Theme parks among key drivers for VM2020

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by BERNAMA

LOCAL theme parks and attractions will remain key drivers in achieving the government’s targets for the Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) campaign, according to industry players.

Domestic tourism will also play a big role in achieving the country’s goals under VM2020, said travel and services booking application Klook Malaysia marketing lead Emily Tan.

“In July 2019, our data has shown that Malaysians’ love for domestic theme parks and attractions contributed to an 850% year-on-year growth.

“Besides the more widely known theme parks and attractions, we also observed more locals looking to spend quality time with friends and families at indoor amusement and adventure parks,” Tan told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

To meet the increasing demand among locals and their families, the company has partnered merchants, such as The Rift and Beast Park, to allow locals to explore nearby activities with friends and families, while helping to grow the tourism market.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents VP Mohd Akil Mohd Yusof also said theme parks are expected to be one of the major attractions for VM2020.

“The performances of theme parks and attractions are expected to be good as to help the government reach about 30 million in tourist arrivals this year,” he stated.

Last year, the RM110 million Sanrio Hello Kitty Town in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, which was owned by a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, was closed as visitor numbers fell.

However, TMR reported Legoland Malaysia Resort as saying it will continue to invest in its Lego-themed park, also located in Iskandar Puteri and owned by Khazanah through the sovereign wealth fund’s leisure and tourism arm, Themed Attractions Resorts and Hotels Sdn Bhd.

The group also said it remains committed to supporting Johor in becoming one of the top holiday destinations.

Meanwhile, Genting Malaysia Bhd is expected to open its outdoor theme park in the third quarter of this year (3Q20), ahead of its earlier target of 1Q21.

The popular theme park was closed in 2013 to make way for the group to build the world’s first 21st Century Fox-branded theme park.

However, Fox Entertainment Group and The Walt Disney Co pulled out of the contract in 2017, as Disney — which acquired Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019 — said Genting’s gaming business did not fit its family-friendly brand strategy.

Genting Malaysia in July last year said it had reached a settlement agreement with Disney and Fox, after suing the parties for over US$1 billion (RM4 billion) in damages for pulling out of the theme park.

Under VM2020, the government anticipates Malaysia to welcome 30 million tourists and record RM100 billion worth of tourist receipts.

The tourism industry’s contribution to national GDP rose 15.2% to RM220.6 billion in 2018, versus a 14.6% growth recorded in the previous year.

Industry players participating in the national tourism campaign this year include Telekom Malaysia Bhd, which has partnered Tourism Malaysia to launch a SIM card with unlimited high-speed data plan for tourists titled the unifi Travel Pass.

China-based electronics company Xiaomi Corp also partnered Tourism Malaysia in producing photography shots, as well as a promotional video for the campaign itself, showcasing the nation’s natural and architectural attractions in a three-minute video.

To further market the experience of travelling in Malaysia, Tourism Malaysia also targets to utilise experiential tourism as a strategy to boost arrivals via word-of-mouth testimony among tourists.

The KL Heritage Food Trails, an experiential tourism programme launched recently, was developed to highlight three hotspots showcasing “Malaysian experiences” at heritage sites and landmarks, as well as locals’ favourite cuisines.