A tourist park complete with scale models of world famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China will be built in Nilai 3 in Negri Sembilan.
To be called the Nilai 3 Tourist Park, the RM20mil project will boost Nilai and Negri Sembilan as a tourist destination. It will be sited next to the Nilai 3 Wholesale Centre and the proposed Pasar Rakyat Nilai 3, the country's largest wholesale market.
All these components and more yet to come, are being undertaken by the Nilai 3 Wholesale Centre Management Sdn Bhd, credited for turning around an ailing industrial park into a popular wholesale centre. Today, many of the factories have been converted into wholesale outlets for a wide variety of goods from toys, garden furniture, electrical items to the famous textiles from Tangkak, Johor.
Nilai 3 Wholesale Centre Management chairman and managing director Wong Ah San told StarBiz that the tourist park had the blessings of the authorities, including the Negri Sembilan Culture, Arts and Tourism Department.
It will have such famous buildings as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the British House of Commons, Taj Mahal, Coliseum, and Holland's famous windmills. There will also be scale models of famous local buildings and landmarks like the Malacca Clock Tower, heritage houses in Malacca, and the Minangkabaus of Negri Sembilan. They will reflect the park's concept of the World in Malaysia.
They are not miniature models like the Window of the World in Shenzhen but large replicas. For instance, we plan to build a 100-ft tall Eiffel Tower and a kilometre-long Great Wall of China with some parts rising to the actual size, Wong said, adding that each of the buildings would house businesses like fast-food outlets, souvenir shops and restaurants.
For example, the Malay kampung house will have a batik outlet to show visitors how batik is made while the Malacca heritage house will have antique shops. There will be a pizza outlet at the model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There will also be regular cultural shows, especially during weekends to draw foreign tourists.
With 100,000 sq ft of commercial floor space and, at between RM2 psf and RM3 psf , the company expects to net RM250,000 to RM300,000 a month in rental or about RM3 mil a year. Rentals in subsequent years may be increased. We expect to get our money back in five years, he added.
Wong said unlike a miniature theme park where visitors would merely view miniature buildings and might not return for a second visit, the tourist park would have entertainment and food outlets for visitors to drop by to rest after shopping at the adjacent wholesale centre.
He said the wholesale centre was set up on Dec 25, 2001, to promote goods from China. His company took up 20 units while his friends occupied another five units.
Initially, it was like a Chinatown. By May 2002, there were 60 units and this doubled again to 150 by December that year. We were then selling all sorts of goods. We now have 230 units, making it the biggest wholesale centre in the country, he said, adding that more than 40 operators were waiting for any unit available.
Wong said an owner of a single-storey factory had divided his unit into eight stores and charged RM800 for each outlet. The rentals had steadily increased from RM500 a few years ago to RM700 early this year. Some owners are asking for as much as RM1,000 rental.
In view of the good demand for space, the company has launched another six blocks of 60 single-storey factories. They were 90% sold with seven units left.
According to Wong, the asking prices of existing units are between RM280,000 and RM300,000.
He said an investor bought a one-storey factory at the centre for RM150,000 in June this year from a seller who needed money to repay his loan. The buyer sold it off for RM250,000 a month later.
He said numerous activities had been held at the centre such as body-building contest, singing and children's dancing performances, kite-flying exhibition, cycling championship, and fashion shows.
We have budgeted RM6mil over the next five years for promotional activities, Wong said.
The centre has attracted more than 3,000 shoppers during weekdays and over 10,000 on weekends and public holidays. It recorded on a single day, 15,000 visitors in May 2002, and 30,000 on May 1 this year. At the official launch of the state-level Mega Sales Carnival on Aug 3 this year, the centre had drawn 70,000 visitors.
On the 22-acre Pasar Rakyat Nilai 3, Wong said, it had 1,000 freehold strata titled lots and would be launched in two months' time.