Tourism News in Malaysia December 2015

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year 2016. As we round up the year, here is a compilation of travel and tourism news in Malaysia for the month of December 2015 taken from various sites. Once again, we at Malaysia Travel News would like to wish all our followers, friends and partners a wonderful and happy new year 2016.

AirAsia wins three awards at the World Travel Awards 2015

Morocco, 13 December 2015 – The AirAsia group, who recently celebrated its 14th anniversary received three prestigious recognitions at the World Travel Awards, winning the ‘World’s Leading Low Cost Airline’ title for the third consecutive year and clinched the ‘World’s Leading Low Cost Airline Website’ and ‘World’s Leading Low Cost Airline App’ titles for the first time.

Aireen Omar, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad represented the AirAsia Group to receive the awards at the World Travel Awards Gala 2015.

The World Travel Awards serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry; and is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality with over 650,000 votes casted by travel professionals and high-end tourism consumers. Full story here:

Lithium Battery-powered Transportation Devices Banned On AirAsia, Airasia X Flights

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 30 (Bernama) — All lithium battery-powered personal transportation devices are prohibited as check-in and hand baggage on all AirAsia and AirAsia X flights effective Wednesday. It includes hoverboards, Segways, mini-Segways, electronic scooters, solowheels, airwheels, balance wheels and similar equipment.

“Under certain circumstances, the carriage of battery operated wheelchairs or mobility devices might be accepted, subject to removal of the battery by guests. The maximum weight allowed for wheelchairs and mobility devices is 85kg,” said AirAsia in a statement.  Guests travelling with battery operated items are encouraged to refer to AirAsia’s guideline available on

More cancel Sabah trip over insurance

Kota Kinabalu: There have been low occupancies even in budget accommodation, particularly backpacker lodges, in Sabah for the year ending this month. One top operator rated by Trip Advisor revealed that occupancy rate at his hostel was below 50 per cent – on average around 40 per cent. The blame went to the perception of the State’s security where news of repeated curfew renewals by the police, although only applied to the East Coast, cast a blanket over the whole State as if a state of security siege exists.

The most common reason received by operators here was that bookings by overseas clients had to be cancelled because there was an insurance coverage problem due to some travel advisories in the past where the destination was marked in the red zone. “Some cancelled their trip booked because they could not get any insurance coverage or that their insurance company would disclaim any liability should they travel to places like Sabah,” said Wong Su Kong, a hostel operator at Mosque Valley next to Bandaran Berjaya. Full Story:

LMNS To Study On Monument And Heritage Site In Negeri Sembilan

Seremban, Dec 27 (Bernama) — The Negeri Sembilan Museums Board (LMNS) constantly carries out studies on monuments and heritage sites in the state to ensure the historical interests could be preserved in the form of knowledge and artifact for future generations.

LMNS Museum Curator Aziz Mohd Gorop said the study involved traditional houses, colonial buildings, heritage mosques, historical sites, mausoleums and megalithic stones. “The study was done for inventory purposes and to be nominated as the state heritage. Negeri Sembilan is rich in history from the various eras,” he told Bernama here Sunday. Full Story:

Visual Art Museum Planned For Langkawi

Langkawi, Dec 29 (Bernama) — A visual art museum is being planned to be developed in Langkawi as a new tourist attraction, especially for art enthusiasts. State executive councillor in charge of Tourism, Datuk Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid said the site for the museum had been identified by the National Visual Arts Gallery board and when completed, it would feature a collection of paintings and other visual art pieces by leading artists.

“It will be another world-class destination in Langkawi soon,” he told reporters after the launching of a new product of the Langkawi Underwater World, here, today. Full Story:

George Town among top 16 ‘must-see’ destinations

The Unesco world heritage site here has been picked as one of the 16 “must-see” destinations by the Los Angeles Times. In its Boxing Day edition, the paper wrote that “George Town (population about 500,000), Penang’s main city, is a Unesco World Heritage site with a 500-year history of trading and a hotel boom in progress”. It stated that as many as 10 new hotels may open in 2016, and a bevy of cruise lines call at the port in inner George Town.

“With luck, this growth will leave intact the city’s most historic architecture and encourage its lively food scene. George Town was a British trading post from the early 19th century (hence its name) until Malaysian independence in 1957.  It gives you British echoes, Malay essence, Chinese and Indian commercial traditions, scattered rickshaws and a stew of religions,” the paper added. Full story:

New flight route will make HK gateway to Borneo

With the papers inked for the twice-weekly Hong Kong-Kuching-Hong Kong route starting April 2016, the local tourism has some work ahead in preparing to receive visitors from Hong Kong and Southern China. Planet Borneo Group of Companies’ director/principal consultant Gracie Geikei is happy to see that the Hong Kong-Kuching sector is back again. “This will open up markets, making Hong Kong the gateway to Borneo – if we align our tourism marketing efforts to support this,” she told The Borneo Post.

She added that the influx of tourists was very much dependent on the local tourism operators and stakeholders and how the tourism board could work with them to synergise their marketing efforts. “Engagement and execution are vital to ensure we do not miss this opportunity. There have been too many international flights coming in, only to pull out because of poor load.” Gracie opined there were tremendous opportunities for working expatriates in China to visit Sarawak. Full story:

Putrajaya expects 30.5 million tourists to contribute RM103 billion next year

Malaysia are expecting 30.5 million tourists to contribute RM103 billion in revenue to the country next year, said Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz. Nazri was confident that the target could be achieved through various programmes in the pipeline and the existing yearly events, including the festive season open house practised in Malaysia.

“The tourism industry and cultural activities is expanding at a tremendous pace with new approaches like health tourism, education and sports tourism initiatives to attract tourists to historic destinations. For the Tourism and Culture Ministry, the open house concept is not only a yearly event for Christmas and New Year but aimed at boosting the tourism industry, especially in a historical state like Malacca,” he said at a Christmas open house celebration in Bandar Hilir, Melaka. Full story:

Putrajaya’s indoor theme park receives five titles from Malaysia Book of Records

Putrajaya’s District 21 adventure theme park in IOI City Mall was awarded five Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) titles in the presence of finalists of Miss Tourism Queen International 2015. The ceremony saw five different rides in District 21 being awarded MBR titles – the First Indoor Pump Track in Malaysia, First Indoor Rope Course for Children in Malaysia, First Indoor High-Rope Course in Malaysia, First Indoor Roller Glider in Malaysia and First Indoor Maze in Malaysia.

IOI Properties Group Berhad’s Property Investments chief operating officer Cheah Wing Choong said shopping malls have to be innovative and District 21 has successfully managed to attract customers. Cheah also said the rides in the 70,000sq ft theme park were suitable for children, teenagers and adults alike. “We get some 400 to 500 visitors a day and we even had 1,000 visitors on a peak day once. The crowd is bigger during the school holidays,” he added. The theme park also caters to corporate companies looking to use the place for team-building activities as well. Full story:

Etihad teams up with Tourism Malaysia

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has entered into a partnership agreement with Tourism Malaysia, presenting an opportunity for travellers from Kuwait to have the best travel experience in Malaysia.  The agreement was signed during the Expo Milano 2015 exhibition. It is aimed at boosting inbound tourism to Malaysia by leveraging the airline’s global passenger network, Etihad Airways and Tourism Malaysia will put into effect a range of joint marketing activities targeting Malaysia’s leading inbound visitor markets – the UK, US, Europe (Germany, France and Italy), and the Middle East region (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait).

Research by Tourism Malaysia revealed in 2014 there were more than 1.2 million visits from these key markets, a 10 per cent increase compared to 2013. Malaysia is one of the top destinations of Etihad Airways. Since 2007, the airline has carried more than one million passengers to and from the country, offering travellers from all around the world the chance to enjoy the many attractions of the country. Full story:

Exploring Penang the easy way with ELT Passbook

Getting around Penang will now be easier with the newly launched Eat, Look, Tanoshii (ELT) discovery passbook. The 40-page passbook will act as a guide for tourists visiting the state. Its marketing executive Michelle Ng said the book featured all the popular attractions in Penang. “It also has the listing of all the exciting events that should not be missed in 2016.

“The history of cultural and heritage sites are explained,” she said after the launch of the passbook at Straits Quay Retail Marina in Tanjung Tokong recently. She said a tourist who owned this book could enjoy discounts at shops that displayed the ELT logo by showing the passbook. Full story:

12 New Enclosures At Taiping Zoo To Be Completed in 2016

Taiping, Dec 22 – The Taiping Municipal Council (MPT) is confident that the building of 12 new exhibition enclosures at the Taiping Zoo and Night Safari can attract more tourists here in the coming years. MPT’s Tourism Education and Outreach Division chief, Hanim Ramly said the construction of the enclosures worth RM3 million was part of MPT’s programme to to upgrade the facilities at the Taiping Zoo and Night Safari.

“The project does not affect the number of visitors as it has an impact on developing the tourism sector here,” she told Bernama, here, today. Full story:

Rayani Air Will Spur Tourism Sector, Economy In Kelantan

KOota Baharu, Dec 21 (Bernama) — Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant airline, Rayani Air, which started its maiden flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Baharu yesterday, will spur development in the tourism sector and economy in Kelantan.

State Culture, Tourism and Heritage Committee Chairman Datuk Mohd Anizam Abdul Rahman said the flight services offered by the company would also further stimulate the flight services at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa here, which currently provides 44 times daily flights. “We hope the existence of the Shariah-compliant airline would benefit the community in Kelantan and spur the growth of the tourism sector and economy in the state,” he said to reporters here.

Rayani Air’s Boeing 737-400 aircraft landed at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport on Sunday with 150 passengers including 18 orphans from the Taufik Islami Institute, Klang, Selangor. Mohd Anizam said flight service facilities was very important as a transport of choice for tourists to visit Kelantan. Full story:

More Sabah districts attracted to homestay

Sabah’s homestay businesses, which generated RM4.3 million in 2013, have grown exponentially over the last decade, generating around 30 to 40 per cent more business year-on-year. The share of the pie is enjoyed by 18 operators at present, with their businesses riding on the back of steady growth since 2000.

And things may soon change for the better as the tourism industry is now getting back on the rails following the effects of the disappearance of MH370 last year and the Lahad Datu incursion in 2013. According to Sabah Homestay Association President Djuanis Mogirong, business is looking up with already two more homestays in the process of registering with the Tourism and Culture Ministry. “They are the Napunsak Homestay and the Marudu Bay in Kota Marudu,” he said.

“Three or more districts are likely to join the fray, like Kampung Bariawa in Keningau and also Beluran and Pitas, whose village representatives I have met throughout the ministry’s pre-requisite seminars,” he said. Full story:

The news articles above have been compiled from various websites and news portals for the round up of travel and tourism news in Malaysia for December 2015. Happy New Year 2016!

Sabah Earthquake Photo

Those following the recent Sabah Earthquake can get quick updates from this article which highlights the various news agencies updates. Over the weekend, tragic news hit the media where 19 people were confirmed dead from the Ranau Earthquake that shook Mount Kinabalu.

In our earlier Sabah Earthquake update, stranded Kinabalu climbers were making their way down while there are many more updates from the various agencies. Below are the up to date ones from 10.00pm, 5th June 2015 which is 15 hours after the earthquake struck Sabah this morning.

Sabah mulls barring Mount Kinabalu to climbers below 15 – Channel News Asia

  • Sabah is considering the possibility of only allowing children aged above 15 years to climb Mount Kinabalu in the wake of the death of six children in the June 5 earthquake that claimed 16 lives.
  • State education director Jame Alip said he had spoken about the matter to state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun, who is also the state executive councillor in charge of education.

Read more:

Guides killed in earthquake saw tourists stripping on Mt Kinabalu a week before – The Straits Times Singapore

  • Mountain guides Joseph Solugin and Robbi Sappinggi saw the naked foreign tourists at the peak of Mount Kinabalu a week before both were killed in the earthquake.
  • They were hit by falling boulders following the quake on June 5.
  • Mr Solugin’s elder sister Myren said the youngest of 11 siblings looked unhappy after returning from the mountain on May 30.

Read more:

55 Aftershocks Recorded, Last One On Sunday – Brudirect

  • Fifty-five aftershocks of magnitude ranging from 1.9 to 4.3 were recorded after the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Mount Kinabalu and its vicinity at 7.15am on Friday.
  • With the last aftershock recorded at 6am on Sunday with a magnitude of 2.5, Yan believed residents staying at the foot of Mount Kinabalu could heave a sigh of relief.

Rad more:
Nudist tourist’s Facebook post on ‘dumbass’ Sabahans goes viral, attracts death threats – Malaysian Insider

  • In the Facebook post, Emil Kaminski wrote: “… this place is a shithole, but I am stuck here for a few more days until the whole ‘naked-on-a-mountain’ thing dies down. Luckily the dumbasses here have no internet and no idea!”
  • In his post, Kaminski claimed he was in Tawau, and uploaded a photograph of a shop called Kedai Pakcik.
  • But Facebook users were quick to point out that the shop has since closed down, and that the photo was an old one taken from another website.

Read more:

Canadian who stripped on Mount Kinabalu calls minister an idiot, dismisses local culture – Straits Times Singapore

  • A Canadian national claiming to be one of the tourists that posed naked on the peak of Sabah’s Mount Kinabalu has called the experience the “time of my life”, brushing off Kadazan Dusun legend as “superstition” and describing the state tourism minister as an “idiot”.
  • “It is not based in logic, but superstition. I utterly do not care for superstition,” said Emil Kaminski, founder of travel blog Monkeetime, on his Facebook page.

Read more:

Nude tourists shouted vulgarities at mountain guide – The Star

  • The 10 Westerners who stripped and urinated on top of Mount Kinabalu had shouted vulgarities at a mountain guide who asked them to stop their unbecoming behaviour.
  • They not only called him stupid but used the four-letter word and made crude hand gestures at him, according to friends of the 35 year-old guide who escorted the Western climbers on May 10.
  •  When approached by the Star, the guide turned down a request to be interviewed on what transpired on the mountaintop for fear of tampering with police investigations.

Read more:

Kinabalu Nudist

The group of Kinabalu Nudist – Image from The Star

Malaysia DPM experiences aftershocks first hand – AsiaOne

  • It was a day of jitters for people living in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu as a series of aftershocks continued to jolt them.
  • The minor quakes even shook up Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and several VIPs on the grounds of Kinabalu Park here yesterday.
  • The Deputy Prime Minister was hastily evacuated from Kinabalu Park at 1.35pm when the Liwagu building of the headquarters shook from an aftershock.

Read more:
NSC looks into boosting early warning signals – Malay Mail

  • The National Security Council (NSC) has promised to discuss  improving Malaysia’s earthquake early warning system with the Meteorology Department following an earthquake in Sabah Friday that has killed 18 so far.
  • NSC secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab was reported today by Utusan Malaysia saying the country currently has 17 and 28 detectors that can track weak and strong earth movements respectively.

Read more:

Kit Siang to Najib: If you ‘owe Sabah’, oversee post-quake recovery efforts – Malay Mail

  • Lim Kit Siang today chided Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for failing so far to visit the quake-hit areas of Sabah despite having declared just last month that he “owes Sabah”.
  • The DAP veteran said Najib, who is currently on a working visit to Saudi Arabia, could have easily flown to Sabah to visit Ranau and Kinabalu Park before he departed on Saturday night.
  • Read more:

Sabah Earthquake: Singapore and Sabah mourn victims – BBC

  • Singapore and Malaysia’s Sabah state are observing a day of remembrance for those killed in an earthquake on Mount Kinabalu.
  • Sixteen people are confirmed dead after Friday’s 6.0 magnitude quake, which hit the mountain in Sabah on Friday.
  • Among the dead were six Singaporean children on a school trip, along with their teacher and guide.
  • In Singapore, flags are at half-mast and a minute’s silence was observed at Southeast Asian Games venues.

Read more:

Bodies of 5 Tanjong Katong Primary pupils, 1 teacher flown back – Singapore Times

  • The bodies of five more pupils and one teacher from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) have been identified
  • The Ministry of Education (MOE) confirmed on Sunday (June 7) as it gave more details on what happened before a 6.0-magnitude quake struck on Friday (June 5).
  • As of Sunday, six pupils and one teacher are confirmed to have died. The Singaporean adventure guide who was with them on the field trip to Mount Kinabalu died too.

Read more:
Sabah Earthquake: Confirmed Death Toll Now 16 – Malaysia Digest

  • The Search and Rescue (SAR) team combing the slope of Mount Kinabalu for survivors or bodies of climbers caught in the rock fall triggered by the earthquake last Friday morning recovered five more remains of the victims yesterday.
  • This brought the total number of confirmed deaths in the tragedy to 16 with two climbers still listed as missing.
  • This was disclosed to the press by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun at a press conference at the operation centre yesterday.
  • The team also found parts of two bodies that were so badly mangled by the falling rocks that it was impossible to make any positive identification.

Read more:
‘ROCKS THE SIZE OF CARS’ roared down – Malaysia Chronicle

  • Malaysia- Malaysia’s earthquake sent boulders “the size of cars” thundering down the crowded slopes of Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, said a survivor who counted himself lucky to be alive as he described the terrifying scene.
  • Mohammad Razif Hadzri was among more than 150 people on or near the wide summit of the mountain, a popular destination for hikers and climbers, when the 6.0-magnitude quake struck on Friday morning.
  • Razif, a Malaysian, and six friends were enjoying the stunning views across the Borneo rainforest from the 4,095-metre-high (13,435-foot) mountain when it began to rumble.

Read more:
Internet raises $33,000 in 24 hours for late ‘hero guide’ – AsiaOne

  • In only 24 hours, more than RM93,000 (S$33,000) in donations have poured in from all corners of the globe for Robbi Sapinggi, the “hero mountain guide” who lost his life protecting those under his care during the recent Sabah earthquake.
  • In the wake of his death, Robbi’s colleagues from Sabah-based tour operator Amazing Borneo started up a campaign on Saturday via crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise funds for Robbi’s family.
  • By Sunday night, RM93,067.23 was donated by 500 people. The amount is more than double the original RM37,609 targeted by the campaign.

Read more:
Sabah official blames Malaysia earthquake on naked tourists – ThaiVisa

  • A group of tourists who stripped naked on top of Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia are being blamed for Friday’s earthquake which killed at least 16 people.
  • Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, deputy chief minister of the state of Sabah where the quake was centred, has condemned the “uncivilized and disrespectful” actions. He called for the culprits to be brought to a native court and charged according to local customs.
  • “Whether other people believe this or not, it’s what we Sabahans believe. When the earthquake happened, it’s like a confirmation of our beliefs,” the Malay Mail online quoted Pairin saying.

Read more:

Sabah quake: First body brought to base camp – The Star

  • The first body of earthquake victims at Mount Kinabalu was brought down to the foothill base camp at about 8.30pm Friday.
  • The remains of local mountain guide Robi Sapinggi, 30, was brought down from Laban Rata where he was found trapped in between rocks.
  • The casualties are expected to increase as rescuers continue to reach an area where 10 people were reported to be unconscious at the Via Feratta route on the mountain.
  • Three other guides are also trapped among boulders in the same area.

Full Story:

Sabah quake claims two lives, aftershock felt at 9.10pm – Rakyat Post

  • Two bodies arrived at the Timpohon Gate, the gateway to Mount Kinabalu, just 15 minutes apart today.
  • This follows the strong earthquake that shook parts of Sabah this morning.
  • It is not known whether they fell while climbing the mountain or were hit by falling rocks.
  • The first body was carried down by mountain guides at 8.30pm and the second arrived at 8.45pm.
  • The identities of the two casualties were not immediately known.
  • Meanwhile, another tremor was felt at 9.10pm and people were seen running out of buildings at the National Park here.

Full Story:

Sabah minister confirms four injured, two missing on Mount Kinabalu after quake – Malay Mail

  • Officials have confirmed that four climbers were injured on Mount Kinabalu while two operators of the via ferrata trail have gone missing after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck Sabah’s west coast this morning.
  • Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said in an official statement issued at around 3pm that 160 climbers are stranded, though there have not been any fatalities linked to the earthquake.

Full Story:

Sabah quake: Water at hot spring turns black – The Star

  • The water at Poring Hot Springs near Friday’s 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck at 7.17am has turned black.
  • Poring Hot Springs and Nature Reserve office confirmed that the water has changed colour.
  • “Yes, the water is black. But we don’t know why,” said an employee.
  • A picture of the dark coloured water has been making its rounds on social media, sparking worry among residents.

Full Story:

Majority Of Singaporeans In Quake-hit Sabah Safe – Bernama News

  • The foreign affairs ministry has confirmed that the majority of Singaporeans in quake-hit Sabah are safe.
  • In a statement responding to media queries on the 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Sabah Friday, a ministry spokesman said:
  • “There are more than 100 registered Singaporeans at the time of the earthquake in Sabah.

Full Story:

Sabah Earthquake – Army Troops on Standby to be Deployed – Bernama

  • Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said army troops were on standby and ready to be deployed to assist in rescue operations following the 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Ranau, Sabah state,which occurred at 7.15am today.
  • “This involves one battalion in Kota Kinabalu and one battalion in Labuan, in addition to the existing troops from Kota Kinabalu,” he said on his Twitter posting.

Full Story:

MOE still trying to reach 8 students, 2 teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School – Singapore Straits Times

  • Eight students and two teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School are still unaccounted for after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Mount Kinabalu, Sabah in Malaysia on Friday.
  • In a statement on Friday evening, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said the remaining 21 students and six teachers from the primary school have been accounted for.

Full Story:

Sabah quake strongest to hit Malaysia since 1976 – Malaysian Insider

  • The 6.0-magnitude earthquake centred in Ranau, Sabah, today, has set the record of being the strongest earthquake to have hit Malaysia in 39 years since 1976.
  • The moderate earthquake has broken the strongest earthquake record set in 1976, when an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale struck Lahad Datu,
    causing heavy damage to property and cracks in buildings.

Full Story: