News & Updates

Sabah Confident Of Getting 2.93 Million Tourists Arrivals This Year

Sabah is confident that it will achieve the target of 2.93 million in tourist arrivals this year despite facing various challenges, particularly the flight rationalisation exercise carried out by Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd.

Sabah state Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun said as air transportation was a critical factor in the development of Sabah’s tourism sector, his ministry would further enhance their promotional efforts in markets that offer direct flight service to Sabah such as South Korea and China.

“My ministry, through the Sabah Tourism Board, have also taken special measures via the Aviation Hub Strategy and identified five main regional airports that offer direct flights to Kota Kinabalu as the go-between airports, namely in Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Seri Begawan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea,” he said when winding up his ministry’s debate at the Sabah State Legislative Assembly here.

Masidi also said with the absence of a direct flight between Tokyo and Kota Kinabalu, the STB has placed Hong Kong, Singapore dan Seoul as the alternative route to Kota Kinabalu. Through close cooperation with three main tourist agencies in Japan, namely H.I.S. Travel, Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) and SMI Holidays, it expects to market Sabah in the Japanese market using the Cathay Pacific airline company.

For the Australian market meanwhile, he said the STB had drafted a special promotional plan together with the Singapore Airlines and promoted the special flight packages to Singapore and Kota Kinabalu during a recent exhibition in Perth.

Source: Bernama

Sabah Tourism Ministry urges villages to join homestay programmme

Villages with potential have been urged to join the homestay programme to help people in rural areas earn additional income. Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the ministry is working with Malaysian Tourism Ministry, Homestay Association; public and private agencies to further promote the programme.

“Information on this programme is forwarded to all district offices for dissemination to the public,” he said when replying to Abdul Muis Picho (BN-Sebatik) in the state assembly here today.

So far, 17 homestay projects have been established in Sabah involving 25 villages with 230 participants providing 438 rooms for tourist accommodation.

Masidi said following complaints, the ministry conducted checks and found that 28 premises had abused the homestay label.

“Owners of the premises were reprimanded and briefed on the true meaning of homestay as the programme involves the local community.

“Therefore, the use of the word ‘homestay’ by the owner of premises will only confuse tourists,” he added.

The federal and state governments approved allocation of RM2.5mln under the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP) and RM795,000 under the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) to upgrade homestay facilities.

Source: Bernama

Return of the giant clams

Giant clams are making their way back into waters off the city after decades of uncontrolled exploitation.

An award-winning marine research centre here will release 500 giant clams into the sea after three long years of breeding and nurturing the natural sea water-filtering creature.

The Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) at Gaya Island, a 15-minute boat ride from the city, will sporadically release the three-inch giant clams in selected ocean nurseries during its month-long marine awareness month starting tomorrow.

Besides the clams, the oceanic research centre, which is attached to the Gayana Eco Resort at the island, will integrate 1,000 corals – which it has planted and looked after – into the reefs off the island and city.

Project director Alvin Wong said his team of marine biologists and support staff was eager to release the clams back into the sea.

“Hopefully, this first batch will make it. We will monitor their progress as we continue to produce more giant clams,” said Wong, adding that they had 2,000 more giant clams in their nursery.

“We chose giant clams for our Save the Giants programme because they are endangered, slow to grow and important in producing oxygen into the marine ecosystem,” he said.

Wong said the first stage of the project involved work to spawn the larvae and taking care of them until these were ready to survive in ocean nurseries.

He said the public must play their part to protect the marine environment by not polluting the sea or buying clams.

MERC, awarded the Most Innovative Tourist Attraction Award at the Malaysia Tourism Awards 2008/2009, is the only centre in Malaysia to have spawned giant clam spats.

As part of the marine awareness programme, he said MERC would also be hosting schoolchildren and non-governmental organisations to inculcate in them the awareness for marine conservation.

There will also be a beach concert by Irish crooner Ronan Keating at sister resort Bunga Raya Island Resort on the other side of the island tomorrow for the programme.

Source: The Star (By Durie Rainer Fong)

Tourism players need to be outward looking — CEO

Sabah tourism industry players need to be outward looking in order to better capture the tourism market, said former State Minister of Tourism and Environmental Development, Datuk Seri Panglima Tham Nyip Shen.

He cited for example, tour operators in Sabah who do not understand the holiday seasons in mainland China well.

“For instance, the Harvest Festival is on May 31 and that’s not the right season for the Chinese holiday goers. For instance their national day is on the first 10 days of October, and there’s not much activities in Sabah. Hence, from an industry viewpoint we ought to adjust ourselves to make ourselves more outward-looking in drawing them to visit Sabah.

“We fixed our calendar based on what we think is right. However, If we do not take into consideration what they want, and we mismatch the holiday seasons, we are going to mismatch the whole industry.

“We need to make our tourism industry more friendly in order to make our tourists feel more welcome,” he explained.

Tham was speaking in his capacity as CEO of Sdn Bhd at the news conference organised by his company and its joint-venture partner, Shanghai Triunfo Metro Investment Management Company (Shanghai Triunfo), to highlight their ongoing undertakings to promote Sabah tourism in China via the Beach Honey pageant.

He went on to stress that much has to be done in order to better capture the emerging Chinese tourism market. He cited for example the very little info on Sabah tourism available in the Chinese language on the Internet.

“If one starts searching on the Internet on Sabah (tourism), very little info is currently available in Chinese and more miserable from the Chinese people’s point of view. Most of the materials published in the international media are about Mt Kinabalu and some about Sabah’s wildlife, but very little is available in the Chinese media,” he said.

Tham who is a former deputy chief minister acknowledged that the joint-venture between and Shanghai Triunfo was driven by the fact that traditional markets for Sabah tourism like Europe, United States of America, Australia etc were now declining, whilst China is now an emerging economy with strong purchasing power.

The official statistics from the Chinese authority reveal that the number of outbound tourists from China in 2011 was 300 million. And it is projected that by 2015, about 27 million Chinese people are expected to visit South East Asia.

“But we are not sure how many will be visiting Sabah. Hence, it is this huge potential that we would like to translate into reality with the hope that the Sabah tourism industry will be ready to take up some of these tourists.

“Hence, this is where the Beach Honey pageantry and its official website could play a significant role in helping to promote Sabah in China,” he said.

The Beach Honey is the right platform to help promote Sabah tourism in China as it has a huge following there. Its previous programme filmed in Peninsular Malaysia has had 100 million hits on its website.

“For this Sabah special programme, a team of some 50 people with 15 models will visit several tourists spots in Sabah like the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu, and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Semporna. They also plan to film a sea Bajau wedding involving the Beach Honey pageants and this will be shown in China later, expected to be in mid April. We anticipate this programme to go viral within a month with at least 50 – 100 million hits on its official website.

“We want to bring the message to China that Sabah has clean and beautiful beaches with nice weather and friendly people. Furthermore, China is only three hours away from KK and we have direct links, and food and language are not a problem and we also have enough facility to cater for them.

“We are happy that the State government has given us a lot of encouragement and support in this aspect. We envisage a rejuvenation of the tourism industry in the near future when the Chinese tourists come in a big way after this,” he said.

Meanwhile, in her briefing, Shanghai Triunfo CEO Miss Li Ling expressed confidence that if sufficient effort were put in, Sabah would emerge as the new favourite holiday destination for the mainland Chinese. The news conference was followed by a photography session cum catwalk by the group of bikini-clad Beach Honey models at the poolside.

Source: Borneo Post

Danum, Maliau, Imbak can be World Heritage Sites

Yayasan Sabah’s head of conservation and environment division, Dr Waidi Sinun, said Sabah has a strong chance of getting all its three conservation areas to attain recognition as World Heritage Sites.

The three areas concerned are the Danum Valley, the Maliau Basin and the Imbak Canyon conservation areas.

Dr Waidi who disclosed this during the one-day World Heritage Site nomination workshop held at a leading hotel here yesterday said, the three areas are special in that they are the only locations where all the animals that used to live in the State exist at the same time.

He cited that the animals found in the three areas include the pygmy elephants, the orang-utans, Sumatran rhinocerous, proboscis monkeys, all the various cats and hornbills in Sabah.

Dr Waidi who has been associated with the conservation areas for more than 20 years said despite having visited several protected areas in Malaysia and other countries, the experience was not similar to the situation at Danum Valley.

“You can be sitting at the veranda of the rest house at Danum and see a deer walking past, or hornbills flying over.

“And at Imbak and Maliau, you can see all the eight species of hornbills and you cannot experience this in other parts of the country. You can hardly see any bird,?he said.

The areas’ richness and diversity in wildlife is the main reason why the areas attract a lot of visitors, he said.

He added, the three areas are among the most pristine areas in Sabah and grades them as better than Taman Negara Mulu and most of the protected areas in Peninsular Malaysia in terms of wildlife and wilderness.

Dr Waidi said that while he was not familiar with the World Heritage nomination, he opined that comparing them to other areas he has visited, the State government’s keeness of getting the three conservation areas recognised as World Heritage sites should be given a strong chance since there is no other area similar to them in the world or even within Borneo.

The Imbak Canyon is a 25 km long self-contained valley in central Sabah, surrounded on three sides by sandstone cliffs reaching a height of over 3,700 feet and it is the last remaining part of Sabah which has remained pristine and relatively unexplored.

This remaining contiguous area of unlogged lowland dipterocarp forest covers an area of about 30,000 hectares including the two Virgin Jungle Reserves located on the ridges surrounding it, making Imbak Canyon a priceless heritage.

The Maliau Basin, on the other hand, was originally part of a timber concession held by Yayasan Sabah and was designated a conservation area, for the purpose of research, education and training, along with the Danum Valley conservation area in 1981.

Dr Waidi also commented that the workshop was held with a view to preparing a paper on the criteria which will be forwarded to the State government for adoption.

He added that the aim of the workshop was also to come up with a document acceptable to UNESCO and supported by members of the public.

The three conservation areas are managed by the Yayasan Sabah group and owned by the State Government.

Meanwhile, the deputy director of Sabah Parks Dr Jimili Nais said, they are in the midst of preparing the tentative list for the three sites and upon finalisation, will be submitted to the National Heritage Department.

The nomination for the three sites will only be done next year, he said.

He also informed that the process of getting the three sites nominated was difficult and that they need to prove that the sites have outstanding Universal Value?and are legally protected, among others.

Among the World Heritage sites in the world are the Forbidden City, Angkot Wat, The Giant Buddha and the Blue Mountain in Australia.

In Malaysia, sites that have been given World Heritage site status are Georgetown in Pulau Pinang, Mulu in Sarawak and Mt Kinabalu National Park in Sabah.

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