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

Beautiful Sabah 3.0 contest attracts int’l participants

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board’s Beautiful Sabah 3.0 online photography and video contest, ended on October 8 and attracted participation from eleven countries through social media.

The countries were Australia, China, France, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Philippines, UK and Malaysia.

This is the third edition of the contest and has the most submissions from overseas.

A total of 800 photographs and 15 videos were submitted during the two-month online contest.

“The participation from most (of the) international countries is through the power of social media. Through social media, every post shared can lead to a site visit and eventually a conversion,” said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, chairman of Sabah Tourism Board at the prize presentation ceremony, yesterday.

Winners of the competition were presented with their prizes yesterday at Sabah Tourism Board by Joniston, who urged the participants to use their talents and skills to keep promoting Sabah through their lenses and video making skills.

Also present at the event were general manager of Sabah Tourism Board Gordon Yapp, deputy general manager (support services) Noredah Othman and communications manager Hana S. Harun

The top five winners of the photography competition were Tsen Lip Kai, Rustam Razali, Clement Liew, Tirado Jupirin and Mohd Erwin Mohd Ussdek, and the top five winners of the video competition were Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong, Leon Kuan, Danny Daniel Nguai, Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong and Ivan Ong Jian Hau.

The Beautiful Sabah 3.0 sponsorship, worth about RM15,000 were from the private sector, namely the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort,  Sutera Harbour Resort, Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu, Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Grandis Hotel and Resorts, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Techfix, Canon Marketing (Malaysia), Syarikat Percetakan Suria, Toppoint Company Sdn Bhd, Ebiz Design & Communications, and Videographics Productions Sdn Bhd.


Source: Borneo Post

Promoting tourism through photo contest

Tawau: Photographs are one of the best methods to enhance public awareness on environmental conservation, said Green Tawau Action Committee (GTAC) spokesperson Dr Wong Jia Lih.

“One of the contributors for the State’s economy is tourism, but if we fail to protect the environment, it will affect the sector,” he said during the closing of a photography competition.

The competition themed “Sabah’s Natural Beauty”, participated by 32 photographers from Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau, was organised by the Tawau Photographic Society (TPS) and GTAC.

The competition, Wong said, would help create a sense of appreciation among the public on the environment, including foreign tourists.

“The availability of cheap airfares and tourist-friendly infrastructures will enable Sabah to continue witnessing an influx of tourists who are attracted to our flora and fauna.”

On GTAC, he said, the body promotes efforts to make a greener Tawau through tree-planting programmes with the cooperation of non-governmental agencies and schools.

“The body led by Larry Koh @ Rahim Abdullah has managed to plant more than 6,000 trees since 2012 along Jalan Apas,” he said.

Meanwhile, TPS Chairman Ho Lee Ngiew commended GTAC’s huge contribution through the competition, especially in introducing Sabah to the world through photographs.

“This is in line with the efforts of promoting Sabah tourism through interesting photographs of our flora and fauna,” he said.

Source : Daily Express

Capture Malaysian Forests in Pix and Win a Prize

Kota Kinabalu: The Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) is calling all photography enthusiasts to express their impressions of forests and its rich resources through photographs and compete in the MTCC Photography Contest 2017.

Themed “Experience Forest, Experience MTCS-PEFC”, the photography contest opens for entries until 15 October 2017. The contest aims to raise awareness on the invaluable benefit of our tropical forest as well as to promote the importance of sustainable forest management and certification.

“Photos are a great medium to connect people from all ages and backgrounds to encourage them to rethink the true value of forests and to appreciate the natural beauty of the forests and all its inhabitants.

“This is the reason why we have teamed up with leading imaging publication, PCP publications, to organize this photography contest. We hope this contest will provide Malaysians with a platform to explore the beauty of our tropical forests through their lenses,” said MTCC CEO, Yong Teng Koon.

He noted that forests are vital to livelihood of many living things. Besides carbon sequestration, it provides the oxygen we breathe, timber, medicines, clean water and renewable energy sources that we need for our daily life.

Through this contest, MTCC help to promote the importance of managing our forests sustainably for both current and future generations.

The photography contest comprises three categories: Category 1 – Forests and People: which requires participants to capture images of people involved in the field of forestry responsible for the sustainable management and well-being of Malaysia’s forest resources.

They may include images of people at work such as foresters, forest rangers, forest researchers, auditors and indigenous peoples.

Category 2 – Forest and Forest Landscape: which seeks for shots capturing a forest’s natural beauty, diversity and uniqueness in form and structure.

Category 3 – Forest and Animal: this category invites participants to capture images of animals in the wild including mammals, birds, amphibians or reptiles.

Outstanding entries stand the chance to win the grand prize of RM2,000, a first prize of RM1,200 per category, two merit prizes of RM600 per category, and five consolation prizes of RM200 per category.

Each winner will also receive a coffee-table book courtesy of PCP Publications. Participants may submit up to 10 images for each category and are required to upload their entries to a cloud storage system and email the link to

Top winning photos will also be exhibited at the Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival (KLPF) 2017 – the largest imaging event in Malaysia, to be held at MAPKL at Publika from 24 to 26 November.

Winners will be awarded during the exhibition and have their photos displayed for public viewing at the event.

Established in 1998, the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) is an independent organisation tasked to develop and operate the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).

As a voluntary national scheme, the MTCS provides for independent assessment of forest management practices and audit of timber product manufacturers or exporters to ascertain that the timber products manufactured or exported are sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Source: Daily Express

Calling all photography buffs in KK

Kota Kinabalu: Photography buffs including amateurs and professionals are encouraged to make the most of the 2nd Kinabalu Photo Festival to be held here from Nov 22-27.

Kota Kinabalu-based Jebat Photography Club is the main organiser of the Asean-level festival that seeks to provide a platform for local photographers to further improve their art, learning from experts cum mentors and exchanging ideas and knowledge with others in the field.

Club Chairman Mohd Idremzizan bin Idris said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun will officiate at the closing ceremony of the event to be held at the spot between the Sugar Bun outlet and BB Café at Gaya Street here at 8pm on Nov 26.

He said the club had organised a similar event known as ‘Kota Kinabalu Photo Week’ before that was more focused on exhibition of photos taken by photographers particularly among the locals.

“We decided to change the focus of the event for this year as we will be bringing well-known and renowned experts cum mentors in photography from Asean countries like Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia who have produced photo books, curators and editors and their artworks in photography which are recognised in Europe and worldwide.

“That is why we hope the photography buffs in Sabah would take advantage of this festival to improve their photo taking skills and learn from the best.

“Among the highlights of the festival is the display of 15 photos by Sabahan photographers on Mount Kinabalu before and after the Ranau earthquake that happened in June last year,” he said to Daily Express here.

Idremzizan who is also the festival’s project director said the 15 photos will be specially chosen and selected from Instagram accounts belonging to the contestants and the deadline for this is Nov 19.

He said those who wish to participate can also seek more information by browsing its website at as there will be programmes on various activities for the public and photography enthusiasts to benefit from.

During the weeklong festival, he said local photographers including the amateurs can also bring along their photos to be professionally commented on by Asean experts in the field.

Idremzizan said the festival will also feature free advanced courses for the public on digital editing, photo documentary, photojournalism and street photography by experts in the respective fields such as Erik Prasetya, Ahmad Denby Salman, an ex-AFP photographer Shamsharin Shamsudin from the peninsula, and Agah Permadi who is specialising in digital editing, among others.

However, he said those interested to attend the courses must submit their application to and send 10 photos to before Nov 19 as the number of participants for the courses is limited.

He said the public can view the 15 selected photos of Mount Kinabalu before and after the Ranau earthquake from 1pm until 10pm during the seven-day festival beginning Nov 22.

Idremzizan said there would also be photos themed ‘Lifestyle & Culture’, taken by local photographers including himself, displayed at Print Café along Jalan Dewan here for public viewing.

Source: Daily Express