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Zenith Aim sees bright prospects in tourism - April 15, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: Pahang-based Zenith Aim Sdn Bhd, which has invested RM195 million in a business hotel here, sees good prospects in view of Visit Malaysia 2020. “This 5-star hotel, which is certified as energy efficient, is strategically located for business meetings and seminars. “It is surrounded by government offices such as the Federal Territories Ministry and the Finance Ministry,” said Zenith Aim Sdn Bhd executive chairman Datuk Seri Tew Kim Thin.

The scenic lakeside landscape in Putrajaya and the suitably-sized ballroom is also ideal for bridal photoshoots and wedding banquets, Tew told NST Business after the Pahang Crown Prince Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah officiated at the opening this 253-room Zenith Putrajaya here today.

Pahang Crown Prince Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah (fourth from left) officiates at the opening of the Zenith Putrajaya. Also present are Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail (second from left), Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad (third from left) and Zenith Aim executive chairman Datuk Seri Tew Kim Thin (second from right). NSTP photo by LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR

Zenith is not a newcomer to the hospitality industry. For almost a decade, it has been investing close to RM400 million in the commercial cluster of Zenith Kuantan, Sultan Ahmad Shah International Convention Center and the Kuantan City Mall in Pahang. Tew said Zenith's third hotel will open in Cameron Highlands next year. “We're investing more than RM200 million in a 5-star hillside resort and service apartment.” “We're looking forward to receiving more guests at our hotels as we welcome the government's initiative to promote Visit Malaysia 2020,” Tew said in an interview here today. Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board or Tourism Malaysia is stepping up its promotions this year in preparation of Visit Malaysia 2020, a landmark campaign that is targeted to attract some 30 million international tourists and RM100 billion in tourism receipts.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced as at February 28, 2019, Customs Department had repaid RM4 billion to 54,603 Goods and Services Tax (GST) registrants. Lim also said as at March 4, 2019, the outstanding GST refund stood at RM22.14 billion — of which RM9.36 billion has been processed — across more than 298,457 statements by 168,839 registrants. When asked to comment, Tew, who is also Pasdec Holdings Bhd substantial shareholder and group managing director, replied, “Zenith Aim has received 100 per cent of its GST refunds from Customs.” NST

Tay siblings keep batik art traditions alive - April 7, 2019

WHAT started out as a small business has turned into a promising industry for siblings Tay Yap Seng, 50, and Tay Lian May, 45. Passionate about batik, the duo started drawing and printing batik designs from their house, near Balok in Kuantan, in 2000 and took orders from villagers nearby. When orders began to pour in, they rented a corner shop in Semambu where they not only produced hand-drawn and block-printing designs but also displayed and taught visitors batik production. A boom in the batik industry several years ago saw the siblings buy a 0.8ha piece of land in Balok here. They then set up a factory to manufacture and sell batik products, including clothes, tablecloth, scarves, handkerchiefs, and souvenirs. The youngest of six siblings, Lian May said Natural Batik Village was a popular one-stop center show factory and tourist attraction that promoted the traditional textile art with popular motifs.

The process of block-printing batik. NSTP/FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

She said people from all walks of life often dropped in to place orders for customized batik block patterns for reunions, family gatherings and as souvenirs for friends. “Besides the walk-in customers, we also have some customers who bring their own patterns, which we will customize based on their budget. “All the batik drawings are exclusive and unique except for the block-printed ones. “Our ready-made designs range from hundreds to thousands of ringgit, while the custom-made ones can be bought for as low as RM100, depending on the material. “For example, printing on cotton will cost less than RM100, while silk can cost up to RM1,000, depending on the sewing method and design,” she said at the factory recently. Lian May said in the past, decorative floral patterns were high in demand. However, these days, many customers prefer to wear abstract batik patterns that give them an elegant and modern look.

A batik kebaya sold at Natural Batik Village in Balok, Kuantan. NSTP/FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

“Young people often choose the abstract designs, which are suitable for weddings and formal events. “The colorful patterns are produced based on one’s creativity and drawing techniques,” she said, adding that Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, who had visited the factory, was a fan of batik. According to Lian May, besides buying batik merchandise, visitors can also gain first-hand knowledge of how batik is processed. “They can go on a tour of our factory without any charge and visit the various sections, including dying, waxing and drying. “We provide the opportunity for schoolchildren to try out batik painting in our workshop and take their paintings home as souvenirs. “We work closely with Pahang Tourism, and travel agencies have been bringing tourists here. “Besides Kelantan and Terengganu, which are popular for their batik designs, we want to promote Pahang batik, which offers different motifs,” she said, adding that her factory had 20 workers. Lian May said since government agencies, schools, associations and people continued to place orders for batik attire, she believes that batik would stay relevant. NST

Cloud seeding needed in Pahang - March 24, 2019

KUANTAN: Cloud seeding should be conducted to boost water levels at main rivers in Pahang. State Tourism, Environment, Plantation and Biotechnology Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said cloud seeding was necessary due to drop in water levels at some of the main rivers in the state. He said the hot and dry weather had affected Sungai Pahang, Sungai Tembeling, Sungai Jelai, Sungai Semantan and Sungai Kuantan.

Sharkar said water at these rivers was not only used for domestic purpose but also for agriculture as well as to rear freshwater fish in cages. He said as such the federal government should intervene by conducting cloud seeding to restore river water levels. "I will table a complete report at the next state exco meeting on the main rivers' water level and what needs to be done to counter the extended long dry weather including the need for cloud seeding," he said.

The website which shows water levels of several major rivers in the country including Sungai Pahang showed that the main water artery in Pahang had seen a drop of up to three metres due to the hot weather. The Sungai Pahang water level at Paloh Hinai in Pekan stood 5.42m compared to its normal level of 6.5m, while in Maran, the water level now stood at 11.82m (normal 14m), followed by 43.16m in Jerantut (normal 44m) and 23.12m in Temerloh (normal, 26m).

In addition, Sungai Jelai at Lipis had dipped to 53.44m (normal 55m), Sungai Bentong in Bentong was at 90.93m (normal 92m), Sungai Triang in Bera at 30.57m (normal 31m) and Sungai Kuantan in Bukit Kenau was at 16.18m (17m). NST

Half of tourism tax revenue to be distributed to state governments by month's end - March 28, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today confirmed that 50 percent of the revenue from last year’s tourism tax would be distributed to state governments as promised. “Fifty percent of the tax revenue collected from each state will be distributed, which is estimated at RM67.74 million,” he said in a statement today.

He said previously Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had asked whether the Finance Ministry would distribute the money to the state governments before the first quarter of this year. “The Federal Government will keep to its promise and will not react like Datuk Abdul Karim who previously made false statements that the government had distributed the tax revenue to Sabah, but not Sarawak,” Lim said.

The amount to be distributed to Sabah is RM12.67 million, Penang (RM10.98 million), Selangor (RM10.3 million), Johor (RM7.99 million), Pahang (RM7.86 million), Melaka (RM5.35 million), Kedah (RM5.08 million), Sarawak (RM2.58 million) and Negri Sembilan (RM2.47 million)

Tour operators urged to keep track of haze situation : March 18, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: Tour operators are being urged to keep tabs on the haze situation and provide face masks if necessary. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi, who made the call today, also urging everybody, including visitors, to keep themselves updated on the Malaysian Air Pollutant Index at (Apims). “The public, especially children, senior citizens and those with health problems, are advised to wear face masks and limit their involvement in outdoor activities,” Mohamaddin said the ministry was keeping a close watch of the situation, especially at tourist attractions, including Banting, Selangor and Rompin, Pahang. “Banting has recorded unhealthy API (Air Pollutant Index) at 104 and Rompin at 176 as of 3 pm (on Monday).” Apims categorises API reading of between 0-50 as good, 51-100 as moderate, 101-200 as “unhealthy”, 201-300 as very unhealthy, and 300 and above as hazardous.

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