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Tuesday November 10, 2009

Johor not competing with Singapore for theme park visitors

NUSAJAYA: Johor is not competing with Singapore in attracting visitors to the two soon-to-be-built theme parks in Iskandar Malaysia.

Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said Legoland Malaysia in Medini and the Family Indoor Theme Park in Puteri Harbour were more for children below 12 years of age.

In contrast, Universal Studios which is part of the integrated resort development on Sentosa Island catered more for young adults, he said.

In fact, Johor and Singapore could complement each other in attracting visitors to the theme parks on both sides of the causeway, Ghani told a press conference on Saturday after witnessing an agreement signing ceremony between Khazanah Nasional Bhd unit Themed Attractions and Resorts Sdn Bhd (TAR) and five partners.

The five are HIT Entertainment Ltd, Sanrio Co Ltd, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, UEM Land Holdings Bhd and Kampung Boy Sdn Bhd.

Undertaken by TAR, the Family Indoor Theme Park will be housed in a RM350mil complex. Construction of the complex would start mid-2010 and is expected to be completed at the end-2012.

The indoor theme park has three gated floors with two umbrella brands namely Sanrio Hello Kitty Attraction and The Little Big Club while Lat’s Cafe would be located at the ground floor.

The Little Big Club is designed around HIT Entertainment’s popular kiddies characters such as Bob the Builder and Barney & Friends.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will operate the 300-room Traders Hotel catering for visitors to the theme park and also business travellers to Iskandar.

In an announcement to Bursa Malaysia, UEM Land said it sold to TAR two parcels of land in Nusajaya, Johor, measuring 4.221 acres for RM27mil cash.

Meanwhile, Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said the market for theme parks catering for children below 12 years old in Malaysia and the region was still largely untapped.

He said apart from attracting local and Singaporean visitors, the two theme parks could also attract tourists from other Asean countries, China, India and the Middle East.

He said Iskandar would be looking at a third theme park, probably catering for young adults.

Azman said Iskandar Investment Bhd still had 930.77ha pristine land with lush greenery and rivers that could be used for a third theme park incorporating nature.

On an unrelated matter, Ghani who is also co-chairman of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) said it would be known in the next few months whether Irda chief executive officer Harun Johari would be replaced as reported in a news portal recently.

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