Visit Keningau Year 2018 will put Keningau on World Tourism Map

KENINGAU — Visit Keningau Year 2018 will enable the district to make its mark on the world tourism map, said Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

However, the success of Visit Keningau Year 2018 depended on the quality of service provided by residents, especially those operating tourism products.

“This is our aim. We want Keningau to be known by the world,” he emphasised when closing the Crocker Range Festival here.

The text of his speech was read out by  Sabah Rural Development Minister Datuk Radin Malleh.

Pairin, who is also Keningau Member of Parliament, said the celebration committee for Visit Keningau Year 2018 plans numerous activities to suit the preference of visitors throughout the year.

He urged Keningau residents to play their part in ensuring that the district was always clean as the effort to promote tourism would also boost its economy.



Source: Malaysian Digest

Focus on rural tourism: Masidi

Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said his Ministry will be focusing on rural tourism next year.

“It is my hope that the Chief Minister’s intention in the 2018 State Budget to focus on rural tourism will become a reality next year.

“I am confident that we in Sabah have an excellent tourism product. We want the community in the rural areas to also enjoy the spill-over from the tourism industry.

“We don’t want those in the urban areas, hotels and airlines only to profit but also those in the rural areas.

There is an interest from foreign tourists to go to the rural areas in the State to enjoy the tourism attractions there,” he said to reporters at the 11th Sabah Tourism Awards, here, Saturday.

He also took the opportunity to acknowledge the people at Kadamaian in Kota Belud who built their tourism industry from scratch without or little assistance.

“I have given special mention (Ministers Special Award) to the Kadamaian Tourism Association Sabah (Kata) to emphasise that focus. We found that we have achieved a good level tourism wise in the urban and city areas and that there is also a need to focus on rural tourism.

“What made me happy is that the local people themselves were actively involved in promoting rural tourism products,” he said, adding that up to September, the Kadamaian people had earned up to RM500,000 and that they had fully embraced technology to promote their destination. Masidi also announced that there will be direct commercial flights between Kota Kinabalu and Beijing latest by early next year.

“I have spoken to the Consul General of China, Liang Caide, and he informed me that he is arranging to have direct flights between Beijing and Kota Kinabalu.

“This is good news for me as it reflects the confidence of Chinese government in our capabilities to give the best service to Chinese tourists,” he said, adding that the route which would be facilitated by Xiamen Airways was under discussion. “This will happen perhaps before end of the year or early next year.”

Masidi also urged banks to facilitate investment in hotel construction, especially four and five-star hotels, to cater to the rising number of Chinese tourists amid concerns raised over the availability of accommodation with more tourists expected from Beijing.

“We are running out of hotel rooms, so while I am very happy that the Chinese government is trying its best to help us to get direct Beijing-Kota Kinabalu flight service, at the same time, I am also quite apprehensive if we have enough rooms to cater to their demands.

“My message is to all investors and banks, please facilitate the investment in hotels, especially four and five-star hotels, as there is a real need for them.” Masidi said as of October this year, Sabah has welcomed 363,977 tourists from China. He said 2016 was an outstanding year for tourism in Sabah with total arrivals of 3.427 million.

“That year, we surpassed the results for 2013, known as the ‘best year in tourism’.

“This year up to last October, we have recorded 2,929,181 arrivals or an 11.8 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

“From January to October, over a million international tourists (1,004,354) have visited Sabah, up 7.67 per cent compared to last year. Domestic arrivals have reached 2,011,258 (up 10.5 per cent).

“So far, tourism receipts have been estimated at RM6.396 billion, a robust nine per cent growth compared to the same period last year. That’s around more than half a million ringgit extra income earned for Sabah this year.

He said Kota Kinabalu international Airport (KKIA) is the second busiest airport after KLIA, serving 171 international and 410 domestic nights weekly.

“We are connected to 16 international destinations brought in by 13 foreign airlines, the busiest route coming from 84 nights from China and 35 nights from Korea weekly.

“In a few weeks (December 20), a new airline, Batik Air (lndonesia) will commence direct Jakarta -Kota Kinabalu flights. It will be the 14th international airline served by KKIA.

“For the next quarter next year, Kota Kinabalu will be connected to three more Chinese cities.

Chengdu, Changsha and Tianjin. What used to be charter flights coming from these three cities will now be scheduled flights, showing that the routes have ‘matured’.

He said up to October, 190 charter flights from Northern Asia (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan) arrived in KKlA.

“The cruise season have started. Last week over 3,000 passengers from the European cruise arrived at our port in Kota Kinabalu. We are expecting three more cruises up to the year-end or a total of at least 10,000 more arrivals from all over the world.

“If we continue with this trend, we could exceed the targeted 3.55 million this year with total arrivals estimated between 3.6 -3.7 million. That could very well be the best achievement in history.”

On the Sabah Tourism Award 2017, Masidi said he was happy with it, adding the biennial awards was important to appreciate all tourism players and a testimony they had played their role to help boost the industry.

Among the winners for this year were Ministers Special Awards (Robert Lo and Kadamaian Tourism Association Sabah), Best Tourism Attraction (Borneon Sun Bear Conservation and Mari Mari Cultural Village, Excellence in Hotel Services: (Shangrila Rasa Ria, Ming Garden Hotel, Hotel Sixty3, Borneo Nature Lodge, Koposizon Homestay Papar, Sipadan Mabul Resort Water Bungalow), Best Inbound Tour Operator: (Amazing Borneo Tours and Events ), Best Inbound Tour Package (3D2N Bird Watching Kinabatangan-Kinabatangan Jungle Camp), Best Tour Guide: Napoleon Dimus (Borneo Rainforest Lodge), Most promising Tour Guide: Mohd Shirou (S.I. Tours), Best Food Outlets: Naan- flavours of India, Shangrila Rasa Ria and Hokkaido Sakagura Restaurant, Best Shopping Complex: Imago, Best Night Spot Experience: (Shamrock Irish Bar), Best SPA Reflexology: (Helen Beauty Reflexology and CHI, The Spa Shangrila Tg Aru) , Best Airline Partners: (China Southern Airlines, Eastar Jet, Spring Airlines, Airasia), Best Community Based Tourism Initiative (Rural): (Padas Farmstay Tenom -TYK Adventure Tours), Best Golfing Experience: (Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club). – Neil Chan


Source: Daily Express

Ocean heroes spreading marine awareness

KOTA KINABALU: Marine conservation is important and people are encouraged to become ‘ocean heroes’. The Downbelow X Rip Curl Marine Conservation Programme 2017 held here yesterday was to reiterate and bring across the message.

It was held at a dive centre at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park near here.

This joint event between Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventure and Rip Curl Malaysia was aimed at raising awareness towards the global problem of marine debris.

Duty Manager Mohd Fauzi Mohd Sofian said that programme is a step towards educating the people about many issues related to the ocean.

“We aimed to raise awareness, educate and encourage action towards the global problem of marine debris and the importance of preserving our coral reefs.

“Downbelow and Rip Curl Malaysia hope to motivate people to become ocean heroes in protecting our ocean,” he said to New Sabah Times yesterday.

About 100 local and international participants took part and acquired some tips on why everyone must fight the good fight to save the ocean environment.

Some of them were marine science students from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), staffers from Hyatt Regency Kinabalu and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Kota Kinabalu (SPCA).

Beach cleaning and coral planting were also held as part of the day’s activities. About 400 corals were planted onto 200 cement blocks.

Meanwhile, Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director, Richard Swan, conducted the coral reef conservation awareness presentation. They learnt about coral, their importance to the environment, the threats it face and what public should or should not do as a diver, snorkeler or non-swimmer.

Speaking to the public about the importance of preserving coral reefs, Richard highlighted that coral is the life of the ocean and people should realise that coral help in maintaining our marine ecosystem and beach.

“We hope that people will know about the importance of care and preserve our precious coral reefs. “We play our roles as a part of living things by sharing our harmonious with marine.”

Participant Chrizz Diver, 31, shared his experiences in marine conservation programme saying that many people are unaware the negative impact of dumping rubbish into the sea.

“As humans living together with other inhabitants on this earth, we can contribute by recycling plastic or reducing the usage of plastics in our daily life while maintaining the cleanliness or our beaches and oceans.

“One time, I saw a turtle was badly injured from eating plastic, and it shows how badly the effect of throwing rubbish into the sea can do to the marine life… it kills them.”

The one-day programme was also joined and supported by local celebrities like Daphne Iking, MMA Fighter AJ “Pyro” Mansor and MMA Fighter Ann “Athena” Osman.

Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures were doing their part to lead the public towards conservation. They have been education providers locally and internationally for the past 15 years.

The companies pledged commitment to responsible tourism and provide courses that foster appreciation, awareness and conservation of our environment of local people.


Source: New Sabah Times

Diving campaign takes four years to plan

SEMPORNA: As the ‘End in Sipadan’ dive trail campaign finally came to an end, the question on everyone’s mind was “How did it all come about?”

What makes ‘End in Sipadan’ campaign so unique is that it will attract tourists to come to Sabah not only to dive in Sipadan but also to explore the many dive sites in the state.

According to Sabah Backpackers Association president Richie Lee, the ‘End in Sipadan’ idea materialized after four years of brainstorming and planning.

“The idea first came about when I was elected as president of the Sabah Backpackers Association (SBA).

“We wanted to create something different and to promote and put Sabah on the world map as one of the great dive sites our state can offer.

“Octavius (Mari Mari Sepanggar Island Lodge owner Dares Saham Asaad) came out with an idea of creating dive trails to connect several dive sites in Sabah.

“After many hours of hard work, brainstorming, planning and collaborating with Sabah’s Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac), we finally launched ‘End in Sipadan’ in April at Mari Mari Sepanggar and ending its dive trail in Sipadan Island in Semporna.

“So I dare say that the ‘End in Sipadan’ is actually the brainchild, or how I like to put it, the “Octavius Blue Print” because without his knowledge and years in this industry, ‘End in Sipadan’ would never materialize,” said Lee during a three-day stay at ND Diver Lodge in Semporna.

The ‘End in Sipadan’ campaign started its dive trail in Sepanggar and making its way up to Mantanani Island, then to Kudat and back down along the east coast to Lahad Datu and finally ending in Sipadan.

Lee added that to ensure the backpackers market continued to grow, SBA had to connect all its members to make the campaign a success.

“In tourism, the longer our tourists stay the more they will spend and the more they will stay and spend, the more they will learn about our country.

“So to provide our backpackers, who may also be divers, an experience of a lifetime, we created this dive trail which connects one city or location to another city or location around Sabah,” he said.

Lee, however, said that most tourists would only learn about Sabah because of Sipadan Island, considered to be the best dive site in Malaysia and top 10 dive sites in the world.

“Yes, everyone knows that Sipadan is one of the best dive sites in Malaysia and they will usually come to Semporna via Tawau, and end up diving only in Sipadan, but there are more dive sites our country has to offer.

“As I said many times, Sabah is blessed with three seas surrounding us, we have the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea, and we have so many beautiful dive sites that are still unexplored.

“So by connecting SBA members all over Sabah and providing a dive trail, tourists will stay longer and will have a memorable experience, which we hope they will bring their experience and share it with their friends and family and maybe even blog and write a good review about Sabah,” he said.

So how did SBA come out with a suitable location for their dive trail?

Lee said that each location or each city must have something interesting to offer beside diving activities.

“We do not want our tourists to just come here, have a couple of dives and go back home.

“We want them to experience our culture, our people and our city. There are many activities they can join in and participate and we hope, will bring memorable experience to them.

“When we first launched our programme in April in Sepanggar, we started with the artificial reef which carries the ‘conservative’ theme of coral planting.

“Octavius once again came out with this idea of artificial reef planting at his resort in Mari Mari Sepanggar as part of their theme and it was adapted by ND Divers in Semporna which has since made it part of their product to offer to their customers,” said Lee.

For Mari Mari Backpackers Lodge Mantanani Island in Kota Belud, their theme offers marine conservation, while Kudat Blue Fin Diver, founded by Camuel Tsen, took a different direction by engaging local home stays on a joint venture while offering local kids a chance to be dive masters.

Pirate Divers founder, Glen Hapirullah, in Lahad Datu meanwhile offers 44 breathtaking dive sites with beautiful reefs and shipwreck.


Source: The Borneo Post

MATTA welcomes move to boost rural tourism in Sabah

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is glad that the Sabah state government is channelling funds for infrastructure development to boost rural tourism.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said he welcomed the announcement by Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman during the tabling of the budget on Friday (Nov 17).
He said that as arrivals of international tourists had contributed significantly to Sabah’s economy with its spin-off effect rippling across the state, RM228mill had been allocated to support the sustainability of tourism programmes.
“The state government is also stepping up efforts to develop rural tourism, with Kiulu and Kadamaian selected for pilot projects,” said Tan.
He added in a statement on Sunday that these sanctuaries are ideal for soft adventures such as hiking and trekking,
Tan also said that an additional RM15mil was allocated to encourage rural communities to be involved in providing facilities for community based tourism, such as homestay programmes, recreational centres and tourism centres with public toilets; developing, upgrading or commercialising eco-tourism products, ranging from conservation of local species to promoting native cultures, arts and handicrafts.
“Rural folks need not be bystanders and merely watch those in urban areas reap the benefits of tourism. By empowering them to participate in eco-tourism, they need not leave their ancestral land, heritage and traditions,” said Tan.
Source: The Star