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Nazri Aziz: Tourism Tax collection will be split 50-50 between state and federal governments - March 12, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Half of the tourism tax imposed will go to the state where it is collected, says Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz. "I am pleased to announce that the Government will now distribute RM5 out of the RM10 collected to every state," said the Tourism and Culture Minister.He added that the distribution of the tax would now be just as it is now based on the amount collected by each state.

Nazri was answering a question by Anthony Loke (DAP-Seremban) in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday (March 12).Currently, RM1 out of every RM10 collected in tourism tax per room per night is returned to state governments.Nazri also said that state governments could now use that allocation for tourism, and promote the state more aggressively, organizing more tourism activities, develop human capital as well as for the maintenance of small-scale tourism projects.

Replying an earlier question, Nazri said that the Government had collected RM39,975,634 in tourism tax from Sept 1 to Dec 31 last year.He added that Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Penang, Pahang and Johor were among the highest contributors to the tax since it was introduced.Kuala Lumpur contributed the highest tax at RM16,625,258, followed by Sabah (RM4,530,628), Penang (RM3,881,655), Pahang (RM3,473,803), and Johor (RM2,716,739).


Climbing route built at picturesque hillside - March 7, 2018

JERANTUT: Youths in Kampung Paya Gunung here and its neighboring villages will benefit from activities generated from the via ferrata (climbing route) installed into the hillside here. Tourism Malaysia eastern region director Zaliha Zainuddin said youths have an interest in rock climbing activities and with the via ferrata, it is now more accessible to them. With their own initiative, aid from the Government and promotion from the tourism industry, the youths can now look forward to developing the activity in their village. “Youths, locals and non-locals come here almost every day, particularly every weekend to learn and test their skills in rock climbing.

“They can also enjoy the view because once they scale the via ferrata, they can see a 360-degree view from the limestone rock of the Paya Gunung hill at 120m above sea level. “They can either be new climbers practising their skills or guides who assist tourists,” said Zaliha. Italian for the “iron road”, the via ferrata is a series of steel cables that allows climbers to scale the limestone rock hill. The 200m-long via ferrata is now a new tourist attraction in Pahang. Zaliha said the via ferrata would be recommended to be included in the Visit Malaysia 2020 packages for its eco-tourism and extreme sports attractions.

She said it was a first-of-its-kind attraction in peninsular Malaysia and the second in the country after the one at Mount Kinabalu, Sabah. Zaliha recently brought tourism players from Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang as well as her staff to try out the via ferrata with help from guides and local youths. She said more would be done to sustain the activities so that the attraction would not be wasted in the future. “We cannot totally rely on the Tourism Ministry to do the promotion.

“The villagers here have to play their part too in promoting and maintaining the product so that the activities can keep on growing. “On the Government side, we have provided the basic facilities such as public toilets, surau, dining hall, an open space for a small gathering and tarred road for easy access. “We also plan to provide an English language course for the youths here so that they can speak English better when dealing with foreign tourists,” Zaliha said. She said last year, some 122,000 tourists visited Jerantut district, which has other attractions like Taman Negara and the Kota Gelanggi caves.


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.


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.


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.


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