre in Polong, about 13km from town, Saturday.

His speech was read by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He is also proud with the tourism development in Tenom which apart from the cultural centre also had other interesting and popular tourism products including white water rafting, Sabah Agriculture Park in Lagud Sebrang, Crocker Range, Tenom Coffee, and so on.

Musa also suggested that Kalimaran Festival be upgraded into one of the State's tourism products.

Continue reading at: Pesta Kalimaran: Best means of keeping heritage alive

Brunei Tourism joins .travel community

By Azlan Othman

Brunei Tourism has been one of the global key travel industry players that have adopted .travel which is the travel and tourism industry's exclusive Internet channel. The Brunei Tourism website showcases the sultanate as the Green Heart of Borneo and the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures.

PR Log stated that .travel reported an increase in adoption by major destinations worldwide. In its short history, the benefits of .travel have been highlighted by the significant number of conversions by destinations and key industry organisations. The next stage of travel on the Internet is led by .travel and supported by the .travel community

Some of the key travel industry players that have adopted .travel include Philadelphia USA, Egypt, Canada, Cannes, Montenegro, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Poland Colombia, Argentina, El Salvador

.travel is the top-level domain created specifically for the travel and tourism industry. Any participant in the travel industry may own a .travel name. Unlike other top level domains such as .com or .org, relevant content must be published on each .travel site within a year of purchase. For more information on .travel, The Source for All Things Travel, please visit

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Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Pesta Kalimaran

Date: 04 - 05 April 2009

Join the folks of Tenom, who will be highlighting the rich culture of the Murut people, through colourful and fascinating cultural performances, handicraft demonstrations and sale booths plus many other exciting activities.

Further Information:

Organiser : Murut Cultural Centre
Venue : Sabah Murut Cultural Centre
Contact Person : Mackey Apison
Telephone : +6088 268812 / 268884
Fax : +6088 264235
Email Contact :
Event Website :

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Friday, April 03, 2009

Batang Ai - Popular wildlife sanctuary

BATANG Ai has a national park that is also home to the orang utan. The 60,000ha park adjoins the 180,000ha Lanjak-Entimau wildlife sanctuary where there are about 2,000 orang utan. Lanjak-Entimau covers Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu and Kapit Divisions.

Gazetted in 1991, the Batang Ai national park has become increasingly popular with locals and tourists.

Apart from orang utans, other primates roaming the park are the Bornean gibbons, long-tailed macaques, pig-tailed macaques and the nocturnal western tarsier.

The animals there include the rare and elusive clouded leopard, two species of civet cat, sun bears, bearded pigs, barking deer, sambar deer, mouse deer, martens, weasels, otters, porcupines and giant squirrels, as well as a host of smaller squirrels, other rodents and tree shrews.

Five of Sarawak's eight hornbill species can also be found in Batang Ai, including the spectacular rhinoceros hornbill, the state bird. This park is also a water catchment area to Sarawak's only artificial lake.

Continue reading at: Batang Ai - Popular wildlife sanctuary

Borneo Divers banks on human resource

Kota Kinabalu: Human resource is very important to keep a company together especially during hard times.

“My strength is built around my employees. No employees, no company, no business.” Clement Lee, Managing Director for Borneo Divers and Sea Sports said.

“During the 1997 economic crisis, we had to be frugal with our expenses and making pay cuts was one of the measures we took. But because our employees believed in what Borneo Divers was doing, they accepted the pay cut and we withstood the crisis. Nobody left or was laid off. ”

“We, the company, pulled through the crisis and we became smarter. We now have a better management system and are more disciplined.”

Borneo Divers is also always working on improving his employees by sending them for promotional trips, thus exposing them to how the business is done.

Continue reading at: Borneo Divers banks on human resource

AirAsia Is World's Best Low Cost Airline

KUALA LUMPUR -- AirAsia took Skytrax's "World's Best Low Cost Airline" award in a ceremony held at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2009 in Hamburg, Germany on Wednesday.

In a statement here today, AirAsia said the award, given by Skytrax under the 2009 World Airline Awards, was handed to AirAsia following a survey, which lasted eight months, covering interviews with more than 16.2 million travellers.

It said the award followed the final results of the annual World Airline Survey by Skytrax between August 2008 and March 2009 and which had respondents from diverse nationalities.

The survey evaluated passenger satisfaction for an airline's products and service standards.

Continue reading at: AirAsia Is World's Best Low Cost Airline

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pesta Birumuh Bidayuh: From padi field to knowledge farm

SARAWAK’S Bidayuh community put on a colourful showcase of their culture and traditions in the inaugural Pesta Birumuh (Farming Festival) in Serian, near Kuching, recently.

The festival kicked off with the preliminary rounds of the Battle of the Bands and Bidayuh Idol singing contest and sports.

It culminated in a three-day gala at the Serian Mini Stadium which included the grand opening ceremony on March 21.

According to organising chairman Datuk Wilson Baya Dandot, birumuh means farming in Bidayuh and is usually associated with planting rice.

However, as the Bidayuhs achieved progress and modernisation over the years, it also came to mean gaining education and knowledge, he said.

This was reflected in the festival’s theme, “From the Padi Field to the Knowledge Farm”.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Pesta Birumuh Bidayuh: From padi field to knowledge farm

Bandar Seri Begawan-Manila weekly flights to increase

By M K Anwar

Flights between Brunei and the Philippines are expected to increase following an agreement that was reached Tuesday.

Currently, there are five flights a week between the two countries under a code-sharing agreement between Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) and Philippines Airlines (PAL).

BusinessWorld reported yesterday that under the new agreement reached on Tuesday, seven flights a week are now allowed from Manila, two from Cebu, and one from Clark Freeport to the Brunei International Airport in the capital.

The Philippine negotiating panel was led by Trans-portation and Communication Undersecretary Doroteo A Reyes II, as well as representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism, CAB, and airport authorities.

RBA is yet to confirm when the additional flights will begin but informed sources said that the schedule is currently being reorganised.

Under BIMP-EAGA, Philippines Pacific Pearl Airways is expected to operate its inaugural chartered flight on April 3 covering the Davao-Brunei-Davao route.

Two other airlines from the Philippines, Cebu Air Pacific and Zest Airways, are also reported to be considering to fly to Brunei.

Cebu Pacific Vice-President for Marketing and Product Candice A Iyog said that they are looking into Brunei as "one of their options in their route network expansion".

Zest Airways meanwhile said that it is still studying whether to fly to Brunei.

The latest agreement follows the recent state visit by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei to the Philippines.

His Majesty and Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have both reaffirmed their desire to further deepen and expand the relations between the two countries.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin