JOHOR BARU: Johor wants to learn from the success stories of the tourism players in Thailand and Maldives in attracting tourists from all over the world to their respective countries.
State Tourism committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said the government hoped to have similar success in attracting local and foreign tourists to visit Mersing.
He said plans were already in the pipeline to develop and transform the Mersing district located on the north east of Johor, about 130km from here, as the “Caribbean of the East”.
Tee said the district sandwiched between 40 unspoiled islands of South China Sea and the 200-million-year-old Endau-Rompin National Park has the potential to become a regional tourism hub.
“We are banking on Mersing’s rich flora and fauna and eco-tourism as the strong selling points to attract tourists and travellers to the district,’’ he said in an interview.
Tee said the government had organised various familiarisation trips for local and foreign media and travel agencies to promote Mersing and the 13 gazetted islands under the Sultan Iskandar Marina Park brand name.
He said the officials from the state tourism department had visited Phuket, Krabi and Phi Phi Island in Thailand to study how the tourism authorities there had transformed them into international tourist destinations.
Tee said the officials would soon visit Maldives on a similar mission so Johor could learn from their counterparts there to transform and develop Mersing as a playground for tourists from all over the world.
“On-going promotional efforts will continue to take place to attract more tourists to the area that has a rich marine habitat as we want to position Mersing as one of the favourite diving spots in the world,” he added.
Separately, Tee said talks were going on between Iskandar Regional Development Authority and three international theme park operators to set up their operations in Iskandar Malaysia.
He said that the tourism development cluster for theme parks in the state was based on the Johor Tourism Master Plan to provide entertainment and fun for the whole family.
Presently, the theme parks in Iskandar Malaysia are Legoland Malaysia Theme Park, the Hello Kitty Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour, the Angry Birds @ JBCC and the water theme park at Taman Mount Austin.
“Plans are in the pipeline to turn Iskandar Malaysia into a regional theme park hub with more theme parks to be set up in the economic growth corridor,” said Tee.