GEORGE TOWN: After 20 years of designing, building and managing theme parks around the world, Penang-based Sim Leisure Group is poised to unveil “Escape”, a new genre of theme park.
In preparation for the eagerly awaited opening next month, founder and chief executive Sim Choo Kheng is shifting the company's core business towards creating and exporting a Malaysian-created theme park brand.
Besides running the first Escape in Teluk Bahang, Penang, Sim Leisure is focusing on exporting the concept to the Middle East, Europe and emerging markets, amid growing demand for environmentally centred theme parks.
The company was already in talks with Arab investors for the first Escape outside Malaysia, and the location would most likely be on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, Sim told Bernama in an interview yesterday.
Additionally, negotiations are being had with overseas investors to franchise Escape, he added.
“Demand for healthy outdoor family leisure facility is growing,” he said. “After two decades of creating fun for our clients, we want to redefine the concept of the theme park, and create something more socially responsible and sustainable.”
Sim said the company wanted to construct a new genre of park that reflected both the fun that people could have in nature as well as some of the key themes of our age such as the need to protect the environment.
“Life is real at Escape, it's fun but it's not a piece of sugar-coated fantasy. What we have created is a product on par with some of the big names in the industry, and our company will grow along with the Escape brand,” he said.
He said while the Middle East remained the key growth area for the last 10 years, Sim Leisure also saw Europe as a region that would appreciate the philosophy and values of Escape.
Sim Leisure has been providing turnkey services for the waterpark and theme park industry, and major projects have been successfully designed, themed, executed and managed in international markets.
Its clients included the Lost Paradise of Dilmun in Bahrain, Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai, Yas Island Waterpark in Abu Dhabi (one of the world's leading waterparks), Universal Studios in Singapore, Legoland Denmark, Legoland in Malaysia, Yerevan Waterworld in Armenia, and Aquapolis in Bulgaria.
Sim believes that the Escape concept will be well accepted given the growing demand for healthier activities, especially for children who today live a more sedentary lifestyle.
The first Escape theme park in Teluk Bahang will open its doors early next month and is set to become a world-class tourism destination providing Penang with a new and exciting product to promote.
Sim said the first phase of Escape was AdventurePlay, targeting over 350,000 visitors annually, adding that children would be educated on the benefits of recycling and promoting the usage of low carbon footprint materials.
“The entire 17.6ha Escape Penang, which was scheduled to be completed by 2017, will bring in over a million tourists annually to Teluk Bahang,” he said. - Bernama