News & Updates

MATTA welcomes Masidi’s reappointment

Chairman of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Sabah KL Tan today welcomed the reappointment of Datuk Masidi Manjun as Minister in charge of Sabah’s tourism sector.

“With the reappointment of Datuk Masidi as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, we can expect him to continue to support the conservation efforts and  continue to stand on the various issues  that affect the tourism industry and its sustainability,” he said.

Tan said the tourism industry faced many challenges in recent years, from  economic crisis to disease epidemic, natural disasters  and suspension of direct flights amongst others. The most recent case was the intrusion of armed terrorists to Kg Tandua that  adversely impacted  the industry.

He said that the challenges and obstacles  were overcome in the best way possible with the help of the government and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

Tan also said that Datuk Masidi’s relentless efforts  in boosting tourism arrivals and foreign exchange earnings over the last few years shows his commitment towards the tourism industry in Sabah.

Last year, Sabah managed to achieve tourism arrivals numbering  2,875,761 million and a record tourism earnings of RM5,178 billion.

“Datuk Masidi has proven to be proactive in providing helpful assistance  and guidance for the private sector to overcome external challenges,” he said.

Tan also hopes that the travel industry and  the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment will continue to work closely to further develop tourism in Sabah.

“I hope that we will continue to solve the problems that are inherent in the industry and move forward to establish more tourism infrastructure in the State to tap the tourism potential,” he said.

Source : Insight Sabah

Sabah NGO, firm join forces to conserve mangroves

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wetland Conservation Society (SWCS) has forged a partnership with an international upstream oil and gas company, Talisman Energy Inc, for its assistance in the society’s effort to conserve mangrove forests in the State.

The Society yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Malaysian arm of the Canada-based company to jointly carry out a campaign to promote awareness on mangrove conservation among the younger generation.

Under the MoA, SWCS will receive funding from Talisman Malaysia Limited (TML) for two projects, namely Paper Making and Clothes Dying.

The projects will engage young pupils and students from schools across the State in a fun, out-of-the-classroom activities where they will create and use products made from mangrove trees.

SWCS president, Zaini Aucasa, said after the signing that the programmes were aimed to expose and educate the younger generation about the importance of the wetland ecosystem and the increasingly urgent need to conserve them.

“Talisman will provide the funding and our role under the MoA is to ensure that the projects are fully implemented as planned to meet their objectives.

“We want the students to be actively involved, not just be a passive recipient in learning about the mangrove ecosystem. We want them to see the importance of the mangrove environmentally, and how we can conserve while at the same time utilize the wetland sustainably for economic benefits, and we want them to do this through participation in a hands-on project,” added Zaini.

The signing was held in conjunction with the launch of Talisman-sponsored “Handicrafting From Mangrove Project”, a programme involving over 250 secondary school students in and around Kota Kinabalu organized by SWCS.

The launch was held at the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre in Teluk Likas as part of SWCS World Earth Day celebration, and was officiated by Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, representing the permanent secretary to the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Michael Emban.

Senior Vice-President and Country Manager, Ron Aston, represented TML at the launch and the MoA signing.

In his speech at the launch, Aston revealed that apart from SWCS, TML has collaborated with the Malaysia Nature Society in the last two years, to monitor changes in marine and coastal ecosystems in Terengganu and Sabah.

He said Talisman had contributed more than RM330,000 for the project, which involved villagers from Kampung Meruntum in Putatan, local district councils, various government agencies as well as experts from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

As a demonstration of its commitment towards getting young Sabahans into the oil and gas industry, he said, Talisman will also be offering several scholarships to local undergraduates at UMS starting this year.

“In addition we are also looking at possibilities of sponsoring trainee technicians from Sabah to pursue certified courses so that they can be considered as operation technicians at our offshore facilities,” he added.

Talisman has been operating mainly in Peninsular Malaysia for over 12 years and recently expanded its wings to Sabah after acquiring two offshore blocks from PETRONAS in 2009.

In December last year, it successfully took over operatorship and began production operation at the Kinabalu Oil Field, which saw the consequent setting up of its area office in Kota Kinabalu.

Source: Borneo Post


River Keeper Unit established in Sabah to protect elephants

KOTA KINABALU: A special River Keeper Unit has been established in Sabah’s Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS), an initiative aimed at protecting Borneo pygmy elephants and other wildlife.

“Honorary wildlife wardens” from local communities will be tasked with checking for illegal activities such as encroachment on reserves, illegal logging and hunting along the river.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the unit will complement efforts of his department as their resources were insufficient to cover the whole state.

He said the River Keeper Unit would assist in monitoring wildlife as well as threats to wildlife along the river and within the LKWS.

The unit is headed by community members Mohd Syafendy Yajit and Sudirman Sawang, who are well suited for the job as both have years of experience working with the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme under HUTAN, a French NGO involved in conservation activities.

HUTAN’s scientific director Dr Marc Ancrenaz said that the local wardens also had a lot of field experience with elephants.

“The unit will conduct day and night patrols to monitor and prevent illegal activities such as encroachment in riparian reserves, illegal logging and hunting along the 260 kms of river within the LKWS, from Lokan to Abai villages,” Dr Acrenaz added.

The River Keeper Unit was established jointly by the Wildlife department, HUTAN and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and is being funded by Elephant Family and the Kinabatangan-Corridor of Life Tourism Operators Association (KiTA).

The River Keeper Unit will be based at the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) in Kinabatangan and will also monitor tourism activities along the Kinabatangan river, stopping any boats getting too close to the elephants.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said although tourism can boost economic development, ill-managed activities could also be a nuisance to elephants and their habitat.

“With this in mind, one of the major roles of the River Keeper Unit will be to investigate elephant responses to tourism activities along the Kinabatangan and to come up with wildlife-watching guidelines that will be provided to the different tour operators in the Kinabatangan with the goal of minimizing tourism disturbance for wildlife,” he said.

Source : The Star

Big boost to Sabah tourism

KOTA KINABALU: The newly launched Zest Airways Manila-Kota Kinabalu route will help to boost tourist arrivals in Malaysia.

Tourism Malaysia Manila director Fazdila Mansor said the initiative was aimed at attracting more tourists from the Philippines.

“It comes at a perfect time since we will be celebrating the fourth Visit Malaysia Year in 2014. This year is the programme’s promotional campaign period,” she said in a press statement.

Last year, the country welcomed 508,744 Filipino tourists, 40.5 per cent more than the 362,101 tourists in 2011.

In Sabah, Filipino tourist numbers have increased from 50,195 in 2011 to 71,404 last year.

Passengers on the inaugural flight included travel bloggers and guests, including celebrity singer and songwriter Jim Paredes from the Philippines.

Present was Sabah Tourism Board chairman Tengku Zainal Adlin Mahmood.

Zest, which is the sister airline of Airasia Philippines, flies here four times weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Source: New Straits Times

Tour guides must know Sabah’s offerings’

KOTA KINABALU: Local licensed tour guides should update themselves on the existing and latest products in Sabah in order to woo more visitors to the state.

Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Tengku Zainal Adlin Mahmood said tour guides not only needed to know the state’s history, but also have knowledge on its abundant tourism products, including eco-tourism packages.

“Sabah is a very rich state with its biodiversity of natural rainforest and abundance of endemic species of flora and fauna. Therefore, tour guides play a vital role in the industry as they must be able to attract domestic and foreign visitors here,” he said in a statement.

Zainal also said it was important for tour guides to learn foreign languages, following an increase in the number of tourists from China, Hong Kong and Korea.

He added that STB was willing to help local tour guides on this matter by organising talks every two months to help them better their skills and knowledge in the profession.

Last month, Zainal launched the Sabah Native Registered Tourist Guides Association here, which is affiliated with the Malaysian Tourist Guides Council. It aims to address and attend to the needs, problems and interests of licensed tour guides that are related to the field.

Association president Dabalun Balau welcomed all local tour guides in the state to register with it. He said the association would conduct continuous tourism-related activities that were required for all tour guides who wanted to renew their licence.

Dabalun also reminded tour guides to take care of their dressing and manners when working with tourists.

“It is imperative for them to practise professionalism at all times so that the profession will be respected and the state’s image not to be affected.”

Source: New Straits Times