Malaysia Travel Guide

State to Pursue Connectivity Despite Setbacks

State to Pursue Connectivity Despite Setbacks

The State will continue to pursue connectivity to international airport hubs despite recent setbacks, assured the Assistant Minister for Tourism, Datuk Lee Kim Shin yesterday.

It is not easy to convince airlines especially foreign carriers to Sarawak as there are equally attractive destinations that they can look to, he said.

We are trying our very best and the ROUTES Asia 2019 sessions’ here has been a touch point to meet up with airline companies in the regions and we want to convince them that connectivity into Sarawak can be a viable business, he added.

Having scheduled meeting appointments and engagements with airlines and airports, we began to understand the business and that enables us to be wiser when dealing with the business professionals in the tourism industry, he continued.

Datuk Lee, who was leading the Sarawak Tourism Board’s delegation to the business gathering today met up with nine airlines especially companies mostly from the region and fours airport operators to obtain better insights into their business needs.

“We made headway today and with some promising results during the engagement session and that keeps our hopes up in securing better connectivity into the State, he enthused.

“We have to work hard and be able to give enough reasons to convince airline operators to consider mounting flight to Sarawak”, he added.

Today, the Sarawak team met up with at four more airline operators to wind up the session before calling it a day and return back.

Acknowledging that connectivity must be propelled by sufficient number of travellers, tourists and holiday makers, Datuk Lee said it must also be complemented by business travels and as such conducive business environment and attractive destination’s tourism products were sought for by airlines operators he explained.

ROUTES Asia, the region’s leading meetings of airlines and airport executives started on March 10 and will end today.

Datuk Lee (left) with Zainuddin Mohammad, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad’s Senior Manager and sharzede (right) as the business meeting with representatives of Qatar Airways


Datuk Lee (right) presenting the Gunung Mulu National Park coffee table book to Min Yao, Director of International Planning of China Express Airlines. Seen from left is STB’s Chief Executive officer, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor and China Express’s International Business Manager, Meng Ling.

Malaysia Travel Guide

Sarawak Sees Breezing Start at ITB Berlin

Sarawak Sees Breezing Start at ITB Berlin

Berlin, Germany; Wed: TheInternationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) Berlin opened its doors at Messe Berlin yesterday to more than 10,000 exhibitors from 185 countries.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) participated in this world’s largest travel show with an 18-member strong delegation headed by the Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah together with three Kuching-based travel partners.

The first day of the fair’s opening saw the packed programme for the Minister and his Assistant, Datuk Lee Kim Shin with trade business partners taking turns for the schedule meeting sessions and media interviews by Berlin based FVW Medien travel trade magazine, Reise Aktuell, Vienna based international travel magazine and the Radio xy UG station.

During these meetings, a variety of topics were covered including talks on airline connectivity, promoting current events and creating new events in Sarawak, as well as, promising an encoring interest from ITB Berlin in the future.

STB’s first day business engagements showed promising outcome with leading Amsterdam based De Jong Tours and Switzerland Asien Direkt GmbH showed  renewed interest in Sarawak.

Tomorrow’s line-up of programme for Datuk Karim includes the signing of Memorandum of Understanding on joint marketing programme in Germany between STB and Tischler Reisen GmbH and also the launching of the marketing campaign for the State’s new tourism destination, Sibu and Central Sarawak.

ITB Berlin is expecting more than 160,000 visitors attending the five-day fair   which is reputed to be the world’s biggest and leading travel trade show.

Picture shows FVW Median’s editor, Christine Engelhardt (left) interviewing Datuk Karim Rahman Hamzah. Seen from right, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture Youth and Sports, Hii Chang Kee, STB Chief Executive Officer, Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor and Datuk Lee Kim Shin.


Updated: 6 March 2019

Malaysia Travel Guide

STB to Ramp up Tourism Promo in the Netherlands

STB to Ramp up Tourism Promo in the Netherlands

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is set to ramp its tourism promotion in the Netherlands with at least three Dutch operators who have expressed their interests in joint marketing collaboration.

“It’s timely as we are now promoting aggressively our Visit Sarawak Campaign”  said STB Chief Executive Officer, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor after a destination briefing session which was attended by 15 Dutch operators and media partners here yesterday.

“I am glad we could offer a concrete proposal to the operators such as Fox Verre Reizen, Pangea Travel and Sawadee Reizen”, said Sharzede and adding that the agents are ready to go big time in Sarawak.

“What interests them is the destination that features responsible tourism and Sarawak has it, keeping to its theme as the destination that offers culture, adventure, nature, food and festival”, she added.

Sharzede admitted that “Sarawak has lost its ‘visibility’ in the Dutch market in the past years but we are determined to move in and partner these agents leveraging on the Visit Sarawak Campaign”, she explained.

“Yes, the arrival numbers were down, especially after the airline tragedy of 2014 when we lost the direct flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and that had affected the business of the Dutch operators” added Sharzede.

“After meeting the operators today, we are confident that we will be make inroads with our proposal offered to these operators to partner them in their promotional effort in the Netherlands”, she explained.

“What excites our Dutch partners are the new product experiences that we now have, including the central region and also the newly rejuvenated products like the Old Kuching Heritage Trail”.

“The Dutch have their ‘Kanaal’ and we too have canals in Mukah and these product similarities especially in the central region have aroused interests among our Dutch partners, giving us an opportunity to connect closely with them”, enthused Sharzede.

What we do now is ensure that these operators are shown and are able to experience the new products first hand, with familiarization trips organised by the Board partnering with local agents, she said.

Sharzede, who was joined by Rosni Mamat, First Secretary to the Embassy of Malaysia at The Hague, expressed high hopes in revitalising the Dutch-speaking markets, acknowledging that the destination product compatibility would take the Sarawak tourism industry to greater heights.

From the series of engagements we had with the Dutch operators, we believe the Dutch tourists look for experiential tourism and also choose destinations that subscribe to the principles of responsible tourism and as such Sarawak could leverage of these standards and values to position itself among the favoured destination in the region, she added.

Calling on the local industry partners to be industrious in churning out more tourism products and packages to remain competitive and be relevant, Sharzede was of the opinion that the long haul market of the Benelux will continue to be the main supplier of tourists in the coming years.

Meanwhile, both Product Managers from Fox Verre Reizen and Sawadee Reizen had also expressed their interests to do a familiarization trip to Sarawak in order for them to have a first-hand experience of the destination whereas the Product Manager of Pangea Travel had, indicated his intention to include the Central Region as a new product in their promotional catalogue.

STB is on a week-long tourism promotion mission to Finland and Holland to attend the MATKA Travel Fair in Helsinki and also conducted destination briefing and partners’ engagement session in Amsterdam with local Sarawak partners.

The mission was supported by Tourism Malaysia’s office at The Hague.

While in Helsinki on Tuesday, the STB delegation were guests at the office of the Malaysian Embassy’s First Secretary, Norhalilah Abdul Jalil.

Norhalilah (left) with Sharzede at her office.


Travel to Melaka



       Indonesian hybrid airline,
       XPress Air aims to attract
       1,500 passengers for the return
       flight from Melaka to Pekan
       Baru within three to six months.

       Commercial Director
        Poernomo said
        it was the second international
        route for the airline after
        Launching the Pontianak, Indonesia
        to Kuching Sarawak sector in 2014.

       ” This follows the success of
       the two-way flights between
       Pontianak and Kuching,” he told
       reporters after the maiden flight from
       Pekan Baru arrived at the
       Melaka International Airport here.

       The flight had 26 passengers on board
       and was greeted by the State
       Transport,Project, Rehabilitation and
       International Trade Committee
       Chairman,Datuk Lim Ban Hong on
       arrival at 3.10 pm.

       Swadono said Xpress Air will initially
       Operate the flight using a Dornier 328
       which can carry 32 passengers
       Withfour weekly flights on Tuesday,
       Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 4.25

       The airline will consider using
       a Boeing 737-300 which can fly
       120 passengers if the response was

Tourism Malaysia

Beachside escapade

Paradise indeed: Aview of Boracay fromthe island’s highestpoint in Mt Luho.Paradise indeed: A
view of Boracay from
the island’s highest
point in Mt Luho.

With its great beaches, Boracay
in the Philippines
is hard to beat, and the Ambassador
In Paradise is the resort of choice.

BORACAY in the Philippines seems perpetually to be in one list or another of the best beaches in the world. Well, the accolades are certainly well-deserved, for its white sandy beaches are exceptional.

Boracay also has the reputation for being “party central� – everyone here seems to be partying from 6pm to noon. It’s the Ibiza of Asia, so to speak.

I was there during the tail-end
of the crazy summer holidays so there was a swarm of college- and university-going Filipinos about. You could say this vacation was something I had been looking forward to for a long time, it being my first time there.

Unfortunately, the airline I had booked for the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Clark Terminal, and then onwards to Boracay almost soured the experience. To cut a long story short, I ended up spending eight hours at the airport in Clark, one of the worst airports to be stuck in.

If I was lucky enough to get a boat to Boracay from Caticlan after my connecting flight, I might be able to check into my resort hotel, the Ambassador In Paradise, past midnight after my 10am flight from KL!

Thank goodness, the resort (recommended by the trusty managed to make pickup arrangements for me. From Kalibo airport, the resort driver got me to Caticlan within ONE hour instead of the customary two – all while being a safe driver as he braved terrible road conditions and the dark of night. Impressive!

I managed to catch the last “official� scheduled boat and arrived at the resort at 10.30pm, where I promptly crashed for the night, having been up for close to 21 hours. But before that I was floored by my Premier Ocean View room. It was huge, and had a king-sized bed and two divans.

But it was the bathroom that had me gawping – it was big enough to accomodate a beach party. Later on, I found out that the extra space was utilised in higher-grade rooms for an en-suite Jacuzzi!

Guests at Ambassador In Paradise are greeted by a palm-fringed beach view.Guests at Ambassador In Paradise are greeted by a palm-fringed beach view.

They have four other types of rooms and a presidential suite. Their two-floor family suites can cater to seven.

Next morning, I found the view from my bed to be astonishing. From the balcony windows (I was on the ground floor), I could see the five-star resort’s only restaurant. On the right was the amazing beach with the requisite swaying palm trees and the blue ocean beyond. And on my left was the resort swimming pool.

Paradise indeed!

Breakfast was the first thing on my to-do list. They keep it simple here with a choice of five – American, Continental, Filipino, plus Spanish Omelette and Dutch Omelette.

Paraw boating is one of the water activities available in Boracay.Paraw boating is one of the water activities available in Boracay.

I opted for the last, which was fried eggs with smoked ham, sliced cheese and crispy bacon bits. Nice. If you’re wondering about this option, the owner is Dutch and has two other hotel properties in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

I had the Filipino set the next day, which was basically garlic rice, beef tapa (diced), pickled papaya, pork sausages and superb crunchy anchovies. It’s like the Filipino version of nasi lemak. It was so good that I had it again the next day.

For lunch, I had their set meal, which commenced with a cream of roasted prawn saffron – flavourful but a tad heavy on the saffron. The appetiser of salmon gravlax bruschetta was very good, while the mains of oven-baked tanguigue fish in lemon garlic sauce was not too bad. And to wash it all down was the delicious dalandan (sweet orange drink).

Dinner at the resort did not disappoint either. The cream of pumpkin was divine, the pork adobo was out of this world as the chef had tweaked it to be spicy and even thrown in some eggplant; desserts were limited but tasty (including the local leche flan – creme caramel basically); and the cocktails hit the spot.

The food is good, but the service needs to be improved. Surely one doesn’t need to remind staff about cutlery, condiments and such? But it helps that despite the shortcomings, they do their jobs with a smile.

Now what’s a beach vacation without a massage?

You can opt to have it in your room or by the beachside. I had mine in the room, and it was pure bliss. A combination of shiatsu and Swedish techniques kneaded away my aches and stress.

The resort is at Station 1 of the famous White Beach, with Stations 2 and 3 to the left of the resort. Despite a bum foot and doctor’s orders to rest it and not get the wound wet, I couldn’t resist taking a walk on the beach.

Station 1 is not as crowded as Station 2 where most of the night life is concentrated. AXN was having a party that evening (open to anyone above 21), and it started at 6pm. And there was yet another party the next evening organised by some other group.

All kinds of water activities were on offer (the resort can arrange them for you, too). These included banana boating, paraw boating and parasailing. What I found unique here was the way the locals use surfing boards for paddling on – with an oar in hand while standing on the board!

Besides White Beach, there are other beaches like the relatively uncrowded Puka Beach. For a scenic view of the island, you’ll want to head on up to Mt Luho, the island’s highest point.

Off the beach, one can opt for ATV rides, buggy rides and bicycling.

The best way to get around Bora (as the locals call the place) is via the many electric tricycles that run till late. Hop on and off one for 20 to 60 pesos (RM1.50 to RM4.50).

If you’re into shopping, then the place to go is DMall – it’s a one-stop centre for souvenirs, fresh produce and restaurants. There are loads of boutiques and shops to browse to your heart’s content. And while Filipino food is no great shakes, there are many other options on offer.

If there’s one thing I couldn’t understand about the resort, it was the imposition of corkage on guests. If guests wanted to bring outside food, liquor or soft drinks into the hotel, a fee was imposed. They made an exception for water and snacks.

Never in all my years of staying in hotels and resorts have I seen corkage being imposed. Perhaps they should reconsider this, as it’s not very endearing to guests.

But one thing’s for sure, I will go back to beautiful Bora.


Station 1, Sitio Pinaongon,

Barangay Balabag,

Boracay Island Malay Aklan


Tel: +63 36 288-1541