Stories, news, update from KePKAS

Malta cruise ship chooses Sabah as stopover

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah is fast becoming a popular destination for cruise ships with Malta-registered Celebrity Constellation the latest to make a port call here.

The 1,000-room cruise ship with 2,170 passengers and 950 crew members on board arrived at the port here at 7am Thursday, for an eight-hour stop-over before departing for Singapore.

The ship’s guests took full advantage of the stopover to tour places of interest and shop in the State Capital.

“Kota Kinabalu is a nice city and I believe most of our guests enjoyed the brief stop-over here,” said ship captain Michael Karatzas.

Sabah Tourism Board Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, who was on hand to welcome the ship, hoped ‘Celebrity Cruises’ would make Kota Kinabalu a regular port of call in the future.

He said last year, 28 cruise ships carrying a total of 23,570 passengers came to Sabah.

Source: Daily Express

Tourists pumped in RM7.25b

Kota Kinabalu: The State’s tourism industry has recorded its best year ever in 2016, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

He said Sabah recorded 3.43 million tourist arrivals which surpassed its best record in 2013 with 3.38 million tourist arrivals.

“We have also recorded an all-time high tourism receipts of RM7.25 billion despite the fact that Sabah has faced many challenges.

“For international tourist arrivals alone, we have witnessed an increase of 15.4 per cent compared to 2015 statistics.

“And China has once again become the biggest contributor with 51.8 per cent of the tourist arrivals,” he said after a briefing session by Malaysia Airport Holding Bhd (MAHB) Chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah at Kota the Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), here, Wednesday.

Looking at the statistics, Masidi said one of the most important components in the tourism industry is the services provided by airports.

“That is why we continue to have a constant engagement with MAHB and I am pleased with the various measures taken by MAHB to improve KKIA. MAHB has taken feedback from the public seriously and we admit that there are a few areas in KKIA that need to be improved.

“And MAHB perceives the feedback as beneficial so that further actions can be taken.

“We do not see criticism as something negative but, instead, it is an indication that the public are aware of what needs to be done and MAHB has responded accordingly and positively to them.”

Abdul Aziz said MAHB is serious in cooperating with the relevant parties to upgrade KKIA.

“In fact, KKIA is the second busiest airport in the country after Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

“As such, we need to know what we can do to further improve the facilities at KKIA to provide a total airport experience for passengers as KKIA is a very important gateway, not only to Sabah but also to Malaysia,” he said.

Towards this end, he said MAHB has drafted short, medium and long-term plans to upgrade the capacity and the connectivity of KKIA which is set to become the hub for Borneo. – Ricardo Unto

Source: Daily Express

Pitas event listed as Sabah’s newtourist draw

PITAS: After three decades being touted as the district’s most awaited annual festival, the Pitas non-stop, seven-day Chinese New Year celebration has been listed as Sabah’s latest tourist attraction.

Organising chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ruddy Awah said he received news of the recognition in a letter from the Sabah Tourism Board.

“Over the last few years, the organisers have been asking the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to include the festival in the state tourism calendar.

“This event brings together the cultures of all ethnic groups in the state.

“This celebration probably does not exist anywhere else in the country,’’ he said at the closing of the event here on Saturday by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak.

Ruddy said many tourists attended the festival which had been endorsed by the Malaysia Book of Records as the longest non-stop Chinese New Year festival.

He said the festival had a positive impact on Pitas’ economy and would also help forge closer relations between locals and those from outside the district.

Besides cultural performances, the festival also lined up a variety of activities such as sports, concerts, poetry recital and stalls selling local produce. — Bernama

Source: The Star

Third GuZheng Art Fest in S’kan

Sandakan: The Third Malaysia GuZheng Art Festival 2017 which was held here at Four Points By Sheraton Sandakan on Feb 2 and 3 achieved its objective of promoting the GuZheng art while attracting tourists domestically and internationally.
Elopura Assemblyman Datuk Au Kam Wah said, it also gave the people a new experience and helped promote Sandakan, a nature city, especially to those who came to the event.

He added, in Sandakan, only one school teaches GuZheng music namely SJK(C) Lok Yuk and with the successful organisation of the festival, it is hoped that those who attended will learn more about the GuZheng art itself.

Au added that usually, the festival is held in West Malaysia and this time, Sandakan was chosen as the location for the festival’s third edition and he congratulated the organisers for their effort in bringing the festival, here.

He said besides Malaysian GuZheng musicians, the festival was also attended by players from China, Singapore and other countries. These foreign musicians also visited a few Sandakan, Sukau and Kinabatagan tourism spots, thus boosting the tourism sector as well.

The festival was organised by the Malaysian Traditional Musical Instrument Association (MTMIA), in collaboration with the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN), Lok Yuk Chinese Primary School Sandakan and GuZheng Ensemble and Keejen Music School.

The GuZheng used in the festival were sponsored by China Zhong Yin Musical Company, whereas the Mu Ling Audio Company sponsored the microphone.

The main objective of the festival is to enhance academic knowledge exchanges in the form of seminar, concert and competitions of GuZheng art and music.

Source: Daily Express

Freezing weather conditions

Ranau: Unusual cold weather conditions are sweeping areas here, especially Mount Kinabalu, freezing water in some places.
According to personnel on the mountain Wednesday morning, water in holes in the Low’s Peak area became frozen and formed ice of one-centimetre thick.

Members of the Auxiliary Force Mountain Search and Rescue (Mosar) said the temperature at Laban Rata at dawn was about 5 degrees Celsius.

It is believed that water in rock holes on the mountain became frozen between 2am and 4am during which the temperature was likely to fall to 0 degree Celsius.

Kinabalu Park Manager Yassin Miki said this is a rare occurrence but not the first.

“Actually, for those who have long served on Mount Kinabalu, they consider it as an ordinary occurrence.

Sometimes the temperature on the summit can reach below 0 degree Celsius,” he explained.

However, he said the frozen water scene in the open is an interesting phenomenon, especially when it occurs here in the Southeast Asian region which only has the hot and humid weather throughout the year.

What matters, said Yassin, is the experience and safety of Mount Kinabalu climbers as well as all personnel on the mountain, while reminding all those concerned to bring along suitable clothing to protect themselves from the unusual cold weather.

Ranau Fire and Rescue Department Chief Jimmy Lagung said despite the freezing weather conditions on Mount Kinabalu, Mosar members are always prepared for any eventuality.

“The cold temperatures can cause climbers to be exposed and vulnerable to hypothermia (extreme cold) if they don’t wear clothes that are adequate to regulate their body temperature.

“Our advice to all climbers is to always prioritise on safety, while enjoying the beauty of the mountain and also the unique natural event like what is happening at the moment.”

Meanwhile, the State Meteorological Department said Sabah is experiencing cold weather with some districts recording low temperatures of 15 to 21 degrees Celsius between 5am and 7am.

Its Director Azemi Daud said February is one of the coldest months in the country, including Sabah, due to the Northeast Monsoon which is expected to end in March.

He said Ranau recorded the lowest temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, followed by Keningau (16), Kudat (20) and Kota Kinabalu (21) on Wednesday.

He added that one of the reasons for this phenomenon is the high-pressure cold wind coming from Siberia that blows across the Southeast Asian region.

“Other than that, other factors include geographical factors as well as the common cooling effect during fair weather or the lack of cloud formation at night.

“The department will continue to monitor the situation,” he said. – Clarence George Dol

Source: Daily Express