Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bung Bratak set to be gazetted as Sarawak’s cultural heritage

BUNG Bratak, a 300m hill near Kuching with historical significance for the Bidayuh community, will be listed on the state’s heritage list once the necessary infrastructure and facilities have been put in place.

Bung Bratak Heritage Association chairman Datuk Peter Minos said works to build the infrastructure and facilities would begin as soon as funding was received from the Federal Government.

He said the association had requested for RM5mil, which was expected to be disbursed next year.

“In the meantime, we are designing the infrastructure and facilities such as the longhouse, the ‘baruk’ and the paths to the water source. We have also written to the Forest Department and the Land and Survey Department to gazette the site as communal forest and land.

“Once we are done with the infrastructure and facilities, we will submit our official application to the State Tourism and Heritage Ministry for the place to be gazetted as a heritage site,” he told StarMetro.

Minos said issues including ownership of crops and fruit trees at the site in Bau district, some 40km from Kuching, had been resolved.

He said only the hilltop would be gazetted, adding that everything found within the site would belong to the community in the area.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Bung Bratak set to be gazetted as Sarawak’s cultural heritage

Sarawak tourism told to target local tourists during economic slowdown

KUCHING: Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit urged local travel and tourism operators to take the current economic slowdown in their stride by shifting their market towards local tourists.

“Though this (the economic slowdown) can be looked upon as a half empty glass to those who wish to see Malaysia awash with foreign tourists, this could also represent an opportunity for Malaysian travel and tourism operators to aggressively target their own fellow countrymen as a highly accessible market with potential repeat visitors in the long term,” he explained.

Speaking at the ‘Malam Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Sarawak’ dinner on Sunday night at Sarawak Cultural Village, he encouraged Malaysian tourism operators to also target travellers from the Asean region due to their close proximity.

Dawos said according to the tourism trend worldwide, it is forecasted that many tourists will spend their holidays domestically this year due to the current economic slowdown, and travellers’ general tendency to avoid risks by not travelling abroad.

He also invited west Malaysians to visit Sarawak to witness for themselves the state’s enchanting beauty and culture.

“Sarawak, being the largest state in Malaysia and boasting 40 sub-ethnic groups that live in harmony, is sure to enchant many domestic travellers, making them want to come back for more,” said Dawos who is Mambong MP.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism told to target local tourists during economic slowdown

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shanghai-Brunei direct flight lands, tourism takes off

By James Kon & Siti Hajar

Ninety Chinese tourists touched down at the Brunei International Airport last night on board the Royal Brunei Airlines' (RBA) direct flight from Shanghai (BI614) after a two-year break, marking a big boost for Brunei tourism.

It's the first flight in two years after the national carrier suspended the services to Shanghai in 2008.

The resumption of the direct flight service to Shanghai could help boost the country's tourism industry.

Director of Tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin, said the resumption of the services will assist in building the nation's tourism industry.

"Connectivity is key," he said and added that the service will give tourists from China, through Shanghai, the opportunity to visit the Abode of Peace.

"The more connections Royal Brunei Airlines makes, the better it is for Brunei tourism," he said.

The Director of Tourism said that Brunei Tourism's target market is based on Royal Brunei Airlines' routes and added, "RBA is our most important stakeholder."

Sheikh Jamaluddin also stated that Brunei Tourism is currently in talks with Royal Brunei Airlines in a bid to further promote Brunei Darussalam as a tourism destination through roadshows.

He also said that parties from Brunei will meet tourism agents from China as well as the Chinese media to introduce the Land of Unexpected Treasures to China.

Of the 90 passengers who arrived last night, 53 have come on a tour package offered by PJ Majestic.

To welcome the arrival of the first batch of tourists, PJ Majestic had organised a group of hadrah players to welcome them.

The travel agent said, "The direct flight will certainly boost the local tourism sector in Brunei Darussalam. Local travel agents are welcoming the move by RBA in reopening the route.

"It will not only be Chinese tourists from Shanghai but also people from provinces around Shanghai can now come to Brunei conveniently, thanks to the direct flight," she said.

She added, "Previously, the Chinese tourists had to go through Hong Kong in order to come to Brunei. The airfare used to be more expensive and it also took more time."

Meanwhile, some 70 passengers flew to Shanghai in the morning flight. RBA is currently flying to and from Shanghai four times weekly.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Madai Cave in Lahad Datu Has Potential As Homestay Project

LAHAD DATU -- Gua Madai, a cave known as an important producer of bird's nest for Sabah has potential to be developed as a homestay project.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi said Gua Madai was home to an early culture as there were signs of an early settlement.

"We can create a cultural village for Idahan people to attract tourists who can be taken to see how bird's nest is collected," he told reporters at a dinner organised by Madai Idahan Descendants Association (Pewaris) here Sunday.

Masidi said the local people could also get extra income to add to that derived from the collection of bird's nest.

Continue reading at: Madai Cave in Lahad Datu Has Potential As Homestay Project

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sarawak Targets Six Million Tourists In 2010

KUCHING -- Sarawak has targeted six million tourists in 2010 with 60 percent being domestic tourists, Sarawak Tourism Malaysia director Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali said.

He said Tourism Malaysia was focusing on selling domestic tourism at travel markets in peninsula Malaysia by attracting retirees and young executives.

"We want Malaysians from the peninsula to visit Sarawak during off-peak period as many like to come here during school holidays or peak period," he told Bernama at a 'Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia' programme here Sunday.

Johanif said Tourism Malaysia would also send representatives overseas to promote Sarawak aimed at attracting more foreign tourists.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Targets Six Million Tourists In 2010

Sarawak Orang Utan Found Only In Three Specific Habitats

SIBU -- The Sarawak Orang Utan are only found in three specific habitats and not all over the state jungles, Dr.Penguang Manggil, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Public Health said.

The Orang Utan in Sarawak were only found in the Lantjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, the Batang Ai National Park and the Sebuyau National Park, he said to correct the misconception that they existed everywhere.

He said the misconception had caused westerners to believe that the animals were adversely affected by economic development, namely the creation of more oil palm plantations statewide.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Orang Utan Found Only In Three Specific Habitats

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sarawak tourism has right stuff to grow

KUCHING: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has high expectations of the future of the state’s tourism with a new tourism minister appointed and air connectivity improved.

“I am happy to see that in Sarawak, we have developed much newer sophistication in the tourism sector. I have a new minister in-charge of tourism.

“I think he (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan) will tell you (tourism stakeholders) how to market directly through joint efforts instead of keeping to the conventional way,” he said when opening Pullman Kuching Hotel here yesterday.

Dr Chan took over as Tourism and Heritage Minister following a cabinet reshuffle announced in November but effective December 1 last year.

Taib, who is also Finance Minister, said the state’s tourism market “looks very attractive”.

“Lately, we have seen improvement in connectivity, the lack of which had made it difficult to develop eco-tourism in the state in the past. Today, I am very happy to say that the government has taken the initiative to subsidise the building of rural services to most of the tourist destinations.

“We have tremendous amount of tourism products in the country. In the tourism industry, Sarawak has got the best to offer,” he said.

Urging hotels and tour operators to work together and look a head of prospects, the chief minister said: “It is up to you people (tourism stakeholders) to jointly work together and I am sure we will see more successes.”

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism has right stuff to grow

Friday, March 26, 2010

40,000 divers visit Sabah last year

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 42 divers received the Professional Association of Diving Instructor (Padi) certificate in Course Director Training Course (CDTC) during a graduation dinner held at the Sutera Harbour Resort here on Wednesday.

The divers came from 20 countries from around Asia, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, and the Middle East.

Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Tengku Zainal Adlin, who represented State Minister of Tourism Culture & Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun at the event, said out of 2.25 million arrivals in Sabah last year, 40,337 were divers.

He said in spite of this, only 120 divers are allowed per day in Sipadan island, in order to conserve Sabah’s rich marine biodiversity.

Theresa Tham, corporate director of Borneo Divers, said all 42 CDTC participants were master instructors carefully selected by Padi to undertake the course, the highest level of achievement in Padi training system.

Continue reading at: 40,000 divers visit Sabah last year

Batang Ai Resort praised for promoting Sarawak

BATANG AI: The 15-year-old Batang Ai Longhouse Resort has successfully promoted the state to the world by providing services like no other.“Hilton has made the right decision when it took on the resort. It has promoted eco-tourism very well to the rest of the world,” said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan on Tuesday during the resort’s 15th anniversary dinner.

He said it was all because of good teamwork and cooperation of the villagers and longhouses, and the resort’s good management and workers.

Dr Chan who is also Tourism and Heritage Minister pointed out the state’s strong point is eco-tourism.

“Tourists and visitors want to see nature and wildlife. That is why the resort provides authentic traditional services.

“There is no such thing as modern high class facilities here. Visitors come and experience things as they are. They want to see the jungle, monkeys, orang utan and nature,” said Dr Chan.

“Hilton figured out that people coming here are eco-tourism people. They have different targets. They actually want raw nature. It’s a different ballgame altogether.”

Batang Ai Longhouse Resort general manager Peter Simson congratulated the resort’s 68 staff members for making the resort a success.

“We have 68 staff members of whom 18 will complete 15 years with the resort this year. There are also those who have been here for 10 years,” said Simson.

He said the staff members were recruited from the 26 of 29 surrounding longhouses in Batang Ai.

Continue reading at: Batang Ai Resort praised for promoting Sarawak

Sabah to aggressively promote Edu-tourism

KOTA KINABALU: The state government will aggressively promote Edu-tourism, driven by the eager anticipation of a growing popularity among foreign students wanting to seek higher education in Sabah.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said he was confident edu-tourism would emerge as a new sector capable of generating sustainable economic growth for the state.

He noted that Sabah offered a wide spectrum of courses as a result of quality higher education institutions that are mushrooming and capable of attracting students from outside the country.

He said the government would facilitate any institutions of higher learning in the State in promotional aspects as well as ensuring the welfare of their foreign students throughout their stay here.

“We are ready to help any institution planning to bring in students from foreign countries. This indeed will help realise the state government’s vision to make Sabah an education hub in the region.

“This will benefit not only the people of Sabah but also the people in this region in terms of opportunity in education,” he said when officiating at the ground breaking ceremony for the new Masterskill College building here, yesterday.

His speech was delivered by Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun who is also the minister in charge of the education portfolio.

The Chief Minister said the State government would also continue to encourage the presence of higher learning institutions in Sabah as it will not only create more educational opportunities for both local and foreign students but also create job opportunities for Sabahans.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah to aggressively promote Edu-tourism

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kota Kinabalu International Airport revamped terminal to reopen

KOTA KINABALU: The original terminal building at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) currently at the final stage of reconstruction will be reopened and ready for use next month.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman who yesterday visited the fully upgraded building said the contractor was ready to hand over the facility by end of April after the remaining minor work was fully completed.

Musa who was impressed with the terminal’s new look, said the contractor has done a very good job and that some final adjustments needed to be done to make the facility even better.

“We are very happy with the upgrading work and the design is very interesting. This is what the state government wants, a beautiful airport that will impress and attract visitors,” said Musa who visited the terminal right after chairing the State Cabinet meeting at Wisma Innoprise here.

He was accompanied by all Cabinet ministers as well as State Secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman.

Included under Package One of the massive airport upgrading project was the reconstruction of the previous terminal building which began in May last year.

The project to replace the old terminal building with a bigger and modern one was initially scheduled for completion within 36 months from commencement date.

However, due to technical glitches, the completion deadline was extended twice with an expensive late delivery penalty of up to RM38,000 per day imposed on the contractor.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu International Airport revamped terminal to reopen

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sailing down Rajang

A YEAR into its high profile launch in London and nine months of actual operations on the Rajang River, the RV Orient Pandaw, a river cruise ship owned and operated by Rajang Pandaw Sdn Bhd in Miri, had served more than 800 people between July 2009 and February 2010.

The bulk of the tourists came from Europe, Australia and North America and there has been only one Malaysian passenger.

The Pandaw Cruise on the Rajang River is designed specifically for the niche markets oversea. It is understood that the average age of the passengers is 55, most of them retired professionals.

Many of them are also loyal Pandaw clients having previously experienced Pandaw cruises in Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar or India.

The nine-day, eight-night cruise with full board, costs from US$3,255 (RM10,814) to US$4,995 (RM16,595) depending on the category of accommodation.

The cabin on the main deck for single use is US$3,255 while the twin-sharing on the upper deck costs US$4,995.

The entire cruise covers approximately 719km, departing from Sibu on the first, 10th and 20th of each month. The journey ends in Sibu after touring Kanowit, Song, Kapit, Baleh and Pelagus in the upper Rajang, and Sarikei and Tanjung Manis in the lower Rajang.

The cruising speed is between three to six knots.

“It moves like a floating log,” said Rudy Anoi, an executive with the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) in Sibu. Rudy was on board the ship recently to gather data on the cruise operation.

He said the tourists were generally happy and satisfied with the service and food on board as well as the ground activities.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sailing down Rajang

Monday, March 22, 2010

Questions over orang utan sanctuary in KL

KUCHING: Mystery surrounds a proposed new orang utan sanctuary in Kuala Lumpur, which nobody seems to want.

Sarawak and Sabah are not willing to relocate their orang utan to the sanctuary, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit.

He said both states wanted their orang utan to stay where they were and therefore, the government now had to look for orang utans from a small island in Perak.

He said the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) had allocated about 200 acres in Kepong to set up the new eco-tourism attraction which was similar to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre here and the Sepilok orangutan sanctuary in Sandakan.

“We are going to transfer some of the orang utan from the island in Perak since the population there has increased and exceeded the island’s caring capacity which makes it difficult for the primates to get enough food,” he said after opening SK Siburan Baru Parent-Teacher Association’s annual general meeting here yesterday.

Continue reading at: Questions over orang utan sanctuary in KL

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Earth Hour 2010 at Nexus Resort and Spa Karambunai

KOTA KINABALU: Nexus Resort is about to go dark. But just for an hour – and for a good cause.

For the second year, Nexus Resort and Spa Karambunai will participate in this year’s Earth Hour 2010, the global environmental awareness event created by the World Wide Fund (WWF).

Since the beginning of March, the WWF team has set up a booth at Nexus Resort’s main lobby to educate Nexus Resort’s guests on the importance of caring for the planet.

“In addition to turning off exterior lights for one hour starting 8.30pm on March 27 2010, we will be celebrating Earth Hour 2010 with a candlelight gathering, cultural dance performance and a specialty ‘Earth’ cocktail,” said Norafida Ramlee, the resort’s Marcom manager.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Earth Hour 2010 at Nexus Resort and Spa Karambunai

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grand Margherita Hotel celebrates completion of Phase 1 makeover

KUCHING: The Grand Margherita Hotel here yesterday celebrated the completion of Phase 1 of its makeover after a RM3.7 million extensive renovation to its lobby, Orchid Garden Coffee House, Rajang Lobby Lounge and Sadong Meeting Room.Other improvements carried out in the last 12 months included new equipment for the hotel’s Cardio Exercise Room, new beds and LCD TVs in all guestrooms.

The hotel also introduced a new service by engaging a partner to operate the Borneo Odyssey Spa at its former Tribes Restaurant.

“When we rebranded Grand Margherita Hotel and Riverside Majestic Hotel last year, we promised to continue improving our products and services to cater for our visitors and customers,” said Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Datuk Talib Zulpilip.

Talip, who was speaking during the celebration of Grand Margherita Hotel’s makeover, said the event was the testimony of SEDC’s efforts to enhance quality service and image of its hotel properties.

Apart from Grand Margherita Hotel, SEDC is also upgrading Riverside Majestic Hotel.

The renovation works are expected to be completed by August this year.

Similarly, Damai Beach Resort would also under go refurbishment to refresh its ambience.

“Refurbishment and upgrading of Grand Margherita and Riverside Majestic Hotels, as well as Damai Beach Resort, are part and parcel of SEDC’s overall plan to upgrade our tourism flagship properties to keep up with changing times and to meet customer expectations,” he said.

Continue reading at: Grand Margherita Hotel celebrates completion of Phase 1 makeover

MASwings’ ninth ATR aircraft named Bario

KUCHING: The ninth ATR aircraft for MASwings has been annointed the name Bario, after the Bario Highlands the heartland of the Kelabit people in the north eastern part of Sarawak.The naming of the aircraft was made following the suggestion of Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

In a statement emailed to the local media here, it said MASwings would now go into expansion plan which included catering outside its present market of Sabah and Sarawak.

It said the ninth ATR aircraft had arrived in Subang, from Toulouse, France on March 16 bearing the registration 9M-MWI.

It will take off today from Subang to Kota Kinabalu after undergoing maintenance checks and certification of airworthiness by Department of Civil Aviation.

It will replace the Fokker 50 routing from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, Kota Kinabalu to Labuan, Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan as well as Kota Kinabalu to Sibu and Kuching vice versa effective March 28.

MASwings managing director Datuk Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani said the company was glad that all of their ATR aircraft were delivered on schedule.

Continue reading at: MASwings’ ninth ATR aircraft named Bario

Thursday, March 18, 2010

AirAsia Miri-Singapore flight to be restored next week

KUCHING: AirAsia has agreed to reinstate the Miri-Singapore flight by next week, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said yesterday.Dr Chan, who is also Tourism and Heritage Minister, disclosed this after a discussion with AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandez over the route, which was suspended earlier this month.

“People are used to the route. Employees of oil companies are used to travelling on that flight,” he said during a press conference at Kuching International Airport VIP lounge upon his return from Kuala Lumpur.

“I promised Fernandez that we will do our part in promoting Sarawak to Singaporeans,” he said.

Dr Chan added that he would be embarking on a roadshow to promote Sarawak in Singapore either end of this month or early April.

“On my part, I want to sell Sarawak to Singaporeans and get more people to come.

Continue reading at: AirAsia Miri-Singapore flight to be restored next week

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sarawak’s wild side

Sarawak's botanical riches, diverse landscapes and wildlife make it a favourite stomping ground for nature lovers and scientists alike.

Where in Malaysia can you find a state that boasts more than 20 national parks, five wildlife sanctuaries, three nature reserves and 700,000ha of totally protected forest land (10 times the size of Singapore)?

Whether you're a bird enthusiast, pitcher plant buff or an adventure freak, Sarawak is bound to have something for you. National parks like Bako, Lambir and Similajau have well-marked trails — a utopia for self-guided treks, while remote settlements like the Kelabit Highlands offer culture, crisp cool air and some adventure.

Thanks to the proliferation of cheap flights, it's now a breeze for Peninsular folks to head here for a weekend getaway.

Sarawak's natural areas attract conservation groups like the Malaysian Nature Society's (MNS) Miri and Kuching branches who organise activities like nature camps, bird-watching trips and outdoor photography here.

"These places help us educate the community about our natural backyard," says MNS Miri's Mohd Nazeri Abdul Ghani. "In the end, the voice of the community will be the deciding factor in conserving our natural heritage. If you don't care for your backyard, no one else will.''

National parks are important repositories for the preservation of our natural heritage, adds Rebecca D'Cruz, MNS Kuching's chairperson.

"These parks should be viewed as part of Sarawak's ‘natural capital', a vital economic contribution leading to sustainable development. For example, a stock of trees or fish provides a flow of new trees or fish, a flow which can be indefinitely sustainable."

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak’s wild side

Kota Kinabalu is Vladivostok’s fourth sister city

Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) created another milestone on Monday when it added the City of Vladivostok in Russia to become its fourth sister city.

Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim and Vladivostok City Mayor Igor Pushkaryov officially established the sister city relationship during a signing ceremony held at the Vladivostok City Council here.

Witnessing the historical event were Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun, the ministry’s permanent secretary Datuk Suzannah Liaw and Sabah Tourism Board general manager Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks.

Also present were Vladivostok City Vice Mayor Alexey Litvinov, DBKK Deputy Director-General Joannes Solidau, DBKK directors Ir. Lee Tet Fon, Walter Kenson & Robert Lipon, Shangri-La Tanjung Aru general manager Andrew Steele, senior officers from Sabah Tourism Board and tourism agents from Sabah.

By entering into the agreement, the cities of Kota Kinabalu and Vladivostok agreed to promote economic, cultural and scientific exchanges among others.

Both cities will provide information to their respective citizens about each others’ history, culture and current issues, and at the same time establish exchange programmes in the areas of culture, sports, youth and others.

They will also inform each other about the structure and activities performed by their respective local governments, as well as promote various events aimed at strengthening their sister city ties.

In his address, Iliyas said he is very impressed with the beautiful port city of Vladivostok and thanked his counterpart for accepting Kota Kinabalu as its sister city, making it the 18th sister city of Vladivostok.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu is Vladivostok’s fourth sister city

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beauties beneath Manukan Island

The jetty is always packed with visitors from all walks of life

Some of the many colourful fish that can be found swimming freely

Playing in the water near to the beach

School of fish swimming closer to the surface

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Abdul Aziz Pandin and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Abdul Aziz Pandin

Have you ever wondered how it feels like to be surrounded by colourful fishes under the sea? Charmed by the beauty of the sandy white beaches, crystal clear water and the natural greeneries? I do. There are so many things that you can do if you are seeking for tranquillity, serenity, sun, and fun activities at Manukan Island, Sabah.

The island is located at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, the second National Park in Sabah, and only accessible by boats. Other than Manukan, which is the second largest and most developed island, there are other islands - Sapi Island, Mamutik Island, Gaya Island and Sulug Island and they are just close to one another.

From the Jesselton Pier, you can buy tickets from any of the boat operators. The journey to the island of choice takes about 15 to 30 minutes. Sometimes, it depends on where they go first. The return fare is reasonable and there are also pick up times to allow any visitors to get on and get off the islands at their convenient times. The hotel where you stay can arrange the tour outing for you as well.

As we arrived at Manukan jetty, the view was just so captivating as we could see colourful fishes, abundant of them, swimming around the jetty. We could see them clearly from above. As we walked towards the entrance, we need to pay a conservation fee at the reception.

As we entered the beautiful island, there are nature trails if you wish to explore and venture deeper into the island. Most visitors go there just for the sun, beach and sea. You can snorkelling - one of my favourite water activities - where you need to rent the snorkelling gears.

Other activities such as walking under the sea, ski jet, glass bottom boat ride, bird watching, fish feeding, swimming, water sports are also provided but of course everything is for rental.

You can also do photography and jogging in the park itself. There are food stalls and restaurants too comprising seafood, barbeque, or simply coffee and tea.

There are also accommodations provided such as Hilltop Cabins and Beach Lodges. You can stay overnight in one of these but remember to book in advance. If you are staying overnight, you will experience a divine moment of sunset.

I must say, this island is a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the cities and our daily life.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, March 15, 2010

Feature Borneo Resort: Bunga Raya Island Resort, Gaya Island

Rating: 5-Star

Number of rooms: 47

Location: Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu

Address: Malohom Bay, Gaya Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Guests will find all of the finest amenities in each of the 47 rooms in this popular 5-star Bunga Raya Island Resort located on Gaya Island. All rooms have non smoking rooms, air conditioning, bathrobes, inhouse movies, desk, hair dryer, internet access (wireless), internet access as well as other amenities.

To make each guest's stay more complete, this Kota Kinabalu hotel offers coffee shop, bar/pub, laundry service/dry cleaning, meeting facilities , restaurant, room service, safety deposit boxes.

Guests seeking exercise or leisure will be pleased to find massage, pool (kids), jacuzzi, sauna, spa, water sports (motorized), water sports (non-motorized) at the hotel. Offering guests quality accommodation since 2009, this hotel combines first-class service and the most modern facilities.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Abandoning the malls and discovering Niah Caves

Entrance to the Niah National Park

Lots of caves to explore

A birds nest

Wooden walkway inside the cavern

A beam of light shines into the cavern from an entry point

The entrance into the Niah Great Cave

Small huts can be seen inside the caves

Ladders in place for people harvesting birds nests

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Dell and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Dell

For many of us, a weekend escape to the neighbouring town of Miri City usually means shopping, relaxation, great bargains, and more shopping. Not many of us would consider doing anything other than that. However, next time, try adding a new to-do item on your list - go on a visit to the Niah Caves. Caves may not be your idea of relaxation or satisfy your need to engage in shopping therapy, but it is an experience that should really be tried.

The Niah Caves are located within the district of Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia, and is part of the Niah National Park. Its main cave, the Niah Great Cave, is located on Gunung Subis and is made up of several voluminous, high-ceilinged chambers. The Great Cave lies in a large limestone block, about a kilometer in length from a general north-south direction, about half a kilometer wide and is detached from the main Gunung Subis complex, by a valley around 150 to 200 metres wide.

According to online research, Sarawak's Niah Caves are said to be among the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It is also said that forty thousand years ago, the Niah Great Cave once sheltered human life, where the oldest human remains in Southeast Asia lies, along with many other elics of prehistoric man. Upon arrival you can see a three kilmetre plank walk which will guide and lead you through the beautiful rainforest to the caves. Do remember to bring a flashlight as a precautionary measure though. Among the many different caves that are available in Niah Caves - the Niah Great Cave is the most spectacular; with its imposing vast interior mirroring the character of a huge labyrinth, accompanied with tremendous shafts opening from the surface through the ceiling far above.

Walking through the caves, there will be times when you would see rainwater pouring hundreds of feet down the biggest of these shafts in a dazzling while flocks of swifts swirl overhead, their calls echoing throughout the cavern.

Moving on, one will discover that the floor of the cave is very jagged and every surface is covered with a slimy layer of guano. Guano is the excrement of sea birds that reside within the caves. There are also small huts situated around the caves for guano miners and bird's nest harvesters to take shelter in. Slender bamboo poles are erected vertically to the ceiling by as much as 200 feet for use as ladders for bird's nest harvesters.

At least fifty spine-tinglingly ancient discoveries have been made in Sarawak's caves, which are suspected to have been in use by the indigenous human population since the Pleistocene era. The Niah Great Cave is the most exciting of them all as it was the site of the discovery of the oldest human skull ever found in Asia. Archaeologists have dated it at around forty thousand years old, making it the property of a young gentleman from the Holocene era.

The remains of Neolithic humans, along with fascinating evidence of how their habits and daily lives would have changed over the centuries, are available to view at the Sarawak Museum in Kuching. The Niah Great Cave is also famous for its incredibly well-preserved cave paintings, some of which depict strange, skeletal longboats bearing their passengers to the land of the dead, and for the ancient Borneo tradition of swallows' nest-collecting.

Further exploration will reveal a painted cave known for its well-preserved and highly complex prehistoric cave paintings.The paintings can be difficult to see unless you allow your eyes to become accustomed to the dim light. They are rendered in red hematite and cover a long narrow strip (approximately 30 metres) at the back of the wall. They portray spread-eagled human figures, probably representing warriors and hunters, some of the animals of the souls of the deceased on the dangerous journey to the land of the dead.

Although the burial site at the painted cave is far more recent than those at the Great Cave, it is no less important as it offers a clear insight into the development of the traditional religions of Borneo. It is worth spending some time at the painted cave, as the atmosphere of the place is very tranquil.

Even if you feel that a visit to the Niah Caves is not exactly your cup of tea, give yourselves and the Niah Caves a chance. I was also initially reluctant, giving up the comfort of air-conditioned malls, lattes and crème brulee in exchange for some rough outdoor activity such as adventuring through the caves, but if I had not chose to visit the Niah Caves, I wouldn't' have seen first hand how wonderful an experience the discovery of natural beauty can be.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Quick Guide To Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Below is one of our most popular articles (which has been re-published on about 28,000 other websites) for your reading pleasure one more time:

The majestic and awe-inspiring Mount Kinabalu is one of the premier adventure vacation destinations for thousands of visitors to Sabah, Malaysian Borneo each year. Kinabalu Park, a designated World Heritage Site, boasts an estimated 4,500 species of plants which includes 1,500 species of orchids, 77 of which are endemic to Kinabalu, Nepenthes pitcher plants, and the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world. The Park also supports 289 species of birds and 290 different types of butterflies.

Besides being the highest peak in Borneo and the whole of South East Asia (between Irian Jaya and the Himalayas to be exact), and the youngest non-volcanic mountain in the world, Mount Kinabalu is extremely climber-friendly and compared to other much lower mountains around the world, Mount Kinabalu is an ideal first mountain for novice mountain trekkers to conquer.

The standard climb up Mount Kinabalu is via the Kinabalu Summit Trail at Kinabalu National Park (~1,560m above sea level). The first ascent is from the starting point at Timpohon Gate, about 4km or 30 minutes drive from the Kinabalu Park Headquarter.

If you prefer to start the ascent on Day 1, it is advisable to arrive at the Park late morning the latest or else, depending on the weather, the Park may not allow you to do the first ascent due to hazardous condition (i.e., the fog may be too thick by late evening causing visibility problems and/or the trail may be extremely slippery).

Most climbers prefer to stay overnight at Kinabalu Park upon arrival to not only acclimatize to the altitude but also to enjoy the magnificent flora and fauna at the Park before the “assault” on the next day/morning.

The first ascent is from Timpohon Gate just after the Power Station up to the mid-summit Laban Rata Resthouse (or more popularly known as the 11,000 ft or ~3,873m). You will first follow the crest of a narrow ridge that dips down onto the main slopes of Mount Kinabalu itself. A little further on, you will reach a scenic waterfall known as Carson's Falls, named after the first Warden of the Park. Don't forget to take a sip and fill your water bottles with the fresh natural mountain water.

Conservatively, it should take a normal fit person an average 5-6 hours to reach Laban Rata. Participants at the annual Mount Kinabalu Climbathon competition went all the way up to 13,400ft (4092.5m above sea level) and back in 2 hours. But it is not really about how fast you can reach the top. It is about the experience of trekking pass different vegetation zones from Oak and Chestnut to mossy and eventually to alpine type of vegetations, and observing the rare and exotic flora and fauna on the way up.

Besides the heated Laban Rata Resthouse, the other option for climbers is to stay at the unheated mountain huts. There is actually another accommodation option at the so-called VIP Lodge, which is more expensive compared to the others and also, more difficult to secure (i.e., only two such units available).

Continue reading at: A Quick Guide To Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Friday, March 12, 2010

Top 20 Tips for the "Mount Kinabalu Climb"

For a truly memorable adventure vacation in Borneo, you must make sure that you attempt to conquer Mount Kinabalu, which is relatively a safe mountain to climb.

While climbing the mountain doesn't require any specialised mountaineering skills, and there is a mountain guide to accompany you (a prerequisite), it is useful to be reminded when one is traveling on unfamiliar grounds, and it pays to stay focused on the climb.

Some useful tips for a successful climb and a satisfied adventure vacation include:

1. Wear and bring adequate clothing

2. Always climb in a group and stay close to the group

3. Focus on what you do, (i.e., don't get distracted)

4. Always use the well-trodden path

5. Never get reckless or try to be a show-off

6. If possible, climb during dry season

7. If unavoidable, be extra careful with your steps during the wet spell

8. Stay where you are if you are lost

9. Leave a trail in case you have to walk away from the path where you got lost

10. Bring along a whistle just to be extra safe

Click Here for the Other 10 Tips

Special Note: It is recommended that all climbers should have themselves medically checked before attempting any mountain climb. If you have a history of suffering from the following ailments, it is highly recommended that you should refrain from climbing: Hypertension, Diabetes, Palpitation, Arthritis, Heart Disease, severe Anemia, Peptic Ulcers, Epileptic Fits, Obesity (overweight), Chronic Asthma, Muscular Cramps, Hepatitis (Jaundice); or any other disease which may hamper the climber.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

NOTICE: Our Office will be Closed 12-16 March 2010

Please be advise that our office will be closed for renovations from Friday, 12 March to Tuesday, 16 March 2010 inclusive, reopening on Wednesday 17 March 2010.

We may be reached via our email (travel@e-borneo.com) if you need to contact us.

For travel and related requests, do note that all your e-mails enquiries will be replied during this period but earliest confirmation depending on the particular tours may only be able to be processed on 17 March 2010 (working hours +0800 GMT MYT).

Any inconvenience caused is very much regretted.


[ Travel Company of e-borneo.com ]

Lot No. 7, 2nd Floor, Block C
Lintas Jaya Uptownship
88200 Penampang
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Tel: +6-088-722606
Fax: +6-088-727606
URL: http://www.e-borneo.com/


Sabah and Kalimantan should be packaged as one destination spot

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and Indonesia’s Kalimantan provinces should be packaged as one investment destination and a secretariat to handle inquiries has been proposed.

“Sabah and Kalimantan can work together to leverage on their prominence in world palm oil production,” said Industrial Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan.

For this to happen, a joint secretariat is desirable for government officials and business groups on both sides of the Borneo border to develop an investment data base, encourage interaction and collaboration.

The views are shared by Indonesian Consul-General in Sabah, Soepeno Sahid, during a meeting with Raymond and officials from POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd at the Indonesian Consulate here last week.

“We can also try to tap our neighbour Brunei’s financial resources to make oil palm a truly BIMP-EAGA business,” Raymond said in his briefing on investment opportunities in Sabah, with special focus on the oil palm sector.

He said that Borneo, including Sarawak, will become increasingly important globally because much of the world’s future palm oil supply will be of Borneo origin.

Continue reading at: Sabah and Kalimantan should be packaged as one destination spot

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Exotic beauties - Kuching's Orchid Garden

ORCHIDS of every colour, size and shape bloom in profusion in one of Kuching’s newest attractions.

Nestled in a 6.2ha site in Jalan Astana, the Orchid Garden is a nature lover’s paradise with more than 40,000 plants from 65 orchid genera across its beautifully landscaped grounds.

Kuching City North Commission (DBKU) mayor Mohamad Atei Abang Medaan said the garden’s main attraction was its collection of Borneo orchids, locally known as “Anggerek Desa”.

There are also orchids from Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia as well as a variety of hybrid orchids.

The latter include Dendrobium Laila and Dendrobium Memoria Laila, both named after Puan Sri Laila Taib, the late wife of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Chicken rice, Bidayuh style

Chicken rice, Bidayuh style

CHICKEN rice is a dish many Malaysians cannot do without.

It is prepared in different ways throughout the country but the main components of the dish are the same. It not only makes a tasty meal but is also a soul food for some people.

The Bidayuh community in Serian, however, has brought chicken rice to a whole new level with its unique assam (not to be confused with the sour tamarind).

If one were to attend a function or celebration in the Sadong and Bukar areas of Serian, about an hour’s drive from Kuching, one would find that the most popular dish on the table is the assam.

Prepared only on festive occasions, the dish has been handed down from generation to generation. It was therefore a treat when sisters Madeline Ummai and Susie Samin whipped up this traditional dish just for this feature.

“We don’t actually prepare assam on normal days. It has to be a festive time like the Gawai celebration or a happy gathering to give us a reason to cook this dish,” said Madeline.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Chicken rice, Bidayuh style

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Focus on unique homestay programme to boost Sarawak tourism

SPECIAL attention will be given to the homestay programme in Sarawak this year to boost the tourism industry.

Tourism Malaysia State director, Mohd Johanif Mohd Ali, said Sarawak homestays were unique as travellers would get to experience the true cultures and traditions of the various ethnic groups.

“In Sarawak, homestays can be found in the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu and Melanau villages,” he said.

He pointed out that Sarawak homestays were very popular among Malaysians from the peninsula.

“We learned that many people from Kuala Lumpur preferred the homestay programme instead of putting up in hotels because they find the homestay experience more interesting,” he said.

Johanif said the Gawai Dayak celebration and the longhouses were some of the unique features in Sarawak, but not many peninsular Malaysians had information about the celebration and the longhouses.

He said Sarawak was actually a state which had a unique mix of cultures and many wonders to see.

“These are Sarawak’s strength and niche products. So what we need to do now is to prepare a variety of activities to complement the programme.

Continue reading at: Focus on unique homestay programme to boost Sarawak tourism

Monday, March 08, 2010

Luxury ship Queen Victoria cruises into Kota Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: At a height of 179 feet, or 54.6 metres above waterline, Queen Victoria (QV) was certainly a grand sight when she anchored at Kota Kinabalu port yesterday.

This was the second visit of Queen Victoria to Kota Kinabalu before embarking to Hong Kong at 6pm yesterday, and later to Shanghai, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.

Queen Victoria is on its third Voyage of Discovery world tour of 106 days, starting from New York on Jan 12, carrying around 1,800 passengers and 900 crew members on her journey.

Kota Kinabalu was her 19th out of 41 ports the ship will visit.

The voyage includes three overnight stays in Sydney, Hong Kong and Dubai, plus 11 maiden calls to San Francisco, Adelaide, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Muscat in Oman and Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

Social hostess Jennifer Schaper said Queen Victoria was designed by Fincantieri, an Italian shipping company and one of the most advanced shipbuilders in the world.

Enter Queen Victoria and one immediately feels he or she has stepped into a world away from reality as the ship houses her own theatre, casino, pubs, cafes, shopping arcade, swimming pool, spas, gymnasium, night club, restaurants, art gallery and library.

Continue reading at: Luxury ship Queen Victoria cruises into Kota Kinabalu

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sarawak Laksa - Luscious legacy

THERE is laksa, and then there is Sarawak Laksa. Sarawakians have always boasted that their beloved state has by far the most superior variant of laksa in the country.

Visitors from the peninsula and Singapore who come to Kuching often make time for at least one authentic Sarawak Laksa experience. But there are those who need more than one fix for culinary satisfaction.

The laksa in Sarawak is very different from Curry Laksa commonly found in the peninsula as the gravy in the former contains no curry powder.

Instead, it has a base of sambal belacan, black pepper, tamarind, garlic, galangal, lemongrass and santan (coconut milk), topped with strips of omelette, sliced chicken, prawns, fresh coriander and a slice of lime as an option.

Ingredients such as bean sprouts, sliced fried tofu or other seafood are not traditional but are sometimes added.

A quick glance through the list of ingredients would raise the eyebrows of cardiologists.

Non-halal laksa can be found at most Chinese hawker stalls, while the halal versions can be found at most Malay coffee shops.

In actual fact, halal or non-halal, laksa does not greatly differ except for the usage of halal chicken meat and the cooking utensils used during preparation.

The gravy of the Chinese Laksa is not as thick as the halal version but it is rich with condiments and toppings. The Malay Laksa tends to lean towards servings with thicker gravy but more bean sprouts.

Laksa is breakfast fare in Sarawak and this noodle delight can be found in almost any kopitiam.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak Laksa - Luscious legacy

Swiss couple on record 40th trip to Damai Resort

KUCHING: For a place to be visited 40 times, especially by someone from a faraway land, is certainly rare and unique.

And that’s what Damai Beach Resort has done.

It has attracted a Swiss couple, the Kuehns who have been there for holidays 40 times since 1985.

According to the couple, it was the warm and sincere service and not to mention the pleasant atmosphere at the resort that made them return for a record 39 times and hence forty visits altogether.

“It’s a long way to paradise, but we were finally here and we will not have it any other way. It’s very nice to be back. The resort is so much a part of us whereas the staff here have become our good friends.

“Having come here many times, we have noticed many changes for the better,” they said when interviewed recently.

Continue reading at: Swiss couple on record 40th trip to Damai Resort

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Feature Regional Hotels at Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur

Cititel Mid Valley Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Rating: 3-Star

Number of rooms: 646

Location: Mid Valley City

Address: Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur, 59200 Malaysia

Located near everywhere in Kuala Lumpur, this hotel's placement allows easy access to anywhere you want to go. Quick to the airport, quick to shopping or quick to a trip of the Petronas Towers, it's up to you. All 646 rooms at Cititel Mid Valley Hotel are created for your needs and your comfort. All the regular amenities are employed and helpful staff is available at all times, should you need something out of the ordinary. The ultimate mix of attention to detail and convenience. Enjoy the food, the people, the sights and the sounds of Kuala Lumpur.

Boulevard Hotel Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur

Rating: 4-Star

Number of rooms: 390

Location: Mid Valley City

Address: Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur, 59200 Malaysia

This hotel is a dream come true for shoppers as it’s connected to the Mid Valley Megamall, one of Kuala Lumpur’s largest malls. Guests at the Boulevard Hotel will certainly enjoy exploring the 630 retails outlets including many shops, restaurants and entertainment options at this exciting destination. After a long day of browsing and buying, guests can relax at the Hotel’s spa facilities or unwind in the swimming pool or fitness center. Because of its convenient location, guests at this property also have easy access to popular tourist sites, and the city’s government and business districts. Four fully equipped function rooms and a business center including Internet access and secretarial services were designed with the executive traveler in mind.

Click Here for more info

Friday, March 05, 2010

Sabah’s Danum and Maliau conservation areas attract scientists

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s ren­owned conservation areas such as the Danum Valley and Maliau Basin in the east coast and the scenic islands in the Coral Triangle are more than just eco-tourism destinations.

Such pristine areas can also attract some of the world’s leading scientists to the state, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said yesterday.

He said this augured well for the state’s shift towards an innovation driven, service-based economy powered by the creativity and talents of its human capital.

“Among the areas Sabah can explore are information and communications technology, agro-biotechnology, nano-technology, creative technology and green technology.

“The acquisition of technological competence in these fields is a precondition for Sabah, together with the rest of the nation, to carve new frontiers and build new competitiveness in order to attract investment,” he said at the launching of a seminar on Investment Opportunities In Knowledge-Intensive Industries in Sabah here yesterday.

Continue reading at: Sabah’s Danum and Maliau conservation areas attract scientists

Boost for coral transplanting at Sipadan

SIPADAN: While the success rate of coral transplanting varies depending on numerous factors, the exercise itself plays an important role in raising awareness.

According to Sipadan Water Village Resort divemaster Bobby Joanes Basolius, 30, coral transplanting was initially popular with Japanese companies and done in conjunction with Mabul Marine Day, now in its 12th year.

“The coral reefs are damaged by activities like dynamite-fishing or drag nets. Even some divers are not aware that they are damaging corals by stepping on them or touching them. When we do coral transplanting, we also teach divers about corals,” he said.

He was one of the divemasters who led a team of 20 Astro employees in a conservation programme under the Astro Kasih banner, a corporate social responsibility project initiated by Astro employees.

“Many people do not realise that corals and fishes need each other to survive. Some fishes like the parrot fish feed on corals,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Boost for coral transplanting at Sipadan

Cultural interchange in Kota Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: The lunar new year celebrations in Sabah took on special meaning with the staging of a unique cultural performance.

About 5,000 people packed the University Malaysia Sabah Chancellor’s Hall to catch performances showcasing the cultures of Malaysia and China.

The one-day event organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah and the China Embassy in Kuala Lumpur saw the staging of unique performances such as Mongolion and Han dances.

The crowd that included Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman and China consul-general Xie Fu Gen were also treated to the Miaozu dance, the first time it was staged in Sabah.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Cultural interchange in Kota Kinabalu

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Flights start at RM9 on AirAsia ‘Big Sale’ offer

Travellers can get flights for as low as RM9 one way during AirAsia’s “Big Sale” promotion this week.

All destinations apply from March 3 to 7, with domestic destinations like Penang, Langkawi, Terengganu, Johor Baru and Kota Baru priced from RM9 one-way.

Visitors can head to Kuching for RM29 and to Kota Kinabalu for RM49 one-way. For international flights, Austra­lian destinations such as Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth start at RM149 one-way, while a ticket to London is going for RM699.

To enjoy the discounts, passengers must book their trip between March 3 and 7 for travel between Sept 25 this year and Feb 13 next year.

Meanwhile, business and industry circles in northern Sarawak are disappointed that AirAsia had terminated direct flights from Miri to Singapore from Monday, saying this disrupted important business and tourism linkages.

Continue reading at: Flights start at RM9 on AirAsia ‘Big Sale’ offer

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Kota Kinabalu City Run 2010

Date: 07 March 2010

The Kota Kinabalu City Run 2010 will be held on 7 March at the Merdeka Field in conjunction with the 10th City Day Celebration.

The total distance for the run is 4 kilometers and runners hitting the finish line in under one hour will qualify for a lucky draw.

100 attractive prizes are up for grabs! The flag-off will be at 6am and no registration is required.

For details, contact Jainab Saidi (KK City Hall) at +60 88 521800.

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Local Handicraft Demonstration at Monsopiad

Date: 6 March 2010

On 6 March, be sure to block your calendars and make time for the Local Handicraft Demonstration which will be held at the Monsopiad Cultural Village from 8am to 5pm.

This demonstration will feature various colourful and enticing artworks produced by the ethnic people of Sabah.

For info, contact the organizer at +60 88 7613336 / 774337, fax to +60 88 761680, e-mail info@monsopiad.com or visit www.monsopiad.com.

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Visitors At New York Travel Show Enamoured With Orang Utan and Borneo

Against a backdrop of the popular wildlife documentary 'Orang Utan Island' shown on American television, visitors to the Malaysian and Indonesian booths at the ongoing three-day New York Times Travel Show displayed a marked interest in Borneo wildlife, particularly the primate.

The show, touted by the New York Times as one of the largest trade and consumer travel shows in the USA, saw participants from Asean countries, notably Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Tourism Malaysia's New York office had set up a stand with four tour operators to jointly participate in the show held at the Javits Convention Center.

"Yes, wildlife tourism is an interesting aspect of tourism promotion in the United States. And interest in the orang utan has risen sharply. This view was also echoed by Indonesian exhibitors at the show," Mohamad Taib, the vice-president at the New York office of Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board told Bernama.

Although the show is much smaller than Berlin International Tourism Bourse (ITB) -- the world's biggest tourism fair which begins from March 5 in the German capital and attracts nearly 100 Malaysian delegates -- the New York show has gradually established itself as an important platform on the east coast for tour operators, travel agents and others connected with the industry to interact with one another.

According to Taib, tourist arrivals from the United States in 2007 increased 17.5 per cent to 20.97 million, up from 17.55 million in the previous year.

"In recent times, we have seen a revival of tourism to Malaysia after the slump, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks," he said.

Malaysia pitches for ecology and adventure tourism, with packages offered for Borneo, Sabah and Langkawi's beaches being favourites with many foreign tourists.

Continue reading at: Visitors At New York Travel Show Enamoured With Orang Utan and Borneo

Brunei's own tour guide association 'in the works'

Work to establish a tourist guide association in the country is underway, and it is hoped that it could be registered by this year before Brunei applies for membership to the World Federation of Tour Guide Association (WFTGA), a tourism official said yesterday.

The relevant authority will also be stepping in to regulate tour guide activities through a licensing system to be implemented in future. Currently, the country only has the Brunei Association of Travel Agents.

As the tourism industry in Brunei is still in its early stages of development, a growing number of tour guides in the country believe that an establishment of such an association would create new winds for them to sail further.

The work of tour guides, in the words of Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed, the CEO of the Brunei Tourism Board, “can make or break a holiday.”

“Therefore, it is important for the tour guides to be professionally trained,” the tourism chief said in an interview with the Bulletin yesterday.

Continue reading at: Brunei's own tour guide association 'in the works'