Nov 19, 2006

Kampung Style Homestay Tourism Houses

130 kampung houses for tourists

Sunday November 19, 2006

BALIK PULAU: A total of 130 houses in traditional villages in Penang will be made available for homestay programmes for Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

Penang bumiputra tourism chairman Muhamad Farid Saad said the programme would start as soon as the Tourism Ministry gave out licences to homestay operators.

“The demand from foreign tourists to stay in real kampung surroundings is encouraging,” he said after launching the Kampung Jalan Baru homestay programme and also a recycling campaign yesterday.

Some 80 foreign tourists, who were invited to the opening ceremony, were treated to a Malay-style kenduri (feast) complete with traditional dance performances.

PICTURE PERFECT: A foreign tourist posing in front of a typical stilt Malay house in Kampung Jalan Baru in Balik Pulau after the launch of the homestay programme on Saturday. Cooking demonstrations were also held to show the tourists how to prepare rendang, lemang and traditional cakes.
PICTURE PERFECT: A foreign tourist posing in front of a typical stilt Malay house in Kampung Jalan Baru in Balik Pulau after the launch of the homestay programme on Saturday. Cooking demonstrations were also held to show the tourists how to prepare rendang, lemang and traditional cakes.

Muhamad Farid, who is also Pulau Betong assemblyman, said there were plans to include villages in Pulau Betong in Balik Pulau, Penang island, as well as Sungai Semilang and Kampung Juru in Juru, Pulau Aman and Mengkuang Titi, all in Seberang Prai, in the programme.

“We are making arrangements with hotels to include a 2-day/1-nightstay in villages as a package,” he said.

“We want the tourists to experience living in a kampung for at least one night.”

Muhamad Farid said the council had adopted Kampung Jalan Baru to promote the programme and had allocated RM60,000 to develop and beautify the village.

“The Drainage and Irrigation Department, Kemas and the Agriculture Department also contributed RM35,000 to upgrade the infrastructure in Kampung Jalan Baru,” he said.

He said the Tourism Ministry had allocated RM200,000 to plant 147 varieties of palm trees in the district.

“We will beautify the 20km tourism belt in Sungai Pinang, Sungai Rusa and Permatang Pasir areas,” he said.
- The Star

Nov 18, 2006

Monsoon Cup, Pulau Duyong, Terengganu

Monsoon cup is here again! And those crazy sailors will brave the monsoon just to win the coveted prize!

Veteran sailors set for Monsoon Cup showdown
18 Nov 2006
Fay Angela D’Cruz and Zainuddin Muhammad

KUALA LUMPUR: Visitors to the Monsoon Cup this year can expect experienced match racing sailors competing with young and energetic sailors, bringing about thrilling races.

Reigning match racing world champion and Monsoon Cup race director Peter Gilmour said veteran sailors such as Peter Holmberg, Ian Williams, Sebastien Col and Paolo Cian will show off match racing skills. Tactics, stamina and the weather are expected to play a major role in determining the winners.

"The new, young and energetic teams which have qualified are expected to show a fearless attitude as they give it their best shot," Gilmour said.

The Monsoon Cup, from Nov 29 to Dec 3, in Pulau Duyong, off the Terengganu coast, has gained prominent status on the World Tour. It offers prizes totalling RM1 million.

"The winner gets RM400,000. One of the goals of the Monsoon Cup is to spread match racing across the region," Gilmour said.

In September, organisers for the event held the inaugural Malaysian Match Racing Championship and Asian Match Racing Championship.

The winners were Malaysian Tiffany Koo and Adam Minoprio of New Zealand, who gained entry to the Monsoon Cup.

"The Selangor Gapurna team has a lot of energy, and they are really into the sport. I believe it will be tough for them, but with energy like theirs, who knows what will happen," Gilmour said.

Koo will be the first Malaysian woman to compete in an ISAF Grade World Championship match-race regatta.

"From now on I have to focus on sailing. I will do my best and learn more about the temperament of the weather."

Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the sailing fraternity throughout the world will be watching Kuala Terengganu for five days.

Last year, the gross media value was estimated at RM73 million. "We are expecting 40,000 visitors this year."

Gilmour said the success of the event prompted the signing of Richard Mille Watches as title sponsor, which has helped increase the prizes.

The Pride Foundation will host the gala dinner on Dec 2, and its chairman, Datin Azrene Abdullah, said the event at the Heritage Bay Club would also play a part in raising breast cancer awareness.

"We will raise funds through the gala dinner for breast cancer patients," she added.

In Kuala Terengganu, hotels are expecting higher occupancy rates during the event. Malaysian Association of Hotels (Terengganu Chapter) vice-chairman Rudi W. Herrmann said tourist arrivals have risen during the monsoon months since last year.

"It will be even better this year as some establishments are expected to enjoy a 100 per cent occupancy rate, while the rest will have between 85 and 95 per cent occupancy. - NST.

More info about at Monsoon Cup website.

Nov 16, 2006

Pahang aims for 7.8 million tourists

Pahang aims for 7.8 million tourists
By Roslina Mohamad

Thursday November 16, 2006

KUANTAN: Tourism Malaysia Pahang targets tourist arrival for next year to be around 7.8 million with an estimated spending of RM3.2bil while holidaying in the state.

Its director Jefri Munir said the increase in visitors would be expected as the country would launch Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

“There will be a lot of spectacular events and festivals at state level and we hope these colourful and interesting activities will be attractive enough to draw in more tourists.

“Locals and foreigners will be able to experience what the state has to offer throughout the year,” he said during a Hari Raya open house in Cherating recently.

Jefri said there were five major events listed in the state namely International Monsoon Madness Windsurfing Challenge, Sungai Pahang International Rafting Expedition, International Bird Race, Food and Fruit Festival and Dirt Bike Challenge.

These events had been scheduled between January and September.

On the number of tourists arrival targeted for this year, Jefri said it was at five million people.

“However, we have already recorded 4.9 million up to June and are expecting the number to reach seven million by year end.

“The amount spent up to June was RM1.5bil and we expect the figure to hit RM3bil,” he added.

Jefri said the length of stay during the same period was an average of 1.9 days, almost meeting the target of an average of two days.

With all the promotions already in place to usher in Visit Malaysia 2007, the average length of stay was expected to be 2.5 days, he added.

Jefri said some RM300,000 had been spent on courses and promotional activities to publicise Pahang.

“The courses include those catering to hoteliers, operators of chalets, restaurants, hostels, supermarkets and homestay programmes, members of taxi, car rental, tourist bus and trishaw associations, teachers and coordinators of tourism clubs in schools, village headmen and chairmen of village security and development committees.

“These are the frontliners and the courses are tailored on how to deal with them and ways to promote the products available locally,” Jefri said.

It was important to portray an image of Malaysians as “helpful and friendly people” as word of mouth was the best form of advertisement, he added. - The Star

Nov 7, 2006

Tourism boom seen in 2007

Tourism boom seen in 2007
Tuesday November 7, 2006
By Goh Ee Koon

PETALING JAYA: Millions of tourists are expected to visit Malaysia next year and tourism revenue, estimated to total RM35bil this year, is expected to increase at an even faster pace.

There would be a “grand launch” of Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) on Jan 1, which would be followed by a host of events in every month next year.

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 Logo

Tourist arrivals had steadily risen from 3 million back in 1983 to about 16 million last year. Tourist spending has also risen, from just RM5bil back in 1990.

In VMY, tourist arrivals and spending are expected to rise to reach targets of 20 million and RM45bil respectively. This could produce significantly higher revenue for a wide range of companies from hotels and airlines to consumer goods.

Next year also happens to be the 50th anniversary of Malaysia's independence and to ensure that this landmark VMY is a success, there would be 50 major activities spread out throughout the year. The events, varied in scope, have been lined up from February's Malaysia Open Golf Championship to the KL International Buskers Festival held in November.

The Government is expected to expend RM600mil in promotional activities, which are expected to peak in August (coinciding with the National Day), according to a note by a local bank-backed research house.

There are added incentives for tourists from overseas. A recent survey by Swiss banking group UBS AG ranked Kuala Lumpur as the top budget-friendly city in the world.

A UBS economist credited Malaysia's well-controlled inflation as a factor for its success in offering tourists looking for most bang for their buck.

VMY received added publicity in a centrespread in the weekend Wall Street Journal that had sent a journalist to find out how affordable Malaysia is. He found he had to pay just US$107 for a room in Shangri-La Hotel, for which price he would have gotten no more than the Salisbury YMCA in Hong Kong.

The bulk of the tourism dollars last year was spent on accommodation (33%), shopping (21%), and food and beverage, or F&B, (20%). The remaining 26% was taken up by organised tours, local ground transportation, entertainment, domestic airfares and miscellaneous spending.

Hence, the stocks targeted by analysts for growth in VMY are spread across a few sectors.

The tourism and hotel sectors stand to win big. Hotels can expect higher occupancy rates and F&B turnover, and there would be room to raise rates. Hotel workers would also benefit from their share of service taxes.

One of the stocks that interest analysts and fund managers is property player KLCC Property Holdings Bhd which owns the popular Suria KLCC shopping mall and the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

There would also be indirect beneficiaries as the influx of tourists will spill into retail complexes and transport facilities.

These gainers would include IGB Corp Bhd and KrisAssets Holdings Bhd (which owns Mid Valley Megamall) and Sunway City Bhd (which owns Sunway Pyramid).

Consumer companies that stand to gain from a higher consumption of F&B include Nestle (M) Bhd and Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd. Transport companies like AirAsia Bhd will gain from an anticipated increase in load factors. - The Star.

Nov 2, 2006

Friendly hosts welcome tourists

Friendly hosts welcome tourists
Thursday November 2, 2006

SCENIC VIEW: Sungai Angkat near the village is a popular picnic spot.
SCENIC VIEW: Sungai Angkat near the village is a popular picnic spot.

THE home stay experience at Kampung Keda Ulu Legong in Baling, Kedah, promises to be unforgettable for many visitors.

The friendly kampung folk there are very accommodating and able to cater to the needs of their houseguests, including lining up fun-filled activities.

One of the home stay operators, Mohd Akhir Ismail, 48, said the home stay programme, which started in 1999, offers an opportunity for vacationers to be involved in the lives of the kampung folk.

“At only RM56, tourists can spend three days and two nights at a real home with their adopted families and experience true kampung life.

“They will eat the same food as we do, bathe using the kolah (well) and learn to speak our local dialect.

“If the vacationers wish to leave the kampung settlement for a change, their adopted brother or sister will drive them to Baling town on motorcycle,” he said.

Over 20 families in Kampung Keda Ulu Legong have become qualified home stay operators.

“We underwent a series of home stay management courses in Bangi, Langkawi and Malacca conducted by Kedah Development Authority (KEDA),” he said, adding that each family was taught the English language.

He added that apart from the locals, tourists from Belgium and Japan had come for the unforgettable home stay experience.

The home of Yaakub Ahmad, 70, who is also affectionately known by the villagers as ‘Pak Ngah,’ has been renovated to welcome tourists.

“My wife and I feel honoured whenever a tourist comes to our humble home.

“My wife Siti Khalibah Buyok is the best cook in the world and she would prepare an array of kampung dishes like fish curry, ulam (greens), sambal belacan, rebung masak lemak and sambal petai to entice the guests’ taste buds,” he said, adding that over 30 vacationers had spend the night at his house since 1999.

Yaakub said the home stay programme had made him better understand other cultures.

“Once during the fasting month, a Japanese man spent a night at our home. He was so curious about the Malay culture that he insisted on donning a sarong.

“I gave him one as he joined my family for sahur (predawn meal), buka puasa (break fast) and even took time to watch us perform the terawih (special fasting month) prayers at the surau.

“I was so fascinated by his interest that I decided to make an effort to learn more about his culture in return,” he said while making the bed for the next houseguest.

During the fruit season in June, July and August, vacationers who join the home stay programme will have the chance to spend a night in the fruit orchard and feast on the many exotic fruits like durian, rambutan, mangosteens, bananas, dukong langsat and mangoes.

Vacationers can go jungle trekking at Lata Parit Waterfall, watch the Sewang show by the Kensiu Orang Asli tribe or Dikir Barat by the kampung folk.

They can also watch villagers climb the 30m Tualang trees to collect honeycomb or have a picnic of rice and prawns cooked in bamboo by their adopted family.

Student Norlis Diyana Ahmad, 21, recalled her home stay experience as “best sangat!”

“That is why I came back today.

“Although I had a hard time understanding my adopted parents’ unusual Kedahan dialect, their warm hospitality made me feel like I’m in my own home,” she said.

For further information about the home stay programme, call Mohd Khir Ismail at 019-5088258.
- The Star.

Taste of island hospitality

Taste of island hospitality
Thursday November 2, 2006
Story and photo by Christina Koh

FOREIGN tourists coming to Pangkor Island will soon get a chance to visit the homes of certain residents there in a year-round open house programme.

Tourism Malaysia officer Shahrim Tan said the programme, involved five homes each in Kampung Teluk Dalam and Kampung Teluk Gedung.

The two locations promise to be interesting as Kampung Teluk Dalam is a Malay fishing village while Kampung Teluk Gedung is located near the Dutch Fort and Sacred Rock (Batu Bersurat) tourist attractions.

The plan is to eventually have more year-round open houses in other parts of Malaysia.

Pangkor assemblyman Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir praised the open house programme as it would expose tourists to how Malaysians live and celebrate their festivals.

“This is in line with the state government efforts to promote Pangkor especially since it is one of the top tourist destinations in the state.

“I hope that developers will not interfere with the natural beauty of the island,” he told reporters during a Hari Raya function at Kampung Teluk Gedung recently.

Hosted by the village and Tourism Malaysia, the event attracted locals and tourists from England, Iran, Jamaica and Kuala Lumpur.

For an hour, Dr Zambry even played tour guide for the visitors as he showed them how to grill satay, explained Hari Raya customs and invited them to try out local delights like lemang, dodol and assam laksa.

MALAYSIAN DELICACY: Ratigan trying his hand at grilling satay. With him are Dr Zambry (left), Mason and Iranian tourist Reza Khedmati.
MALAYSIAN DELICACY: Ratigan trying his hand at grilling satay. With him are Dr Zambry (left), Mason and Iranian tourist Reza Khedmati.

Helen Mason, 23, a personal assistant from Britain, said that she and her friend Benoit Ratigan, 34, had been in Malaysia for three months.

“We happened to hear about the event when we were staying in Coral Bay Hotel. We’ve been enjoying the scuba diving and jungle trekking in Borneo and other places,” she said.

Lending more interest to the event was local snake catcher Awaluddin Man who sprang a surprise when he dropped by with Mina, his tame king cobra.

Awaluddin, 70, showed the curious audience how he carried the snake by gently draping her on his shoulders, which encouraged Ratigan to take a picture with the king cobra. - The Star.