THE local timeshare industry, which sells vacation ownership plans to individuals and corporate clients, is close to becoming a billion ringgit business, and more players look set to join this lucrative industry.
Put together, the 19 timeshare operators have close to 120,000 members grossing cumulative membership fees of RM950mil as of December last year.
Annual membership numbers have also shown a rapid growth from 2,900 in 1992 to 20,000 last year. The best year so far was 2000 when the number of new members who signed up for vacation ownership plans expanded by 42% to 21,394 from 15,710 in 1999.
Since the industry came under the surveillance of the Registrar of Companies on Jan 1, 1993, it has registered double-digit growth of between 14% and 42% every year except for 1998 and 2001, when there was a 9.1% and 16.7% decline, respectively, due to the regional financial crisis and the Sept 11 terrorists attack on the US.
Being in one of the most tightly regulated industries in Malaysia, timeshare companies must appoint an independent trustee registered under the Trust Companies Act 1949 to protect the interests of timeshare subscribers. A trust deed must be submitted and approved by the Registrar of Companies.
All sales must be accompanied by a disclosure document (prospectus) containing information regarding the timeshare scheme. This prospectus must be renewed every six months.
There is a mandatory cooling-off period of 10 days, granting members the right to rescind the contract and get full refund of all monies paid to the timeshare company.
The timeshare or vacation club business has been closely associated with the property industry as most of the main players are either property developer-cum-owner or are hotel operators. With its growing popularity, more operators, including public-listed companies and hotel chains, have ventured into the industry and created a wider choice of vacation destinations for members.
The more established players include Leisure Holidays Bhd, Tanco Resorts Bhd, Berjaya Vacation Club Bhd, Country Heights Timeshare Bhd, Legend Worldwide Holidays Bhd, Swiss-Garden International Vacation Club Bhd, Awana Vacation Resorts Development Bhd, Heritage Grand Vacation Club Bhd and SARA Worldwide Vacations Bhd.
In an interview with StarBiz, Malaysian Holiday Timeshare Developers' Federation chairman Khor Poh Waa said the regulations had ensured an orderly growth of the industry and eliminated fly-by-night operators, who had in the pre-regulated period created a stigma in the industry.
Only the US, the European Union, Australia and Malaysia have regulations for their timeshare industry.
Khor said the biggest challenge for the industry was to educate members on the need to plan their holidays in advance, as it would also allow the timeshare companies to plan their operations accordingly.
To address the overwhelming demand during peak seasons, timeshare operators have introduced their own innovative strategies such as tying up with affiliated resorts and hotels, as well as using a system where higher points are required for peak-period booking.
Besides offering their own properties for the membership exchange programmes, most of the timeshare companies have affiliations with international exchange networks like Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and Interval International for the use of their international chain of properties located around the world.
RCI offers more than 3,500 destinations worldwide while Interval International has more than 2,000 properties in its network.
Khor, who is also Berjaya Vacation Club president, said the company, which has 24,000 members, had its own purpose-built resort in Pulau Tioman – Berjaya Tioman Golf, Beach & Spa Resort with a condotel for its timeshare members.
Swiss-Garden International Vacation Club, the vacation ownership division of PJ Development Holdings Bhd, has signed up 7,000 members since it started selling its timeshare schemes, priced from RM9,800 to RM20,800, just over two years ago.
It has set a target to grow its membership to 20,000 in the next two years.
Its chief executive officer Khoo Soo Teong said the company had invested RM19.5mil in 120 units of timeshare accommodation in Swiss-Garden Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa in Kuantan and Damai Laut, and Swiss Court Holiday Apartment.
“Our future development strategy includes expanding into a diverse collection of resorts through collaboration with major developers worldwide. Our goal is to redefine the industry through flexibility, affordability, innovative and quality resorts and service standards for a lifetime of unforgettable vacation experiences,” Khoo said.
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