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Taman Negara hotelier sets up FB page featuring local 'new norm' travel deals - June 13, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The travel industry has been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and compared to other industries, it might take longer to recover. This was the view shared by many operators in the industry, including Mutiara Taman Negara Kuala Tahan Pahang director of sales and marketing, Kingston Khoo. "As a hotelier and former travel agent, it was heartbreaking to see many of my industry friends being hit hard by the economic effects of Covid-19. But other than offering words of encouragement, there was nothing much else I could do as I was financially impacted myself." But Khoo did one simple act. He created 'Movement Control Order (MCO) Travel Deals', a Facebook page for travel deals in Malaysia to help fellow industry players to reach out to potential customers faster and in a more targeted manner. The page has over 130 industry players offering attractions and hotels or travel companies that are ready to welcome visitors with the strict new norms in health and safety procedures.

"Malaysians looking for local getaways could find what they want in a quicker, cheaper, and safer way. We ensure that we feature only reputed operators that are committed to the 'new normal' in standard operating procedures (SOPs)," he said, adding responses on the page have been very positive with the reopening of domestic travel under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO). He said Malaysians are already looking forward to a short break to recharge and relax. "There has been keen interest especially for beach and nature destinations," said Khoo, adding there are many inquiries on good value staycation hotels in major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Penang. Another heartwarming trend is special promotions for front liners in appreciation of their efforts and contributions, as they are the ones who deserve a break.

To date, the MCO Travel Deals Facebook page features 136 deals with almost 1,300 followers in just a few weeks after the page was created on May 20. Among the best promotions on the page are Vouk Hotel Penang, which offers an RM88 per room per night deal. Another highlight is The Danna Langkawi which is going for RM488 per room per night under its Merchant Room deal, which is inclusive of breakfast for two persons (with a complimentary upgrade to the next category subject to availability, as well as other benefits) for stay validity till Aug 31. The Upper View Regalia Hotel KL is also offering its Executive Skyline Room for just RM220 per room per night.

In fact, Mutiara Taman Negara is also offering a stay for just RM230 per room per night (inclusive of breakfast for two persons and an RM30 F&B voucher) for stay validity till June 30 next year, which is normally sold around RM520. Mutiara Taman Negara is set to reopen on June 26 to ensure that they are fully ready for the 'new norm'. "By being a resort that is spread out over a very large area of more than 15 acres (6.07ha) and by being the only resort within the national park boundary, we are very fortunate that social distancing comes 'naturally' for our guests but despite that, we are strictly adhering to the health and safety SOPs set by the relevant ministries under the RMCO," said Khoo. On top of these measures, he added, the resort has SOPs put in place to ensure the safety of guests which include guests' requirements to fill up a short questionnaire prior to arriving, temperature checks and basic screening at the entrance to Taman Negara and resort facilities.

It would also maintain adequate social distancing at all restaurants and public spaces, while jungle activities will be carried out in smaller groups (maximum of 10 persons to a group). All of the activities and attractions will be available except for night jungle tours as they foresee that it would be difficult to ensure social distancing in the dark.

According to him, these promotions might help to get things rolling in the recovery of the travel industry. He added that the Mutiara's Crazy Offer which offers a Buy-Now-Stay-Later deal has been extremely well received with more than 500 bookings in just a few days after its launch. "Based on inquiries we have been receiving, many prefer destinations that are accessible by car and would like to avoid airplanes, trains or ferries. "Fortunately, we fit these criteria as it only takes four and a half hours to drive to Kuala Tahan from Kuala Lumpur where you would just need to cross the Tembeling River (a two- minute boat ride) to get to Taman Negara," he said.

Taman Negara has been known as a must-visit for tourists from all around the world for a couple of decades now. This has prompted many locals to also want to visit this gem in their own backyard. It is one of the oldest rainforests in the world, which is estimated to be 130 million years old, and the largest national park in Asia at 4,343 sq km.

Caption: Mutiara Taman Negara Kuala Tahan Pahang director of sales and marketing, Kingston Khoo.

Berjaya Tioman Resort to close - June 12, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Berjaya Tioman Resort at Pulau Tioman in Pahang is due to close on June 15. The resort on its Facebook page said its operations are ceasing due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has adversely impacted the tourism industry. "Throughout this closure, the management will embark on a much-needed major redevelopment to revitalize the resort which is more than 50 years old," it said. "Our hearts go out to those who are affected by this closure," said the notice.

"It is with deep regret that retrenchment will be carried out and all affected employees will be fairly compensated in accordance with the Collective Agreement and the Employment Act, amounting to compensation of more than RM8 million." The notice further stated that upon completion of the redevelopment exercise, the management would consider offering new employment opportunities to all its affected employees. "Thank you for your dedication and for staying with the resort through thick and thin," it added. The four-star resort, which comprises 268 rooms and suites, is managed by Berjaya Hotels and Resorts, which is a division of Berjaya Land Berhad.

Berjaya Land is a subsidiary of Berjaya Corporation Berhad. In Malaysia, the company owns hotels and resorts in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Penang, Langkawi, Pulau Redang, and Bukit Tinggi. Its website also lists hotels and resorts it owns in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

Stranded tourists finally leave Pulau Tioman - May 17, 2020

ROMPIN: After being stranded on Pulau Tioman for almost two months, Frenchman Catroux Christian, 67, and his wife, Marie Claire, 66, were among 17 foreign tourists who left the island on Friday, taking with them memories of their long stay there. "I expected nothing special on my 67th birthday on May 1, but it turned out to be the sweetest memory that I will cherish forever," said Christian. He said when he heard a knock on his room door in the morning of May 1, he did not think much of it as he was not expecting any guest, and it was too early for hotel staff to do housekeeping. "The knocking didn't stop. When I opened the door, surprise! Hotel staff sang Happy Birthday, and gave me a cake and asked me to blow the candles. It was unexpected and sweet of them to cheer me and my wife up as we felt a little stressed the day before. "We arrived on the island in the middle of March and planned to stay for a week. We had bought tickets to continue our holiday in Jakarta, Bandung and Bali in Indonesia. However, we got stranded on the island when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented," he said at Tanjung Gemok Jetty here on Friday.

He and his wife said they were grateful to be stranded on Tioman as there were no Covid-19 cases on the island. Frenchman Hobert Benjamin, 42, said the MCO allowed him to experience Malaysian hospitality as hotel staff, the authorities and locals tried their best to ensure he got the best care. "Hotel staff would ask about my condition almost every day and told me not to be shy to ask for help if I needed anything. I tried lots of local food, such as nasi kandar, nasi ayam and kuih, thanks to locals who introduced them to me."

Pahang Human Resources, Youth, Sports and Non-Governmental Organisations Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Johari Hussain said the state government provided a speedboat to take the foreign tourists to the mainland before they boarded a bus to Kuala Lumpur. "They've undergone health screenings, including temperature checks, with the state Health Department and only those who are free from Covid-19 symptoms are allowed to leave. --Bernama

Taman Negara looking forward to operation under new normal - May 25, 2020

JERANTUT: Tourism industry operators in Taman Negara here are gearing up to reopen their businesses under the new normal due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although tourism activities at the national park, one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, came to a standstill since March 18, resort and chalet operators along with tour guides looked at things on the bright side. Pahang Tourism and Culture Ministry chairman Datuk Idrus Yahya said the two months Movement Control Order (MCO) has prompted tourism industry operators to revise their business promotions and make the necessary improvements to help lure visitors. "Some of the operators were relying on old tourism advertisements or promotional videos for their products. Now they have produced new ones with fresh ideas. Some even took the opportunity to learn to make their own online videos and advertisements....once they share it with us, we will help them with the promotional campaigns.

"Marketing strategies are crucial for tourism products so the operators have been studying the possible new tourism potentials near the national park and making the necessary adjustments in order to attract tourists. They joined several social media chat groups to brainstorm fresh ideas and assist each other in the industry," he said when contacted. Idrus said in the past that some of the operators might not have been social media savvy but now understood the importance of the platform and seized the opportunity to learn more especially to help promote their business. Meanwhile, he said the operators in Taman Negara were already drafting standard operating procedures (SOP) for tourism activities under the new normal once the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) is lifted.

He said although the National Security Council (NSC) will be responsible for the SOP the guidelines provided by the local tour guides and operators will provide additional measures at the national park. "The experienced tourism operators here certainly know about safety, and interest of the visitors will be given top priority in drafting the SOP. To ensure proper coordination, the SOPs are shared among the tourism operators and non-governmental organizations involved in tourism. "The tourism industry landscape at the national park will certainly see some changes and everyone has to be prepared to face it. The industry might experience some challenging times but everyone has to work together to overcome it," he said.

Meanwhile, a tour guide who declined to be named said although Taman Negara was set to embrace a new tourism environment once the CMCO ends, he hopes that the SOP for visitors will be more lenient. "Visitors come to the rainforest to release stress and enjoy the amazing surroundings. They can practice social distancing but maybe not required to wear face mask....allow visitors to explore the natural environment," he said, adding Taman Negara remained as a green zone with no Covid-19 cases although the Jerantut district was once a red zone. Meanwhile, the PahangStory Facebook page wrote that Kuala Tahan has a total of 2,234 villagers whereby 568 of them rely on the eco-tourism from the national park by taking up jobs as chalet operators, boat operators, tour guides and floating restaurant operators in Sungai Tembeling.Source - NST

Pahang hotel stays open for frontliners - April 22, 2020

KUANTAN: Just when most hotels decide to close its doors due to the Covid-19 scare, a hotelier in Indera Mahkota here choose to "remain in business". However, instead of accepting room bookings from guests, the owner Pajan Singh has been providing frontliners battling the Covid-19 pandemic in the state to stay for free at his premises — Veer Hotel — which has 35 rooms. The Civil Defence Force personnel (APM) and National Security Council (NSC) staff have been occupying his premises here since March 25, and the 55-year-old is more than happy to accommodate them until the MCO is lifted. The father-of-three said he understood the struggles faced by some of the frontliners who were required to travel to neighbouring states and various districts in Pahang in order to carry out their duties and even lacked proper rest. "Since my premises was closed due to the MCO and there were rooms available, I decided to offer the frontliners to stay for free. "I informed the Pahang Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac) chairman (Datuk Idrus Yahya) on March 23 and he shared the news with the relevant parties. "Two days later, an officer from MKN visited the hotel to check on the premises before arrangements were made for a group of APM personnel and MKN staff to move into the building which can accommodate about 80 people.

"I sometimes met some of them at the lobby and they are grateful for the resting facilities," he said today. Pajan who has been in the hotel industry for about eight years, said he was concerned with some of the frontliners who had no access to proper accommodation after a long journey due to work commitments. "Some were having a tough time to find a decent place for a proper shower and rest. "These days, I noticed that some of the personnel would return past midnight and then leave to work early in the morning.... the personnel are sacrificing their time and energy, and being in the hospitality industry, this is my small contribution in assisting them. "We provide the frontliners with the essential room services without any charges. "Since, we have the same group of individuals occupying the rooms, it is a little easier for us to coordinate them during their stay," he said, thanking Motac and the Pahang government for the opportunity to serve the society.

Pajan, who manages the hotel with his wife and 24-year-old daughter, said he had another hotel nearby and was prepared to open the premises for frontliners should the current one reached full occupancy. Meanwhile, Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel lauded Pajan's decision saying although the industry was badly hit due to the pandemic, some hoteliers were trying to alleviate the burden of the frontliners. "Some hoteliers have offered their premises as quarantine centres for Malaysians returning from overseas while in Pahang, Pajan is offering those battling the pandemic to stay for free. "Malaysians are rallying together to battle the Covid-19 during these tough times." he said. Source-NST

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