News & Updates

UMS to be global tourist guide training centre

KOTA KINABALU: UNIVERSITI Malaysia Sabah (UMS) has been chosen to set up an international training centre to provide career development for tourist guides from all over the world.

The centre, to be located at the UMS School of Business and Economics, will be the second of its kind after its first facility in Cyprus.

It is due to begin operations in April.

The university had recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Federation of Tourist Guide Association (WFTGA) and Sabah Tourist Guide Association (STGA) to collaborate on the matter.

Its vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah said the tourism industry in Malaysia enjoyed rapid growth and skilled front-line professionals were needed for the industry.

He said the role of tourist guides was important because they act as ambassadors for their countries as well as help to explain the unique culture and heritage of a nation to visitors.

“Tourist guides are often the only local people whom visitors engage with, from the moment of arrival at the airport and for the rest of their visit.”

WFTGA trainers and UMS lecturers will work together in conducting the tourist guide courses.

The international association, which was founded in 1985, seeks to advance the careers of professional tourist guides by ensuring quality standards through a range of training courses.

Tourist guides must be licensed and accredited in their own countries, with each national tourist guide association being a full member of WFTGA, for them to enrol in the courses.

In Malaysia, STGA is one of two tourist guide associations that are full members of WFTGA.

Source : New Straits Times


Promote Sabah dances, urges Federal Sec

Kota Kinabalu: Promote Sabahan dances and make it easily accessible for tourists just as it is for the Indonesian Kecak dance at the Uluwatu temple in Bali and Sarawakian traditional dances at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching, said Sabah Federal Secretary, Dato’ Abu Bakar Hassan.

Abu Bakar who was on a working visit to the Ministry of Information, Arts and Culture, Kepayan, here, Thursday suggested this to the Department of National Culture and Arts Sabah and hoped they would be able to cooperate with Sabah Tourism to promote the cultural dances in Sabah.

“Make Sabahan dances as popular and as well-known as the Korean Gangnam style dance.”

He pointed out that it is all a matter of how well it is being marketed.

Apart from that, he also pointed out to the Department of Special Affairs (JASA) here that they should continue collecting accurate data and if programmes are not found effective, it should be changed.

Broadcasting agencies under the government such as Bernama and RTM were also requested to reach out to the people to inform them about what the government has done to assist the people.

“Radio is more effective for rural area folk as not everybody would be able to read printed material such as newspapers,” he added.

Source : Daily Express

Dolphins sighting a good sign

Kota Kinabalu: Recent sightings of dolphins near the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, which went viral on the Internet recently, is a good indication of the local marine ecosystem, claim Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s (UMS) Borneo Marine Research Institute Director, Prof. Dr Saleem Mustafa.

He said Sabah has the potential to become a place for dolphin and whale watching if the local marine ecosystem is effectively protected.

He said the mammal’s echolocation system seems to have adapted to shallow coastal environment and may have the ability to sense conditions of the marine ecosystem.

“I must emphasise that there could be instinctive attributes and ability to perceive environmental cues that are not known to science but could be factors in the dolphin behaviour. This include their forays in the marine protected area so near the shore and so close to Kota Kinabalu,” he said, Wednesday.

He said such sightings, however, are far from unusual, as most likely the mammals have a resident population in Borneo, and would venture into areas, especially where food is available and habitat.

“Food supply is a major factor in the distance they travel and visit places,” he said.

Dr Saleem added if the dolphins are seen with their young ones, it would further mean that the calves felt secure in the area, as in shore and coastal areas, calves are protected from sharks. He said dolphins have good parental and nursing habits, as well as intelligent and fast learners, which may compel them to return to the same areas.

Hence, measures to protect the dolphins can also contribute to protecting the marine ecosystem in general.

“I would like to emphasise the importance of marine protected areas.

We need to increase our marine protected areas É if we want to have more sightings of marine mammals,” he said. Recently, photos of dolphins have emerged online, after pods of dolphins were discovered by staff from the Borneo Dream Travel and Tours on Jan 3, while another pod was also sighted two days later.

Marine expert, Dr Lindsay Porter described the dolphins as mere visitors from further offshore, which is similar to what occurred near Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

“Dolphins appear only sporadically, it is difficult to figure out what influences the dolphins’ movements,” she said. Borneo Dream and professional diver, Joanne Cotterill also said the mammals are normally found in deepwaters, where ideally there is more abundant fish life for them.

“We were indeed lucky enough to encounter the dolphins at the start of our snorkelling and diving trip,” she said.

A dolphin that was rescued off Sulaman eventually dies at the UMS nursery last week due to suspected infection.

Source : Daily Express

Large-scale lion dance in KK before CNY

Kota Kinabalu: The United Sabah Chinese Communities Association, here will stage a large-scale Lion, Unicorn and Dragon Dance event, a week before Chinese New Year.

The association has been organising the yearly event since the 1980s as a tradition.

Disclosing this, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin said the event will be held at Padang Merdeka from 3pm to 8pm on Feb 2.

He said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman will be the guest of honour at the auspicious occasion.

“This yearly event will not only educate the public and disseminate information on Chinese culture but also, at the same time, will give them opportunity to see interesting actions in the performance.

“The aim of the event is to encourage local youths to be active in community activities that bring many benefits,” Pang said.

He said this to reporters after receiving a courtesy call from the association and its members at his office at Wisma Muis here on Wednesday.

So far, Pang said the State Government has given more than 120 units of Lion and Unicorn heads to the association to be used in the yearly event.

He added that his ministry has been channeling funds to the association in support of the event.

Source : Daily Express

Sabah museum gets more visitors

KOTA KINABALU: THE Sabah Museum here continues to attract visitors with the upgrading of several galleries and introduction of new segments and programmes.

The number of visitors jumped by 14 per cent last year (334,162) compared with 2011 (286,631).

This was based on the number of visits to the main museum building, the Islamic Civilisation Museum, the Heritage Village and the science building.

Seventy-five per cent of the visitors were Malaysians, Sabah Museum director Joanna Kitingan said here yesterday.

She said the upgraded galleries were the history, archeology and ethnography/culture sections, while the new additions were the head-hunting gallery and the hands-on traditional musical instruments studio.

“Last month, we started the ‘Night Safari’ with focus on getting school students to experience the museum at night via a treasure hunt-like game while staying at the Heritage Village. Some 140 students participated in this programme, including 40 foreigners, during the December school break.”

The museum planned to continue this activity during long school holidays but would consider doing it more often if there were requests from schools.

Joanna also said the total number of visitors to the 12 museums in the state, including the six interior museums, was 440,612, up by 15 per cent from 373,794 the previous year.

Among programmes lined up for this year were the “Unique Copper Collections: Kettles” exhibition, which will be on for three months from April at the Islamic Civilisation Museum, a demonstration of indigenous healing rituals in May at the Heritage Village, and the opening of the Sports Gallery in July.

Source : New Straits Times