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Sarawak cycling coach Dzulkaflee Hassan revealed to The Borneo Post that he's pursuing to unearth 30 cyclists with the potential to participate in the state cycling team.

"We need to start now so that we can get the new riders for competitive exposures. The more riders we unearth and discover, the better," he said.

Dzulkaflee mentioned that he wants to prepare his cylists for the 2014 Sukma in Perlis and the Sukma 2016, hosted in Sarawak. Sukma is so important to him that he also wants his cyclists to make it their goal as well.

"For the talent scouting, first of all we will start in Sematan (SMK Sematan). We will then move on to other divisions such as Miri, Bintulu, Sibu, Sarikei and Sri Aman," he added.

In another development, the current state cycling team will fly to Bandung, Indonesia for mountain bike practice sessions, and to improve their training. They are scheduled to train there in March next year.

"We specifically choose Bandung as our training location as many cycling champions go there to train. They can do it if they do their best."

"Bandung is also famous for being a place that produces many good cycling talents," he said.

Apart from preparation for Sukma, the Sarawak Cycling Association (PBS) will also conduct a coaching course here next month. The aim of the course is to produce more cycling coaches in the country.

In turn, those who attend the course will be certified as coaches approved by the Malaysia
Cycling Association (PBM).

Tourism boosting Malaysia's economy

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Tourism boosted Malaysia's revenue and economy, more and more tourists visit Malaysia every year.

In 2011, tourist arrivals increased by 137,128 to 24,714,324 compared to 24,577,196 in 2010, while receipts increased by RM1.8bil to RM58.3bil compared to RM56.5bil the previous year.

In addition, the sector contributed a total of RM37.4bil to the Gross National Income (GNI) of the country.

Among the top ten tourist markets for 2011 were Singapore (13,372,647), Indonesia (2,134,381), China (1,250,536), Australia (558,411), United Kingdom (403,940), and Japan (386,974).

2 million of the tourists are Chinese, look at this article regarding Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia.

Malaysia is known diverse tourist attraction that offers attractions such as culture & heritage, ecotourism, Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), shopping, international events and health tourism, which affords visitors from all over the world choices to enjoy.

Realising this potential, the Government, through various initiatives under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) has mapped out a set of deliverables for the Tourism Ministry in order to stimulate sustainable tourism as the nation races to achieve its high-income status by 2020.

Under the Ministerial Key Results Area (MKRA), the Tourism Minister has been tasked and held responsible for delivering targeted outcomes set.

The Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said: "There is still untapped potential within the tourism sector that can provide a viable growth platform for the country.

"We have set targets via the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan 2020 of achieving 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168bil receipts by the year 2020."

One of the most successful attractions that have been identified by the Ministry is the Homestay programme which surpassed its target of 23% of occupancy rate and achieved a rate of 32%.

The Homestay programme was created to increase the participation of the rural population in the tourism sector.

In addition, homestay programme participants procured an additional income of RM15.7mil against the RM14mil target set for the year.

Ng said: "Participants of the homestay programme have been able to earn a substantial income and the activity has helped to generate more economic activities at the local level for the people.

"The focus of the homestay programme is not merely about accommodation but also showcases Malaysia's rich cultural heritage lifestyle in a unique and interesting manner."

The country's renowned and modern malls are also earning themselves popularity and net gross.

The international shopping attractions have also gained attention not only by the international tourist community but Malaysian citizens as well, documented by the shopping spend in 2011.

This was apparent by the Ministry working closely with the private sector to achieve a 30% rate in shopping expenditure against the 29% set under its KPI, resulting in a significant boost to the nation's economic landscape.

"Promoting Malaysia as a shopping haven will further solidify the position of our country as a preferred destination to visit, shop, dine and relax," she said.

Also, to further expand the shopping spend, there are talks for Malaysia being a duty-free destination.

The growth of the tourism sector has also opened up new employment opportunities across diverse industries such as retail, food and beverage, accommodation, transport and handicrafts.

In 2011 alone, a total of 55,565 jobs were created.

For 2012, the Ministry's target is stretched to 90,542 jobs.

Property around Malaysia are booming, up to 3,000 rooms with new 4 and 5 star hotels coming into the market.

The spa industry will also be given a nod with the addition of 300 new local spa therapists under a training programme at two national Centres of Excellence (COEs).

With more concentrated efforts in capacity building and rating of the spa industry, it is set to contribute RM0.4bil to the GNI of the country.

In the coming year, the Ministry's KPIs also include boosting revenues through enhanced packaging and clustering of international sporting events such as F1 Grand Prix, Moto GP, Le Tour de Langkawi, Monsoon Cup and Autobacs Super Japan.

The hosting of international events is expected to generate revenue of RM900mil in 2012.

Recognising that business tourism is a dynamic developing sphere in the world today, the Ministry is getting ready to make Malaysia a prime choice for international world conferences.

It is targeted to achieve 45 conference events in 2012 with an economic impact of RM17.6bil.

Ng said, "Economic diversification and niche tourism activities will characterize the way we move forward for the tourism industry.

"We will enhance our promotion and marketing campaigns through our global brand "Malaysia Truly Asia' celebrating diversity to energize the tourism industry and provide the enabling framework to attract and increase tourist arrivals."

She added, "the tourism sector's immense potential has yet to be fully tapped as further growth can come from innovative tourism products such as the 1Malaysia International Shoe Festival, Malaysia International Night Floral Parade, 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism, Fabulous Food 1Malaysia, Parks & Gardens Tourism, Helicopter Tourism, Bicycle and Motorbike Tourism.

"We have to constantly develop more tourist-friendly products and services to meet the needs and preferences of tourists and must continue to promote Malaysia through our warm Malaysian Hospitality," she said.

To know more information about Malaysia, check out Malaysia At A Glance.

5 places you didn't know about Borneo

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Borneo is a land of steamy rain forests, mysterious animalistic sounds, glorious flora & fauna, and unique tasty dishes.  Below are 5 secrets about Borneo.

1. Sun bear sanctuary, Sepilok

Sepilok is a popular destination to see the orangutans, however you and everyone other tourist will be there.  Right next door is a brand new sanctuary for sun bears.  These bears are the smallest of all sub-species and, like the orangutan, they are arboreal and almost to extinct through deforestation. Sadly, they are also poached, captured for pets and used in Asian medicine.

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre currently has 25 bears in residence. Conservationists are nursing them back to health and where necessary, educating in how to be a wild bear. The intention is then to release them into the forest. As so few people know about the sun bears, including Malaysian and Indonesians, the Centre is also involved in education and raising the animal's profile.

2. Lupa Masa

Picture an eco-camp made from giant bamboo with palm thatched shelters, solar powered lighting and reed bed toilet disposal. You're in the middle of te jungle with no electricity, no roads, and only locals around you.

The real beauty though lies in the forest, which is full of jungle animals who live undisturbed. Locate exotic birds, weird-looking insects and a range of primates, such as gibbons who make the most giggly noises, while you walk around clear rivers and swimming under the magnificent waterfalls.

Lupa Masa means literally to 'forget time' and near to Poring Hot Springs, surrounded by the beautiful Mt Kinabalu National Park.  The translation says it all.

3. Picnic with the Penan

It's quite rare to mingle with locals when you're a tourist, but this experience is a must and not difficult to do.  The Penan, once a truly nomadic tribe, know exactly how to live in harmony with the forest. You'll need to take a light aircraft flight to Long Lellang, deep in the rainforest and maybe a boat journey in a hand-carved canoe.

You can learn about the tribe and how they make everything by hand.  Their shelter, bracelets, baskets are made of rattan, and musical instruments made of bamboo. The area is stunning and the guides who will take you trekking are very knowledgeable.

4. The Kinabatangan River

If you want to see animals, this is the place to be. Pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, and even saltwater crocodiles. Cruise the river at dawn and dusk, stay in a bamboo hut at Sukau or Abai Village and savour the great food being served.

5. Santubo

This is across the bay from Bako National Park near to Kuching and is a little known area. It's where 19th century British explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace carried out some of his research, thought to have been instrumental in Darwin's evolution theory. For wildlife enthusiasts there's the chance to spot rare hornbills, turtles, and the Irrawdy dolphin. 

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