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Pahang launches new tourism campaign with target to attract 8 million tourists - January 18, 2022

KUANTAN: "This is Pahang 2022-Unlimited" has been picked as the state's new tourism theme as part of a strategy to revive the industry which targets to attract eight million visitors this year. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said after experiencing a drop in tourists following the Covid-19 pandemic, the fresh initiative will help steer the state's tourism goal to emerge as a top destination in the post-pandemic era. "The target is domestic tourists as the arrivals of international visitors might be a little slow....we hope to attract between seven and eight million visitors this year and if we can achieve 10 million visitors in 2022 then that is commendable. Although some destinations in Janda Baik (Bentong) and Temerloh are still closed due to the floods, other popular destinations including Taman Negara (Jerantut) and Cameron Highlands are open.

"Pahang achieved seven million visitors in 2020 before recording a drop to a million last year largely due to the movement control order and pandemic outbreak. The government has implemented several measures to curb the outbreak and we hope this will boost visitors' confidence to travel to Pahang," he told reporters after the "This is Pahang 2022 - Unlimited" launching ceremony at a hotel here last night. The Regent of Pahang, Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah had earlier launched the ceremony before presenting tourism awards to 111 individuals consisting industry players, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, tour operators and agencies. Also present was Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail. Meanwhile, Sharkar said he was informed by Tourism Pahang that hotel reservations at popular destinations in Pahang which were spared by the recent floods have been booked up till April this year.  "This is a good early sign that the industry is recovering and the state will continue with its promotions to draw people here. Instead of only focusing on the existing destinations, we will promote new activities and potential destinations.

"Unlike previous years, Menteri Besar (Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail) had announced a huge budget amounting RM8.4 million for the tourism sector when tabling the state's 2022 Budget last year. This will certainly help with the promotional activities to revive the tourism industry across Pahang to get back on track," he said, adding Pahang was awarded as the best domestic tourism destination by the Malaysia Tourism Council last year. Meanwhile, Sharkar said two new programmes - Pahang Ocean Canoe International Challenge and Pahang Hiking Week - will be making their debuts in the tourism calendar this year. "The multi-day canoe ocean race will see participants travelling about 240km from the Chendor beach in Cherating (Terengganu border) to Pantai Hiburan in Rompin (Johor border). Technical experts are looking into the event as we will comply with international will be held in the second half of the year.

"The Pahang Hiking week will help promote recreational hiking spots in Pahang and it will be held simultaneously in several districts. Aspiring hikers will be provided with a list of hiking spots which they are comfortable to climb as this programme aims to help encourage a healthy lifestyle," he said.In his speech earlier Sharkar said the word "Unlimited" or "tiada had" in Malay which is used in the new theme carries the meaning that Pahang is fortunate for having a wide variety of attractions, ranging from highlands to forest, beaches and islands.

Floods: Janda Baik expected to incur RM12m in losses in 4 months - January 10, 2022

BENTONG: Pahang's popular tourist spot, Janda Baik, is expected to suffer losses amounting to about RM12 million as some of its locations are unable to operate for four months following the recent devastating floods that hit these areas. State Tourism, Environment, Culture, Plantations and Commodities Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said among the areas most badly affected by the floods last Dec 18 was Pulau Santap, a major recreation spot in Janda Baik. He said 33 of the 54 resorts and chalets in Janda Baik were destroyed with the costs to be incurred estimated at between RM157,500 and RM6 million for each affected resort or chalet. "We will ask the federal government to assist in their recovery process through a special allocation with priority given to repairing the damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges and public areas. 

"We are also asking for consideration be given to the tourism operators here who wish to obtain a flexible loan facility to repair or rebuild their resorts or chalets soonest possible and which will cost a lot." Sharkar said this at a news conference here today after viewing the destruction around Pulau Santap caused by the recent floods. Also present was Tourism Pahang general manager Kamaruddin Ibrahim. According to him, Tourism Pahang would also be listing the locations in Janda Baik that were forced to temporarily close as well as the resorts and chalets which could still receive tourists, for their reference.  "We hope that Janda Baik can operate again as soon as possible as tourism is a source of income for many of the local residents. About 300 workers are affected by the temporary closure of the resorts and chalets here. "Also affected are the other economic activities that depend on tourism such as the food business, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rental and horse riding because before the floods, Janda Baik had been seeing a lot of visitors each weekend," he said.

Asked if the floods could affect the Visit Pahang Year relaunching plan this year, after being shelved for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sharkar said they would be focusing on other areas that were not affected by the floods such as Cameron Highlands, Fraser's Hill, Cherating in Kuantan and Pulau Tioman, Rompin. For the other flood-hit tourism locations like Taman Negara in Jerantut, Sungai Lembing in Kuantan and Lanchang in Temerloh as the "centre of Peninsular Malaysia", he said the recovery works were scheduled for completion soon. – Bernama

Source: NST

Restoration works can help return Tasik Chini as popular tourist spot- December 9, 2021

KUANTAN: As the Pahang government carries out restoration and rehabilitation works at biodiversity-rich Tasik Chini in Pekan, efforts are already underway to revive the area as a popular tourist spot. State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin said while initiatives to restore greenery around the country's second-largest freshwater lake is carried out, the facilities and accessibility at the lake will be improved to help regain its popularity.

"Yes, Tasik Chini has seen a drop in visitors over the past two to three years as the place was not well-maintained. Now, while the state government is committed towards conserving the Tasik Chini Unesco Biosphere Reserve, it will look into ways to provide the necessary facilities to lure visitors. "Besides improving the resort at the lake, promotion activities will be carried out extensively. The carrying capacity (quantity of people) visiting the lake is vital to ensure the vicinity is well-protected," he said at the state legislative assembly sitting. The Lanchang assemblyman was replying to a question from Sim Chon Siang (PKR-Teruntum) on efforts to attract visitors to the famous Tasik Chini.

Earlier, replying to a question from Mohd Sharim Md Zain (BN-Chini) on measures taken by the state government to conserve the Tasik Chini resort, Sharkar said a special action committee to look into the conservation efforts has been set up. "All conservation efforts are in line with rehabilitation efforts at the lake. The state government has agreed to expand the Tasik Chini Unesco Biosphere Reserve area from 6,922 hectares to 9,147 hectares.

"The rehabilitation steps include building a fish nursery, replanting trees and ground cover plants. It will be done in stages with the involvement of several government agencies namely the Forestry Department, Fisheries Department, Wildlife and National Parks Department, and Forest Research Institute Malaysia," he said. Last week, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail had said that there was now zero-mining activities near the lake and a moratorium has been imposed on the issuance of new licences for mining at the site. Wan Rosdy who recently visited the lake to inspect the rehabilitation progress, said rehabilitation works, which began in August, are proceeding as scheduled. On June 25, Wan Rosdy announced that rehabilitation works at an area spanning 600ha in Tasik Chini, which had been affected by mining activities, was estimated to cost about RM20 million.

Source: NST

A time for Malaysians to chill in the highlands - Disember 24, 2021

Want to go on a "snowy" holiday but don't really want to fly overseas? Well, you can always drive up to the highlands instead. Genting Highlands in Pahang, that is. Resorts World Genting invites guests to join its annual Genting Winter Wonderland celebrations, where the snow falls a few times a day and the light dances on the lake. This special year-end programme will run until Jan 2. During this time, lots of Christmas-themed shows and activities have been lined up to entertain guests.

Head to the outdoor theme park SkyWorlds from 4pm to see elves prancing and dancing, and the "Crazy Custodians" acting silly and interacting with the crowd, making sure everyone adheres to social distancing guidelines. Look out for the Goofy Grannies' hilarious performances, too. At the Central Park Garden, enjoy some live music and skit shows by The Tinseltones, the Covid Conductors and more.

The highlight of the day would be the mesmerising light shows at the Lake Of Dreams, where there are two choreographs to check out – Power Of Love and I Believe. This is when colourful laser beams dance on the water, following every rhythm and beat of the songs. From 9pm, featured DJs will take over with some pumping tunes for folks who miss the clubbing scene. In between the shows, you can also try your hand at playing some carnival games, where you can win gigantic soft toys for yourself or loved ones. If you're feeling adventurous, you can take a ride on the ESD Global Defender, which is kind of like a big spaceship that goes round and round. There are several fast food stalls, some restaurants and food courts operating within the park too. SkyWorlds closes at midnight, except today (Christmas) and on New Year's Eve, where it closes at 11.30pm to make way for a specially curated countdown show. Entrance to the park is also free, so even if you're not interested in the shows or games, you can still enjoy the winter wonderland atmosphere of the park.

Meanwhile, at SkyTropolis, the indoor theme park, things are also looking very festive with the help of some digital art and light installation works. All the rides have now reopened, and are operating at half the usual capacity to keep in line with the standard operating procedures set by authorities. The highlights of the park include the Super Glider ride, a suspended lie-down coaster with sharp turns, curves and sudden drops; the Disco!, a giant spinning disc that travels with increasing velocity, swings and rotates rapidly; and Spin Crazy, a pendulum with 360° spins in the air. Suffice it to say, some of these rides are not for the faint-hearted! Over at the VR section, "treat" yourself to some thrilling virtual reality experiences with the RoboCoaster, SkyGlider and Vortex. All seats and equipment are cleaned and sanitised after each use.

For more information, head to the Resorts World Genting website ( Source: The Star

#JOM! GO: Mountain magic - December 9, 2021

In conjunction with International Mountain Day that falls on Dec 11, David Bowden highlights 10 upland locations in the country IN 2003, the United Nations General Assembly declared from then on, Dec 11 would be recognised as International Mountain Day.With the world celebrating so many 'days', like World Toothache Day, World Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and World Flight Procrastination Day, International Mountain Day (IMD) could easily have come and gone before anyone sat up and paid attention. 

However, the UN backing of IMD ensured its prolonged existence, especially with its focus not just on the physical structures of mountains, but also on sustainable development, inclusion of minority groups and alleviating poverty for those who are dependent on mountains. Mountains are important as some 15 per cent of the world's population live in such terrain. People choose to live in mountainous regions for many reasons, including the availability of fertile volcanic soil, clean water and cool weather, but most importantly, because they often have no choice as they are born there. Those who live in mountains have to endure volcanic eruptions, landslides, avalanches, mudslides and adverse weather. Mountains are also important for tourism and the challenge of ascending these lofty heights is regularly taken up by many. While Malaysia is not overly mountainous, there are some mountains and hills that attract climbers and general sightseers.

While thinking of these and developing a list, I ponder the difference between a mountain (gunung) and a hill (bukit). The first reference I unearth suggests that a mountain is an elevated upland covered in snow and had I adopted this as a definition, my Malaysian IMD would be a very short list indeed (snow and ice are rarely recorded at the summit of Gunung Kinabalu). Then there is a reference that stated mountains are steep and hills are rounded. That, too, is unacceptable due to the difficulty in defining "steep" and "rounded". Another stated that mountains are taller than hills and while this gains acceptance, but by how much?

The most appropriate definition I come across is that mountains are elevated uplands exceeding 610m and hills are below this. Here are 10 upland locations to consider for a cool change. 


In complete contrast to Fraser's Hill, the Resorts World Genting development on Gunung Ulu Kali at 1,800m above sea level is a mountain summit devoted to entertainment, recreation and tourism. Many more people are prepared to take the long and winding road to the summit or ride the cable car that departs from Awana SkyWay at Genting Highlands Premium Outlets. Visitors are attracted to Resorts World Genting for its numerous dining, shopping and thrilling entertainment options. Accommodation ranges from the prestigious Crockfords Hotel to the First World Hotel, which is not only the world's largest hotel but also friendly on the wallet. 


At 2,032m, it is the highest mountain in Cameron Highlands that is accessible by road. However, it's worth noting that the road isn't in good condition so this deters many from making the attempt. Those who persevere are rewarded with expansive views over tea estates and a short walk through a mossy forest at the summit (alternatively, join an organised 4x4 vehicle excursion to the summit on the Pahang-Perak border).

Mossy forest is limited in extent in Malaysia and is such a fragile ecosystem that an elevated boardwalk passing over the spongy moss forest floor has been installed at Gunung Batu Brinchang and an entry fee is charged. The forest is permanently damp due to low-lying cloud, which makes its alternative name of cloud forest easy to understand. Because these forests occur at high altitude, they are also called montane forests. Pitcher plants, orchids, conifers and gnarly dwarf trees are common and along with the misty fog that often lingers, these forests fascinate photographers for their eerie and mysterious ambiance. 


Interestingly, Fraser's Hill is technically not a 'hill' because this old colonial outpost actually extends over several rolling hills. At an altitude of about 1,450m, Fraser's Hill was recognised in the 1920s as a suitably cool location for soldiers who had returned from World War I to recuperate. Once the plan gained traction, its development was reasonably rapid as several small hospitals were established (Ye Olde Smokehouse began as a hospital), and then public facilities as well as private and government holiday bungalows were erected. This all happened when travelling in Malaya was quite an adventure in an era when few holiday destinations were available. Now holidaymakers have many more options and as a result, Fraser's Hill is locked in a time warp. However, for those who enjoy a cool holiday in forested surroundings where very little happens, Fraser's Hill is a perfect location.


The 1,175m peak of Gunung Jerai on the Kedah coast overlooking the Straits of Malacca has been a beacon for navigation for centuries. For over 1,300 years, Kedah has been closely linked to trade routes as it was the first land contact for ships that sailed from India, powered by the trade winds. No doubt, Gunung Jerai was the landmark mariners headed for as it was the most obvious landform looming ominously on the horizon. The mountain is visible on a clear day from many kilometres away, including Penang. There is a road to the summit and from here, Langkawi and Penang are clearly visible rising above extensive padi fields that surround the mountain. Jerai Hill Resort offers chalet accommodation, a pool, restaurant and cool weather. 


Langkawi's second highest mountain at 713m is more developed than Gunung Raya. Access is via what is considered one of the steepest cable cars in the world with spectacular views of lowland rainforest over which it passes. The mountain is part of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Geopark and recognised for its 550-million-year-old sandstone rocks. While most visitors travel up and back on the cable car, the adventurous may want to walk with the trek down being the preferred direction. Getting an experienced nature guide is recommended. The journey to the summit commences at Oriental Village with a range of shops, restaurants and activities and once at the peak, there are more outlets for refuelling and shopping. From the top station, visitors can walk across a skybridge over a deep rocky and forested gorge and also admire the view, including peering into the islands of southern Thailand. 


Malaysia's highest peak at 4,095m is a hotbed of biodiversity with some 5,000 plant species identified within this 750sq km park in Sabah. While the challenge of a two-day climb to the summit attracts adventurous travellers, the cooler weather appeals to many who are content to relax in the facilities at Park Headquarters. Tourism authorities once claimed Kinabalu to be Southeast Asia's highest peak, but the mountain is a dwarf when compared with the snow-capped Mount Hkakako Razi in northern Myanmar at 5,881m. Regardless of the claim, Kinabalu is still a prominent mountain and conquering it has long been on the travel itineraries of many. This volcanic remnant comprising mostly granite is exposed at the summit where it is too cold for plants to survive. The summit climb requires no special abilities apart from good health and endurance. The mountain has special significance to the local Dusun people, many of whom work in the park (the name Kinabalu is supposedly derived from Dusun for 'big boulder'). Guides who lead groups of adventurers to the summit are mostly local Dusun. Visitors can stay in park accommodation, private chalets near the park entrance or in nearby Kundasang. 


This is the highest peak on the island of Langkawi. Many parts of this resort island were granted Unesco Geopark status in recognition of its ancient geological formations. Gunung Raya is geologically very different from Langkawi's second highest mountain — Machinchang. Gunung Raya comprises granite, an igneous rock that formed 230 million years ago deep within the Earth's surface in what is called a batholith. Later, plate tectonics forced the rocks to the surface. Visitors can drive or walk (a steep 3km with 4,287 steps and best led by a guide) to the summit at 881m above sea level. Birdwatchers especially enjoy this part of Langkawi as the road enables good views over the island, where eagles soar and into the rainforest canopy where hornbills often feed. 


Mount Santubong, at 810m, is clearly visible from many parts around the Sarawak capital of Kuching. In the 1850s, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace collected samples of the flora and fauna, and worked here on what became known as the 'Sarawak Law'. Concurrently but independently, Charles Darwin was developing concepts he published as: 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life'. Darwin's work became better known as the Theory of Evolution, one of natural science's most important theories. The research papers of both men were presented simultaneously at London's Linnaean Society on July 1, 1858. Darwin's concepts became better known, but those climbing to the summit of Gunung Santubong can reflect upon the significant place that it plays in natural science. While its height appears modest, the ascent isn't easy with near-vertical ladder climbs close to the summit. Climbers need to be fit, well-prepared, well-equipped and to start early as return walks take most of the day. Views over the Damai Peninsula and the South China Sea are the reward at the end of a strenuous climb. 


Often regarded as the world's first hill station, Penang Hill (833m), as it's officially known, became increasingly popular in the early 19th century as a cool destination to escape to for the colonialists working in George Town. Initially, employees of the East India Company rode horses or were carried by coolies bearing sedan-chairs up the steep slopes of Penang Hill. Now, a funicular railway ensures a quick ascent to the summit. In the early days, bungalows were erected across the upper reaches of the hill and small hotels like Bellevue followed (the hotel is still there). It was only natural that the governor would build his own bungalow, and with the Union Jack flying, Penang Hill became known as Bukit Bendera. 


At 2,197m, Gunung Tahan is the highest peak on the peninsula. Located on the Pahang and Kelantan border, the climb to the summit and back from Taman Negara Park Headquarters is a hard and long slog. Experienced and well-equipped climbers head off for the seven-day return trek with a guide while other trekkers enter the park from Merapoh on the park's western border. The staging point for this shorter, but still multi-day walk is via the Sungai Relau Park Headquarters, which is accessible by road or for the adventurous, by trains on the East Coast Line from Gemas to Tumpat.

Source: NST

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