FLIGHT to Langkawi, three-night hotel stay, food and other expenses – sounds too expensive to be a student holiday?
Thanks to Malaysia Tourism Centre's Student Travel Programme, many tourist hotspots like this have become more accessible and affordable, albeit not cheap.
Aziz Desa, the programme’s special project manager, shares that new and creative elements have been introduced to spiff up the student travel packages.
“It is no longer like the school excursions that we had last time such as visiting the F&N factory, go picnicking at the nearby waterfall or going to the zoo. There is so much more to see and explore in the country,” he says.
To raise students' awareness of the packages and possible destinations, he is working with state education departments to organise forums on the benefits of travelling and the programmes available.
First introduced in 2001 by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism and the Ministry of Education, the programme nevertheless failed to record a high number of takers.
Hence, Malaysian Travel Business (MTB) was assigned to give the programme a new lease on life early this year. It has been all systems go since, with the newly launched Special Tour Packages for Students. Along with its parent company, Pempena, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tourism Malaysia, they have adopted a more aggressive promotional campaign to reach out to a wider group of students and undergraduates.
There are more than 50 travel packages to various destinations in the country on offer, all designed to suit any budget and need.
The packages are also divided into various categories: “rainforest”, “agro tourism”, “eco-tourism”, “homestay” and “lake and island” to cater for individual interests.
One is the introduction of homestay tours that offer an authentic experience in various places all over Malaysia such as the kampung experience, fishing village and farms.
In the homestay packages, students stay with host families and members of the community, as well as take part in the daily activities and rough it out. The main purpose is to give travellers a novel experience by getting them involved in the daily communal life of the locals.
Conducted in collaboration with the Homestay Association Malaysia, packages include Homestay Pulau Tuba, Langkawi, where students get the chance to experience the life of a fisherman and go out to sea; Homestay Educational Teluk Melano Sarawak where students will get to go to the pepper, cocoa and rubber farms with the planters; and Banghuris Homestay Sepang where students get to try their hands in local handicraft-making as well as partake in the local agricultural activities.
Naturally, it is not all work; travellers get to enjoy themselves with water sports, hiking, jungle trekking, sightseeing and shopping. Other packages include snorkelling in Kapas Island and cruising and trekking at Kenyir Lake, historical visits to Malacca and jungle trekking in Taman Negara and Endau Rompin National Park.
Students and teachers can also design their own programme and consult MTB for ideas and travel arrangements such as ticketing, reservations and safety.
Aziz is confident that with the packages available nationwide, tourism in Malaysia will be promoted among students. After all, as he stresses, “The benefits are plenty – they can broaden their outlook while familiarising themselves with the country, enrich their knowledge of local history and culture, as well as forge racial understanding through the experience.”
Through tourism, students can also be exposed to the mechanics of the local tourism industry.
One good example is the eco-tourism packages which introduce students to an unexplored area in the industry.
Special project executive with Malaysian Travel Business (MTB), Kelana Md Nor, recommends a few packages for students, particularly for those living outside Kuala Lumpur.
One is the “Landasan Bestari” (Smart Tracks) which comprises a ride on the LRT heading towards interesting media centres in Kuala Lumpur such as Seri Pentas TV3, New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad and Time Highway Radio.
This will not only give students from outside the capital a taste of city life, but also expose them to the workings of the media. ”Students and teachers can plan their own KL itinerary to go with that package. Some teachers want to take their students to the Science Centre or Planetarium, which we can arrange.”
All they have to do, he adds, is to call their office at MTC . The packages start from RM100, depending on the activities and destinations they want.
Other tourist destinations that are being looked into as a possible student hotspot is Pantai Cherating and Janda Baik in Pahang.
“At Janda Baik for example, we are setting up a nature package where students can go trekking and just experience the beauty of the rainforest and kampung life,” he says.
Still, MTB realises that money is an issue with many students, so they have introduced a savings campaign called Program Menabung to encourage students to save up for their holiday.
“School Tourism Clubs are encouraged to raise funds by organising activities and events that will earn some money, which can then be used to subsidise some trips. They are also encouraged to save on their own as some do have money but because they do not save, when they need to go anywhere they will ask for a large sum, and that is when it is difficult for their parents,” says Kelana.
For enquiries & reservations please contact
Malaysia Travel Business Sdn Bhd
Malaysia Tourism Centre
No.109, Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 603 - 2163 0162
Fax : 603 - 2162 9439
The holiday packages