Thursday, June 30, 2005

Almost 100,000 jump in tourists to Sabah

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah recorded a 11.7 per cent increase in tourist arrivals between January and May this year.

Sabah Tourism Board Chairman Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin said a total of 768,736 tourists came in the first five months, compared to the 687,930 during the same period last year.

Speaking at a joint press conference by Malaysia Airlines and STB, Wednesday, he said Sabah being a preferred destination certainly has huge potential in grabbing a slice of the 1.6 billion tourism traffic worldwide by 2020.

"Of the figure released by World Trade Organisation (WTO), 25 per cent is in the East Asia Pacific region which will generate US$500 billion worth from tourism alone," he said.

He said there has also been a phenomenal growth in Japanese tourist arrivals in 2003 and last year with Sabah recording an 80 per cent increase from 24,000 to 44,000 arrivals.

The first five months saw 12,160 Japanese, specifically coming for Sabah's eco-tourism.

He said Brunei tourists made up the highest number during the period, accounting for 22,000.

Meanwhile, MAS will be increasing its KK-Tokyo (Narita)-KK direct flights from twice weekly to three a week. Its new Sabah Area Manager, Mohd Nazeri Abd Karim, said the third would commence from July 1 to complement the growing number of Japanese visitors to Sabah.

The sector is serviced by the B777-200 aircraft which offers 35 Business Class seats and 231 Economy Class seats.

He said the airline believes the additional flight would further enhance Sabah as a preferred holiday destination in the Japanese market.

"Likewise, Malaysia Airlines is positive that tourism players in Sabah will respond to this opportunity and work together with the authorities particularly the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Tourism Malaysia and Sabah Tourism Board," he said.

The trend for inbound tourism, he said, has recorded a steady 36 per cent annual growth from 1999 to last year.

Last year, Sabah recorded 1.77 million arrivals and that this is expected to grow to four million in five years. "With the additional flight, we can expect between 60 and 70 Japanese boarding each flight to Sabah."

Meanwhile, STB would be bringing local Mt Kinabalu Climbathon runners, Danny @ Kuilin Gongot and Mius Belinting for the Mt Fuji Race sometime in July. Its Deputy General Manager, Gordon C. Yapp, said the STB would also take part in tourism promotions at the Takashimaya Store.

Courtesy of: Daily Express

Tourist arrivals in Sabah not affected by travel advisories

By Joniston Bangkuai

KOTA KINABALU: TOURIST arrivals in Sabah have not declined despite travel advisories by Australia and United States warning their citizens against visiting the State.

Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Tengku Zainal Adlin said this year's tourist arrivals have exceeded last year's figures.

May recorded 768,736 tourists arrivals, compared with last year's figure of 687,939.

The US and Australia had warned their citizens against traveling to the east coast of Sabah, claiming that terrorists were planning to kidnap foreigners there.

Adlin said a group of some 40 divers who visited Mabul island, near Sipadan for two weeks, had given good reports on the area and the safety precautions taken by the Malaysian Government.

He was speaking at a Press conference announcing Malaysia Airlines increased direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Tokyo.

Courtesy of: New Straits Times

Talk of terrorist plots by embassies baseless: CID boss

Kota Kinabalu: Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Director, Datuk Mohd Fauzi Shaari. said claims about terrorists plotting to kidnap foreigners in Sabah have been found to be baseless.

Giving the assurance that Sabah is safe, he said visitors should come here to see the actual situation first hand for themselves.

"Don't listen to talk by outsiders. We are always monitoring the situation," he said referring to the various travel advisories issued by several countries cautioning their citizens against visiting the country for fear of potential kidnappings by terrorists, especially in Sabah.

Speaking after opening the CID legal and prosecuting officers (D5) two-day meeting at the Pacific Sutera Harbour, Wednesday, he also called on Sabah police to maintain the present declining trend of crime in the State.

"So far, we are quite satisfied with the performance of the Sabah police and we hope they keep it up," he said.

Fauzi made the comments based on the briefing given to him by the Commissioner of Police, Datuk Mangsor Ismail and other senior police officers.

Keeping criminals at bay would have a positive impact on the State's economy, as more investment would come and the tourism industry can flourish, he said.

Fauzi described his visit to Sabah, the first after taking over as Bukit Aman CID chief five months ago, as "hands on" to see the situation at the various state police contingents in the country.

Courtesy of: Daily Express

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Why a truly Best of Borneo Tour not feasible?

In recent years, we have received quite a number of inquiries with regards to tour packages that include a visit to all Four Corners of Borneo. Sad to say, such tour is very rare since it is complicated to arrange and at most times not feasible economically and politically.

To begin with, the island is made up of three different countries - the states of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia, the Sultanate Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam, and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

Although quite developed within the Malaysia and Brunei part of Borneo, its landscape consists for the most part of steep hills, mountains, and dense rain forests.

Additionally, the sheer size of Borneo - it covers an area five times as large as England and Wales - means that connectivity is complex and travel linkage services (i.e., air, land, etc.) are scarce, especially in the Kalimantan part. Immigration and the wide currency exchange differences are also a hindrance.

As it is, tourism in Borneo, usually confined to Sabah and Sarawak, and Brunei to a lesser extent. Most of the 'Best of Borneo' tours offered include largely the twin states of Malaysia.

But, visiting both Sabah and Sarawak can still be widely regarded as the best of what Borneo can offer at present - nature, adventure, diving, wildlife and culture. After all, the eco-treasures in both Sabah and Sarawak are on par if not better than Kalimantan's, and of course, the tourism facilities in Malaysia are more developed and sophisticated.

Kalimantan is realistically a unique destination that caters for a very different niche group - the real adventurers. For them, Kalimantan IS Borneo. After all, it occupied more than half of the island.

In hindsight, it will be a boon for tourism in Borneo if one day soon, a truly 'Best of Borneo' tour package can be organised to cover all four parts of Borneo.

The latest news is that the governments of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam are looking into the feasibility of a Borneo tourism circuit linking the three regions of Borneo.

Click Here for some of the best of Borneo Combo Pre-Designed Tour Packages

Copyright © 2005

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gawai Fest to be included in Sarawak tourism calendar

By Magdalene Rogers

KUCHING - Sarawak's ethnic harvest festival, or the Gawai Dayak, would be included in the state's tourism calendar which would be implemented in series.

The 'Gawai Series Project' started with the Bidayuh community and if the pilot project is a success, the project would be promoted as a tourism event to attract foreign tourists, especially those from Europe to Sarawak, said Assistant Minister of Urban Development Datuk Alfred Yap.

"In the past, foreign tourists who visited Sarawak seldom had the opportunity to witness an actual traditional ritual of the various races, especially the rituals of the ethnic groups," he added.

The ministry had embarked on the Gawai Series 2005 pilot project for the Bidayuh, Iban and Melanau communities, which was also a part of this year's World Harvest Festival held in May.

Yap said the Bidayuh Gawai was chosen as the pilot project and is coordinated at designated locations in Bau district, based on the criteria that the particular village is still practising traditional Bidayuh rituals and customs.

Under the project, the ministry planned to have a Gawai celebration each month throughout the year, with the Iban Gawai to be held in Sibu later this year.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, June 26, 2005

General Tip: Babysitters on Vacation

So you and your spouse would like a quite dinner together and the hotel provides a babysitter, easy right? Double-check the hours of babysitting services. Make sure that they are available during the time you need. If not, see if they can recommend anybody. Ask the same questions as you would at home. If there is an organized program ask questions.
  • Do they have planned activities?
  • Are meals provided?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Are they trained in CPR or emergency procedures?
  • What is the ratio between babysitter and children?
Remember that this is a family vacation. Try to do as much as you can with the family and your children, the memories can never be replaced.

Courtesy of Precision Reservations
Asia's premier Hotel Reservation site since 1997,
offering discounts of up to 75% off the regular
rates at hotels throughout Asia and worldwide!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Tourists still heading to Sabah

Foreigners visiting Sabah and its islands for diving continue to increase, prompting authorities to step up measures to ensure that visitors enjoy an incident-free holiday.

"The number of visitors continue to rise despite the numerous travel advisories issued," said Sabah Assistant Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim Bujang.

"Despite such advisories, the number of Australians and other foreigners visiting Sabah has been increasing, especially after connecting flights were introduced last year between Melbourne and Kota Kinabalu."

His response comes in the wake of a travel advisory issued by the Australian Government yesterday, warning its citizens against travelling to Sabah following what it claimed were "credible reports" that terrorists were planning to kidnap foreigners.

The advisory was also carried over CCN and ABC’s online news portals today.

"Australians are advised to avoid all travel to coastal resorts, islands and dive sites off the east coast of Sabah on Borneo island," the advisory read.

Karim said the Australian Government was merely exercising its duty by issuing the advisory.

Meanwhile, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Musa Hassan also stressed that the safety of tourists at popular spots off Sabah was always emphasised.

Aerial surveillance by the Air Wing and sea patrols along the Philippines and Indonesian maritime borders continue to be carried out.

In addition to this, General Operations Force personnel are stationed on numerous islands to keep a lookout for suspicious movements.

Musa said numerous crime prevention operations were also conducted to put citizens and foreigners here at ease.

He added the Malaysian police had good ties and shared information with intelligence agencies in the region, including Australia, in its efforts to win the war against terrorism.

Courtesy of The New Straits Times

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Malaysia Aims To Get US$10 Billion From Tourism In 5 Years

By Salmy Hashim

LOS ANGELES -- Malaysia aims to reach US$10 billion a year in receipts from the tourism and services industry within 5 years, Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Leo Michael Toyad said Wednesday.

"Tourism is our second biggest earner after manufacturing, garnering close to US$8 billion last year with tourists averaging a five-day stay," he told Bernama.

"Last year we laid out the welcome mat to 15.7 million visitors. We hope to welcome 25 million tourists every year within the next five years."

Malaysia is second to China in Asia as a tourist destination. Last year that country drew about 22 million tourists to its attractions compared with Malaysia's almost 16 million visitors.

Dr Toyad Wednesday ended his North American marketing blitz selling Malaysia in Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles for 10 days from June 14. The delegation included Tourism Malaysia officials, dancers, musicians, fashion designer Nazleen Noor and eight models.

In all the three cities, the Canadian and American audiences and journalists packed hotel ballrooms to feast their eyes on the promotional videos of Malaysia, the leggy models breezing on the runway with their silky, soft batik outfit, and awakened their tastebuds with the curry puffs, satay and spicy peanut sauce.

Dr Toyad said that about 145,000 American tourists visited Malaysia last year, while this year 48,000 of them had already arrived in the first three months of this year.

Americans are attracted to eco-tourism -- exploring the rainforest, watching the Orang Utan in the wilderness, and scuba diving.

While in the New York and LA, the minister met several movie and television executives to put Malaysia on the "film production map."

Mark Burnett, producer of reality-TV series "Survivor". spoke at one of the tourism sessions of his experience shooting the first Survivor show in Pulau Tiga, off Sabah.

Hollywood blockbuster movies, "Anna and the King", as well as "Entrapment", were shot in Malaysia. European movie makers too are finding Malaysia an increasingly attractive location for their movies.

Bringing moviemakers to Malaysia not only put Malaysia in the limelight, but also create a spin-off effect to its local service industries including hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, local production and post-production companies.

While there are no firm figures, vice-president of Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) Kamil Othman said, "Anna and the King" was estimated to have brought to Malaysia US$52 million in three months and "Entrapment", US$25 million within four to five weeks.

"The market is still untapped," he said.

Courtesy of BERNAMA

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

AirAsia To Introduce Flights Within Sarawak

KUCHING -- To boost its presence in Sarawak, Budget carrier AirAsia is expected to introduce flights within the state, Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said.

Speaking during the winding-up session for his ministry at the State's Legislative Assembly sitting here Tuesday, Wong said that presently AirAsia has increased its flights frequency to 13 flights daily from two flights per day from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu.

"I have been informed that it will soon introduce internal flights within Sarawak," he said.

He added that the carrier has contributed significantly towards improving domestic flights frequency particularly for the state.

On the tourism front, Wong said that tourist arrivals had increased in the last two years.

"Our visitor arrivals for last year is 2.65 million, an increase of 11.97 percent over 2.37 million in 2003," he said.

He said that Sarawak's main markets were Brunei (1.3 million), West Malaysia and Sabah (409,783) Indonesia (401,552), UK and Ireland (44,498), Singapore (41,566) and Australia and New Zealand (29,509)

However, the number of long haul visitors to Sarawak was still low due to inadequate promotion of the state as among the nation's tourism destinations, limited airlinks and small marketing budget, Wong said.

Apart from that, he said that airfare was also a factor, which resulted in the lesser long haul visitors as it was expensive for travellers to extend their journeys from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to Sarawak.

To increase visitor arrivals, Wong said that marketing efforts would be intensified in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Kalimantan through strategic marketing programmes.

Such programmes would be cheaper and allow the local tourism industry to be well prepared for the more demanding long haul visitors, he said.

Courtesy of BERNAMA

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tenom Train Expedition, Sabah

Drive 1.5 hours past scenic countryside and padifields south to Beaufort (88 km from Kota Kinabalu), a rural town situated at the confluence of the Padas and Pegalan rivers. Board a local "Railcar" train 2 hours nd 40 minutes ride to Tenom through the rainforest and Padas River/Gorge. On arrival drive about 25 minutes to the Tenom Agriculture Park, which showcase Sabah's rich agricultural heritage. In the beautifully landscaped gardens are some of the most unique plants from the fragrant to the rare and exotic Borneo orchids - some 600 species of lowland orchids. Here you can discover the magic of the tropics from the evolution of plants to today's incredible diversity of native and introduced species.

Click here for tour information.

Tenom Train Expedition, Sabah

Tenom Train Expedition, Sabah

Orchirds at the Tenom Agricultural Park, Sabah

Copyright © 2005

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sarawak Urges Neighbours To Focus On Adventure Tourism

By Rosh Abidin Yahya

Bandar Seri Begawan - Tourism players should capitalise on the "unexpected" element the region possesses as such a strategy could attract many Western tourists who are looking for adventure, said Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

He told participants of BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) Tourism Cluster Meeting in Miri last Tuesday that the Sarawak government was always supportive of the role played by the private sector, particularly in promoting the sub-region of Brunei Darussalam, Sarawak, Labuan, Sabah, Mindanao and the provinces of Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

Dr Chan was speaking on behalf of Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at the opening ceremony of the BEBC Tourism Cluster Inaugural Meeting at Parkcity Everly Hotel in Miri.

More than 60 participants took part in the meeting including BEBC country directors for Brunei Darussalam - Dr Hj Kamaruddin Dato Talib, Hj Ismail Hj Damit and Hj Osman Hj Omar-and council member, Sulaiman Samad.

Dr Chan said Sarawak would provide the necessary infrastructure and flexible policies in putting the East Asean Growth Area on the tourism roadmap for the sub-regional cooperation between Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

He said the Sarawak government has put a lot of energy into transforming Miri into a "resort city" as the main gateway to the northern region. Miri is situated in the middle of the BIMP-EAGA region.

He added that the importance of tourism in the region is undeniable as the industry provides direct employment opportunities and has the multiplier effect on other sectors.

"Tourism will act as a catalyst for growth and generate employment as well as revenue in this sub-region," he said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Putting BIMP-EAGA countries on the tourism map

By George Francis

MIRI - Sarawak will provide the necessary infrastructure and flexible policies in putting BIMP-EAGA on the tourism map to achieve the sub-regional grouping of increasing trade, tourism and investment.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said with the potentials in sub-region, it should be emphasised that Eco-tourism Bio-tourism packages be enhanced for tourist destination.

"Eco-tourism and adventure travel will be important growth areas with the world's growing concern for the rainforest and the green environment." Sarawak, he said, with her tourism products centring on nature and the natural environment can benefit from this travel trend.

He said Sarawak is always supportive of the role played by the private sector, particularly the BIMP-EAGA Business Council Tourism Cluster in promoting the region.

"I believe that the respective governments under the BIMP-EAGA countries are also supportive of their private sector involvement," said Dr Chan when officiating at the BEBC Tourism Cluster inaugural meeting here.

He pointed out that cluster should come up with a multi-lateral or bilateral regional programme.

"It is now left to the private sector, especially the tourism industry players and the stakeholders to move and initiate the programme. I believe that a concerted and integrated plan and effort to promote tourism within BIMP-EAGA could be initiated."

Dr Chan, representing the Chief Minister of Sarawak, hoped the meeting would come up with a strategic plan on the 'Tourism Road Map' as a basis for multi-lateral co-operation in tourism under the sub-region group.

About 100 participants attended the meeting, mainly from the private and public sector tourism stakeholders organisations locally and in the EAGA member countries.

Datuk Abang Karim Tun Openg, as chairman of BEBC Tourism Cluster, currently held by Malaysia led his delegation, while Dato Ahmad Lope Abdul Aziz led the BEBC Sabah, Awang Hj Osman Hj Omar led the Brunei delegation and Sohura T, Dimaampo heading the delegation from the Philippines.

Among the agenda, include a proposal for a joint venture regional airline to improve EAGA connectivity, and a cruise ferrying-around the island of Borneo, Sulawesi and Mindanao.

The idea was to establish air service on priority EAGA routes for easy access to travel and destination connections by encouraging small airline companies to service the viable routes and to strengthen partnership with tourism industry players in coming-up with tour packages, as well as other marketing and promotions activities.

The meeting reviewed status, issues and programmes on tourism brought out in last strategic planning workshop held in Kota Kinabalu for implementation by the respective member countries at least in the next three years.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sandakan Fest launching on 26 June

Sandakan: A 10-minute fireworks display will highlight the official launching of Sandakan Fest 2005 on June 26.

Disclosing this here Tuesday, Sandakan Municipal Council Deputy President II, Thomas Lau Chi Keong, said the event is expected to be launched at the municipal padang by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at 7am.

Other than the fireworks, there would also be drums beating and cultural dances by the Etika Tari Sandakan group, he said.

Other attractions include a lantern procession involving six secondary schools and a kompang presentation by 60 youths.

On June 27, the Sandakan Airport will be spruced up with exhibition stalls, with special mementos to be given to disembarking passengers coming in three flights from Kota Kinabalu, to be launched by Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Karim Bujang.

Variety shows and cultural presentations would be staged in six main locations in the town area, beginning at Dataran MPS on June 29, followed by Bandar Ramai-Ramai (July 2), Block 43 (July 2), Bandar Kim Fung (July 9), Bandar Nam Tung (July 15) and Bandar Sibuga Jaya.

A Futsal competition will be held at the municipal padang on July 2, to be followed by 3-on-3 street basketball at Jalan Leboh 2 Bandar on July 3.

There will also be a kite-flying demonstration at the SMK II padang, open to adults and students alike.

On July 24, music lovers will have an opportunity to witness a presentation by the Dama Orchestra from Kota Kinabalu, at Sabah Hotel, using traditional Chinese instruments.

Lau disclosed that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment had allocated RM120,000 to SMC for the festivity this year through the Sabah Tourism Promotion Board.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Thursday, June 16, 2005

TIPS: Niah Caves, Miri, Sarawak

For the standard ex-Miri Niah Caves tour (either full-day, 2-day or longer), the tour ideally departs around 8.30am as it takes roughly 1.5 hour drive (sometimes up to 3 hrs depending on the weather and traffic conditions) to reach Niah from Miri, and tour should end around 6.00pm (i.e., reaching Miri town).

Similarly for a 2D/1N tour, it departs around 8.30am on the 1st day (with overnight at park chalet) and ends about 6.00pm on the next day. It is advisable that you stay overnight in Miri prior to the start of the tour early in the morning on the next day. If you can't, it is better to opt for a 2D/1N or 3D/2N tour.

In any case, it is advisable to spend a night in Miri after the tour and take the next day flight out. This is definitely less hectic. And you don't have to worry about missing the next flight home if on transit at another airport. Flight delays can really cost you a lot compared to staying an extra night in Miri.

Some Niah Caves Sample Packages:

* Full-Day:

* 2D/1N:

Niah Caves, Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia Borneo

Copyright © 2005

Steps need to be taken now to save pygmy elephants


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will continue losing its Borneo pygmy elephants unless it takes concrete measures to protect the animals.

These steps, Sabah honorary wildlife ranger Datuk Wilfred Lingham said, included the establishment of a wildlife corridor by rehabilitating riverine forests along Sungai Kinabatangan, where the elephants’ habitats were shrinking as oil palm plantations continued to expand.

“There is an urgent need for the state to reclassify Borneo pygmy elephants under the state Wildlife Conservation Ordinance from an endangered species to one that is totally protected.

“The state Wildlife Department should also look into the setting up of an intelligence unit to gather information on those involved in the killing of any wildlife,” he added.

The department director, he observed, was empowered to reward informers who tipped off officials on poaching activities.

“The killings won’t stop if nothing is done,” added the former state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry permanent secretary.

Lingham noted that most of the elephants in the Kinabatangan region were hunted down after they had intruded into oil palm estates, many of which were smallholdings of between 6ha and 12ha.

It was difficult, he said, for estate owners not to react to such intrusions as many had invested their life savings in these ventures.

“The state should act on the World Wide Fund for Nature’s suggestion that a wildlife corridor be set up along the Kinabatangan river, where electric fences could be put up at certain stretches of the border between riverine forests and plantations,” he said.

According to Lingham, there are about 2,000 to 2,500 Borneo pygmy elephants left in Sabah, of which an estimated 1,000 are squeezed into the remaining pockets of forests along the Kinabatangan river.

Some 500 elephants are in the 120,000ha Tabin Wildlife Reserve near Lahad Datu and another 500 to 1,000 in Kalabakan.

There have been at least three killings of Borneo pygmy elephants in Sabah over the past eight months.

The owners of oil palm plantations and also villagers whose farms have been destroyed by elephants are among the prime suspects of the killings.

Source: The Star

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Budget Flights Trigger Surge In Filipino Visitors To Brunei

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Bandar Seri Begawan - Budget flights introduced late last year between Kota Kinabalu and Manila as well as southern Philippine cities are bringing in more Filipino tourists to Brunei.

The Borneo Bulletin was told that there has been a surge in bookings at travel agents here for the Kota Kinabalu-Bandar Seri Begawan sector made by relatives of Filipino overseas workers here.

Some budget travellers made the journey from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei Darussalam on ferries which arrive in Serasa. Others were picked up by their relatives working in Brunei Darussalam by cars in KK.

The availability of cheaper airfares between Kota Kinabalu and the Philippine cities means that more relatives of Filipino overseas workers are able to visit them here.

Apart from the relatives, there were also tourists who came to visit the Sultanate's attractions.

Industry observers advised related service industries to improve their facilities to cater for a new kind of travellers - the budget tourists.

"Budget hotels should be made available to cater for them as well as the restaurant and transportation sectors," they said.

However, they advised tourists not to misuse their visit passes by working here, adding that they would eventually be caught by enforcement officers.

In addition, the illegal foreign workers could be mistreated such as not being paid by employers and there would be no one to fight for their rights.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Breathtaking Brunei Rainforest Site Top Selling Point

By James Kon

Bandar Seri Begawan - The peace and harmony and breathtaking sights of pristine rainforest in Brunei Darussalam will be the top selling point for the nine London travel agents who are currently on a three-day familiarisation tour here hosted by Royal Brunei Airlines.

During a luncheon hosted by RBA at Portview yesterday afternoon, Donna Scanlan, Training Manager of Quest Travel, UK, said that the Temburong rainforest with the peaceful scenery is a fabulous tourist attraction. She added that the canopy walk was exhausting but the view from the top was so amazing that it just took her breath away.

This is the first time Donna Scanlan is visiting Brunei and she was delighted with the great hospitality of the people here and the warm welcome she received.

Speaking about Brunei as one of the main tourist destinations in UK, she said that there is still not a lot of people in UK who know much about Brunei.

She hoped that after the trip to Brunei she will be able to share her experience with her customers and other agents in UK and promote Brunei as a stop-over destination for two or three days for travellers from London to Australia or New Zealand.

Brigid Church, Sales Consultant of STA Travel, shared the same excitement on the friendliness of the people and the beautiful scenery of the rainforest in the Sultanate.

"It was fantastic, the friendly welcome, the canopy walk at the rainforest and the jetboat ride was simply amazing," she said.

Brunei is a very easy place to travel to, especially when most of the population speak good English, she added.

The other London-based travel agents in the familiarisation tour were Jonathan Millerick from Lotus Travel; Samuel Rowsell from Kuoni Travel; Jason Buffey of Travelpack Travel; Camilla Rigby of Jetset Travel; Karma Kawecki from Lees Travel; Tracey Kent of Wexas Travel; and Deborah Whitehair, Sales Executive of RBA London.

Also present at the luncheon yesterday were Dayang Nurul Suzzaine Abdullah, RBA's Product Development Manager; Michelle Lim Pei Sze, RBA's Assistant to Regional Manager Europe/MEA/ISC/North America; Dk Rodzi Pengiran Haji Abd Rahman, RBA's Regional Controller for M.E., Africa and India; and Hajah Mardianah, RBA's Assistant Public Relations Officer.

Besides the fascinating experience of the Ulu Temburong rainforest, the group of London travel agents also visited the Jerudong Park playground, Brunei Museum, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien mosque, Royal Regalia and Kampong Ayer. They also went on a tour to watch Brunei's proboscis monkeys.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Concern over Sipadan marine life


KOTA KINABALU: There is concern again over whether Sabah’s renowned diving destination of Pulau Sipadan is losing its lustre with reports of a decline in the sightings of marine life there.

What is even more worrying is the sight of plastic bags in the seas around the island and fishing lines getting caught in damaged corals near Pulau Sipadan jetty.

This discovery by French diving writer Martine Carret has prompted State Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim Bujang to direct Sabah Parks officials to investigate any deterioration on the island.

“A complaint like this warrants a deeper probe,” he said yesterday.

Carret, who was on her third visit to Sipadan last week, told a local newspaper that she noticed the absence of schools of barracudas, and fewer turtles and humphead parrot fish.

She said the situation was far different from that in 1999 when she first dived off Sipadan, and again in 2003, when schools of such fish were a common sight.

“Something has happened to Sipadan. When I came in 1999, the resorts were there and their people cleaned up the beaches every morning, so there was no rubbish and no trouble with plastic bags,” she said.

Borneo Divers Sdn Bhd director Clement Lee, however, disagreed that marine life in Sipadan is on the wane.

Lee said the ban on night diving had actually contributed to an increase in marine creatures.

“I have seen turtles the size of a dinner plate and their presence is one of the best indicators of the health of marine life there,” said Lee.

Courtesy: The Star

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Mulu to have longest Canopy Walkway

MIRI: The Mulu National Park world heritage site in northern Sarawak will offer another big tourist attraction – a canopy walkway that is the longest in the world.

Assistant State Minister for Infrastructure Development and Communications Lee Kim Shin, who is also Sarawak Tourism Board director for the northern region, said this latest addition to the already numerous tourist spots in Mulu would take tourism arrivals to new heights.

He declined to reveal further details on the exact length and height or the location of the canopy walkway for now as the Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is scheduled to unveil the new landmark next month.

He was speaking to reporters yesterday after briefing Malaysia Airlines representatives from Shanghai and a group of tour agency managers based in Shanghai who are here for a familiarisation tour of Sarawak.

It is learnt that the canopy walkway would be built in a long, winding pattern some 30m above the ground over one of the show caves opened to the public.

From there, a stunning aerial view of the treetops and the caves below can be seen.

“I hope our friends from China will publicise the attractions in Mulu and Miri when they go back to their home country,” Lee said.

Mulu already has the world’s largest cave chamber, the highest cave chamber, the third longest underground river network, and the cave with the world's largest bat population.

On a related matter, Lee said he hoped MAS would consider starting direct Shanghai to Miri flights soon.

Shanghai has some 13 million people, one million of whom go for overseas vacations annually, he said.

Courtesy: The Star