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Tengku Abdullah: No sacrificing appeal for development : February 14, 2018

KUANTAN: There will be no compromise on environmental issues in the state, no matter how serious the development to promote the tourism industry is, said Regent of Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah. He said Pahang’s environment and natural assets were sought after and made the state the preferred destination for tourists. “Pahang is famous for its flora and fauna in Taman Negara, Taman Negeri Endau-Rompin, Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill and Pulau Tioman, apart from its beaches, food, and culture. “If the environment is destroyed, there will be an impact on these places and affect our attractions.

“We have been proactive in promoting Pahang using various ways and strategies. However, when it concerns the environment, there should not be any compromise,” Tengku Abdullah said in his speech at an appreciation event for tourism players and media members. Tengku Abdullah also launched the “Revisit Pahang 2018” campaign to follow up on the successful “Visit Pahang Year 2017”.

Present at the event were Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, state tourism and culture committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin, Tourism Pahang general manager Datuk Ishak Mokhtar, and Tourism and Culture Ministry Pahang Office director Datuk Idros Yahya.Tengku Abdullah said the state’s tourism promotion could carry the tagline “Pahang, Truly Malaysia” because its neighbors Terengganu, Kelantan, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, and Perak were easily accessible to tourists visiting Pahang.

“In fact, we can launch ‘Revisit Pahang Forever’ here because the Pahang tourism sector has been playing an active role in promoting the state,” he said. Tengku Abdullah said during a visit to Cambodia, he found traditional food from Pahang sold there, proving that promoting Pahang as a tourist destination was viable.

Earlier, Adnan said in his speech that tourists benefitted the people economically. “The government did not gain much revenue from the tourism sector but the players, villagers, hoteliers, food producers and so on have gained economic returns directly from the spending power of the tourists. “The government provides the infrastructure and facilities for the tourists and their spending has generated income and revenue for tourism players and supporting groups,” he said.


Genting Malaysia near-term prospects clouded by higher costs - February 8, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Equities Research sees Genting Malaysia’s near-term outlook clouded by higher costs as it retains its FY17-19F earnings forecasts. The research house said on Thursday it is expecting the group to chart earnings growth of 24% on-year for FY18F on the back of normalising VIP hold rates as well as gaming volumes for its casinos in Malaysia.  “Nonetheless, we retain our Hold call as we think that Genting Malaysia’s short-term earnings growth from the new Genting Integrated Tourism Plan (GITP) has been priced in its valuations at 9x CY19F EV/EBITDA (in line with Genting Malaysia’s 10-year EV/EBITDA mean). Our RNAV-based target price of RM5.45 remains unchanged,” it said.

CIMB Research recently met up with the group to discuss Genting Malaysia’s near-term earnings prospects, which mainly centred on the timeline for the opening of its multiyear renovation and development of the GITP project as well as key strategies for 2018.  “In our view, we think that the escalating operating and depreciation costs could outpace Genting Malaysia’s revenue growth from its new facilities in the near term, thus putting pressure on margins, at least for 1H18,” it said.

The research house said following lacklustre earnings over the past few quarters (due to a poorer VIP hold rate percentage), it believes that there could be a sequential improvement in the earnings in 4Q17.  This is on the back of the normalisation of VIP win rates, tracking closer to its theoretical rate of c.2.5-3% and seasonally higher business volumes for both the VIP and mass market due to year-end holidays and festivities.

To recap, 3Q17 VIP volumes were up “double-digit” while non-VIP volumes were up “single-digit” quarter-on-quarter. Genting Malaysia is aiming to re-open part of its indoor theme park (closed since April 2017), which will feature 18 new rides, before the 2018 Chinese New Year festivities (in mid-Feb). It will also be fully operational by end-1H18F. 

Nonetheless, the group still thinks that the catalytic crowd puller for its non-gaming assets would be its 20th Century Fox outdoor theme park, which will be ready to open by end-2H18F.  “Going forward, we think that the latter could further boost visitor arrivals and as such, casino visitations and revenues.  

“Over the past few years, Genting Malaysia has focused more on rewarding existing RWG members (which typically carry higher yields) rather than foreign visitors, particularly Chinese tourists. “This has proven effective as 3Q17 mass market volume grew c.10% yoy (from flat to 1% over the past few quarters). Nonetheless, Genting Malaysia’s has shared that it will begin ramping up its efforts in marketing to Chinese tourists by 2H18, leading up to the opening of its outdoor theme park which should drive more overall foot traffic,” it said.


Scoot begins Singapore-Kuantan direct flights - February 3, 2018

KUANTAN: Singapore low-cost long-haul carrier, Scoot, began direct flights between Singapore and Kuantan on Friday (Feb 2), making the Pahang capital its sixth destination in the country after Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi, Ipoh, and Kuching.

Pahang Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said Kuantan was chosen as the airline's latest destination due to the number of tourist attractions in the state to be visited by Singaporeans and other international travelers. "It is learned that its (airline's) confidence in launching the route is, among others, due to the 241,000 inbound and outbound passenger movements at the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport up to December last year.

"We are pleased that the new route will indirectly boost the tourism industry of Pahang and the economy of its people," he told a press conference after the Scoot inaugural flight to Pahang here Friday. Scoot will fly three times a week to Kuantan, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and tickets are priced as low as RM45 one way. - Bernama


Pahang aims to attract more tourists this year - February 8, 2018

KUANTAN: Pahang recorded 14.8 million tourist arrivals last year, nearly reaching the target of 15 million visitors for Visit Pahang Year 2017.

State tourism and culture committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin said the target might have been achieved but not recorded for various reasons, such as unrecorded visitors, including foreigners who spent their nights in homestays and other unregistered accommodations. “There were tourists who visited the state with family and in big groups, but did not spend the night here.

“Events like ‘kenduri’, and family and alumni reunions took place in Pahang and many outsiders were present but these people were not included as registered tourists,” he said. Most of the homestays are run by individuals and they are not registered with the local councils or related authorities.

“Some tourists visit attractions like the Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre but spend the night in the villages nearby.“These are among the reasons why their arrivals were not recorded,” he said after welcoming a group of Singaporeans who came via low-cost carrier Scoot at Sultan Ahmad Shah Airport here. Also present were Scoot’s chief commercial officer Vinod Kannan, Tourism Pahang general manager Datuk Ishak Mokhtar and Tourism and Culture Ministry Pahang Office director Datuk Idros Yahya.

Scoot Tigerair Pte Ltd (operating as Scoot) is a Singaporean low-cost long-haul airline owned by Singapore Airlines. Kuantan is its sixth destination in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh, Langkawi, and Kuching. It started with three-times weekly flights from Singapore to Kuantan from Feb 2 onwards. Mohd Sharkar said since Pahang had launched its Revisit Pahang 2018 campaign, the flight services from Singapore via Scoot would definitely contribute to reaching the target of 15 million tourist arrivals.

Vinod said it was Scoot’s strategy to introduce unique travel experiences to Singaporeans and connecting passengers from abroad. “With such beautiful rainforests and beaches that Malaysia has to offer, we are glad to offer these potential business and leisure destinations with incredible airfares to our guests,” he said.


East Coast Rail Line expected to bring positive change- January 18, 2018

KUANTAN: The RM55bil East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project covering a distance of 688km from Port Klang in Selangor to Tumpat in Kelantan is set to change the face of the east coast.

The mega project to be completed in 2024, is seen to be not only able to change the economic landscape of the east coast states, including Pahang, and spur development, but also change the social structure, especially of the rural areas.

Malaysia Malay Chamber of Commerce Pahang chapter president Yusri Yusof said the transformation project could balance development between the west coast and east coast of the peninsula.

“All this while, investments, whether from domestic or foreign sources, have always concentrated on the west coast.

“However, with a rail service that will traverse the smaller towns in Pahang like Bentong, Mentakab, Maran, Gambang, Kota SAS, Kuantan Port City I and II, and Cherating, it will be a blessing for the state in attracting investors to this part of the country,” he said.

At the same time, he said small and medium-scale entrepreneurs in the areas involved could also grab the opportunity to market local products such as river cage-reared patin fish, handicraft like the exquisite hand-loomed fabric (tenun Pahang) and the famed Bentong ginger when the stations along the rail route were operational.

 Meanwhile, Mohd Shahar Abdullah, representing the voice of youth in the state, said the ECRL was another project which the country could be proud of after the Mass Rapid Transport and ETS projects, by providing over 80,000 job opportunities.

“In Pahang, we have many higher education and skills training institutions established by the state government and various ministries, so a mammoth project like ECRL will offer many job opportunities to the local people across the east coast.

“From the social aspect, many of the local youth need no longer migrate to the cities and big towns to work, leaving their family behind.

“Indirectly, living with their own family will help them cope better with the rising cost of living,” he said.

Mohd Shahar, who is in his early 30’s, said the existence of the ECRL could also push up the price of property in the suburban and rural areas, besides drawing tourists to the eco-tourism locations in the state such as the National Park in Jerantut


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