Sunday, January 31, 2016

MySabah: Manukan Island, the Most Popular Island of Sabah

With over 200,000 visits annually, Manukan (Pulau Manukan) is the most frequented island by domestic and international tourists. It is only 15-minute away by boat ride, almost a no-brainer choice for people who want an island day trip near to Kota Kinabalu City (KK).

However, to be fair, the reason Manukan Island becomes the most famous island is not just because it’s “convenient.” It does have three other outstanding factors that make this beautiful island of South China Sea a favorite destination.

Factor #1. Manukan has long stretch of white sandy beach

Its long beach spans about 1,500 Meter at southern side of the island, facing a bay of crystal clear and tranquil sea. The water is so calm and shallow that it’s also suitable for non-swimmers. Families feel safe to let their kids playing in the water. No matter how far their children go, parents still can have a clear open view on what’s going on.

Manukan is the second largest island of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP in short), and its beach is vast. Though Manukan has hundreds of visitors every day, there is still enough big space for everyone. You won’t accidentally trip over a carpet of tourists sunbathing on the beach.

Factor #2. Manukan has the Most Developed Facilities

Tourists can find almost everything they need there, from toilet, shower room, restaurants, water sport activities, souvenir shop to accommodation. You can go to Manukan empty-handed (must bring cash!) and buy your things such as food, sunscreen and beachwear on the island. But please be informed nothing is cheap on the island.

Another thing I like about Manukan is its forested shore. After a swim in hot day, we can retreat to the shade, rest on the bench and enjoy the gentle sea breeze. It can be quite cooling under the trees.

There are a few lifeguards keeping an eye on the sea. They also know how to deal with injury caused by jellyfish sting and sea urchin. For crime prevention, there are some police on the island too.

Factor #3. Manukan Island has the Best Snorkelling Spot

Among the five islands of TARP, Manukan Island ranks top as a snorkelling site. Though its coral reef is not of world class, it’s still a wonderful treat to nature lovers. Sighting of Nemo is guaranteed. You can even see Nemo from the jetty, with thousands of other fishes.

In fact, many Hong Kong celebrities have been to Manukan Island. Usually they come to Manukan as personal trip and try to stay low profile. Don’t be surprised if you find WuChun or other superstars laying just next to you in Manukan.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics & Vid) at: MySabah: Manukan Island, the Most Popular Island of Sabah

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sayang Sarawak - new river cruise service launched

KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), in collaboration with Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), has launched a new river cruise service – the ‘Sayang Sarawak’ catamaran – making the convention centre the first in Malaysia to offer meeting and event service on cruise.

The catamaran, built in the state, will ply two routes – from Kuching Waterfront to BCCK and from Kuching Isthmus marina bay to the mouth of Sungai Sarawak at Muara Tebas.

It can accommodate about 40 persons theatre style on the lower deck and 30 persons cocktail fashion on the upper deck. The cruise packages can be customised according to requirements set by clients.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with STB to create a niche product for the business events market. BCCK is the first convention centre in Malaysia to offer meeting and event service on cruise. This latest addition to our range of service will enhance delegate experience as business and social events can now be conducted on water rather than being confined to brick and mortar.

“The cruise will take conference delegates pass quaint villages, verdant jungles and wetlands along the Sarawak River – this experience is one of a kind in Malaysia, if not the world. We are looking forward to offering this innovative product to our local and foreign clients by bringing our meeting and event services with our food and beverage on board the Sayang Sarawak,” BCCK chief executive officer Eric van Piggelen said at the launch of the cruise service at Kuching Isthmus marina jetty here yesterday.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg was present to witness the launch.

“This cruise will offer new tourism products on what we can offer in Kuching,” he said when officiating.

To intensify Sungai Sarawak as a tourism product for the city, he mentioned that under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the state was considering to beautify the river including the section at Kuching Waterfront.

In addition, a cascading waterfall will be built at the compound of Fort Margherita to beautify the area and it will be installed with lighting for greater scenery effect at night, he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sayang Sarawak - new river cruise service launched

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bau set to be part of Western Tourism Belt

KUCHING: Bau will be part of the greater Western Tourism Belt once the proposed Western Sarawak Tourism Development Plan is approved and launched soon, revealed Assistant Minister of Community Development Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie.

He said the masterplan of the project was designed by renowned Malaysian consultant Dr Mah Chen Ying who has been helping China in planning and designing many of its renowned tourism products.

“On my own initiative, I have done the Western Sarawak Study for Tourism Development that can be done in western Sarawak from Kuching to Sematan and particularly in Bau District.

“This is to tap the rich Culture, Adventure and Nature (CAN) tourism potential in Bau to include tourism products such as the Bidayuh cultural centre, the Chinese cultural village, the gold mining museum, the caves, the lake and the mountains of Bau,” Nansian told The Borneo Post at his office here yesterday.

He added that the Western Sarawak Tourism Development Plan could be part of the overall Southern Sarawak Corridor as proposed by the Regional Corridor of Development Agency (Recoda) to bring forth strategic development to the southern and western parts of the state.

Nansian believed that the masterplan would further boost Bau to become a major tourism centre as it has been known for its historical sites, lake, caves, rivers and mountains.

“Among the things that will be included in the Bau tourism masterplan will be a Chinese cultural village, forest and health resort, Bidayuh cultural village at Redeems Centre and many more,” Nansian explained.

On another issue, the Tasik Biru assemblyman revealed that the Bau industrial estate had been approved and would be launched soon to cater for the growing need for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the district.

“With the approval of 50 acres of land for this purpose, we are confident the development of SMEs in the district would boost the local economy and would provide job opportunities for the local people especially in food processing, fabrication works, vehicle maintenance and many more,” he elaborated.

Nansian also revealed that the Bidayuh cultural village costing some RM11 million would be built at Redeems Centre at Kpg Apar, Singai and would be completed within the next one or two years.

“I am a grassroots leader and my niche is on community development. Whatever we plan is for the benefit of the people and not for my own gain,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Bau set to be part of Western Tourism Belt

Scores of tourists from China, South Korea coming to Sabah during Chinese New Year period

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is set to welcome scores of tourists from both China and South Korea during the coming Chinese New Year period.

According to Assistant Minister of Sabah Tourism, Culture & Environment Datuk Pang Yuk Ming at least 30 to 40 charter flights from both China and South Korea has confirmed coming to Sabah.

Altogether we expect some 75 charter flights to land at the State Capital from January to March this year, he said when Sabah Association of Tour & Travel Agents (SATTA) chairman Dato’ Seri Winston Liaw paid a courtesy call on him at his office here recently.

“The anticipated arrival is poised to increase the number of Chinese visitors to Sabah by 300,000 people barring any unfortunate incident after it was dropped to 270,000 in 2015,” said Pang, adding that in 2014, Sabah recorded some 300,000 Chinese tourists holidaying in the State.

Based on the rapid development in the State, Pang believed that Sabah can cope with some 500,000 Chinese tourists as now Kota Kinabalu have enough four to five star hotels until 2018.

Besides that, he said the China Southern Airlines is planning to launch daily direct flight from Guangzhou to Kota Kinabalu in June this year and is expected to bring in many foreign individual tourists (FIT) to the State.

The arrival of many foreign individual tourists will provide abundant opportunities for our tour operators to generate greater income, Pang said.

He encouraged local youths to venture into the tourism industry such as setting up their own tour company to provide inbound services for the foreign individual tourists.

However, before they could start off the business they need to deposit RM200,000 as required by the Ministry of Culture & Tourism (MOCAT) before the licence is approved, Pang said.

“This amount is actually quite burdensome for the newcomers as the current economy situation makes it difficult for youths to look for capitals,” noted the assistant minister.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gone John - My Sabah Five

My visit to Malaysian Borneo ended on Monday. Truthfully, I should have waited to book my flight onward so I could have stayed longer.  Sabah is beautiful, and really unique compared to the rest of Malaysia.  Despite my little accident on Saturday, I thoroughly enjoyed my time off the peninsula.

Rather than ramble on for paragraphs, I thought I’d try my hand at making a list about Sabah. A little more meat on the bones than a Buzzfeed list, but not so long that you’re sitting there thinking, “damn it, John – make it stop.”

So here they are… my “Sabah Five.”

1. The people of Sabah know that hospitality is their primary industry. Everyone. As a result, the experience of being a guest here is much more intimate than I found it to be on the peninsula.

From baristas who bend your ear as they brew your cup of coffee (with amazing charm), to tour operators who – once you get past the shouty-ness of getting lured over to their booth – take ample time to make sure you’re happy with the adventure they’re going to take you on. Overall, you’ll find people just to be more chatty, interested to talk.

2. Down the street from the hostel is a 7-Eleven. Me and my dorm mate Catt dropped in there to grab a few necessities on our way back to the hostel after island hopping on Friday. A little kid saw us in there and was trying to strike up a conversation. We smiled at him and left back to the hostel.

When I met up with Catt again in the common room, she told me she saw the little guy outside. He followed us back.  I’m not sure why, but maybe his intention was similar to the kid who was hanging around the hostel a couple days later, wanting to help the guys who run it for cash.

In fact, we ran in to a few people who’d be quite friendly in saying “hello,” but then ask if we could give them money.  That really put in to perspective that while Malaysia seems inexpensive for westerners, there are still people who don’t have enough here – just like at home.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Gone John - My Sabah Five

Santubong Homestay recognised among top 5 in country

KUCHING: Kampung Santubong Homestay achieved another milestone last week with the Asean Homestay Award which recognises it as one of the top five homestays in the country.

Out of 181 homestays in Malaysia, the top five were selected for fulfilling the criteria set by the Asean Homestay Standard (AHS).

They are Kampung Santubong Homestay in Sarawak, Homestay Miso Walai (Sabah), Homestay Banghuris (Selangor), Homestay Kampung Lonek (Negeri Sembilan), and Homestay Kampung Taman Sedia (Pahang).

Kampung Santubong Homestay coordinator Jamilah Shukri said this recognition was another feather in the cap after being judged Best Homestay in the Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards 2009/2010 and taking third place in the Best Homestay category of the national-level One District One Industry (SDSI) showcase in 2012.

“I feel happy to receive this award. It means a lot to us, considering that after eight years of struggle, we finally managed to be top five among 33 homestays in Sarawak,” she said on the award received at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila hotel in the Philippines on Jan 22.

The inaugural award held in conjunction with the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) 2016 saw participation from homestays in Asean countries including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“The proposed benefits and privileges of being certified an Asean Homestay are mostly related to better access to marketing and promotional programmes carried out by related government agencies.

“Essentially, certified homestays will benefit from the branding of AHS which is an international recognition,” she said.

Among the benefits are being issued with an AHS certificate, logo and plaque to be displayed on the homestay premises, being promoted on the Asean organisation’s official website and at Asean and international tourism events and festivals.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kuching Heritage Race crafted for folks to trace cultures

KUCHING: The inaugural Kuching Heritage Race 2016 is taking place this Saturday and slots are still available for those who wish to participate.

To-date there are 120 participants in 31 teams registered for the Jan 30 event. The maximum participants are 200, and each team can have two to six people. There is a participation fee of RM50 per person.

According to organising chairman Philip Yong, the event is crafted at getting local folk to discover things about the city.

“We want to get locals excited and interested in our cultures and heritage that can be found in the city. Apart from learning about culture and heritage, we also hope to raise funds for charitable organisations. For this year, we have identified a local charity ‘Meeting Needs’, which provides support to families with special needs children.

“The committee has crafted the race to be fun and educational, similar to Amazing Race Asia, where participants get clues to complete the challenge.

“Anyone can participate but preferably if they have the ability to walk three to four kilometres and also each team must have at least someone with a smartphone.

“Most of the groups are locals but there are some teams from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as well,” Yong told a press conference yesterday.

Yong believed that it will be a great learning experience for participants. “We want to inculcate the love for culture and heritage. It is not a history exercise, you don’t have to know a lot of history to be able to win because the clues are all there.


Rare bay cat species found in many parts of Sarawak

KUCHING: Sarawak Forest Department researchers recently found the rare bay cat species ‘Pardofelis Badia’ in Lundu.

Sarawak Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad said the team was led by lead researcher Dr Ahmad Ampeng, and similar findings had been recorded in Mulu National Park, Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Pulong Tau National Park and Anap Muput.

The research on this bay cat species formed part of the 5-year Heart of Borneo initiative.

These discoveries, Sapuan said, proved the population of this cat species is scattered across the state.

“By understanding the relations between these species and its habitat, the findings affirmed the vast richness of the state’s forests.

At the same time, State Forestry will continue to work hard to add more Totally Protected Area to its list.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Rare bay cat species found in many parts of Sarawak

Monday, January 25, 2016

Solo Female Backpacker - Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Intense and awe inspiring, Mount Kinabalu is the 20th most prominent mountain in the world and the most exciting, challenging, and humbling experience I have ever had.

Day One

Nailed it. Bag is 50% clothing, 50% snacks

Just about to leave my hostel when the head chef calls me back and asks where I'm going. In his soft, old grandpa voice he speaks slowly:

"Ooooh. The mountain... You know people died in June? ... Nobody saw the quake coming... 7am, just after the sunrise... Schoolchildren, you know? ... No warning... Nature can be cruel..."
And then, with a Professor Trelawney type snap of voice he said:

"Do not leave your guide, Miss Kirsten. Never leave your guide. Stick to him, and don't leave him."

My van horn beeped outside and I bid Hostel Grandpa adieu, thanking him for his advice and simultaneously trying to shake it off.

Made it to the Kinabalu National Park without adventure and was met by my guide, Joe. This made me instantly happy as he had the same sense of humour as a Joe from home, albeit with a goatee, which made for a good team straight away!

Time to get cracking. We quickly went through the chat of families, work, sports, and travelling, and then got down to the funsies of learning about the nature which surrounded us. The hike itself goes through 7 separate ecological strata, each clearly defined with completely different animals, insects, plants, trees, and ground!

First up was rainforest, and my gosh it was spectacular. Jurassic Park Extended Edition crossed with Tarzan, then HD it all and times it by 7. Just incredible! Next up was jungle, much thicker and denser and a rougher ground surface. Steps upon steps, we kept climbing and climbing, taking quick rests at the shelter points every half KM or so for some water.

The best thing was how deserted the trail was. We tag teamed at the rest stops with a Finnish guy who introduced himself as having done Kilimanjaro last year so "this will be very simple I think".

The first 2.5km went by on adrenaline and happiness, chatting away with Joe and kicking up a fair pace as he answered my endless questions about plants and climbing and trees and so on. Reaching 3k was a struggle, though, as my thighs and calves figured out this wasn't going to stop for a very long time yet and that they were not prepared for this! Still, we powered through the sandstone layers, the limestone layers, and the red clay type layers, taking in the astounding beauty of the whole park and occasionally running to an edge to look into the abyss of vine covered landslides, as Joe pointed out where the old trails used to be.

Lunch. HAAAAAALLELUJAH praise the sweet baby Jesus and the makers of roast chicken sandwiches.

Next up: metamorphic rock and the mother of all step sections, so I took full advantage of a carb-load session. 

Met up with Kilimanjaro at the shelter point and offered him half my Nature Valley as he looked so roughed up. We sat on a boulder watching the clouds roll over our first real view of the mountainside in all its glory, sipping on our water and munching away.

 "This is nothing like Kili, man. Y'know, Kili you go slow, 6 days, moving slow and taking each change in the landscape slow. This is like, crazy! There's no stop! It's 7 strata! Right there! Crazy, man..."

We munched away in silence after that, sizing up the boulders on the section ahead.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Solo Female Backpacker - Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan offers great Lunar Steamboat deal

SANDAKAN: Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan kicked start their Chinese New Year offer with a great Lunar Steamboat deal at The Eatery.

For this offer, diners enjoy a great array of Chinese Specialties prepared specially by Chef Chong Si Han for this season only from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

The steamboat buffet features Braised Whole Lamb with Assorted Herbs and Vegetables, Baked Fish with Tomato and Condiments.

During Chinese New Year Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan is offering a Chinese New Year Buffet every Friday and Saturday on February 5-20 from 6:30pm to 10pm.

The hotel is also showcasing the Yee Sang Special for take away only from January 25 to February 22 from 12pm to 10pm at The Eatery and Wrapped with choice of Prosperity Seasonal Fresh Fruits Salmon Yee Sang and Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang.

Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan is also offering a Prosperity Set Menu from January 25 to February 25 from 6:30pm to 10pm with four choice of sent menu from Reunion Set at RM688 net per table of 10 persons, Happiness Set, Fortune Set and Prosperity Set.

These menus would require at least two days advance booking.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Proboscis monkey park to lure tourists to Sebatik

TAWAU: A Proboscis Monkey Mangrove Recreation Park is being built at Kampung Bergosong, Sebatik Island as part of efforts to attract more local and international tourists.

Sebatik assemblyman Datuk Abdul Muis Pichu said, at the moment, a walkway is being constructed to enable visitors to see the monkeys.

“We all know that the ‘Monyet Belanda’ (Proboscis Monkey) is one of the unique wildlife species found only on the island of Borneo.

Sebatik Island also has many monkey species and we want it to become a tourist attraction,” he said during a recent visit.

With the construction of the recreation park, Abdul Muis said he is confident it would be able to help generate the economy for the residents through new business opportunities such as selling handicrafts and traditional cakes.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Proboscis monkey park to lure tourists to Sebatik

100% full Wuhan flight to Kota Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: The state capital is set to receive more tourist arrivals from China with the commencement of AirAsia’s flights from Wuhan to Kota Kinabalu today.

The airline celebrated the inaugural and exclusively AirAsia-operated route with a send-off ceremony for the Kota Kinabalu-Wuhan flight, which took off at 6.55pm from Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) yesterday with over 70 percent flight load.

Meanwhile, the Wuhan to Kota Kinabalu (KK) arriving this morning at 4.05am was close to 100% full flight load.

“Wuhan City has a population of 8.3 million people. It is right in the middle of China with no seafront. It is an industrial city, because the people are so hardworking they are eager to go out and take a breather and obviously KK is a very convenient place for them to come,” said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

“This is why I believe this sector is going to do well and assure that Chinese visitors will continue to come here,” he added.

According to Masidi, the launching of AirAsia flight to Wuhan would mean an increase to 61 flights between China and Kota Kinabalu per week.

“I believe and am confident of the future for the commercial air traffic between China and Kota Kinabalu. As a single airline, they (AirAsia) have brought in the most number of visitors over to Kota Kinabalu,” he said.

“Last year, they flew in over three million passengers. The number is awesome and I believe the number will increase further. We are more than happy to continue assisting AirAsia in any way and that AirAsia will continue to flourish in its endeavour to fly to other parts of Asia,” added Masidi.

The minister said, Sabah’s tourism players should also leverage on the expected influx of visitors by playing their part to render the best service to tourists so that Sabah’s tourism industry would flourish.

He added that the government shares the success as well as the failure of parties who play a part in Sabah’s tourism industry.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 100% full Wuhan flight to Kota Kinabalu

Dwindling shark population a blow to Sabah tourism

KOTA KINABALU: Prominent social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has called for a ban on shark hunting and finning activities in Sabah due to economic, sustainability and humane reasons.

He said the dwindling shark population was affecting the state’s tourism revenue as the shark population was estimated to have declined by 80 per cent over the past three decades.

“Sharks as predators at the top of the marine food pyramid, play a critical role in balancing the ocean ecosystem. It would be ecologically and economically damaging when sharks are removed from ocean ecosystems through overfishing or killing of sharks for their fins,” he said in a statement yesterday.

According to marine and shark conservationists, the rare Borneo river shark and Roughnose stingray only found in Borneo waters could be on the verge of extinction. Sharks are also vulnerable to over-exploitation as their populations are slow to reproduce and may not recover once overfished.

According to Lee, sharks form a significant part of Sabah’s RM354 million dive industry.

He said each year, local and international tourists and divers go to islands in Sabah particularly Semporna to see the wonders of marine treasures including the rare and endangered sharks.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science, based on its study a few years ago, valued a single living shark in Sabah’s waters at US$815,000 in terms of tourism revenue to Sabah, compared with US$100 for its fins.

Besides the economic factor, Lee reckoned that the Government also had to consider the humane reason.

Finning involves the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark’s fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea. The sharks are either starved to death, eaten alive by other fish or drowned, he stressed.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Three U.S. zoos team up to save rare Borneo elephants

Three U.S. zoos announced a new agreement Jan. 21, 2016, with Borneo-based wildlife organizations to protect the endangered Borneo pygmy elephant. The first partnership of its kind, the effort will provide support for solutions to the frequent and sometimes deadly conflicts between people and elephants on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo.

The entire population of the little-known Asian elephant subspecies has been reduced to around 2,000 in the wild, where deforestation — largely driven by logging and palm oil production — threatens their survival. Agricultural workers sometimes kill or injure elephants that raid their plantations, and the clashes can also separate calves from their herds. Houstonians are more familiar with Borneo pygmy elephants’ larger cousin the Asian elephant which are also endangered.

“When you are a local villager and you see your crop completely destroyed overnight, you will not be inspired to save the elephants,” said Dr. Marc Ancrenaz, scientific director for Borneo-based conservation organization Hutan. “Elephants need forests to survive, and people need to convert the forest into other types of land uses, like agriculture, to survive — hence the conflict. If we can’t make peace there, extinction is inevitable.”

The partnership, formed by the Houston Zoo, Oregon Zoo and Seattle-based Woodland Park, will focus on researching how human-elephant conflicts arise and mitigating those conflicts through community outreach, policy, technology and in some cases, elephant relocation. The work is carried out in Borneo by the Sabah Wildlife Department and conservation organizations HUTAN KOCP and Danau Girang Field Centre.

“The health of the forest is in many ways connected to healthy elephant populations,” said Peter Riger, vice president of conservation and education at the Houston Zoo, which has supported Borneo conservation programming since 2004. “Their need for protected areas and migration corridors literally protects hundreds of species, including amphibians, insects, mammals, birds and many others. In turn, the health of the landscape supports human communities in their livelihoods.”


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Gaya island: Borneo's biodiverse treasurehouse of jungle and marine life

A short break on tropical Gaya island is a dream for snorkellers and conservationists alike – but just beware of the monkeys

Well, now we know what you don’t do in Borneo – and that is take your gear off after you’ve climbed Mount Kinabalu.

An earthquake and then international focus on the behaviour of backpackers on the mountain has brought attention to the tropical island. And while many come for the mountain, which is one of the great – and most difficult – hikes in the world, it is Borneo’s marine life which captivated me.

Borneo, the third largest island in the world and the largest in Asia, is often overlooked in favour of a holiday in Bali or among Thailand’s enticing sprinkle of islands.

But its wildlife, beaches and accommodation make it a good alternative to old favourites. Here at the Gaya Island Resort, we are surrounded by water, including several excellent snorkelling spots, and in the soupy heat it makes more sense to be in the water than to climb a mountain.

The resort is a 15-minute speed-boat trip from Kota Kinabalu, capital of Malaysia’s easternmost state of Sabah. (In Kota Kinabalu there’s some great places to eat but it is essentially a regional port town.)

The resort is built high up in the jungle and the walk to the rooms is steep. When staff allocate rooms they make sure anyone born after 1950 is housed on the lower levels. As a post-1950’s person, I’m high up in the trees (and sweating like I’ve just played five games of squash when I get up there).

Once I’m in my room, I almost don’t want to leave. It is spacious and has a deep bath on a raised platform; bedroom and wide balcony look out over the jungle and the water. Best of all, it is perfectly chilled.

The resort has many attractions to lure visitors out of their rooms, however, not the least of which is the amazing sea life. I’ve snorkelled in a variety of spots, from the Great Barrier Reef to remote islands off Sumatra, but have never seen such an embarrassment of underwater riches. The water is clear and thick with fish of incredible colour, variety and species. It’s like being in some CGI special effect – but it’s real.

Native to Borneo are the walking catfish – which can travel short distances on land, although you are more likely to see them in the rainforest areas in fresh, rather than salty, water.

One of the best snorkelling spots I visit is just off the front of the resort pier where all the boats pull up. I see – among other things – a sea snake curled up in the coral garden (thankfully resting) and bright clownfish.

But there is no resting on existing laurels. Despite the biodiversity of the region, work is being done on marine conservation – particularly focusing on the vulnerable turtle population.


Sarawak Tourism Board inks deal with airline for direct flight

The inaugural direct flight from Hong Kong to Kuching is expected to be launched on April 26.

This follows the signing of an agreement between Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Hong Kong Airlines for the airline to operate the Hongkong-Kuching direct route.

The agreement was signed by STB chief executive officer Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Hong Kong Airlines Assistant Director of Commercial Michael Burke during a ceremony at Hong Kong Airlines headquarters near the Hong Kong International Airport here yesterday.

Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg, who witnessed the signing ceremony, said Kuching will be a new market for the airline.

He pointed out that the new route would enhance business networking between Hong Kong and Kuching apart from promoting tourism.

“Eco-tourism is our major attraction. What is important about this direct route is the potential of development. Hong Kong is the hub of East Asia while Kuching which is in Borneo that has Sarawak, Sabah and Kalimantan is a new market for you.”

Abang Johari said the airline could also tap into the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry while informing the airline that Sarawak would be hosting the International Congress and Convention Asia 2016 in November.

He added that his ministry looked forward to further collaboration with Hong Kong Airlines in the near future.

Meanwhile, Burke described the ceremony as a ‘positive occasion’ for the airline as he was pleased that the agreement was finally inked after rounds of deliberations since 2013.

Though there will be only two flights a week from Hong Kong to Kuching and vice versa, he said the airline aimed at building up the services first.


Kuching airline’s first in Malaysia

Kuching is the first destination in Malaysia for Hong Kong Airlines that is expected to launch the inaugural Hong Kong-Kuching direct route come April 26.

Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state government was pleased that the new route is finally realised as Sarawak would not have to rely on Kuala Lumpur as a hub after April.

Besides Kuala Lumpur, he said most travellers from Sarawak would also use Singapore as an important hub.

“This direct flight from Hong Kong to Kuching will increase connectivity between Hong Kong and Kuching. It is also to address a lack of connectivity issue in Sarawak.

“Once launched, we will have two very important hubs — Hong Kong and Singapore.

“Tourists or those attending conventions from the United States and Europe can fly to Hong Kong and from there to Kuching. This can be unique to us,” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of agreement between Sarawak Tourism Board and Hong Kong Airlines at the latter’s headquarters near Hong Kong International Airport here yesterday.

The agreement for Hong Kong Airlines to operate the Hong Kong-Kuching direct route was signed by STB chief executive officer Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Hong Kong Airlines Assistant Director of Commercial Michael Burke.

Also present were assistant ministers of tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip and Datuk Gramong Juna, Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd general manager Mohamed Sallauddin Mohamed Shah and Tourism Malaysia, Hong Kong director Norshamsida Abdul Rahman.

According to Abang Johari, Sarawak is expected to host the International Congress and Convention Asia 2016 in November.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kuching airline’s first in Malaysia

‘Too country’ duo to perform at Miri Country Music Fest next month

KUCHING: Their music has been described as sounding ‘too country’ but the husband-and-wife team from USA, Jo-el and LeAnne Ulmer, have taken that comment on a very positive note.

More so, they even deliberately tried to live up to that description and make the name of the band fitted to it. Thus, the birth of 2Country4Nashville and the duo will be performing at the upcoming Miri Country Music Fest next month.

A press statement yesterday said the musical couple had in fact participated in a reality country music competition and they had made it to the finale. But the judges told them they sounded ‘too country’ for the Nashville music scene; which could be why they did not make a winning out of their performance.

But then they thought it would be nice to just capitalize on their ‘too country’ sound and sing traditional country tunes.

“We want people to know that real country music is alive and well,” said Jo-el who spots the pompadour hairstyle.

The duo who have been performing together for the past eight years have just celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary, and currently, they have their own radio show back home.

Apart from his pompadour hairstyle, Jo-el’s other signature image is his custom-made ‘Sparklecaster’ bright orange guitar, which LeAnne matches with her orange tambourine.

What festival goers can expect from these two performers this coming Feb 27 is their good traditional country music would be blended with their fun personality on stage.

2Country4Nashville together with the other bands promise to put the sparkle and twang back in the country music at the country music festival to be held at ParkCity Everly Hotel in Miri.

The other performers are Tantowi Yahya from Indonesia, Leonard and the Country Riders (Singapore), Ruby Boots from Australia, and from Malaysia are Os Pombos (Kuala Lumpur), Jonathan Tse (kota Kinabalu), and Mountain Wind (Sarawak).


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon to proceed with modifications to route, participation

KOTA KINABALU: The Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon will proceed to be held in October this year with a few modifications to the route and number of participant, despite initial proposals to postpone the event due to the earthquake and current economic conditions.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said the climbathon was slated to be held on October 16 this year, while the participation would be by invitation only.

“The Adventure Series surely cannot take place because the trail has been badly damaged by the earthquake last year.”

However, he said climbathon would continue with its Elite Series, meaning that the quality of participants would be better.

The one-day climbathon will be slightly longer than the previous route, an increase from 8.72 kilometres to close to nine kilometres.

Climbers will begin the race at Timpohon Gate to Panalaban, Aki Point and finally the summit via the Ranau trail before making their way back down again.

“Despite the earthquake in mid-2015 and climbing activities just resumed on December 1, we at the ministry and Sabah Tourism Board have decided to hold the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon this year with slight modifications.

“There were suggestions that we should postpone the climbathon but the event adds value to Sabah.”

Masidi said participation of the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon would be limited to invitees only, though the exact number had yet to be determined.


Mount Kinabalu climbing activities fully booked for next few months

KOTA KINABALU: Climbing activities at Mount Kinabalu are fully booked for the next few months beginning from March onwards, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

Masidi said the response showed that people were eager to climb Mount Kinabalu, adding that most climbers were foreigners.

The fact that the daily limit to the number of climbers scaling Mount Kinabalu had been reduced from 192 to 135 which also meant that the queue was longer, he said.

He said the first trail to Mount Kinabalu, which was named Ranau Trail, had been utilized while the second trail, called the Kota Belud Trail was expected to be ready in March or April this year.

Masidi also announced there would also be a new point called the Aki Point overlooking Ranau town.

He said Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais and friends initially offered to name Aki Point as Masidi’s Point but he rejected the idea consistent with the policy not to take anything from the mountain.

“Aki is part of Aki Nabalu. It is only proper that everything that is there should remain with Aki,” he said this when officiating at the relaunch of the Via Ferrata on Mount Kinabalu by Mountain Torq Sdn Bhd.

Mountain Torq also introduced the Aeroligne System, which is a continuous belay system that allows the climber to be in continuous connection to the safety cable.

Developed in France, the Aeroligne System is the first of its kind in Asia.

He said the reopening of the Via Ferrata marked the beginning of a new episode in an effort to resume activities on Mount Kinabalu.

“On December 1, we opened Mount Kinabalu to 120 climbers daily.”

He said the relaunch of the Via Ferrata would regain the confidence of climbers on the safety level at Mount Kinabalu.

Masidi lamented that Mount Kinabalu was perceived to to be unsafe due to the aftershocks.

“The aftershocks are normal, it does not affect the safety of hikers.

“Sabah Parks is cooperating with those involved to implement measures for the safety of all Mount Kinabalu climbers.”

Continue reading at: Mount Kinabalu climbing activities fully booked for next few months

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu reopens

KOTA KINABALU: After seven months of closure due to the earthquake which hit Mount Kinabalu on June 5 last year, Mountain Torq Sdn Bhd is reopening the award-winning world’s highest via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu to climbers.

Mountain Torq also announced the introduction of the Aeroligne System, which is a continuous belay system that allows the climber to be in continuous connection to the safety cable.

Developed in France, the system is first of its kind in Asia.

Mountain Torq director Wilfred Tok said the company was busy improving and upgrading its safety procedures, equipment and via ferrata for the past few months.

“Apart from redesigning our via ferrata route to a much safer location, we have also worked together with Sabah Parks to incorporate safety procedures and increase communication protocol,” he said at the relaunch ceremony officiated by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun here yesterday.

He said the Aeroligne System was a continuous belay system which would increase customer’s safety and confidence on the via ferrate while creating a smoother and more seamless experience for the climbers.

“The system is installed on the Low’s Peak Circuit via ferrata route which holds the record of being the world’s highest via ferrata certified by the Guinness Book of Records since 2009.”


No decision yet on newly found cave in Mulu

KUCHING: There is no decision yet from the Sarawak government to develop the newly discovered cave, “conviction cave” at the world’s famous Gunung Mulu National Park in Miri as another tourism attraction.

The massive cave system, believed to be over six million years, was discovered by British caver Andy Eavis on Oct 15, last year.

It is located in the midst of the national park and is potentially among the world’s top 15 largest caves.

“This cave is geographically a very significant and important discovery, as well as very special for eco-tourism but it is very difficult to get there even for the experts,” said Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) chief executive officer (CEO), Wong Ting Chung.

However, he told Bernama that it was up to the Sarawak government to decide whether to develop the cave as another eco-tourism product.

“The cave’s size, great age, and the likelihood that it is completely untouched make it an important scientific discovery,” he said.

Eavis had launched over 24 expeditions since 1977 in search of the tunnel until he found the cave just 15 km from the entrance of Gunung Mulu National Park, as what could be one of the world’s largest caves that starts with a hole in the ground, just large enough for a human.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: No decision yet on newly found cave in Mulu

Construction of new Mukah airport to begin soon

MARUDI: Construction of a new airport in Mukah to cater to larger aircraft like ATR turboprops is expected to begin soon, said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) Managing Director Datuk Mohd Badlisham Ghazali.

He said the proposed new airport was announced in Budget 2016.

“Mukah has long needed that kind of airport, it is a priority as announced by the government.

“Construction of the airport is part of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, the planning portion will start soon and I think construction work will start at the end of this year or next year,” he told reporters after visiting the Marudi airport yesterday.

Asked if planning for the new Mukah airport would be affected by the recalibrated Budget 2016, Badlisham said Mukah really needs a new airport.

“This is a long-standing matter, that’s why the government has approved the budget for this airport, but we still need to wait for the Prime Minister’s decision.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Move to fully protect Sunda pangolins in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is likely to take steps to fully protect Sunda pangolins amid a high demand for its meat.

The state is mulling over fully protecting the pangolin which is currently allowed to be hunted with licence under Schedule Two of the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

“If it is re-listed under the Enactments Schedule 1, then a complete ban on hunting can be enforced as it will become fully pro­tected.

“It is high time for us to look into the status of the pangolin in the state and within the wildlife enactment,” he said.

There are growing concerns that over-hunting triggered by high demand might make the mammal extinct in Sabah.

The modus operandi of these groups involved in the trade is to process and treat pangolin as meat products, making it difficult to be detected when packaged properly.

Masidi said a few years ago, state wildlife rangers intercepted a consignment of five tonnes of pangolin meat in the Sandakan area.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu: The Key to Unlocking the City

Many dismiss Kota Kinabalu as a transit point in exploring the wonders of Sabah. But I find the multifaceted city, set against a backdrop of both the legendary Mount Kinabalu and the expanse of the South China Sea, in more ways than one, intriguing, especially with what similarities we share with its people.

In hopes to discover more of Sabah’s capital, I stayed at the centrally-located Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, which served as my key to unlocking the city.


Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu has a most enviable address, for it fronts the South China Sea in the center of the city.

From the airport, the hotel is accessible by taxi within 10-15 minutes and by a more affordable airport bus, which stops nearby.

Most of the action is right within the hotel’s vicinity or within a few minutes’ walk, making it one of the best hotels to discovering Kota Kinabalu.

Pasar Filipina (Philippine market), which sells piles of Sabahan delicacies is just in front, and Jalan Gaya, one of the most popular thoroughfares in the city for its food and Sunday market, is a few minutes away by foot.

And for shopaholics, there’s no need to take a cab to get to the Night Market, Centre Point Mall, Imago Mall, and Suria Sabah.


Le Meridien is part of the renowned Starwood Hotels and Resorts portfolio, alongside esteemed brands like the W, St. Regis, Westin, and Sheraton.

The style of its luxury and upscale properties worldwide is a blend of contemporary culture and European heritage that “creates a culturally refined, meaningful, and stimulating atmosphere.”

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu is undertaking a massive rejuvenation program in phases.

Its porte-cochere, entrance, and lobby have already been completed, and the result is a harmonious marriage of European flair and Sabahan culture.

The hotel had just completed the reinvention of its Le Meridien Hub, a modern take on the traditional hotel lobby that “offers an array of opportunities for guests to gather, connect, inspire and be inspired.”

The hub is a delight to the senses, as it features high-impact art that reflects Kota Kinabalu as a coastal city, the signature Le Meridien scent, candle-lit lamps in the evenings, and a sexy French pop playlist called New Wave by Nouvelle Vague.

Further, the section showcases the awe-inspiring Curiosity Table and Shelf of Discovery.


Hotel insider: Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley, Borneo, Malaysia

I’m met at the tiny Lahad Datu Airport by a uniformed driver. The flight from Kota Kinabalu is disconcerting – you see vast areas of logged land that are now home to palm-oil plantations. 

My driver loads my luggage into a specially adapted Toyota Land Cruiser, and we go the short distance to Borneo Nature Tours’ office, where I complete registration and sign a waiver. 

Because it’s lunchtime and my package is for three nights, I’m bought lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant, before making the two-and-a-half-hour drive to the heart of one of the area’s last tracts of virgin forest.

On arrival at the lodge I’m met by a staff member called Daniel from Kota Kinibalu, who proffers a pandan-leaf garland, checks me in and takes me to my room.

The neighbourhood

The lodge is a sustainable tourism operation in the Danum Valley Conservation Area, 44,000 hectares of primary rainforest that’s home to about 1,500 orang-utans, plus thousands of other animal and plant species. There are 30 chalets, accommodating a maximum of 60 people at any one time.

The room

Most rooms are the same size, classed as standard and deluxe – deluxe rooms have a river view and outdoor bath. Rooms are built mainly of sustainable wood, with natural ventilation, built-in insect screens, a modern bathroom with rain shower (hot water heated by solar panels and using filtered stream water), comfortable beds, a minibar, sofa, tea- and coffee-making facilities, dressing area and safe. You’re surrounded by the sounds of the forest and river, but ensconced in relative luxury.

The scene

Most guests are middle-aged Europeans, mainly British and German, with the rest a mixture of American, Australian, Singaporean and Japanese. Some have specialist interests, such as birdwatching and photography, and when I stayed, there was a crew from National Geographic TV in residence. The inviting open-air restaurant, bar and lounge area has gorgeous views over the river and forest. Shoes must be removed at the entrance – you walk barefoot on the dark-wood floors. It’s functional and stylish.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Travelling Geek - Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu

In the northern state of Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, lies a range of mountains, accessible to many tourists. A 8km climb from base camp to the summit, climbed over 2 days. 60 year old Japanese women climb it, I was told, you’ll be fine!

This neglected to consider, I’d been travelling for nearly 3 months, and my fitness was not at its best, I had not completed a shred of exercise or monitored the amount of delicious new foods. Nonetheless, I agreed.

We spent some time in Kuala Lumpur purchasing a rucksack suitable for climbing with 2 days worth of clothes, including, almost laughably in KL, warm items. Finding a shop selling woolly hats and gloves in the tropics, is a small mission in itself.

We also purchased some walking shoes, as our packing when we left the UK had anticipated climbing any mountains (more lying on the beach and visiting museums!)

At base camp you see all the returning climbers, joyous from their completed trip and clearly sweating, dirty and tired. You locate your bed for the  night, and eat some carbs from the buffet.

There was very little to do in the evening, it had started to get a little chilly, so we prepared our bags, and got some shut eye.

The morning, is more carb loading, and not too much tea (never know where the next toilet might be, although it turned out there were plenty along the route). We met our guide. These are part of the team of super heroes who keep the mountain going for tourists.

Every small group must have a guide, and these guys walk up and down the mountain two of three times a week. There is also an incredible team of porters, who carry the supplies up to the over-night stop. Everything for the buildings was carried up by men, building materials, mattresses, beds, cooking facilities.

These guys are unbelievable; strong and fit; every time we were overtaken by a porter (a lot!) I felt a little ashamed of my struggle.

The first day is 6kms, starting from the tropical forest, climbing past a mini-waterfall, and then up to a rugged plateau where the cabins sit, just above the clouds on the day we were there.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Travelling Geek - Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu – the Best Place for Unplanned Travel

Sometimes the best adventures in life are unplanned. Multiple experiences have reinforced this belief in me and the Kota Kinabalu experience was no exception. Thanks to a busy work life, I had no time to read about Kota Kinabalu and also plan for it.

Additionally, I wasn’t too kicked about this trip because of the hangover of my splendid Vietnam trip. I was mentally reliving my Vietnam moments. Also, to tell you the truth I was kind of forced into booking this trip because a friend desperately wanted to travel out of Philippines and wanted me to accompany her but she chickened out in the end and this ended up becoming yet another solo trip.

I had two options. Either to cancel my trip or venture into the unexplored. I chose the latter, like I always do! A few adjustments were made- a luxury hotel was swapped for a hostel, budget was increased and more importantly, I became the pilot rather than a mere co-passenger.

It is natural for you to wonder when I say that Kota Kinabalu is the best place for unplanned travel. It is not without reasons and here are three of them:

1. Travel Easy: Kota Kinabalu is well connected with frequent low cost flights (at attractive prices) from all major cities in South East Asia. You can reach Kota Kinabalu in 2-2.5 hrs from most of them and within 15 minutes, the city centre. Most hotspots in the city are within walking distance and the distant ones can be covered with the pretty good public transport. You can either choose a city bus or a minivan or a taxi to get around. For traveling out of KK there are long distance buses or taxis available quite easily.

2. One place. Assorted Experiences: Kota Kinabalu is a ‘Nature Resort City’ located on the tropical island of Borneo, Malaysia, which possesses the natural treasure of unique ethnic cultures, endearing hospitality of friendly and English speaking locals, sumptuous cuisine from around the world, breathtaking marine and exotic preservations. And if you go a little further from KK you’ll find incredible landscape variety. It is a living Biodiversity island comprising of a complex ecosystem with mangroves stretching till the eyes can see, tropical rainforests with great trails, majestic Mount Kinabalu with crisp air and marvelous view, marshlands with astounding natural beauty, unending rivers with abundant wildlife, pristine long sandy beaches, paradise islands and virgin coral reefs among other natural wonders. I’ve never come across such rich variety!

3. Suits any kind of budget: Kota Kinabalu is one place which caters to all kind of travelers. Basis your pocket you can choose your accommodation and tours. While the best place to stay at KK is Shangri-la’ Rasa Ria Resort you can always have your pick from a wide variety of hotels, Hostels, Motels, B&B or house apartments to suit any budget.


Gems of the tourism belt

UNBEKNOWNST to many, Lundu and Kuching are linked by more ways than one.

It is quite usual to travel from Kuching to Bau, and from there, turn right to continue the journey to Lundu on almost 100km of smooth tar-sealed trunk road.

This has never been an issue to road users since the Bau-Lundu Road is properly maintained and flanked by captivating verdant scenery to make the drive very pleasant. Apart from good road connectivity, Lundu, after all, is also known for its scenic landscape and idyllic ambience. Its reputation as a holiday spot is further boosted by especially its proximity to the beach-fronting Sematan area, a popular tourist destination on the southern-tip of the First Division.

From a recent interview, the well-travelled thesundaypost journalists found, to their surprise, there is actually another way from Kuching to Lundu – via the road that cuts through Sampadi (so let’s call it Sampadi Road) and links up with Samariang area in Petra Jaya. The scenery is equally mesmerising as the Bau-Lundu Road, if not more.

Travellers get to soak up the picturesque countryside dotted with rolling plantations, sprawling farms and pristine secondary forests fanning out into the horizon, arrested in its timeless clarity, by jugged features of ancient and mysterious hills and mountains. It’s awe-inspiring.

As the road is still a well kept secret, cruising along it is both pleasant and relaxing – away from the flurry and chaos of urban traffic.

The road was once a palm oil plantation road, known for its rough gravelled surface. Back then, it was less travelled unless circumstances dictated. And recently, away from the fanfare of publicity, the road was upgraded and transformed — from a bumpy, dusty and danger-fraught route into a smooth motorway.

The only difference between this road and the Bau-Lundu Road is perhaps the fact that travellers, using the former, have to cross seven rivers. There are six bridges and seven waterways. No bridge spans the last link — Batang Rambungan — the biggest of the seven rivers – linked to both banks by a couple of ferries operating rain or shine.

For those who have the luxury of travelling at a leisurely pace, using the ferry could be an interesting experience. Motorists have to skilfully drive on deck and park as orderly as possible to allow more vehicles to join the queue. After parking, the travelling party can alight and watch the ferry driver manoeuvre across the river in a matter of minutes.

However, for locals such as 69-year-old Rujus Brahim of Kampung Sampadi Slenggok, it would be a dream come true if they could dispense with the ferry service.

“We do hope our YB — Tanjung Datu state assemblyman Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem who is also the Chief Minister — will build a bridge across Batang Rambungan to fix the missing link,” he told thesundaypost at Lundu Bazaar.

With a bridge, the journey from Lundu to Kuching will be shortened by at least 20 minutes to just within the hour.

Born and raised in Sampadi, Rujus also hoped to see more commercial centres and shophouses built in the financial, administrative and commercial hub of Tanjung Datu state constituency, Lundu town, for Bumiputera entrepreneurs.

“As you can see, the shophouses are mostly Chinese-owned. Not that we have anything against the Chinese but it would be good if the government could provide more business premises for Bumis,” he said, adding that right now, the Bumiputera community is lagging behind in trade and commerce as most of them are still dealing in primary goods such as jungle or sea produce.

Rujus pointed out that as a former private sector employee, life had been hard, especially without any pension.

“We hope the Adenan administration will look into the needs of struggling senior citizens like us and provide some assistance.”

Rujus and his fellow residents now feel very special and hopeful because their hometown Sampadi lies in Tanjung Datu state constituency, represented by the Chief Minister himself. His feeling is shared by many, including new Sampadi Kapitan Chen Khee Fui and resident Jee Fah Shin.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Gems of the tourism belt

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Lack of direct flights a bane for Sibu tourism

SIBU: The limited direct air connectivity will remain a stumbling block in efforts to ensure a successful ‘Visit Sibu Year 2017’ campaign.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King said it was rather upsetting to see that the hub for many cheaper direct flights had been restricted to Kuala Lumpur.

“If one wanted to go overseas via Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, he or she would be surprised by the exorbitant sum of airfares that they had to spend,” he said in launching a signature campaign Local Government and Community Development Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh at Sibu Gateway yesterday.

Tiong also noted that even the budget airfare to Kuala Lumpur was ‘extraordinary high’, resulting in many students and those working outside the state unable to come back for festive celebrations.

The situation, he added, had also caused many townsfolk here to consider relocating to other places like Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur and even Singapore.

“That has unnecessarily caused a braindrain for Sibu,” he pointed out, noting that goods and services here had become more expensive due to costly air freight charges.

“It is, therefore, very timely for UPP (United People’s Party) to initiate this signature campaign on appealing for the ‘Open Sky Policy’ for Sibu.

“We urge the government to seriously listen to the appeal by the Sibu people to allow direct air links between Sibu and Kota Kinabalu, Singapore and Fuzhou (China).