WITH RM350mil investment in, and ownership of, Kuala Lumpur's latest 5-star hotel The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Ireka Corporation Bhd has taken a firm step into the leisure and hospitality sector and adding to its involvement in construction, property development and e-commerce.
There is a lot of potential in the hospitality business in Malaysia and we intend to look for further opportunities in this sector, said Ireka Corp Bhd director/group general manager Lai Voon Hon.
He spoke to StarBiz on Tuesday after Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Mohmad Shaid Mohd Taufek lit up the Westin Sky Sign from the Malaysian Petroleum Club, on the 42nd level of Tower Two of the Petronas Twin Towers. The Kuala Lumpur Westin is Malaysia's first Westin hotel.
Mohmad Shaid said more hotel rooms would be welcome in Kuala Lumpur.
Lai, who expressed confidence in the potential of Malaysia's tourism sector, added that Ireka's objectives included more hotels, although these could take some time to develop.
He said the tourism industry in Malaysia, which had slowed down somewhat in recent times, had begun picking up again in late 2002, and Ireka would see its commitment in the hospitality sector realised with the soft launch of the Westin in May.
Ireka group deputy managing director Datuk Lai Foot Kong, who is also Westin Kuala Lumpur chairman, said there were lots of prospects in the hospitality and leisure sector.
We saw the potential way back in 1996 and expect to make the tourism industry one of our core businesses, he added.
Ireka would continue to explore opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
Lai said Ireka chose the Westin chain of hotels to manage in its maiden entry into the hospitality industry because the Westin was a modern, progressive group with many innovative ideas, and could help Ireka move step by step into the leisure and hospitality industry.
He expected the group's maiden hotel venture to grow from strength to strength.
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